Grades K-2 9-12: The Epic Battle of the Ground Zero Responders

Community Helpers

This inquiry leads students through an investigation of the various roles of professionals who work in the community. While the focus of this inquiry is limited primarily to first responders, teachers could expand the discussion to include other community helpers or “school helpers” such as the custodial staff, cafeteria staff, librarians, etc. By focusing on aspects of their jobs that are difficult and even dangerous, students have an opportunity to develop empathy and respect for individuals in their community by examining their roles in a new light.


Compelling Question:

Do Community Helpers Ever Need Our Help?

Staging the Question:

Brainstorm a list of community helpers and their responsibilities.

Supporting Question What makes a community helper’s job hard?

Formative Task As a class, make a list of difficult jobs performed by community helpers. Discuss why these jobs are difficult.
For older students, the lists can be made independently following a whole-group discussion.

Sources Source A: (Image) First responders at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001
Source B: (Image) Firefighters battling a blaze in a burning building
Source C: (Image) Firefighter escorting flood victims to safety
Source D: (Image) Police officer helping a flood victim
Source E: (Image) Postal worker delivering mail in a snowstorm
Source F: (Image) Construction workers clearing debris after Puerto Rico earthquake
Source G: (Image) Doctor treating a patient in a tent after hospital is destroyed in Puerto Rico earthquake
Source H: (Image) Overcrowded Emergency Room – Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York City
Source I: (Image) Ambulance and Firetruck at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001


Supporting Question What actions have people already taken to support community helpers?

Formative Task Students circle pictures of different service opportunities that they feel they would like to do to show support.

Sources Source A: (Image) Volunteers serving food to first responders at Ground Zero.
Source B: (Image) Beds set up in St. Paul’s Chapel (NYC) for first responders who have traveled away from home to help at Ground Zero.
Source C: (Image) Volunteer offering emotional support to a construction worker at Ground Zero.
Source D: (Image) Thank-you cards written to community helpers in Florida.
Source E: (Image) A Kentucky student holding up a hand-made thank you card for paramedics.
Source F: (Image) Thank-you cards written to firefighters battling wildfires in California.
Source G: (Video clip) Volunteers serve Thanksgiving meal to first responders who will be on duty for the holiday (Greenville, S.C.)

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Do community helpers ever need our help? Construct an argument (e.g., a sentence with a picture, a poster) that evaluates the need to study, remember, and/or celebrate this expedition using specific claims and relevant evidence from sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: As a class or individually, have students create thank-you cards for a community helper of their choice in their own city. Encourage them to complete one of the acts of service they circled on their formative assessment.