Recuperrando el Barrio “Taking back the Barrio”

By betsy casanas, January 2, 2009

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Technology

Lesson Time

6 80 block sessions and one field trip


Recuperrando el Barrio is a community transformation project initiated in a neglected Latino barrio of North Philadelphia. After research of the neighborhood and interviews with the community members the students will develop a series of simple projects that can be completed through a series of service days. They will design and present a plan of action to recuperate a neglected area that shows their ideas through sketches and photographs of the projected outcome of the space.  The projects should be directly linked with the needs of the community. The goal of this project would be give teenager an understanding on how he or she can have a voice in the transformation and development of their own neighborhood and community.  

National Standards

Knows how to use structures (e.g., sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art Understands how the characteristics and structures of art are used to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other artistic intentions

Common Core Standards

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Knowledge of Language:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.



  • Students will have a basic understanding of how art can be used as a catalyst for social change.
  • Students will understand how they can make significant change in their own neighborhoods by organizing and doing simple projects.
  • Students will be able to understand how to delegate responsibilities in order to get the project completed successfully.
  • Students will understand what needs to happen in order to get City papers to write a story on their project.


  • Reading Materials with brief descriptions on several organizations in the city already doing work in abandoned lots, parks or playgrounds.
  • Information about local community organizations found in the area
  • Information and meeting with local leaders
  • Information on struggles in the neighborhood.
  • School bus for tour of the neighborhood.
  • Cameras to take images of the neighborhood and space to be worked on
  • Series of questions to take while interviewing community members
  • Computer Lab
  • Photo Shop


Poster board, drying clay, Sketch books, pencils, markers, Hand outs, Cameras, audio recorder, Paper, popsicle sticks, scissors, glue guns, glue sticks


Culture, Barrio, Deprived, Justice, Catalyst, protest, Community


Day 1 Students will break up into groups and discuss what a community is. What are the things that you would expect to find in a healthy community? How does culture play a part in the development of a community?  What are the basic needs that a community should have? How do people plan an essential part in the development of a community? Students will be broken down into design teams. A brief introduction and background will be given to the students of the neighborhood that we will be touring. Day 2 Students will take a bus into North Philadelphia where they will be given a tour of the neighborhood, local community centers and the space they will be designing for. Students will be given a series of questions that will be used as a guide when touring the community and interviewing the neighbors. Students will take images of how the space is being used, major problems, design solutions and community members who are using the space. Day 3 -5 Regroup. Using a ven diagram the students will make a comparison of differences and similarities between an ideal neighborhood and the one visited. They are to discuss the major issues faced by the community and the major issues they came across themselves. Ex. No recreational spaces. No spaces for adults to gather. How is the community using the space? What are some creative solutions? Ex. Kids using mattresses as a trampeline. Brainstorming session. Students will brainstorm several possibilities for the space. They are to design minimum of 1 project that will create a significant change based on the needs of the community. They will put together a 2-D and 3-D representation of what they propose be done to the space. In the presentation there should be images that show the before and after of space. Students should use a variety of mediums in order to relay clear ideas. Day 6-7 students will present their work and have a group critique.


Students will have several meetings where they will have to present their projects at different stages to a person who is not part of their group in order to make sure that they are able to clearly speak about their plans in the neighborhood. They will be assessed based on the clarity of their ideas, the execution of their visual and the verbal presentation.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students will research a series of other organizations working in the neighborhoods in order to create connections for future collaborations.

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