Future City Lab: Pedestrian Safety

Identifying and Solving Community Problems


Grade Level: 2-5
Keywords: pedestrian, pedestrian safety, fatalities, perspective, opinion, persuade
Source: www.flickr.com/MichaelTapp

Connection to Future City Lab: Getting Around: How can we make it easier for people to get into and around the city?

Time Estimate: 2 sessions, 55 minutes each


Students will:

  • Be able to develop and write an argument supported with evidence that identifies how to solve a community problem such as pedestrian safety
  • Be able to identify and discuss the benefits and challenges of different solutions to a community problem such as pedestrian safety in small-group, collaborative conversations
  • Be able to identify a problem in their own community and brainstorm possible solutions


  • Chart paper
  • Class presentation (provided)
  • Benefits and challenges think sheet for group work
  • OREO persuasive writing template


  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.1: Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and large groups.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.2: Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

Guiding Questions:

  1. What are some relevant problems that our community faces that we hope to solve? What steps would you take to address this problem?
  2. How can we enhance the physical environment of New York City to make it safer and easier for pedestrians?
  3. Which solution do you think would best solve the pedestrian safety problem in New York City? Why?

    Procedures: Session One (55 minutes)

  1. Hook (5 minutes)
  2. Ask the guiding question: What are some relevant problems that our community faces that we hope to solve? Have students turn and talk about this question. Then have students share their responses with the whole class. As students share, chart their responses as a list. This can be an interactive list that you continue to add to throughout the lesson(s).

  3. Building Background: Introduce the Problem (5 minutes)
  4. Preview and define relevant vocabulary for students (e.g. pedestrian, pedestrian safety, fatalities).

    Using the presentation, introduce one of the community problems that people living in New York City face – pedestrian safety. Ask students: What connections can you make to this problem about pedestrian safety? How do we see this problem in our community? Allow students to share their connections with the whole class.

  5. Introduce the Solutions (5 minutes)
  6. Using the presentation, describe the three possible solutions that could address the problem of pedestrian safety in New York City.

  7. Collaborative Group Work (20 minutes)
  8. Divide students into groups of three or four. Each group will focus on one of the three solutions described in the presentation. They will have to take on the perspective and discuss the possible benefits and challenges to the given solution. The groups will receive a copy of the solution directly from the presentation and the Benefits and Challenges Think Sheet.

    As a group, students will collaboratively discuss the benefits and challenges of their given solution in addressing pedestrian safety. Some questions that can guide their discussion:

    1.) How would this solution benefit pedestrians? How would it make it easier and safer for pedestrians to get around?

    2.) What are some challenges that might occur as a result of this solution?

    3.) Is this the best solution to address pedestrian safety in New York City?

    When students are done discussing, they will write down these benefits and challenges on the T-chart found on the Benefits and Challenges Think Sheet. 

  9. Share/Present (15 minutes - 5 minutes for each group)
  10. Give each group the opportunity to share at least two benefits and two challenges they identified for their solution. Ask students to briefly explain why they identified these benefits and challenges. (Note: If there is more than one group focused on the same solution, ask additional groups to identify different benefits and challenges or build on the previous groups’ responses.)

    Procedures: Session Two (55 minutes)

  1. Review (5 minutes)
  2. Briefly review the community problem from Session 1. Ask students to restate the three solutions as well as a few benefits and challenges they identified for each in Session 1. Display the solutions.

    Restate the question: Which solution do you think would best solve the pedestrian safety problem in New York City? Why? Have students share their responses with the whole class. Then have students select one of the three solutions. They will have to support this solution and persuade others to support it as well.

  3. Model (10 minutes)
  4. Introduce the OREO method of writing a persuasive paragraph (Optional: Play the song found in ‘Additional Resources’ that introduces the OREO method.) Model for students how to use the OREO Opinion Writing Template. First, model how to clearly state their opinion about the solution they selected. Then model how to support with reasons and evidence. Finally, show students how to restate their opinion with a concluding statement.

  5. Writing an Opinion with OREO (25+ minutes)
  6. Allow students independent writing time to write their persuasive paragraph based on the OREO method. Students will be given the OREO Persuasive Writing Template to guide and plan their writing. Using the template, students will write their persuasive paragraph.

  7. Share/Present (15 minutes - select students)
  8. Select two to three students to share their persuasive paragraph. Ask students for feedback: Did this paragraph persuade you to support their solution? How could the writer have improved their persuasive paragraph?

  9. Exit Ticket
  10. Choose one of the other problems that our community faces (display list created in Session1, Step 1). Then describe one solution you feel is best to solve this problem.

Additional Resources

Fieldtrips: This content is inspired by Future City Lab gallery in the Museum’s flagship exhibition, New York at Its Core. If possible, consider bringing your students on a fieldtrip! Visit http://mcny.org/education/field-trips to find out more.


This series of lesson plans for New York at Its Core was developed in conjunction with a focus group of New York City public school teachers: Joy Canning, Max Chomet, Vassili Frantzis, Jessica Lam, Patty Ng, and Patricia Schultz.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these lessons do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.