Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: Classroom exercises in planning

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    16

    Classroom exercises in planning

    I'm teaching an Intro to Planning course to undergrads. I'd like to add more participatory exercises during class time, and wonder what possibilities are out there.

    When you were in school, did you participate in any interesting (or, conversely, deadly dull) classroom activities?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

  2. #2
    If i remember correctly, mine was mostly lecture on historic progression of planning, notable case studies, paradigms, movements, etc. No exercises. If you did do exercises, it might be fun for them to do some of the public participation games they'll be exposed to later on.... just a thought.

  3. #3
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    10,127
    Doing a fake charrette or public meeting is always a good way to elicit participation, as well as give a truer depiction of what a planner does.

    I took an entire class about public meetings and we worked from the private and public sides. Best class I took.

    As for how to make planning history alive.... I don't know if there is a way
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2005
    Location
    The Gig City
    Posts
    2,657
    This is one I always liked with people and kids who don't know much about planning. First make them draw a map of their route to the building whether that be driving or walking. That lets you know how they observe their environment and how they see it. It's always interesting to see what landmarks (you could ask them to put a few) that they identify with. Then ask them to take a building or intersection and what would they do differently then maybe take a few examples and explain to the class what it would take to effect the type of change the student was looking for.
    @GigCityPlanner

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered
    Nov 2008
    Location
    San Clemente CA USA
    Posts
    10

    creative option

    If you want to do something on the creative side I suggest you look into what James Rojas model building exercise he has developed. James Rojas who is an artist/ urban planner does an exercise using toys and found objects to build models. It is often used for public workshops but can also be used for the classroom. Each participant is asked to pick from a group of colorful and interesting objects and assemble their own version of a City, pedestrian space, neighborhood, transportation network, place etc. They are given a half hour or so to assemble and then they take turns explaining their model to the rest of the class. The result is you get some creative ideas, great discussion, insight on the components of a space, both good and bad. The link below is an article “Putting Urban Planning In the Hands of the People”.

    http://www.good.is/post/putting-urba...of-the-people/

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,472
    Quote Originally posted by Citizen K View post
    I'm teaching an Intro to Planning course to undergrads. I'd like to add more participatory exercises during class time, and wonder what possibilities are out there.

    When you were in school, did you participate in any interesting (or, conversely, deadly dull) classroom activities?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
    Not sure exactly what you are looking for, but if I understand your request, for current planning, what about a plan review? For long-range planning, what about making a plan for a neighborhood and making them defend it to the planning commission (student audience)?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Rockwood, MI
    Posts
    1,428

    Fat Cat

    In one of our classes we had a computerized model of a simulated city for the quarter. We all had roles assigned to us. Elected Officials, Planner, Citizens, Special Interest Groups etc. I was Developer #3. (three developers) The model had storms, earthquakes, fires etc that would show up at unexpected times, just like real life. Naturally there were elections etc. I ended up winning the game which was not supposed to happen and the Professor was very upset.
    But I was a returning Vet when I went to school so I had more life experience than the average University student.
    If you can find one of these programs I think is worth while.
    The program we had was an old main frame program called (if I remember correctly and I am not sure) Metro Apex at Michigan State.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,872
    In grad school, though I'm sure undergrads would engage as well, we did a lot of case scenarios. I found them very useful. Things like:

    The class breaks up into smaller groups and each are given the same planning-related scenario. They have a limited amount of time to come up with a strategy to respond to the situation which they then share with everyone.

    Similar to the above, the class would split into groups that would work over a few weeks on different cases that were then presented to the entire class. This is more intensive than the above and also involved going out and talking to non-university folks to gather info. These were real-world scenarios drawn from issues around the city.

    We sometimes were asked by groups outside of the university to try and get some ideas going about specific issues/problems. As a working person, I have now gone back to my U. and used students in this same way. It can be very fruitful.

    Oh, and push-ups. Lots and lots of push-ups...
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    2,802
    Key person interviews.
    Survey writing, distribution, and collection of data.
    Mock presentations.
    Design charettes
    Taking a stroll through a neighborhood (individually or with a small group) taking photos and putting together a SWOT analysis.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    16
    Thanks to all who have responded, and keep 'em coming!

    The most pressing need is for half-hour to hour-long, self-contained exercises done in a single class meeting. I've already assigned written/research projects for the term. I'm mainly looking for alternatives to the lecture format (of which I already do plenty) to engage these young newbies in the subject.

  11. #11

    Intro to Land Use Planning In Class Exercises

    I am in the exact same situation.

    I am teaching an intro to land use planning class and needing some 1/2 to 1 hour in class exercises.

    One I did that was effective. was I had everyone draw their version of what they consider "downtown" with landmarks, edges, nodes, etc. Then we all stood around a table and shared. It ranged from the mainstreet to the entire town, it was interesting.

    If anyone has others, please share.

    Thanks,

  12. #12
    Every semester, my fellow planner and I go to the local high school to present and facilitate an activity for the senior government/economics class. It's for a "Youth in Government" program where every semester each city department does some sort of presentation or lecture to the students. We basically have them do a mock charrette/design workshop. We have them break into groups, we give them blank parcel maps of our downtown area, and they sketch out land use plans. Most of them end up being pretty goofy, and they're usually really specific about uses. It gets them thinking about planning though. I imagine your undergrad students might take it a bit more seriously and spark some of them to pursue planning as a career.

    Also, in one of my undergrad planning courses, we did a mock Planning & Zoning Commission meeting. We had an applicant/developer, a staff planner, a protesting citizen, and several commissioners. It seemed a bit silly at the time, but we at least got the gist of how the meetings function. Plus we were actually required to attend a P&Z meeting during the semester.

  13. #13
    BWharrie's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Cross Country Skiing, Australia
    Posts
    74

    Planning for Kids

    Whilst perhaps a little too young, I had a lot of fun with primary school children (5 to 11 year olds) in one class (small one treacher school in countryside of New South Wales, Australia. Lesson took about 1.5 hours.
    1. Explain they are all developers. Yeah!!
    2. Individually, think of what they want to within the school property. Construct a sandpit, undercover area, new sport equipment shed, vegie garden etc.
    3. I supplied a copy of plan of the property with the school buildings on it (all two of them) and they had to locate and size up the proposed devleopment on the "Site Plan" and include a sketch on s eparte piece of blank paper. All documents were A3 size!
    4. Then supplied an Development Application fomr A3 size and simpliefied but still official looking. The had to fill out the details of what they wanted to do neatly and legible.
    5. The answer three questions for the Statement of Environmental Effects form A3 size - what are the impacts, how did they identify the impacts and what steps proposed to minimise impacts. eg for a sandpit - erosion and construction noise identified by on-site inspection and works to be done during daylight hours only
    6. Each proposal had to be presented to the Council adminstration (me sitting at a desk armed with big red "received" stamps. Upon recieving an amount of counted play money, I would stamp the plan ready for presentation at next step.
    6. Each child then had to present the proposal in front of the entire class explaining the impacts and impact minimisation strategies. The class were given the role of Councillors of the area and had to vote on the proposal. (Some children were in familes whose father or mother was a Councillor or local developer!)
    Upon a stisfactory presentation, questions from "Councillors" and from me as the Council planner, the plans were stamped with APPROVED.
    The kids and I had a ball as did the school headmistress and her helpers. I found out that some of the kids presented the approval to their parents and wanted to get their proposal moving, eg sandpit!! I got good feedback from some of the parents later in the year when meeting them on a local snow ski day.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plus Scout's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Not far from here
    Posts
    31
    Quote Originally posted by Citizen K View post
    I'm teaching an Intro to Planning course to undergrads. I'd like to add more participatory exercises during class time, and wonder what possibilities are out there.

    When you were in school, did you participate in any interesting (or, conversely, deadly dull) classroom activities?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

    Can you provide us with your specific lesson/lecture plans? Maybe that will generate detailed exercises for you to use as supplements to the lecture.
    In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and watch how the pattern improves - Rumi

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2

    Activity Suggestions?

    Were you able to find some successful activities? I am also looking for some participatory options as I will present on emotions and story telling in planning, in my theory class.

    Any recommendations on what has worked for you would be great.

    Thanks!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Washington DC
    Posts
    32
    An exercise we did once, was that the instructor would show an aerial photograph of various cities around the world, and we had to figure out how each city developed over time. That is, determine which areas were developed first, which were next, and so on. We did this as a group exercise and the instructor did not tell us what city he was showing us. Part of the exercise was to figure what part of the world the city was located, how, and why it developed the way it did, and in general dig out as much information as could about that city from the photograph.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Posts
    194
    While teaching urban planning at the university level a couple of years ago, I used the simulated public hearing a couple of times. I would give several students roles to play and objectives to reach. Often the roles and objectives would be in opposition to roles and objectives that I had given to other students. While they all knew that it was an exercise, some of them really got into fulfilling their objectives and it made it very interesting. The class felt that they got a good sense from the exercise how the personal objectives of participants can derail the planning process.

    I have also used the design charette several times -- teaching both students and professionals --, to teach how to break down a site, analyze it and formulate a plan.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    16

    Update @ Semester's End

    Thank you again to all who posted. I got some helpful ideas... and even implemented a few!

    In answer to a couple of queries above: the class is a lower-division undergrad introductory survey to planning and development. I spend a week each on things such as urbanization/suburbanization history; planning history; legal foundations; politics & decisionmaking; tools (gen plan, spec plan, zoning, subdiv regs, exactions, etc... 2 weeks on this bundle); urban design; redevelopment; transporation / infrastructure; economic development / financing; environment; regions; and growth management. So-- it's a week per topic, then on to the next one; broad but rather shallow. The inclusion of development (alongside planning) in the course rubric expands discussion even more. Lectures are heavily illustrated and peppered w/ case studies and war stories.

    I did 3 exercises this time around, where students broke into small groups. 1) a land use planning exercise mini-charrette; 2) a stakeholder exercise bringing comments on a proposed development; and 3) a comparison of fed-local planning changes (before-after 1970s) to: redevelopment, transportation, econ devt, public housing. Numbers 1 and 2 went best.

    I'll revisit all the suggestions offered above when I map out the next semester... I want to add more, because the students engage even better when they're talking to each other and not just to me.

    Thanks again!

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Plus
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    De Noc
    Posts
    18,171
    Have you looked at the Cultural Landscape Foundation Classroom page:
    City Shaping: The Olmsteds & Louisville
    http://tclf.org/louisville
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  20. #20
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2009
    Location
    The Glass City
    Posts
    2,610

    Perhaps a bit late, but...

    I had a professor who would have us break up into 2 groups (we were a small class, you may need to use more groups for an intro course) and defend a landmark case, such as Kelo v. City of New London. She would pass out information about the ruling and then have half the class develop an argument in support of the ruling and half the class defend an opposition standpoint.

    It was fun, interesting, engaging, and we learned a lot about land use planning, eminent domain, public hearings, writing and interpreting codes, and perhaps most importantly, to examine an issue from every perspective thoroughly and thoughtfully.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 8
    Last post: 22 Mar 2011, 2:15 PM
  2. Ideas for class exercises
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 8
    Last post: 17 Jan 2003, 10:33 AM
  3. Community vision exercises
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 24 Jan 2001, 2:21 PM
  4. Community vision exercises?
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 1
    Last post: 01 Aug 2000, 11:20 PM