Rich Blocks Poor Blocks
By Mark Heintz
Sep 17, 2020

This post is part of a larger series. These posts started with the course syllabus and I encourage you to take a look it before moving forward to get a greater context of what is going on here. You can read the syllabus by clicking here.

Week Four

Student voice provided by Yulissa

“We read about whats going on in our town and we are learning more about our identity.”

The students anaylzed the Chicagoland area through the website Rich Blocks Poor Blocks. The site “maps income levels and other data for each U.S. county, zip code, and Census tract, which is roughly the size of a neighborhood in most cities. Data comes mainly from the U.S. Census and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.”  The students can look at their own neighborhood and compare it to others.  Also, the students can change what the map is showing. For instance, they can change the map from displaying income to vacancy rates.

As the students changed the scale, the averages changed. For instance, when looking at Chicago, the income level is about $50,000 per family. When zoomed in, each block changes to more accurately display the income, which can easily highlight the disparity in neighborhoods. 



The students are starting to form what they want to focus on for the rest of the semester. From that, they are identifying which problems they want to  solve. Rich Blocks Poor Blocks is a site they could use in their projects and I wanted to give the students a resources that they could use and have as a reference.

To have them start looking at this site, I put them into groups and through the lens of what their project to post what they see or notice.

These were just a sample of the questions they asked as well. I was able to see what they were all doing through the grid view on google slides.  I picked that tip up from Patrick McGing.

After they wrote what they noticed/wondered, we had a class discussion and then tried to source the document.  The students excelled at trying to find out all of the information about who the author was and why he created the website in the first place.

Overall, the students were able to find information compiled from a reliable organization and learn about their community. They now have a resource to go back to for their project and dive in further if they need to. 





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