One Forty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • state a reason for rules.
  • define the "common good" as something that benefits the entire community (class).
  • explain why rules are needed for the common good.


  • Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry Allard and James Marshall (see Bibliographic References)
  • Chart paper
  • Sample Letter (Attachment One)

Home Connection 

See Sample Letter (Attachment One) for a letter to families regarding rules they remember from school.


Allard, Harry and James Marshall. Miss Nelson Is Missing. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1977. ISBN 0-395-40146-1.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students if they have ever heard of the word "mystery." Solicit descriptions and examples. Next ask if anyone knows of a mystery story that takes place in a classroom.

  2. Introduce Miss Nelson Is Missing. Tell the class that the story is about a class whose teacher is missing. Her students decide to look for her.

  3. Set the listening purpose: to determine why Miss Nelson left her classroom.
  4. Read the story.
  5. After reading the story, discuss with the students:
    • Why was Miss Nelson missing.
    • What happened to Miss Viola Swamp?
    • Whose black dress was in Miss Nelson's closet?
    • Why did Miss Nelson pretend to be Miss Viola Swamp?
  6. Help the students to conclude that Miss Nelson didn't like the way her students were behaving.
  7. Discuss why it would bother a teacher that her class behaved like Miss Nelson's class. (Miss Nelson didn't feel her students were learning.)
  8. Ask students who else was affected by the students' behavior? How were they affected? (The students in the class were affected because they weren't able to learn.)
  9. Ask students what Miss Nelson's class needs in order to provide a better place for learning and a happier place for everyone to be. (Classroom rules would be an answer to the problem.)
  10. Explain to students that rules are needed for the common good. This means that the students in Miss Nelson's class need to work together for the benefit of all.
  11. Divide the class into groups of four or five. Ask each group to brainstorm some class rules that would benefit everyone in Miss Nelson's class, rules that are for the common good (the benefit of everyone in the class).
  12. After three to five minutes, ask each group to share one of their rules. Use their examples to make a master list on a chart. As you ask each student for an example of a rule, ask him or her to explain how that rule is for the common good.
  13. Tell students to ask their families to share rules they remember from school. Explain that you will send a letter home with them requesting this information. (See Sample Letter, Attachment One.) Students will share what they learned and make a final copy of their rules.

As an assessment, the teacher may use observation of students sharing ideas and responding with a rule and how it serves the common good. (Did the student share a rule that would benefit the entire class? Was the student able to explain how that rule would benefit everyone in the class?)

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.8 Describe classroom behaviors that help the students learn.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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