Voting on the Classroom Rules

9, 10, 11, 12

By reviewing, debating, and voting on a final set of classroom rules that will govern classroom behavior, students will learn and participate in a democratic process related to the rule of law.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • consider and debate the merits of the proposed rules.
  • propose, debate and vote on amendments to the rules list.
  • use simple parliamentary procedure, specifically on motions, as an orderly way to move the democratic process of creating a final document.
  • Collated list of proposed rules from previous day's lesson (each student should have a copy).
  • Instructions to Students for Completing Journal Entries Assessing the Classroom Rules (Handout One)


  1. Anticipatory Set: What are the advantages of majority rule?

  2. Note: Prior to class, teacher should decide on a set number of rules (between five and ten is recommended).

  3. Distribute the list of proposed rules. 

  4. If the limit is 10 rules and the total list includes 15, the students need to understand that they will only be allowed 10 rules. When the class votes, they will be deciding on whether to accept the top allowable number as listed.

  5. If a student wishes to have a rule included that is not in the allowable list, that student will need to propose an amendment. That amendment should be debated and voted on by the class as a whole before voting on the final list of rules.

  6. If a student wishes to have a rule eliminated from the list of top rules, again, that student will need to make a motion to have the rule deleted. That motion should be debated and voted on before the final vote on the rules.

  7. Continue the debate until all proposed changes have been discussed and decided.

  8. Conclude this part of the lesson by having the class vote on the top 10 (or whatever decided number) up or down. If they are voted down, allow class to make amendments and then take another vote. Note: since several classes will be voting, it is possible that the amendment process will result in somewhat different rules in each class. If that situation occurs, the first job of the class council will be to reconcile the differences and bring a proposed revised set of rules to each class as soon as possible. This final set should be voted up or down without amendment.

  9. Discuss the consequences that will result from violation of the rules. The teacher should propose a set of consequences consistent with the positive and negative consequences normally used by the teacher. The students should be allowed input into which rule violations should receive which consequences. As the rules are monitored and adjusted in classroom meetings during the semester, students might be allowed to debate and vote on alternative consequences.

  10. When you have a list of rules and consequences that have been approved by a majority of all your classes, make a final copy for each student and post them in the room.


At the end of two weeks the students will complete an initial evaluation of the rule-making process and the success of the rules in controlling behavior that interferes with learning (see Handout One). This evaluation will serve as the first of at least five journal entries that the student will be required to write during the semester. The student will use the journal entries to reflect on the effectiveness of the rules and to write suggested changes. These changes should be proposed at periodic class meetings. Evaluation of the journal entries should be based on the extent to which the student followed directions: A minimum of five entries of one page each. Each entry should reflect on the impact of the rules on the class learning environment. Each entry should address one of these terms: majority rule, minority rule, consent, rule by the people, and rule of law. The journal entries include suggestions for proposed changes if the student is not satisfied with the operation of the rules.

Cross Curriculum 

The final creation of a list of rules that will govern students' own behavior within the classroom community.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.