Young people envision what they would like their shared space or classroom to look like, feel like, and sound like in order for it to be a safe, fair, and fun learning environment. They come to a consensus about what behaviors lead to this goal.
- articulate a vision of a safe, fun, and fair learning environment
- describe and categorize behaviors and practices that lead to that vision
- copy of the handout "Rules" by Karla Kuskin
The children take home their pictures and a copy of their rules and explain to their family what their shared space or classroom will look, feel, and sound like.
Tell the group that you have developed some rules for their time together to make sure it is a fun, safe, and fair learning environment for all. Read aloud the poem or hand out copies and read together. Ask what they think about your rules. (Do these sound like good rules? Would following these rules help make the classroom a fun, safe, and fair place to learn?) Acknowledge that the poem is a joke, but ask what type of rules can help everyone have a successful experience.
Sitting in a discussion circle, brainstorm what the gathering place or classroom would sound like, feel like, and look like if it were a safe, fair, and fun learning place. Point out that the "Rules" poem is all about "do not." Ask the learners to think about what the children, adults, and guests should "do" in a positive statement. Discourage negative responses such as "Nobody would be pushing anyone" or "Don't kick." Write the positive behaviors and descriptors on a chart or chalkboard as the young people make suggestions.
Looking at the list of positive descriptions, ask the youth to group them in a meaningful way. For example, they could be grouped by purpose (safety, fairness, good for all, good for learning, etc.). This is a good opportunity to think about what is good for all, such as respect, caring, and honesty. Some descriptions can be combined and language simplified.
With art materials, children draw a picture of the classroom or space they have envisioned, including themselves acting in a helpful, positive way.
Move the learners into small groups so they can explain their pictures to each other, sharing a vision of a place they'd like to meet and be part of. After sufficient time, come together in a full group and discuss what rules and vision they can agree to.
Discuss the variety of perspectives brought up in visions. Ask them to share the things they cannot agree on. For example, some people might love noise and moving around while others like quiet and time to reflect before sharing. Some might like art while others like science. Discuss how different interests, talents, and perspectives can be respected so everyone gets the best conditions for their style.
Discuss strategies for moving through things that are hard but have to be done. Talk about when it is okay for people to ask for help or help others.
It is ultimately up to the facilitator to determine rules and best practices, but the involvement of the children helps them understand the why and feel their input matters.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
Benchmark E.2 Identify why rules are important and how not all behaviors are addressed by rules.
Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
Benchmark E.1 Explore and research issues and present solutions using communication tools.
Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.