Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"We The Kids"- Creating Class Constitutions

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to create a class constitution.  Students need to know the expectations and procedures for your class.  You can call this document a class contract, a constitution, or class expectations.  It doesn't really matter, but expectations need to be discussed and clear to students.  It helps if they are a part of this process because if they are included in writing the expectations, they are more likely to follow them. Get them involved!

Before writing the class constitution, I read the book We The Kids by David Catrow.  We discuss the benefits and importance of the United States Constitution.  This book discussion leads to the discussion of creating rules and guidelines for our own classroom.

After reading We The Kids, I ask students to think about their "ideal" classroom and get a picture in their mind.  I ask students to brainstorm and come up with ideas for this question:  "What does an ideal classroom look like, sound like, and feel like?"

Using chart paper, I create an anchor chart with the title, "What does an ideal classroom..." Then I add three columns for the following categories:  looks like, sounds like, and feels like (see photo below). Students brainstorm and offer ideas for each category while I jot them down.

After reviewing their ideas as a class, students help create the wording for the class constitution.  I have included some examples of the documents that my students have created in the past several years.  Remember, these are student-created!  Students can come up with some GREAT ideas!

After you write your class constitution, you can have each student sign a copy. I have taken the signed copy to a copy center and had it enlarged to poster size, so I can display it in the classroom.  You can also make copies for each student to keep in their school binder.  It is nice to have copies on hand, or on display, so you can refer to it when needed.  

Getting kids involved in writing their own classroom constitutions helps to empower them, build ownership, and create accountability. If you have a great idea for class constitutions, please share in the comment section.  Thank you!

- Karen

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