I love to engage each new class in a conversation about classroom rules on the first or second day of school. I have come to find that when talking about class rules, it is important that it is a two-sided (or 30-sided) conversation, one where the students help to define the class norms and expectations. This conversation usually comes after a good read aloud book such as, Miss Nelson is Missing, Have you Filled Your Bucket, Mr. Peabody’s Apples– or any other book that talks about behavior. After reading and discussing the book, I have the student create a Circle Map where they write down what they think of when they hear, “Class Rules”. This is done independently.
After they are done, I let them pair share what they wrote and then I create a class Circle Map where I write down the ideas shared out by the class. We talk about why those rules are important and necessary.
Next, I introduce the 3 class rules that I think are the most important.
As a class we talk about what each of those means. We share out examples and non-examples of these behaviors. For fun, I have them act out some of the non-examples and we talk about why a classroom couldn’t function if we weren’t safe, respectful and responsible.
The final activity is done in their teams. I give them a Tree Map and a variety of different behaviors that they sort out. I love to hear them work as a team for the first time and rationalize why they think the behavior is an example of being responsible. I also have them create their own examples to complete the chart. This really gets them to think critically, discuss and take ownership of the classroom rules.
I just added this packet on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. It is a great way to promote guided discussion about classroom rules without lecturing the students and it work with a variety of grade levels. It can be done whole group for the younger grades too. Feel free to take a peek at it!