My freshmen are in the early chapters of Animal Farm, and at the moment all seems well. Today's activity would have made my district very proud, except that I forgot to put my objectives on the board.
After checking their active reading, I informed my students that a rebellion has occurred, and the teachers have been run out. They are now in charge. Their first order of business is to create 7 Commandments which will define how students think and behave at this new school. They had 20-30 minutes (one class needed more time) to create one single list and write it on the board.
The results were both amusing and depressing. My class clowns often took the leadership reins early only to eventually lose power to the more level-headed. In all cases, the primary leaders were boys; and in most cases, the girls ended up providing the final word. Many of my most intelligent students who consistently demonstrate excellence in the academic field contented themselves in the background, barely uttering a sentence or two. Some students yelled at one another, other hurled invectives at ideas they found useless.
Each list had its own unique feel. One class focused on student behavior (the honors class). Another class seemed interested in the type of food they would now be able to eat. Most classes included the allowance of electronic devices, though some were more reasonable than others. In the end, only one class decided that rule number one would be "Bring back the teachers," apparently concerned that without us, chaos would rule.
At the end of the assignment, I provided my observations. Students were amused that I found in them character traits of Mollie or Squealer. Some were shocked when I informed them that they used fear to bring their peers along.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the assignment, and I hope they did as well.