Thursday, March 28, 2013

Revolution in Room 311!

The university we get our student teachers from (my Alma Mater) has student teachers complete a unit plan during their tenure with their cooperating teacher. It's the biggest, longest unit that the student teacher executes and plans all on their own. My student teacher is a social studies major so we agreed that she would do the American Revolution for her unit.

She only has two weeks left after Spring Break so we've spent a lot of time the last couple of days catching up on her unit (ie two days full of social studies!). Today was Revolution Day. A few weeks ago she called me and ran some ideas by me for the unit which I thought were awesome. Last night I was thinking about what her plans were for today and told her this morning that *I* needed to be the so-called bad guy...because if SHE imposed the taxes/fees/fines and then SHE led the just wouldn't make as much sense to them.

So we started it yesterday by giving them classroom cash for being in ready position, answering questions correctly, etc. I also told them if they had $20 left by the end of today that I wouldn't give them homework over Spring Break. Today we really laid it on thick. I started charging them $5 in classroom cash for a piece of paper, to be able to use the restroom (unless it was obviously an emergency), to get a sharpened pencil. They were like "what the heck?" After lunch, I REALLY pushed the point that some of my students probably thought I had lost my mind!
I laid it on so thick. I charged them for being in the classroom; for giggling, they got a fine;  I just made up stuff and started charging them for it. The look on their faces was priceless. They were like "W.T.F??" At one point I said "that's it! If you have money left, give it to me!  You have to do what I say because this is my world!" I pseudo yelled at them for looking at me and they were SO scared of me, wondering what the heck happened.

I had their wad of classroom cash and said "The Queen is going shopping!" and left the room. During the two-three minutes I was out, my student teacher told the kids that they had to rebel against me. I wasn't being fair and they didn't have to take it anymore! I came back in and they all stood up and it was fabulous! They said "NO, YOU CAN'T MAKE US DO THIS STUFF!" (And believe me I had really laid it on, telling them they had to do 3 hours of homework every night written in their blood and then come to my house on Sundays and clean up the dog doo in the yard--I never cracked as smile whatsoever so some of them thought I was dead serious.)

I did step in after that, even though it wasn't planned, to help push the point home for them. Of course I would never make them do the things I had said, and of course I wouldn't charge them classroom cash for having hair, breathing the same air as I did and for looking at me. One of my girls hit the nail on the head when I asked the class why they thought I would be so dramatic and do that. She said "you really wanted us to know how they felt". Bingo!

So they wrote a declaration of independence against their "Queen". It was beautiful. Several of them said that while they were really scared at first because I was SO convincing, they were really glad we did this lesson because now they really understood why the colonists didn't want the King to be in charge of them. I also pointed out that the King didn't even live in the colonies. Some of them had forgotten that and were really surprised. So I said "think about how you would have felt if Mrs. A or Mrs. O [our two neighbor teachers] had come over here and imposed the rules that I did? Would you have been okay with it or not?" They all said no because those teachers didn't know them and it wouldn't be fair. 

They got SO much out of this lesson and I'm so glad we did it. As it stands, when we come back from Spring Break, I will have a treat for my whole class for letting me "be mean" to them. I didn't tell them I would give them a treat because I think it will mean so much more if I just surprise them with it when we come back and let them know that I truly do care about them all and would never treat them that way normally. It was really fabulous because when they wrote their declaration, they listed lots of reasons WHY a teacher wouldn't be allowed to do those kinds of things so when they looked at part of the real declaration, they were able to see the correlation between their declaration and the real one.




  1. LOVE it!!!! We did a similar thing in our 5th grade classroom, but instead of using fake cash we used m&ms. And I let students BE King George and the tax collectors. But I'm liking this "Queen" thing. :)

    Next time I will have them write a declaration of independence-did not even think of that!


  2. This is absolutely fabulous! I am moving to a new teaching position next school year. I am sooooo using this! Awesome! :)

  3. I have a couple of questions about teaching a 4/5th classroom. Is it possible to ask you in an email?

    1. Of course! sunnie1978 at gmail dot com!

      I can't guarantee you'll like my answers ;) but I'm happy to answer them!