Democratic Classrooms: Merging Opinions into Agreements in G1

Democratic Classrooms: Merging Opinions into Agreements in G1
Katelyn Boyle

1B students put their minds together to come up with a class agreement on language use. 

How can you create a sense of ownership in the classroom? The answer lies in giving each child a platform to share their thoughts and feelings on important issues, from safety measures to table manners. All of the classrooms at Seisen are democratic in how they establish their class agreements. In this blog post, you'll get a sneak peek into the process of how 1B came up with their Language Agreement, which was created as an amendment to our Classroom Agreement's, "We speak English." (The amendment is quite important given the IB's policy on Translanguaging -- subscribe to Seisen blogs to see how our whole school will come to an agreement soon!)

As is often the case in an inquiry-based classroom, the lesson began with a question. On a large colorful paper, the following prompt was written: 

What languages do you speak in your 

home, school, and community? 

The students used color-coded post-it notes to share what they knew, all the while discussing the answers with each other and helping one another to write them down and stick them under the right category. Once most children had answered, the teacher flipped over the next paper:

What language did you use today? 

What was the purpose?

Listing the languages they used daily was the easy part; naming a purpose proved more challenging. Many children said they used their particular language because that's what the other person they needed to speak to understood. Noticing the pattern, I stressed for them how important it was that they identified communication as a key element in their language choice. 

For the last poster, the girls were invited to finish the following sentence that would launch us into the heart of the discussion I wished to have -- "In 1B we believe that languages are..." 

Their answers were insightful and really spoke to the kind of environment we wanted to create in our classroom. I asked everyone to come sit together on the carpet and read their thoughts out loud. Using their words, together we created a summary of all the thoughts and feelings gathered. It culminated in this Language Agreement:

When you make time to hear opinions, display them, discuss them, and come to an agreement on them, you create a classroom by and for everyone. 

 

Thank you for checking in with 1B!

  • Class Agreements

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