Here it is: the best classroom management tool I’ve ever used and the inspiration behind this blog and my Teachers Pay Teachers store: Our Class Nation!
You may have heard of the classroom economy… We’re taking it to the next level! Bring your students together and create a classroom culture of responsibility, inclusivity, and creativity!
Here’s PART 1 of how I implement the class nation.
The first step of building a class nation is creating a collective identity.
1… 2… 3… Secede!
You’re in a classroom and your classroom is in a country, but is it yours? You need to secede to make it your own! I simulate secession by telling my students that when I count to three and clap my hands we have officially seceded. Depending on your grade level, you can get deeper into secession and what it looks like through history.
Tell the world who you are!
Now that you’ve seceded, it’s time to name your class nation!
I truly believe that this is one of the BEST ways to start bonding with your class!
Ask your students, “What sets our class apart?” “What is special about us as a group?” “What stands out?” Brainstorm describing words on the board and give your students this worksheet to fill out:Choose a descriptor, pair it with a beginning/ ending and you’ve got a name!
The first year I did this I had a super confident group of students who decided to call their country The United Republic of Smarty Pants. The next year when we implemented bring your own device (BYOD) we were Technoland, followed by iPad Land (BYOD begins in third grade at our school and incoming students are obviously super excited about this program!)
***Based on your nation’s name, you need to decide what to call your citizens (we have been Smartins, Techies, and iPadians).
Tell the world what’s important to you!
Create a motto. A motto is like a catch phrase for your nation.
I start by brainstormimg popular culture catch phrases from brands or restaurants with my students, then send them off with this worksheet:Get creative and make sure your motto fits with your name! If you’re having trouble, choose three descriptive words that represent your class like other nations have done (EG: France, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, Madagascar, “Love, Ancestral Land, Progress”, Vietnam, “Independence, Freedom, Happiness”).
Our mottos have been: United Republic of Smarty Pants: A+, Technoland: Where technology comes to life!, and iPad Land: Where the battery never dies!
Show the world who you are!
Creating a flag is the best way to show that you’re serious about your new nation!
Think about your nation’s name and motto, the meanings of different colors, choose an interesting shape or use one of the examples, and get creative with this worksheet:
After every student has completed their worksheet for each step, I like to do a gallery walk and have each of them put a sticker on their favorite option to make a collective decision. This links to democracy, which comes up later in Our Class Nation. In fact, you can link many of these activities with your social studies curriculum!
Finally, we make a big deal of our new country! I call the students by their chosen name, create a flag out of a white pillow case and fabric paint, hang a “Welcome to” poster on the door that includes our motto and “Thanks for visiting” on the back.
This is the base of your class nation, a fun way to get to know students and have them feel connected with each other and their classroom.
Part 2 will be about running the country, read all about it next week!