The Principal and the Paddle: Option 1

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SWBAT read informational text carefully and closely.

Big Idea

What will improve student behavior?

Four Corners

15 minutes

A word of warning before you begin this lesson....

The article students are going to read is about a principal who decided to paddle students for misbehaving in school.  This is a controversial topic, but I guarantee that the students will be engaged!  The will be appalled, shocked, incredulous, however, they will want to read! Since getting students to read and understand is my ultimate goal, I occasionally do bring in reading material for the shock value.  This informational text might not be appropriate for everything sixth grade class, but my students were able to read it and come up with a wll supported opinion with out becoming too upset!  

Before reading, students will look at some of their ideas about punishments for misbehavior. I call this activity "Four Corners", and it is a favorite of my students because they get to show what they think and move around while doing it.  

Before starting the activity, I'll explain how discipline was handled when I was in school.  I'll talk about good old Mr. Harkey, my elementary principal,  with his variety of paddles hanging on the wall of his office.  I was so terrified of being paddled, that I refused to go to kindergarten.  My mom had to take me in to meet Mr. Harkey who explained that only the children who misbehaved were paddled.  Whew!  I have been on my best behavior ever since!  I would suggest talking about the paddling situation before beginning since some student will have never heard of such discipline!  Any time I tell a personal story like this, my students are automatically more engaged.  

When you are ready to start,  label each corner of your room:  Agree, Disagree, Somewhat Agree, Somewhat disagree.

Read the following statements, and ask students to move to the corner that best expresses his or her opinion.  Students will want to talk, but ask them to do it quietly.  

1.  Punishments at our school don't seem to stop the kids from misbehaving.

2.  If paddling  were allowed at our school, certain students would probably be paddled overand over again.  

3.  If a teacher or principal paddled me, I would probably hate him or her.  

4.  Paddling might be an effective punishment in certain cases.

5.  Parents do not need to give permission for a school to paddle their child.  

As students move after each statement, I'll ask one or two students to explain why they chose that particular corner.  From past experience, everyone wants to explain every time a new statement is read.  I always keep explanations short otherwise they would do this activity all day long!  

Close Reading

30 minutes

Give each student a copy of the article "The Principal and the Paddle." (This article was found on the Daily Beast, not the most prestigious news source around, but again, my goal was student engagement.)

During the FIRST READING of this article, I will read aloud to the students asking them to:

1.  Circle uncommon words

2.  Star important ideas

3.  Put a ? by things that puzzle them

I almost always have students read material at least two times.  The first time, since I'm reading it to them, they are free to really think about the words that are uncommon or unfamiliar (I like using the word uncommon for those students who swear they are familiar with every single word in the text.  With uncommon I can say, is this a word you use on a daily basis?  Is it a regular part of your vocabulary?  No?  Then circle it).  They are also about to easily think about important ideas or places that are confusing because I am doing the decoding and fluency parts of reading for them.  

After this reading, I will ask the students to turn to a shoulder partner and jot down several questions to share with the group.  We'll take turns sharing our questions without answering them.  The purpose is to get the students thinking a bit more deeply about the text before they tackle the close reading.  

Now students will read this article a second time by themselves.  During this reading, they will:

1.  Box words with a positive connotation

2.  Underline words with a negative connotation

3.  Put a star by parts you feel strongly about.  



Writing with RACE

15 minutes

When students are finished have them look closely at the results of the close reading.  

I'll ask questions like:

 Are there more positive words or negative words?

Why do you think this is?

What do you feel strongly about?  Why?

What else did you notice during the close reading?


We will have a class discussion about these questions for a few minutes before we begin writing.  

Now, students will use RACE to answer the question method to answer this question:

How did using the paddle affect John C. Calhoun Elementary School?  


Students will be eager to share their own opinions on this article and their answers to the RACE question, which they will do tomorrow.  At the end of the lesson, I will give students a few minutes to discuss  their own opinions with their table groups or even the whole class.