Rules in the Classroom

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Students will be able to use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose an opinion piece in which they tell a reader the topic they are writing about and state an opinion.

Big Idea

Students decide what they think a good rule for the classroom would be.


15 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When the students are over on the rug I tell them we will do the actions to the song Rule Rap by Dr. Jean Lyrics to Rule Rap. I have the students do washing machine arms to make sure they will not get in anyone else’s way. “Remember your body is in your control you tell it what to do, so I should see everyone following the directions as we hear them.” Saying this reminds the students they should be focused on the lesson at hand.

Once the song is over I have the students take a seat back on their spots using the Spot on Your Dot Song.

I ask the students if they can recall what we discussed yesterday about rules at home. I take a couple of responses to this question as the question is only to get the students back focused on rules.

“Great work team. Well as you have probably guessed there are not just rules at home, but there are also rules in other places. We are going to listen to a story about the rules in the library.”

“Before we begin can anyone tell me what kind of rules there might be in the library?” Once again I only take a couple of responses as I do not want to lose my audience’s attention during the story.   


35 minutes

“This story is called Library Lion. It is written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. When I look at the cover of the book I see a clue that tells me if this book is real or make believe. What do you think it is?”

I select a student from the Fair Stick jar to answer the question. Then I ask, “Bryan I think you are right. I think it is make believe. Another word for make believe is fiction. Bryan can you tell me why you think this book is fiction?”

“I agree I do not think you would find many libraries’ that would let a lion in.”

“Now boys and girls I want you to remember our good audience skills by looking and listening to the speaker. We need to listen closely to the story so we can hear the rules in the library.”

While reading the book we stop and discuss some key details. For example, “Why do you think the lion ran in the library?” “Why did he roar to get Mr. McBee’s attention?” “Do you think Mr. McBee likes the lion?”


When the book is over I ask the students, “When do you think it is okay to break the rules?” After selecting a couple of students to respond to the question, I tell the students their assignment for today will be to express their opinion by completing the writing prompt “I think a good rule is...”

I explain to the students what an opinion is. "Boys and girls an opinion is someones point of view on a topic."

Next I give the students an example to clarify the statement I just made. “It is my opinion that apple pie is the best pie there is. Is that a true statement? Well it is for some people but not all. Someone else might like peach pie better. But it is my opinion that apple pie is better.”  

I tell the students they can write their own opinion on what a good rule is or they can dictate their opinion to a grown-up who will write down their words on a Post-It note and then they will give it back to the student. “You will copy the words from the Post-It note onto your paper making sure to copy the letters as bet you can.”

“When you have finished writing your words you will need to draw a picture clue for the reader.”


Once I feel the students understand the concept of what is being asked of them I prepare to send them over to the work station tables. “At the work station you will find the writing prompt. What is the first thing you will do?” Hopefully someone will remember the first thing they need to do is write their name at the top of the paper. “You do not need to write the date because we have the date stamp. Use it to date your work.”


Now I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some rule writing fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Give the students about 15-20 minutes to get this assignment done. Remind the students they can look at the visual timer to check how much time they have left. 

Student working                      Student working


Why write opinions?

Importance of Opinion Writing




15 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

I remind students to put their completed work in the “completed work” bin and those that are not complete go into the “under construction” bin. 

Student sample 1 - Lower performing student who had lots of teacher assistance to come up with the words. The student dictated the words and then copied what the teacher had written. 

Student sample 2 - Middle performing student who chose to write the words by themselves. Simple rule to make it easier to write.  

Student sample 3 - Higher performing student who wrote the sentence totally on their own. 


Once everyone is seated on their spot I tell the students that we are going to work on building a class set of rules. The rules they just wrote could be used to help us make our class rules. I tell the class, “I am going to go around the rug and ask each person to tell me one rule they think would be a good one to have in our classroom.”

I use the SMARTBoard to record the student suggestions for a good rule for the classroom. These will be used in a later lesson to build our classroom rules once I have gone over them with the students. When working with the students I try to have the students put the rules into positive language. For example, instead of saying “Don’t call out,” we would say, “Raise your hand when you want to talk.”

When all of the students have had a turn to give me a rule I dismiss the students to get their snack.

I chose to end the lesson this way because I want all of the students to feel their input is valuable to the classroom community. Of course there are student who have the same rule and that is okay. I simply put a check mark next to the rule they repeated so the students feels they have made a contribution. 


I use the Good Rule Prompt checklist to go over the student’s work and once it is complete I will place the student’s work in his/her collection portfolio.

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objectives of the lesson. I am looking to see if the student is able to accurately follow the directions for the assignment which means they will meet the overall objective for the lesson. Did the student write their name on their work? Did the student use proper grammar? Does the student’s sentence make sense? Did they draw an illustration which supports their sentence and could be used as a picture clue? 

The checklist is a nice way to convey information to the student's family about how he/she is doing in the classroom. The student can also use the checklist to see where he/she can make improvements in his/her work. 



Later on in the day I also read the book Know and Follow the Rules, by Cheri J. Meiners. This is just one in a series of books published by Free Spirit

These books are wonderful character building discussion starters. The books have great ideas in the back to extend the lesson. The website also has the Common Core Standards right on the page of the book – just scroll down to see.


You can expand on the Dr. Jean Rule Rap during small group reading time using the lessons at the back of the Rule Rap easy reader written by Dr. Jean.  


Here is another Library Lion Lesson Plan. This one is from Scholastic