“The Day my Teacher Was Arrested” | A Teacher and Student Perspective on Studying Government

20 Feb

AGC’s 5th grade government unit includes an immersive experiential component that is a big hit with teachers and students. Read on to hear both perspectives.

According to Ms. Helma, a teacher:

The students experienced a democracy last Tuesday, in which they had to vote on everything.  They voted on questions like “can Cindy take a break for the bathroom?” and “should we learn Math or literacy first?” The class operated as a monarchy on Wednesday, with rulers from the same family and phrases like “please bow to the queen!” On Thursday, the class transformed into a DICTATORSHIP. Oh no! Mr. T was the dictator and those who didn’t go against him received favored treatment, including more choice time. Students knew it was a simulation and a safe word was established. Nonetheless, they were totally and enthusiastically immersed in the experience.

Half way through the day, some students ‘escaped’ and helped me organize a coup. We protested for human rights while Mr. Thompson had his students act like ‘loyal followers’ stating the Pledge of Allegiance to Mr. T.

Luckily we won, but did the students really sign up for a better deal?!

5th grade govt unit helma 3

Soon, we returned to our normal classroom routines, with a new appreciation for our leadership and collaboration. Students spent the rest of the day talking about how it felt to experience different forms of government. No students were hurt during the simulation! It was all fun and a great learning moment!

I love this class and the deep conversations we had about types of government, opinions, following, bravery, fighting for what YOU think is right! I love working on days like these! This is great teaching and motivates kids to think deeply about this topic!

According to Miguelito, a student:

“For me it was a normal partly cloudy Tuesday. I had just finished my breakfast and was getting ready to go upstairs to Mr. Thompson’s class. I was chatting with my friends when I noticed posters that really freaked me out. Here is what some of the posters said: “Big brother is watching you,” “freedom is slavery, and “war is peace.”big brother

I felt something was really different with Mr. Thompson when he started separating us into three groups by giving us different colored stickers. I thought he was grumpy because he didn’t have his coffee. We had to do different activities based on our sticker color.when it was time for recess The people who had yellow stickers had to stay inside for 20 minutes and only had 6 minutes of recess. The highest ranked people had blue stickers. I had a blue sticker. If you lost your sticker, you had to sit in a box outlined by tape to the floor. My friend got a promotion from yellow to green, but then he lost it when he shouted out.  After lunch we headed upstairs to watch  CNN 10 as usual, but he didn’t let us finish and made us do math instead. Usually we start math at 2:10 but it was only 12:05. I was so confused.

Suddenly, the security coordinator, Mr. Jose came and arrested Mr. T. out of nowhere! Then another teacher came in as the the leader of a rebellion called The Fist. We were freaking out! Then we had a trial. I was trying to take in all of this weird commotion, so I just left it to the new leader, who was taking action for freedom, which sounded better than Mr. Thompson ordering all of us around. Eventually, the new leader started ordering us around too. 

Then, it was three o’clock, and Mr. Thompson came back. We were happy when he came back because he wasn’t a mean old grumpy man anymore. He wasn’t mean anymore because the government simulation was over.

I’m just a typical 5th grader in Mr. Thompson’s class and this week we were studying government. In our government unit, we actually recreated what happens in government systems. For a whole week, we simulated different forms of government.  

For instance, the next day, we had a simulation about monarchy. Brianna was assassinated on her way to a ceremony. Then Gigi, her sister, took over leading the class, until she “died” of coffee poisoning. Then Melanie took over, but she made the boys sit on the floor. She “died” when her sisters’ ghosts haunted her. Their youngest brother, Ray took over next. He was King Ochoa the first. He made the girls clean up and do work in their math books.

After that day, it was communism, we all had the same thing and nobody was different. For instance, if there weren’t enough chairs for everyone to sit at a table we all had to sit on the floor. It made me feel a little bit bummed because my lesson spot is a chair. A lesson spot is the place where a student chooses to do their work.

Mr. T. could have use the boring old method of teaching with the stick against the chalkboard. And I don’t like that way. I mean sure we had to fill out a packet but we gained memories. And that was the end of my really weird week studying government.”

 

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