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 Classroom Rules Lesson Plan

Classroom Rules

Students at the Helm!



 The purpose of this lesson is to teach the language necessary for formulating rules.  I have taught this lesson to all levels from middle school to university. Essentially, students are given a demonstration of the language needed to formulate rules and then are asked to formulate the classroom rules for both teachers and students. There are several interesting pedagogical points to this lesson.  First, it is student-centered.  Second, it is intrinsically motivating.  

Should students be allowed to make their own rules?  It is surprising how fair students will be if they are given the helm.  They used to surprise me (not anymore as I expect it now) by coming up with a set of rules similar to the ones that I would come up with if I were to make the rules.  But because they fashioned the rules themselves, they are more likely to respect them.  


The teacher should copy a set of Rules for the Classroom for each student and then an extra copy for each group of four or five. Also copy a set of Fair Rules at Work for each students. And if you don't have a good board to write on, you may want to copy the Three Kinds of Rules language summary sheet.




 The teacher asks students what are some rules in their house.  The teacher writes them on the board and points out any interesting phrases that the students may have used.  I, sometimes, have students try the exercise in some form, cold, without language prep, so that they can see how they respond to a situation and then I can point out other ways of approaching the situation. Usually, students use very basic language like 'don't run' or 'come home early.'  They very rarely use language like "we're not allowed to stay up  late.'

Next, clear the board and divide the board into three and explain that there are three kinds of rules in general:

Things you have to do.
Things you can?셳 do.
Things you can do if you want.

(If you don't have a board you may wish to hand out the Three Kinds of Rules summary sheet and go over it.)

Ask the students to give an example of each kind.  Three examples for driving might be:
You have to wear a seat belt.
You must not drink and drive.
You can listen to the radio while you drive.

Now, underneath the examples that the students made, write down the list of possible patterns that the students can use under each category of rule.  See the column to the left for lists of appropriate patterns.  

Main Activity:

Now, students divide into groups and make up rules for the class. The teacher circulates around the room offering advice and perhaps suggesting a phrase or two. Student should try to use as many expressions as possible.  Some expressions are listed on the bottom of the sheet as a guide.  Of course, they can still use the lists that you wrote on the board.

After the students have created a list, one student with neat handwriting is asked to rewrite the list for posting on the wall.  The students and the teacher are all required to sign the document to make it official.  Another student is chosen to be group leader and present their rules to the class.  Other students can ask question about the rules or, perhaps, argue about the merits of some of the rules. Usually, there is not too much argument.

Wind Up or Review:

Students are given the second sheet with
Fair Rules at Work in society.  They decide whether they are fair or unfair and give their reasons why or how the rules could be modified to make them fair.


This lesson was prepared by Chris Gunn who teaches English at a University in South Korea.  He can be emailed at: .  



Language For Making Rules



Target: Three Types of Rules


Things you have to do:


Students have to ______

Students need to ______

Students are required to _____

Students must ______

Students should ______


Things you can't do:


Students can't ______

Students must not ______

Students shouldn't ______

Students aren't allowed to ______

Students aren't permitted to _____


Things you can do if you want.


Students can _____

Students are allowed to _____

Students are permitted to _____

It is OK if students _____

It is all right if students _____




Examples of Student Writing:


Rules for Students:
(1) Students must not use their cell phones in class.
(2) Students aren?셳 allowed to gossip.
(3) Students have to come to class on time.
(4) Students are required to do their homework.
(5) Students must respect their teachers.

Rules for the Teachers:
Teachers must come to class on time.
Teachers must treat all students equally.
Teachers have to turn off their cell phones in the class.

By University Beginner/Intermediate

Rules for Students:
Students must attend their class.
Students have to do their homework.
Students aren?셳 allowed to be late for their class.
Students should concentrate on their class.
Students can lift up their hand and ask questions.

Rules for Teachers:
Teachers can?셳 hit students.
Teachers have to speak loudly and clearly.
Teachers are required to prepare for the class.

By University Beginner/Intermediate









An Idea!

Take all the student rules home and try to draft a complete set of rules for the classroom, using rules from each groups sheet. Because they made the rules they will accept them but because you choose which rules to include you still have considerable power in deciding the class rules.