The idea is based from Paul Skilton Sylvester’s article, “Teaching and Practice.” Using the article’s suggested building procedures, Mrs. Moore, my cooperating teacher, and I began building our own working town, “Fantastic 205,” in our classroom. The core content areas of language arts, math, science, and social studies were then integrated into the year long theme. The town’s focus of language arts was known as our classroom post office, newspaper, and public library; math content took place in our town’s grocery store and bank; while science and social studies were presented in the museum of science and history, and utility company.
Many life and social skills were also implemented into this community theme. The students often worked in cooperative groups problem solving issues such as grocery prices, developing the newspaper lay-out, and the difference in water measurement. Individually students were responsible for classroom government jobs, for which they received wages to reinforce their hard work and to pay bills. Each student was issued a “community government paycheck” based on the student’s job performance, academic effort, as well as behavior management progress.
This student oriented community, which was built in our classroom, took many directions. Town meetings, community planning, and business construction were administrated by the classroom citizens on a regular basis. Students were also exposed to the process of employment applications, interviewing procedures, as well as saving accounts, business auctions, and time management needed to own a business.
We found the twenty-six diverse participants became intrigued by functioning as an actual community. This, in turn, increased individual creativity. Varied ideas regarding the direction and future of the town were constantly brought up, which often were discussed during the next town meeting. We believe this model, with its increased creativity, can easily be modified to other age groups.
Kari Vetter, ’97
Sponsor: Gayle Luck