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Lesson Plan

Our Classroom: Writing an Owner's Manual

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Our Classroom: Writing an Owner's Manual

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



There are many back to school activities that take place to help create classroom community. It is important for students to feel that they own the space and the learning that takes place in their classroom. Foster such ownership for students by collaboratively writing an owner's manual that describes the classroom's areas and procedures. Students begin by sharing thoughts and feelings about school so far and brainstorming a list of important classroom places, routines, and events. Next, they select an item from the brainstormed list and write a draft description of how their topic “works” in the classroom and after peer-review, make appropriate revisions. Then students use interactive tools to create their piece of the classroom owner's manual. Finally, students share their work and decide as a class how to share the information with others, such as at Open House or when new students join the classroom.

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Comic Creator: Students can use this online tool allows to depict classroom places and activities.

Flip Book: This online tool allows students to create up to 10 pages of text and images describing classroom jobs and learning centers.

Printing Press: Students can use this online tool to create a newspaper, brochure, booklet, or flyer. Students choose a layout, add content, and then print out their work.

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Creating classroom community is crucial at the beginning of the school year. As Mary Waskow explains, students "must see the need for helping one another and working together. They also need an environment in which they feel free to take risks in order to become autonomous. The classroom is not mine exclusively; rather, it is our classroom" (26). This lesson provides a way for students and teachers to work together to create such community in their classroom while also taking ownership for their room.

Further Reading

Waskow, Mary. "Encouraging Active Learning in the Classroom." Primary Voices K-6 7.2 (October 1998) 26-30.


This idea was adapted from:

Egawa, Kathy. "Writing for Multiple Purposes: How Our Class Works." School Talk 5.3 (April 2000) 3-4.

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