How 7th Grade Revolution Got Its Start

Note from Liana Gardner

Most of the time I’d have to say I’m not really sure where my story ideas come from … other than the characters who want their story told. I might have a dream (and who knows where dreams come from) or one moment the idea isn’t there, but the next it is. But with 7th Grade Revolution, it is a different tale. I had been on Twitter chatting with some friends when a tweet slid down my stream that caught my interest. I clicked the link and wound up on a page with a short article that set my brain on fire. The article described the classroom exercise going on at Exploris Middle School.

In basic terms, during a study module on the American Revolution, the teachers conceded defeat to the students and told them their revolution had succeeded. They were now in charge of the school and had to determine policy and make the laws.

While in school, I was struck by the disconnect between the dry pages of the history text book and the gripping tales buried under the recitations of dates and names of events. Tell me the names and dates, and I’ll never remember … tell me the story about the people, their triumphs and woes — those are the things I remember. So reading about a classroom experience that tied historic events to the present and made history relevant lit my brain on fire. My first thought was how much I would have enjoyed being part of such a unique educational experience and the second thought that immediately followed was what would happen if it started off as a classroom module and somehow turned real? What if the 7th Grade had to fight their own revolution?

I barely finished the article before I knew I had to write a story incorporating the classroom experience that somehow had a twist where the 7th Grade had to defend their school against an outside force. And I wanted to weave in historical events in a blend of truth and fiction. I made a note of the teacher responsible for creating the learning module and reached out to her via email. Karen Rectanus was most gracious with her time and information providing me with more than I had hoped for to lend validity to the portion of the book dealing with the real life events.

The rules of the Exploris Middle School revolution have been reproduced on this page and were used as the basis for the rules in 7th Grade Revolution

After the Revolution: What Happens Now?

Scenario:

Seventh Graders at Exploris Middle School, upset with the teachers at the school, staged a revolution during the last week in February, 2011. The bloodless revolution was successful and you, the 64 students, are now in charge of deciding the new direction and new policies of the seventh grade.

You have two days during theme to agree upon the changes that should take place. There are certain things that cannot be changed, however … either by state law or the constrictions of money and location. You must keep the following in mind:

  • A school year must be 180 days by law.
  • Each day should have 6 hours of instruction
  • Teachers must be present
  • The location of the school and of the classrooms cannot be changed.
  • Only resources at the school can be used to make the changes.
  • Sixth and eighth grades must continue as they are and must not be affected by the changes.
  • You still must take the EOG at the end of the year

Your job is to make decisions about policy. You have two days only to work out your differences.

Questions you think must be answered:

  1. _____________________________________________________________________________
  2. _____________________________________________________________________________
  3. _____________________________________________________________________________
  4. _____________________________________________________________________________
  5. _____________________________________________________________________________
  6. _____________________________________________________________________________
  7. _____________________________________________________________________________
  8. _____________________________________________________________________________
  9. _____________________________________________________________________________
  10. _____________________________________________________________________________

During this exercise, teachers will act as print and broadcast reporters, bloggers, tweeters, observers, and security. Good luck!