GEMS Students Eye Rights and Responsibilities

Target 2 – Leadership in a Student Centered Learning.  Environment FWSU will foster development of teacher & student leaders who provide innovative opportunities for local and global student-centered learning.

Action Step  Ensure students and staff take an active role shaping their learning using rich, authentic questions, problems they identify, and diverse resources.

Indicator of Success  Student voice will have the power to impact the perceptions of others.

imageA group of GEMS Middle School students recently explained their ideas of how rights connect with responsibilities. Teacher Brian Kravitz listened and occasionally asked a question. The students had just completed their own Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for their classroom. They were serious as they explained what was important in their classroom and what they would do to uphold their Bill of Rights. They were eager to make their thinking clear and answer those who asked hard questions.


After research, a survey, and careful consideration these students drafted their own Bill of Rights. They personalized their rules and responsibilities based on what they thought was important to their own learning. They committed their ideas to paper in the form of a Bill of Rights.

One Right directly involved student learning: “We have the right to learn in many different ways. We have the responsibility to let others learn in different ways, to listen to each other, and to learn from our classmates.”

Another Right involved the teacher: “We have the right to a teacher who teaches. It is our teacher’s responsibility to keep us on track, teach us meaningful stuff, and help guide us.”


The student and teacher lined up to sign their Bill of Rights. They took photos of one another and discussed where to post the document. This was no mere classroom exercise in elements of rule-making or mechanics of the Constitution. It was authentic – real rights, real responsibilities, and real learning.

For these students, this learning is just the beginning of a lifetime of navigating rights and managing responsibilities!

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