Students stand with a shed they made as a service learning project outcome.
Students stand with a shed they made as a service learning project outcome.


Introduction: Inquiry based lesson plan for 5-150 students and adult participants, particularly groups that will be working together for a long time.

Goal: When this session is complete, participants should be able to…

  • Discuss how people prefer to work together
  • Establish commonly accepted principles of dealing with each other

Time: 60 minutes

Materials: Flip chart paper and markers

Space: Enough to hold the entire group

Considerations: It’s critical for groups working together to take time to discuss the rules or guidelines by which they collectively agree to abide. These rules can be as simple as “Show respect” and “be on time.” The activity is important because it gives people the opportunity to set boundaries before they begin working together.



  1. Explain to the group the importance of setting ground rules. Mention that ground rules are best when kept simple, basic and few in number.
  1. Ask people to think about a group of people that worked will together. What was it about that group that worked so well? Facilitate a brief discussion.
  1. Ask for potential ground rules. Write three to ten suggestions on a flip chart.
  1. Make sure everyone understands each rule and does not have any issues with any of them. Ask for questions, concerns, or if someone needs clarification about the terms.
  1. When you feel sufficient discussion has taken place, ask everyone who feels they can support and uphold these principles to raise their hands.
  1. Post the page somewhere visible to the whole group. You may want to write them out more clearly later. Keeping ground rules posted is important to remind the group of the principles to which they have committed.If the group is one that will be working together for some time, you may want to discuss consequences for straying from the ground rules. This is a level of detail that many find unnecessary. Often, the group itself will informally enforce rules such as “listen to each other” and “Show respect.”


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SoundOut is an international technical support project focused on student voice, student engagement and Meaningful Student Involvement. We offer workshops, tools and technical assistance to K-12 schools including teachers, administrators and students themselves. For more information visit our About Us page.

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