SL students create, run their own town

Thursday, June 7, 2007

"Hi, my name is Alex and I'm the mayor," Alex Hessleman, mayor of Tornado Town, says.

This unusual town was created to end the school year in Jan McKenna's third grade class room.

Sharon Butterfield's classroom was turned into Jettsville, as third graders were given a chance to practice everything thing they have learned about city government. Even though the cities might not be huge, they have food vendors, shops and even a park to relax in.

McKenna who teaches social studies uses the cities project allow students to experience things outside of the text book.

The final week of school, the third grade students were running businesses, attending city council meetings and tackling issues that every town deals with.

"They talk about serious issues that towns discuss like dealing drugs and gangs, and even some issues that the real city council also deals with like geese poop," McKenna said.

A city walk through and ribbon-cutting started off the exciting week for students. Businesses were up and running.

The problems are changed to throw new challenges at the students, including a natural disaster to deal with.

Like Storm Lake's real city council, the students dealt with the opening of a project like AWAYSIS. The third graders cope with running Awaysis Park and problems with children not following the rules.

But students also have to use their other skills as well, running shops, putting math skills to work making change and keeping books.

Not only do they have to think about what type of store they will have they havs of business their town needs, they must have a business license approved by the mayor and receive a fire alarm from the Fire Marshall.

Students took their roles very seriously as shop owners and citizens. Retailers tried different advertising techniques to attract visitors.

Students from other grades and parents where invited for the opening day where they could cruise up and down the main drag to find goods and services - with only a one cent tax.

"Parents can visit and see what their children are doing," McKenna said. "One thing is people get to keep the stuff they purchase (with pretend money), it's a white elephant sort of thing. We had some donations and some student brought in some things. This is good learning experience."

Prior to creating their own classroom communities, the students had a chance to learn about city government with a tour of city hall to see how Storm Lake government works.

"This is the type of thing I like to do," McKenna said. "It's very hands-on and something that students get excited to do. The second graders had a chance to come see this so they will be excited for a chance do it next year."

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