Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Creating a Government
Lesson 5
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students will learn the fundamental principles of parliamentary procedure and use the procedure to create a plan for a service project in the community.


Two or Three Fifty-Minute Class Periods


    The learner will:
  • explain the purpose and procedures of parliamentary procedure.
  • use parliamentary procedure to conduct a classroom town meeting and create a set of classroom rules.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

Using the town meeting format, students will design a detailed plan for a philanthropic activity. It is up to the students, with some class time provided, to complete the project. See Extension for suggestions.


  • Basic Parliamentary Procedure (Attachment One)
  • Sample Classroom Constitution (Attachment Two)
  • Display copy of Principles of Parliamentary Procedure (Attachment Three)
Handout 1
Basic Parliamentary Procedure
Handout 2
Sample Classroom Constitution
Handout 3
Principles of Parliamentary Procedure

Instructional Procedure(s):

    Anticipatory Set:

    See if the students can remember the Anticipatory Set from Lesson Two: What is Government?. (They were asked in the Anticipatory Set to "create a government.") Explain that they will now be given information that will allow them to create a classroom government at this time. Once they learn the skills of parliamentary procedure, the students will be given a chance to put them into practice. A more complicated version of "parli pro," as it is often referred to, is used in some high school student councils, college student councils, city councils, school board meetings, the state legislature and Congress. Explain that knowing parliamentary procedure allows everyone to participate effectively in public meetings.

  • Introduce the concept of a town meeting (form of direct democracy used at the local level of government, introduced in New England) to students. Explain that the class will use a town meeting format to create a set of classroom rules.
    Teacher Note: I usually use this unit/lesson at the beginning of the year and allow the students to create their quorum, eligibility requirements and procedures for their town meetings. They then use this guide to develop classroom rules. Feel free to use Sample Classroom Constitution (Attachment Two) containing already established quorum, eligibility and procedures for the students to follow. The learners can then just create their own classroom rules. This lesson can be modified to fit your classroom. It can be as involved as you want it to be.
  • Introduce parliamentary procedure (rules used to run a meeting; often used during town meetings, in student councils, state legislatures and Congress) to the students using Principles of Parliamentary Procedure (Attachment Three).
  • Distribute Basic Parliamentary Procedure (Attachment One) to students and review the information. (Students should keep this as a guide for town meetings, if you plan on allowing the class to hold an occasional meeting. It is not necessary for students to keep the guide if the town meeting format will not be used in class.)
  • At this time decide whether or not the students will establish their own Classroom Constitution or just a set of Classroom Rules.
    • Classroom Rules: Use Sample Classroom Constitution (Attachment Two) as a guide for the class to follow. The students will need a copy. The teacher should encourage students to act as moderator. Improvise as necessary.
      Teacher Note: I do not let students pass class rules that violate other levels of government such as school rules, city/township ordinances, state/or federal laws. They cannot pass rules that dictate how I teach. Those are my only guidelines. The majority must be in favor for the passage of class rules. I sometimes have classes that pass rules such as: "can eat in class" or "can wear Walkmans during student work time." As it turns out, by allowing them to do this, they often monitor themselves and respect the rules more. I usually mandate that they pass an amendment to these rules allowing me, the teacher, to remove the rule if it is abused so that I can look after the common good of the class.
  • Classroom Constitution: Instruct students that you will model the role of moderator for the first town meeting only. After the first meeting is complete, only students may fulfill the role of moderator.
    • Introduce the objective of the town meeting: To create guidelines to run effective classroom town meetings. Explain that each town meeting must start with an agenda (an official order of items on a chart to be followed in a meeting or convention). Create the agenda on the board. It should include the creation of a quorum, eligibility requirements and procedures for classroom town meetings. Be sure to include selection of a moderator and voting process in this section.
    • Ask the learners to decide where they would like to start on the agenda and start the meeting. Students must make a motion to propose any action taken. Point of privilege/information/opposition must be used prior to any statement. Follow the guidelines of Basic Parliamentary Procedure (Attachment One) and Sample Classroom Constitution (Attachment Two) to complete this town meeting. Stir things up if necessary by proposing things like, "Only girls will have the right to vote," or "The teacher will have all the power." The learners will get the hang of it.
      Teacher Note: The process usually takes two or three class periods. It is normal for students to get frustrated with this process. That means they are learning how democracy works. When everyone is allowed to speak, the process can slow down and become repetitious. It can be frustrating. Be sure to point these things out!
  • As an assessment, assign a reflective writing assignment in which the learners complete the following:
    • Was the class meeting effective in allowing the class to create class rules?
    • Think and then write at least three sentences about a bad part of the meeting and three sentences about a good part of the meeting. Example: I did not like it when the moderator never called on me. I wanted to speak about a topic. If people are not allowed to speak, it hurts democracy.
  • Upon completion of this meeting, give the students a day or two break from the town meeting format. Then have the students use the format to create a set of classroom rules. Have a student be the moderator. This will be a much faster process.


As a unit assessment, have students create a crossword puzzle using the vocabulary learned in this unit. Words should reflect philanthropy, citizenship, nonprofits, roles of various levels of government, national documents, parliamentary procedure, classroom rules and service project learnings.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Later in the school year or immediately following the introductory meetings, allow students to plan a philanthropic activity using the town meeting format. They should create a detailed plan of action to be followed. This can be done instead of the Classroom Rules and Constitution portion of the lesson.

Teacher Note: I usually give students free reign, within reason, and the resources of the school. Once they come up with their idea, I create a grading rubric. It is up to them, with some class time provided, to complete the project. I have had classes create anti-smoking skits for elementary kids, hold car-washes to benefit local nonprofits, and host a week-long Random Acts of Kindness week for the entire school. The key is to have the class conduct a needs survey of the school or local community before they hold their meeting. Having the class create their own service project is the primary reason I teach them the town meeting format.

Lesson Developed By:

Amy Six-King
Owosso Public Schools
Owosso High School
Owosso, MI 48867


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Basic Parliamentary Procedure



town meeting: form of local government where citizens discuss issues; originated in New England states; considered a form of direct democracy
moderator: individual nominated and voted upon by the class to run the town meeting
agenda: an official order of items, on paper/board/transparency, to be followed in a meeting or convention
eligibility: requirements individuals must meet to participate in the town meeting; determined by the class/group
quorum: number of people that must be present to hold a town meeting; determined by the class
procedures: specifications as to how the meeting will be run


point of privilege: statement made prior to citizen making a statement
point of information: statement made prior to citizen asking a question
point of opposition: statement made as opinion is given that disagrees with viewpoint of another citizen
I make a motion or I move: A proposal by one member for consideration and action of the group that is meeting.
Does anyone second that motion? The moderator must call for the motion to be "seconded" by another citizen in the class before the action can take place; if no second is given, the motion is dropped. If the motion is seconded, the motion will go to a vote by the class with majority rule passing the motion; if a majority is not present, the motion is dropped.

Handout 2Print Handout 2

Sample Classroom Constitution



  • There must be 17 of the 25 students present to hold a town meeting


  • All students present must be between the ages of 14-18.
  • The teacher may participate in the town meetings.
  • Only 4th hour students may participate.


  • All citizens will raise their hands to speak. The moderator will call on people in the order in which the hands were raised (to the best of the moderator's ability).
  • One person will speak at a time.
  • Majority rule/minority rights.
  • One subject/matter will be dealt with at a time.
  • Citizens have rights and responsibilities.

    • Right to be heard
    • Right to oppose
    • Right to request information
    • Responsibility to follow the procedures
    • Responsibility to respect others
  • Moderators will be nominated for each town meeting by the class. Nominees will then be asked if they accept the nomination. Accepting nominees will then be voted on by the class with heads down.
  • Moderators will hold the citizens responsible for using correct terminology and proper procedure. They will also see that quorum and eligibility requirements are met prior to the start of the meeting.
  • Start each meeting by setting the agenda for the meeting.
  • Moderators will call for a "second" for any motions made by stating, "Does anyone second that motion?" The moderator will then call for a vote before taking action on any motion. A majority (one more than half the class) must agree with the motion before it may pass.
  • Moderators may suspend the motion/voting ritual if the class is brainstorming and putting ideas on the board/transparency. Otherwise, each statement will need to be seconded and voted upon before it may be placed on the board.
  • The moderator will announce everything taking place for other citizens to hear.

    Classroom Rules

  • Place rules one through five here. Have the students create them.

    Sample created by Grand Ledge High School students, 1999

    Teacher Note: Items may be added or deleted based on need. The Sample Classroom Constitution is only an outline. I allow my classes to create their own eligibility, quorum and procedures for town meetings. After a two-day break, they then use their "Classroom Constitution" to create their classroom rules. I then type up the entire document, title it "Classroom Constitution" and have each student glue a copy in their notebooks as a reference. The students usually have town meetings four or five times during a semester, as I and as they see fit. After this mini-unit, I then launch into my unit on the Constitution.

  • Handout 3Print Handout 3

    Principles of Parliamentary Procedure


    I. History of Parliamentary Procedure

    A. The "Parli Pro" used today comes from Robert's Rules of Order.

    B. Henry Martyn Robert did not know how to run an effective meeting.

    a. He studied parliamentary law.
    b. He wrote a user friendly how-to manual in 1876.
    c. His ninth edition of Robert's Rules of Order was published in 1990.

    C. Purpose of Parliamentary Procedure

    a. To provide order to a meeting
    b. To provide focus for the meeting
    c. To ensure fairness for all members of the meeting

    D. General Principles of "Parli Pro"

    a. Majority rule/minority rights
    b. Deal with one matter at a time
    c. Members have rights & obligations
    1. Right to be heard
    2. Right to oppose
    3. Right to request information


    Philanthropy Framework:

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