Grade 5 visited city hall
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Grade 5 visited city hall

All grade 5 classes visited City Hall (on the Stadhuisbrug) this week to play the game Democracity. This ties in with their current Unit of Inquiry: Decisions. The central idea of this unit is: ‘Government systems shape the lives of its citizens’.

By Ingrid Schmoutziguer, communications; pictures Carol Spalla, classroom teacher grades 5 Blue & White

Ms Spalla with the help of parent volunteers, took grade 5 to City Hall (or Stadhuis in Dutch) on Monday morning, a good 30 minute walk from school. Once there, the students played Democracity. The aim of this game is for a whole class to create a city together. The houses are already there, however, the students need to decide whether they want to build essential services such as hospitals, fire stations or even schools. They also need to figure out if they want for example a lot of green spaces in their city or rather create buildings to house lots of businesses. Money of course isn’t endless so the group needs to make some tough choices

In order to come to a group decision, the students were divided into different political parties, that needed to come up with a short political programme and topics they found really important. After they’d done that, they all took a seat behind a microphone to start plenary discussions.

‘I think we have some budding politicians in the class’, enthuses Ms Spalla. ‘Some of the students could have spent all day discussing their city’. The class had long discussions whether they would need a primary and a secondary school, or whether all students could go to one school. They also talked about pollution and clean energy strategies, such as banning petrol cars from the city and targeting the build-up of windmills as the first energy resource. There was also a heated debate about whether bike parking lots were essential to a city, which continued even when students were walking back to school at the end of the City Hall experience.

Later this week, a local politician will visit the school and talk to the students about her work as a city council member. That way the students will gain another perspective on decision making. They also get the opportunity to ask all burning questions they still have after their trip to City Hall.