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Elementary schools in Japan consist of six grades. It usually involves activities conducted in the classroom for lower grade students, such as “Toban” activity which is for sharing daily duties, and “Kakari” activities that use students’ talents and creativity to make class life more enjoyable and comfortable (see the video mentioned in reference). In addition to those activities in the classroom, upper-grade students do the ones that are to contribute to the whole school. They do discuss the issues concerning students of all grades, and carry out the decisions that they have reached. The Committee Activity exampled here is the one where upper-grade students with the same interests or talents form groups, discuss the issues, make a consensus, and carry out what they decide together for the benefit of the whole school.
Upper grades in primary school
Student council activity
Meeting once a month, regular activities can be done daily base
- To build relationships between students of different ages and develop an attitude of social participation through student-initiated activities that are usually carried out by autonomous work groups
- To make use of students’ initiatives and creativities and do trial and error, so that to develop an attitude for acting voluntarily and practically in the committee that they belong
- To ensure each student fulfills one’s responsibility in the committee that he or she belongs, so that to gain a sense of self-usefulness and achievement
- To make students get used to discuss and building consensus and working collaboratively on what they decide in their committee
Teaching materials and equipments
(1) Preparation by teacher (see p.2 and P.3 of the Handbook attached)
When introduced in the foreign countries, teachers must discuss and set a list of proposed committees for the school with the information of an appropriate number of students that should belong. It is common in Japan that grade 5 and grade 6 of the primary stage to take part in Committee Activities. In the case of small-scale schools, grade 4 students may be invited to it in addition to grade 5 and grade 6.
(2) Choosing the committee that each student belongs
At the start of the new school year, students are asked which committee they want to join by questionnaire. If the number of students is far more or less than the quota set in the above process, teachers shall look for students who can accept to move from the committee that he/she selects to another.
(3) Annual plan (see p.22 of the Handbook attached)
The teacher in charge of Committee Activities drafts its annual schedule. It should be shared with the teachers of the grades participating in Committee Activities to make sure that there is no overlap with important school events, etc., which should eventually be shared with all teachers in the staff meeting.
(4) First committee activity of students (see p.15 of the Handbook attached)
In the very first activity of the year, each committee chose a chairperson and vice-chairperson from the members of the same committee. The chairperson and vice-chairperson facilitate committee members to discuss the aim of their activity and annual activity plan.
(5) Monthly activities
Thereafter, committee members gather about once a month to discuss implementing the plan as well as carrying out the plan.
(6) Regular Activities
Members of the same committee carry out regular activities according to the plan. Some involve daily work, such as lending out books from the school library and watering plants at the school flower garden, etc. Some do occasional work, such as attending to lost items and replenishing hand washing liquid, making posters and wall newspapers, etc.
(7) Further development
Once students get used to the regular activities, the following further activities can be added.
- Committee Activities display corner (see p.22 of the Handbook attached)
- Organizing school events associated with Committee Activities (see p.17 and 18 of the Handbook attached)
- Retirement ceremony of grade 6 students that is also for handover of responsibility to grade 5 students (see p.21 of the Handbook attached)
Video Material for Elementary School Special Activity (Tokkatsu), National Institute of Educational Policy Research (NIER) Japan
(English subtitle added) https://youtu.be/WIVitAg-BnQ
(English subtitle added) https://youtu.be/qGMPkD0EmOQ
Class activity (1) with the theme of Kakari activity
(English subtitle added) https://youtu.be/DrQhLM0bYvc
【Japan-Saitama Prefecture】 Forest School to Foster Independence in Cooperation with Friends