What's Happening in Character Education?

The Digital World: Reduce Restrictions to Increase Competence

Posted by Chris Parrott on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 @ 08:02 AM

By Chris Parrott

As the statistics on cyberbullying and sexting rise, a growing sense of alarm does as well. Parents and educators want to know, “How do we protect our kids? How can we safeguard them against the potential dangers involved in social media and Internet use?”

The truth is: nothing is 100% foolproof. Handling social media and the Internet is a lot like driving a car: risks exist (actually, are everywhere), but you can take precautions. We don’t stop riding in cars even though we know they can be deadly. Car transportation has too many benefits, and cars are an essential a part of our lives: they get us where we need to go for just about everything.

The same is true for the digital world. Just like driving a car, we can get really hurt using social media and the Internet. It’s always possible. But the risks are less when we know how to drive - when we know how to navigate the infosphere (the digital world). Yet, rarely do we “teach” how to handle social media to our kids. Rarely do we have discussions about how to use it properly and what the safety precautions are. Instead, more and more, parents and administrations are restricting access to social media out of fear for what could happen (you can’t drive the car). This is a normal human response. But it is not a response that is always in our children’s best interests.

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Topics: technology, Digital Citizenship

Character & Technology Resource Roundup

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 @ 08:02 AM

At the 2015 National Forum on Character Education, I visited the Center for Civil & Human Rights with a group of educators. I ran into another conference attendee and asked her how she was liked the museum. She excitedly informed me that she was able to videochat one of the classes at her school, using Skype. A group of elementary school students in New York experienced part of this amazing museum in Atlanta, right from their very own classroom. I was amazed by the power of technology to enhance education when you think creatively.

During February, we’ll be posting about how you can harness these powerful technology tools to enhance your teaching and students’ learning.

Still unconvinced you need to enhance your use of technology in the classroom? Start by reading 10 Reasons Today’s Students NEED Technology in the Classroom.

Technology can help you and your class connect with others, build relationships and learn about the world.

As the educator at the conference demonstrated, Skype is a powerful tool. There are plenty of other video-chatting options, but Skype is one of the most popular. You can skype to connect with your class’s favorite authors, interview an expert on a topic your class is researching or even stay in touch with a student who moved away. Check out the Skype in the Classroom blog for more great ideas.

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Topics: technology, Character Educaiton, Digital Citizenship

Make the World Better at the 2016 National Forum

Posted by Heather Cazad on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 @ 07:01 AM

A Message from Heather Cazad, Director of Operations:

During this National Forum in our capital city only a few weeks before a presidential election, we will discuss civic responsibility, creating good citizenship and building leadership in our communities. It’s up to us to make the world better, and we can do that by first developing better people. That’s why we’ve chosen the theme... Educate, Inspire, Empower: Building Productive and Caring Citizens.

With national leadership on our minds, let’s work on helping our students become engaged citizens. Not only are our youth the leaders of tomorrow, we can help encourage them to lead today.

Every fall for the past twenty-two years, educators, researchers, authors, and even students have come together in the interest of improving schools with character education to create a brighter future.

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Topics: National Forum

Character, Literacy, and Language Development at Bayless Junior High

Posted by Bob Efken on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 @ 07:01 AM

By Bob Efken, Assistant Principal and Doug Harness, Principal

Doug and I have been at Bayless Junior High, a small school of 350 students in the Bayless School District, for fourteen years. We love that Bayless is the most culturally diverse district in Missouri, with over 50% of students speaking a primary language other than English. However, this is also our greatest challenge.

The school’s refugee and immigrant families from Bosnia, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and twenty other countries find their way to our community in search of the American Dream, and we consider it an honor to help them accomplish that dream. At Bayless Junior High, we realized ten years ago that our students struggled academically and linguistically. Bayless needed an instructional model that would benefit all students, but especially our growing English Learner population. We began to implement the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol or SIOP, which promotes learning the English language while engaging students in rigorous academic content. SIOP was a perfect fit for our unique school, and the accomplishments of our students have been nothing short of amazing.

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Topics: Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, Academics,, Curriculum Integration

The Journal of Character Education to Address Character & Curriculum

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Wed, Jan 20, 2016 @ 09:01 AM

As you have likely noticed from our recent posts, “A Collaborative Curriculum: The Strengths of PBL,” “How Real World Lessons Lead to Academic Achievement,” and our latest, “4 Tips for Providing Effective Feedback,” this month Character.org is focusing on Principle 6, how to link your character education initiatives to a rigorous curriculum.

With the recent passing of the Every Student Succeeds Act, states have the opportunity to reexamine their curricula and reassess what will work best for their students. It is an exciting time to be learning more about best practices in education and advocating for the whole-child approach to education.

Well, you know what they say, great minds think alike and our friends at the Journal of Character Education have also decided to focus on Character & Academics for their upcoming issue. Below you’ll find a special message from its editor, Dr. Jacques Benninga:

The Journal of Character Education is the only educational journal specifically devoted to research and practice in character education and should be a boon to both practitioners and researchers.  Topics are varied, but include both reports of research and practical applications as well as book reviews and Character.org news and announcements.  This is THE journal in our field.

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Topics: Academics,, Character Educaiton

Infusing Character Into Everyday Teaching & Learning

Posted by Dave Keller on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 @ 08:01 AM

by Dave Keller

Outstanding educators consistently look for ways to infuse character lessons into everyday teaching and learning. When teachers do this consistently, students are far more likely to view character as an integral part of learning and life --- rather than simply another “topic” to learn alongside reading, science, math and many others.

Character.org designed the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education to be a framework and critical reference guide for educators everywhere. No single script exists for effective character education exists, but the 11 Principles serve as guideposts to use to plan and evaluate their programs. 

Within these 11 Principles, Principle 6 represents the glue that connects outstanding classroom learning and fundamental character concepts. Effective character educators model persistence, responsibility, and caring as they differentiate instruction, employ a variety of active teaching and learning strategies, and look for ways that character is potentially developed in and through everyday teaching and learning. 

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Topics: promising practices, 11 Principles, Academics,

4 Tips for Providing Effective Feedback

Posted by Lisa Stutts on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 @ 09:01 AM

 By Lisa Stutts, Special Education Teacher, Northern Parkway School, 2015 National School of Character

As teachers, it is essential that we make the process of providing feedback a positive learning experience for each student. Feedback paves the way for continued learning.

Consider the following 4 tips to effective feedback all while building character.

  1.    Be Specific and Factual

When providing feedback it is very important to be specific. Being specific helps students increase understanding and become partners in the learning process. Although saying “good job” may evoke a smile, it will leave the student with a sense of vagueness.  Those words never tell the learner what he did right, and where might he go next. Statements such as “Not quite there yet” or “almost” don’t give any insight into what was wrong and what can be done differently. Teachers will also be left with the same sense of uncertainty.  This vagueness hinders the assessment process and is not productive. Specific feedback allows students to take

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Topics: Relationship Building, Academics,, Curriculum Integration

9 MLK Quotes to Inspire Your Day of Service

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 @ 07:01 AM

 

For a number of years now, the Corporation for National and Community Service has declared  Martin Luther King Day, “A Day On, Not a Day Off.” It is truly fitting that we honor this American hero by giving back to others.

For lesson plans, promising practices and articles on service learning, we encourage you to become a Character.org member to receive an official Day of Service Toolkit. For inspiration, read these words of wisdom from MLK.

 

1.

 

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Topics: Service learning

A Collaborative Curriculum: The Strengths of PBL

Posted by Pam Mitchell on Thu, Jan 7, 2016 @ 08:01 AM

by Pam Mitchell

Beginning the Journey

Mockingbird Elementary embarked on a Project Based Learning (PBL) journey seven years ago after observing PBL in action at  New Tech High @ Coppell, another school in our district. We had already been focusing on Rigor, Relevance, and Relationship (Dr. Bill Daggett) as a district, and we had also been conducting effective service learning projects for several years. Mockingbird educators were planning challenging, authentic learning experiences as well as outstanding service learning projects, so PBL was a natural progression for our innovative educators.

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Topics: character education in curriculum, intrinsic motivation, Academics,, Curriculum Integration

How Real World Lessons Lead to Academic Achievement

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jan 5, 2016 @ 05:01 AM

by Becky Sipos

When I was a beginning teacher, I was often dismayed how students didn’t improve their writing very much despite my best instruction. When I was “forced into” sponsoring the school newspaper as a job requirement and I began teaching journalism, I was amazed by the writing growth I saw in my students. What made such a difference?

As I began to assess the situation and to figure out what made the difference, a figurative light bulb went off. Students were doing real work for a real audience, and they wanted to do well. Students had a choice in the type of assignments they had. And they were truly responsible for their work. In my typical English class, if they didn’t do their work, they would get a poor grade and I would be upset. But on the newspaper staff, if they didn’t do the work, someone else would have to do it. After all, no newspaper leaves a big blank space that says “so and so didn’t finish his story.” Students who didn’t complete assignments had to deal with the wrath of their classmates. They immediately saw the impact of their failure to meet deadlines.

When the paper was published, they also learned immediately how well they did. If readers liked their stories or photos, they would get praise from teachers and students alike. If they got something wrong, boy, did people let them know. They soon learned emphatically the journalism rule of double checking and having multiple sources. The old journalism adage “If your mother says she loves you, check it out” was not a joke.

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Topics: Academics,, Curriculum Integration