What's Happening in Character Education?

3 Ways to Improve Learning, Social Relationships and Character with Music

Posted by Lynne Kenney on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 @ 09:01 AM

When we think of music, often what comes to mind is song. We may think of Broadway musicals, Bach or Justin Timberlake. In our minds we might imagine orchestras or pianists. Music has been central to civilization for thousands of years. In fact, before we had language we used musical tones and sounds to communicate. The tone of a grunt signaled a message in our prehistoric ancestors, while the beat of a drum brought village people together in unity far and wide. What we think of a little less often is what music is made of and how it impacts our learning, behavior and social relationships.

Music is all around us as we hear the subway cling and clatter, the pitter-patter of our children’s footsteps and the ambient noise inherent in life.Music engages our sensory, motor and auditory pathways in the brain fostering engagement and synchronicity (Patel & Iverson, 2014). Curiously, the ability to synchronize with a beat is associated with learning language and grammar (Corriveau & Goswami, 2009; Gordon et al. 2015).

At its core music is made of beats and rhythms that create sound, melody and even movement. These beats
and rhythms are meaningful scaffolds we can use in school, at home and in life to enhance foundational aspects of our learning, behavior and character.

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Topics: character, Music

Farewell--The Case for Character goes on

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 @ 08:12 AM

As I contemplate my retirement at the end of this month, I have been reflecting a lot about Character.org and the state of character today. As an organization, we have much to celebrate. Some notable numbers:

  • Largest group of National Schools of Character in our 2016 class
  • Significant growth in applicants for 2017 from 28 different states, 12 more than last year
  • Most participants ever in our National Forum
  • Highest ratings ever for programming--both at the conference and in recent trainings (more than 90% out rated sessions a 4 or 5 out of 5 )
  • Recent grants and donations are spurring new momentum and innovations. (Look for a redesigned and improved website in 2017.)
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Topics: character, Sipos Becky ,

10 Best Blogs of 2016: Character.org Edition

Posted by Character.org Staff on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 @ 13:12 PM


 

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Topics: character

Every Day is Character Day

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 @ 12:09 PM

Last week we celebrated Character Day along with 90,000 organizations in 124 countries around the world. It has been exciting to watch the exponential growth of Character Day in just three years. Clearly there is interest in the idea of character and momentum is building.

In Tiffany Schlain’s Character Day movie “The Science of Character,” she inserts this quote that she attributes to Frank Outlaw. “ Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.”
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Topics: character, Character Day

Encouraging Good Character on the First Day: 3 MORE ways to prepare your classroom for excellence

Posted by Calvary Diggs on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 @ 09:08 AM


Last week, I shared 3 great ways to prepare your classroom for excellence as you head back to school. This week, here are three more ways to improve your room!Tip 4: Developing "eyes in the back of your head"

Tip 4: Developing "eyes in the back of your head"

Have you ever had one of those moments that, with just the sound of your voice, you got a student, on the brink breaking down, back on track? Maybe your back was turned but you felt something or you just knew exactly what to say. For these moments to happen, it takes foresight on your part but also your students must know what they should be doing.

So what does this mean? If we want to encourage good character in our classrooms, everyone has to be on the same page about what that means and looks like.

Set Class Rules: Enlist your class to create rules on the first day of school. It fosters a sense of ownership for those rules. They won’t simply be the teacher’s rules, they become their rules. Some studies suggest that if you give students the proper guidelines for developing class rules, what students come up with is about the same as anything you would have picked, given the same criteria. So what are those guidelines?

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Topics: character, discipline, teachers

Character and Academics--How to Integrate

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 @ 13:08 PM

I’ve been thinking a lot about our focus this month on integrating academics and character education in the classroom. We truly believe they should be intertwined, but sometimes when I go to a school for a site visit evaluation, I observe lessons that seem like were planned just for my visit, as if someone had said, “Be sure to teach a character lesson today.”

I like it best when I get to observe a challenging academic lesson that engages the students and incorporates the natural intersections with character that most content contains. Exploring the ethical issues in science, debating historical decisions, and of course, exploring character traits and ethical dilemmas in literature are obvious choices, but there are ethical considerations in every subject.
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Topics: character, teachers, intrinsic motivation

The Power of Reading

Posted by Dave Keller on Wed, Mar 2, 2016 @ 04:03 AM

by Dave Keller

As a parent, some of my fondest memories revolve around countless evenings reading with my children. Most families have their own personalized rituals -- my family is no different. For us, reading was more of an event, rather than a mere activity. We read together as a group, often using silly accents and eccentric voice characterizations. Stuffed animals joined in nightly, with my children giving them voice and various quirks as they read certain page.

My children are largely grown now. The days of huddling together reading stories heading into bedtime are long gone.

I’m not sure I realized it at the time, but, looking back, I now realize much more was happening during those times than merely spending quality time together -- even more than simply teaching my children to read. We were modeling the joy of reading to our kids. We were increasing their desire to learn.

We were also passing along important character lessons, both directly and indirectly. We’d talk about the choices of characters -- and the consequences of those choices. We talked about how the characters treated one another. We talked about desired qualities such as honesty, kindness, and perseverance.

The cognitive benefits of reading are well-known. Research clearly shows consistent reading with children improves critical thinking, brain development, and enhanced communication skills. Indeed, the month of March has several focus points for reading: March is National Reading Month, and March 2 is designated as Read Across America Day by the National Education Association.

As a character educator, I am particularly interested in harnessing the power of reading to help develop character values in young people. Character.org has consistently recognized schools across the country with academic initiatives that enhance character development, through both our National Schools of Character and our Promising Practices programs.

 One of our current initiatives is an emerging partnership with the great folks at First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides access to new books for children in need. To date, First Book has distributed more than 135 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education by making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis.

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Topics: character, parent involvement, Parenting, Literacy, Reading

Introducing our Champions of Character

Posted by Character.org Staff on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 @ 11:11 AM

 

We’d like you to meet a newly assembled team of loyal Character.org supporters, our Champions of Character. Champions of Character are membership ambassadors for Character.org. They help us stay in tune with the needs and interests of our members as well as being character education experts in their own right. These individuals understand the transformative power of the 11 Principles of Character Education and have been strong advocates for character education in their schools, districts and states. Learn more about them below!

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Topics: character

Coaching for Character: Tips from Dale Murphy's Writing

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 @ 17:03 PM

For most American sports fans, this is an incredibly exciting week. It marks the beginning of the men's and women's NCAA College Basketball tournaments (a.k.a. "March Madness"). Each year, these tournaments bring a unique blend of drama, heartwarming human-interest stories, intriguing match-ups, and --- each year without fail --- upsets by underdog teams. For some, these tournaments are more exciting than the World Series or the Super Bowl.

One of the more compelling aspects of the NCAA tournaments is the profound impact of coaching. Whether the team is a household name, or an underdog squad known by very few, coaches roam the sidelines barking out encouragement (or stern correction) to their players. Players respond with maximum effort. It is truly a magical thing to observe. In reality, the tournament games are merely the culmination of months and months of hard work and coaching throughout a grueling season.

This coaching phenomenon is not unique to college basketball. ALL coaches, in ALL sports, at ALL developmental levels, have profound influence on their players.

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Topics: character, Sportsmanship

Placemats for Kindness

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 @ 15:02 PM

After seeing so many schools enthusiastically participating in Random Acts of Kindness week, I continue to think about the important role that kindness plays in any school environment. National School of Character, John Poole Middle School (Poolesville, Maryland) is dedicated to encouraging kindness and the community has found creative and engaging ways to integrate this value into their daily lives. From shout-outs to appreciate their teachers to their active participation in the Great Kindness Challenge, students at John Poole are not simply learning about kindness for a special week in the year, they are practicing it on an ongoing basis. Even more impressive than these acts of kindness, is the school’s dedication to making kindness a part of everything that they do.

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Topics: character, Kindness,