What's Happening in Character Education?

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

Connecting Character and Content

Posted by Gary Smit on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 @ 11:04 AM

by Gary Smit

Finding time for building character in schools and in students within the context of the academic curriculum can be a challenge. Since school is the first social structure the child encounters, the setting provides an excellent opportunity for character building. However, this must be more than a poster on the wall, a favorite maxim to share or selection of a monthly student of character.

Richard Jones has said, “It is primarily the teacher’s responsibility to engage the students, as opposed to the teacher expecting students to come to class naturally and automatically engaged.”  With this understanding, character building requires a proactive approach through planned learning experiences and activities within the classroom. By being part of a school-wide initiative, we realize that character and values should be weaved through every aspect of school life, including the academic curriculum, co-curricular activities, staff modeling, and all human relationships.

How then can character traits and values be taught within the context of the school curriculum? I have come to understand that there are four ways for the classroom teacher to directly instill values in students, regardless of the students' ages.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, Curriculum Integration

Time for Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 @ 10:11 AM

Third in a series by student teacher Rebecca Bauer. She graduated from a National School of Character and wants to make sure that as a teacher she includes character education, but she is finding it challenging.

Even at an elementary school as great as the one that I was working at, I still felt the need to “sneak in” character education. The classroom environment encouraged respect and responsibility, but another part of the character education equation, critical thought and discussion, was missing.  Despite believing deeply in the importance of character education, I felt uncomfortable making time to devote entire lessons to it, especially in a classroom that I was only borrowing for a couple months. While I have read and will continue to read ways to incorporate character education into the common core standards requirements, as a student teacher trying to get by, my survival strategy turned into simply sprinkling in character education wherever I could.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, teachable moments, student teaching, Bauer Rebecca

Literature as a Path to Good Character and Better Decisions

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 @ 04:10 AM

By Stephen Ellenwood

Good literature can help us understand both a range of nuances regarding key virtues such as kindness, persistence, or honesty and the complexities of how to answer questions that require, for example, both kindness and honesty. This approach is based in part on Jessamyn West’s wise counsel, “Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.”

Good stories with believable characters and situations help students understand the fine points of both language and character. These stories also focus on how students create and become a member of a caring community. 

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, what works in education, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, social responsibility

A Virtues-Based Community: More than just a Dream

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 @ 07:10 AM

By Dr. Raquel Castrodad
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” – William Arthur Ward

The quote from what is a brilliant ad slogan, “Just Do it!,” should be the guiding light and starting point of this voyage towards achieving a virtues-based community. It was for us. We are just a rural school in the middle of a little island, but we had big dreams (and now have even bigger dreams). Stephen Butler Leacock may have said it best when he said, “It may be that those who do most, dream most.”

The attainment of a virtues-based community requires a vision, a plan, the will, and the courage to act. The vision begins. As the possibilities are explored, the vision expands. The journey has begun. It truly is as simple as that! “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.” said James Allen.

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Topics: character, character education, school climate, character education in curriculum, National School of Character, National Forum, CEPForum13, community of character, virtues

The OCHO Project: Read for a Need--Teaching Children to Help Others

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Sep 29, 2013 @ 19:09 PM

By Marilyn Perlyn

The OCHO Project: Read for a Need(Opportunities for Children to Help Others) exposes children to the joys of reading while teaching them that they can help others less fortunate than themselves. It is an elementary school program in which students embark on a 6-8 week literacy journey that is infused with eighteen character traits and service learning.

Children are asked several months later if they would like to share a book with another child in a different part of the world. Each year, donated books are brought to a different country by Marilyn Perlyn, founder of the OCHO Project. Books have already been donated to kids in need in Tanzania, India, Vietnam, Laos, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, and Namibia. In 2014 we will visit China!

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Topics: key lessons, character education, Service learning, character education in curriculum, National Forum, what works in education, international education, CEPForum13, Perlyn Maryilyn

Character Is Our Super Power

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Sep 22, 2013 @ 14:09 PM

 by Barbara Gruener

Is anyone out there as excited about the upcoming CEP National Forum as I am? One of my very favorite things about October is the chance to connect with other character educators from around the US and beyond its borders. It’s been an annual booster shot for me since I first attended when the Conference was held in Houston back in 2004.

Our school, Westwood Elementary, was selected the inaugural Texas State School of Character in 2007 and then honored with the National School of Character distinction in 2009. What an invigorating time that was for our school family. But we didn’t stay atop that mountain for long. Shortly after our celebration, budget cuts meant we’d be merging with the 4th and 5th grade campus next door; we are now navigating a new normal as a preK-5 school family.

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Topics: character, character education, character education in curriculum, National School of Character, National Forum, social-emotional learning, empathy

Powerful Analogies From Nature that Build Character

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 @ 14:09 PM

by Barbara A. Lewis

Do you want to know something so strong that it survived the atomic explosion on Hiroshima? Might you guess a 400-pound gorilla that can hoist up 10 times its body weight?

Or how about Iron Man or the Hulk (not fair—they’re not real)?  Or what about the annoying cockroach?  Well, you would be right about the cockroach (which gives you a clue as to why they’re so hard to expel from your house). 

But you might not have considered bamboo. Surprise! Bamboo has more tensile strength than steel.  Knowing this, you might choose to build your next home with bamboo, because it could withstand 9.0 magnitude earthquake and last for hundreds of years. (You might want a new house before then though.)

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Topics: key lessons, character, character education, character education in curriculum, National Forum, CEPForum13, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, empathy

Using Assessment for Sustainability and Impact in Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 6, 2013 @ 12:09 PM

By Matt Davidson


I have been an advocate for and practitioner of assessment in the field of character education for nearly 20 years. Much has changed in education over that time period. In particular, the importance of using data to guide practice has grown significantly. In the field of character education much of the early practice in the field was primarily driven by intuition and conviction—that is, by a general belief in the importance of positive character values, strong school culture, and a safe and engaging climate. Intuition and conviction aren’t in and of themselves wrong or misguided. However, the science of character and culture has evolved considerably and best practice in the field is now guided by both the art and science education.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, assessment, assessment and character education

Promising Practices Spotlight: Bonneville Elementary School

Posted by Jesse Marble on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 @ 10:03 AM

Bonneville Elementary School – Salt Lake City, UT

Program: Go Green

Bonneville Elementary School in Salt Lake City, Utah, created a Promising Practice called the “Go Green” Team. Third-graders discovered how to “Go Green” through activities such as the Morning Mile, the “Go Green” Operas, the Recycled Gifts Boutique, and the Recycling Science Fair project.

The Morning Mile improved academic scores, health, and taught children the benefits of walking over driving: less driving decreases air pollution and global warming. The students explored the meaning of reduce, reuse, recycle, as well as how to promote renewable energy sources by producing an original “Go Green” opera to share with the community.

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Topics: Service learning, character education in curriculum, promising practices