What's Happening in Character?

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

Promising Practices Spotlight: Bayless Elementary School

Posted by Sweta Haldar on Mon, Mar 11, 2013 @ 09:03 AM

Bayless Elementary School – St. Louis, MO

Program: Character Camp

Bayless Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri, created a year-end celebration called Character Camp. This Promising Practice empowers students, teachers, and parents to research and create various stations that emphasize the character traits.

Here’s an example of how it worked one year. First, the teachers came up with a theme for the camp, e.g., “Where in the world is Character Carl?” Next, the students and teachers held class meetings to choose a destination for Character Carl to visit. The students had to research the destination so they’d be able to represent the location (through decorations) at the activity site. The decorations were also used at Character Camp, to tie it all together.

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Topics: character, character education, character education in curriculum

Should We Require Teaching Digital Citizenship? Yes.

Posted by Jason Ohler on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 @ 11:11 AM

Digital citizenship should not only be required, it should also become the primary lens through which we ask our children and ourselves to view the world. Our prosperity, humanity, and indeed even our survival, may well depend on it.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, technology, student voice, cyberbullying

What Does It Mean to be a Character Role Model?

Posted by Bradley Warner on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 @ 09:11 AM

In my last blog I challenged myself, and probably meant to challenge you as well, by asking, “What am I going to do about my character development that will have a positive impact on my students?” In this blog I will explain one example of how I have attempted to answer this question in my classroom.

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Topics: role models, character, character education in curriculum, what works in education

Why do these National Schools of Character do character education?

Posted by Adam Williams on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 @ 18:11 PM

This afternoon the National Forum on Character Education was celebrated the 20 public schools, 3 private schools, 1 charter school, and 1 school district who became National Schools of Character this year. In a May press release, Lara Maupin stated that “These schools have built strong communities that bring people together around shared goals. Nobody feels alone or unwelcome in these schools. Adults are all on the same page about what’s important and, as a result, kids thrive.”

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Topics: character, character education, CEP2012, character education in curriculum, Education News, National School of Character

Day 1 Recap

Posted by Jesse Marble on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 @ 21:11 PM

We just wrapped up an outstanding first day at the 2012 the National Forum on Character Education - #cep2012. The day was filled with lots of excitement and energy.

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Topics: character, CEP2012, character education in curriculum, parent involvement, family

Where the Spirit of Learning Soars & Character Grows: a Good-to-Great Story

Posted by Scott Taylor on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 @ 10:10 AM

Eight years ago, Crestwood Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri, became truly engaged in character education. We were already a pretty good school and doing some character education, but a district decision directed all schools to do more character education following the Caring School Community (CSC) program with its emphasis on autonomy, belonging, and competence. A leadership team of four staff and one parent became excited about the possibilities that an increased focus on character education could bring to our school. Now, eight years later Crestwood has just finished a remarkable year when we were named not only a National School of Character, but a National Blue Ribbon School as well —the only school in the nation to receive both of these prestigious national awards.

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Topics: Forum Speakers, character education in curriculum, leadership, National School of Character, what works in education

Words into Action: Service Learning as a Teaching Strategy

Posted by Cathy Berger Kaye on Tue, Oct 9, 2012 @ 10:10 AM

What is Service Learning?

Simply put, service learning occurs in classrooms as students connect academics—skills and content—with authenticated community needs. Students grow a garden in science class that provides produce for a food bank or orphanage. While studying about World War II, students interview veterans of a past or current war to gain a deeper understanding of the particularities that affect men and women who serve, and use these stories to create a publication or performance to share what they learned with others. Students might take on an environmental issue, like the preponderance of single-use plastic water bottles that fill up dumpsters everywhere. They can use their persuasive writing abilities to develop a convincing marketing campaign for reusable water bottles and create PSAs to broadcast on local radio. And after interviewing the head of a local school with minimum resources, students have connected classroom studies to creating teaching resources that improve educational opportunities in their own backyard.

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Topics: Forum Speakers, Service learning, character education in curriculum, National Forum

Connecting Service Learning to Character and Academic Growth

Posted by David Wangaard on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 @ 12:07 PM

David Wangaard, Ed.D., is the Director of the School for Ethical Education and author of this post.

In working or visiting with teachers, I often find they think service learning is just adult-led community service. Service learning is, however, quite distinct from community service. See the eight quality standards for service learning that The National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) has published to define effective practice. 

I want to talk about three of these standards to highlight how they advance excellent character and academic growth in students: 

  1. Students are engaged in planning, implementing and evaluating the project;
  2. Teachers plan into the project specific academic objectives aligned with school curricular goals or standards; and
  3. All project participants engage in formative and summative reflection.

All three of these standards, in addition to the other five noted by the NYLC, create a meaningful distinction between traditional community service and the robust teaching strategy of service learning. These standards are also linked to many of Character.org's 11 Principles.

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Topics: Service learning, character education in curriculum, National School of Character

Solutionary Education Reform

Posted by Zoe Weil on Tue, Jul 3, 2012 @ 10:07 AM

Education is in the news these days, with feature-length documentaries such as “Waiting for Superman” and "Bully" at theaters alongside “Toy Story III” and "The Avengers." Tom Friedman at The New York Timescalls the education beat the most exciting one of our time for journalists. Never in my lifetime has education been such a hot topic. Yet, the conversation about education reform is so terribly missing the mark.

The gaping hole in the current debates about education is the failure to assess our ultimate goal. In “Waiting for Superman,” for example, the ultimate purpose of schooling — depicted almost farcically through cartoon images in the movie — is the better filling of each child’s head with information rather than the better cultivation of great critical and creative thinkers. As William Butler Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” Our current goal is anything but lighting a fire.

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Topics: Forum Speakers, character education in curriculum, core values, what works in education

Earth Day Service-Learning Ideas

Posted by Katie Hood on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 @ 16:04 PM

Many educators believe that when a student has a personal connection to the subject that they are studying, student retention is higher and true learning takes place. Connecting emotion to academics gives students and teachers a way to learn together, while still embracing the new core standards. Service and project-based learning is a perfect way to infuse the curriculum with an emotional component.

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Topics: Service learning, character education in curriculum

Technology and Character Education

Posted by Lindsey Wright on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 @ 17:09 PM

By Lindsey Wright

The use of technology has been a growing force in education. Once, classrooms were relatively isolated, nestled into a school in a suburb, small town or city. Now, regardless of physical location, today's students have access to the larger world through the Internet. However, the focus of education itself has not necessarily changed.

Educating has always been about preparing students to be successful citizens, in whatever way possible. Strong reading, writing and math skills continue to be important, as does character. Being able to get along with others, having self-control and patience, being honest and trustworthy: these have always been traits teachers have hoped to instill in their students, and that remains true today.

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Topics: Forum Speakers, character education in curriculum, technology, student voice

Where Gardens Grow Character

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 9, 2011 @ 17:09 PM

We believe gardening in schools is a necessity.

Most of us probably know that school gardens are a great teaching tool that can be used to enrich curriculum and improve physical health, but we believe in gardens as a way to grow character.  We see this everyday in our garden.

We see children sharing, working hard, and being kind. We watch kids grow responsibility as well as vegetables. We see kids engaged, excited, motivated, and proud of their school.  We watch as kids make connections between their school, their community, and the planet.

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Topics: Forum Speakers, character education in curriculum, National School of Character

Start the School Year Off Right

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 @ 17:08 PM

A focus on the whole child and each child's moral and social development pervades the program at Beauvoir the National Cathedral Elementary School, a 2011 National School of Character. The school invests a great deal of time and resources into the "social curriculum," which is seen as being just as important as, and even part of, the academic curriculum.

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Topics: character education in curriculum, student voice, National School of Character

The Power of Revisions, Part II

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Aug 15, 2011 @ 17:08 PM

by Mark Schumacker, Beavercreek Schools teacher

As most teachers do, I always look at what I am doing and analyze the success of my work.  I want to make sure I am doing the best I can and if I am not, I want to figure out what can I do to improve my product.  The work ethic, drive, passion, effort, and academic achievement of my students are the means to my analysis.  The revision policy, as well as our goal system, has allowed many of my students to achieve success more aligned with their actual ability (and beyond in some cases).  This has been a true joy to personally witness.

An area I have struggled with since my first year teaching, is motivating the kids that seem to not care.  Every year I have a group of kids who refuse to work for me, accept failure, and seem rather apathetic towards turning this vicious cycle around.  And every year I bust my tail trying to motivate these kids.  I contact their parents, I offer help, I give second and third chances, but by the second semester I am ready to give up.  Have you been here before?  Can you relate?  We don't want to give up, but we feel as if we have given so much and received little effort in return.  It is frustrating.  We begin to worry about the other 110 kids in the classroom who ARE willing to work.  Have we now neglected them?

I have tried everything!  Have you ever said that?  Did yo

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Topics: character education in curriculum, character education in high school

Attending the Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools annual conference

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 @ 17:08 PM

Federal education conference emphasizes the importance of school climate

by Lara Maupin, Director SSOC/NSOC

Joe Mazzola and I attended the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools annual conference this week. We were quite pleased to see the Department’s emphasis on how school climate can enhance the conditions for learning reflected in the selection of keynote speakers and workshops. Researchers and practitioners shared how improving school climate can improve academic achievement and reduce bullying.

We were especially thrilled that the Department asked dynamic principal Kristen Pelster of Ridgewood Middle School in Missouri to be the kickoff keynote speaker. Kristen told her school’s powerful story of transformation from the worst school in the district to National School of Character. How did they do it? Character education! By holding kids to high expectations and giving them the support they needed to meet those expectations, Ridgewood culture began to change. Over time, Kristen was able to empower her teachers and students. Without changing anything about how they taught academics, Ridgewood students improved academically. Of course, this is a story we know well at CEP. We see it repeated time and time again in our

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Topics: Character Education News, school climate, character education in curriculum, Office of Safe and Drug Free schools

Save our Schools March in Washington

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Jul 31, 2011 @ 17:07 PM

Yesterday more than 5,000 teachers and supporters gathered on the Ellipse for the Save Our Schools  rally and march to the White House. I decided to attend along with my son, his wife and her parents, who came down from New York City to show support. Quite frankly, I thought there'd be an even bigger crowd, but I'm sure the nearly 100-degree heat deterred many. Nevertheless, it was an enthusiastic group, and  we heard some excellent speeches.

I was struck by Linda Darling Hammond's statistics--we have 5% of the world's population, but 25% of its prison inmates. She compared how little we spend per pupil for education t

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Topics: character education in curriculum, testing, student voice, teachers

Creating "a culture of integrity" in Atlanta Public Schools

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 @ 17:07 PM

It’s comforting to see something good come out of something bad.  There’s not much more scorn that can be heaped upon the Atlanta Public Schools after the cheating debacle that surfaced this week in the news, shedding light on a scandal involving educators, administrators, standardized test scores, shocking lapses in morals, and examples set for our nations’ students that will take years of effort to undo.  But yesterday’s revelations are a huge step in the right direction. 

According to Interim Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr., Atlanta Public Schools will work toward achieving “a culture of integrity” as well as a “more open and transparent culture” among its schools, administrators, and teachers.  Too little, too late?  Certainly not. It’s a monumental step in the right direction, and CEP would like to offer information and resources

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, community of character

Pulling up bootstraps

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 @ 17:06 PM

We’ve recently posted some great news articles on our Facebook page from around the country about communities that inject valuable character education into the local sports scenes.  The Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy Leadership and Character Development Camp in Vero Beach, Florida emphasizes character education at their summer camp.  Midnight Basketball in Taylor, Texas is more informal, yet is a well-known gathering place for teens to play in a pick-up game at night and benefit from the wisdom and values shared by local mentors and leaders. 

On a similar note, this year’s Promising Practices winners include schools like Gallup Hill Elementary in Ledyard Connecticut and South Grafton Elementary in South Grafton, Massachusetts whose P.E. teachers have helped to transform the recess period into constructive game time using character education and organized athletic activity. Their actions have greatly diminished playground shenanigans and bullying and encouraged cooperative play and teamwork.

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Topics: character education in curriculum, resiliency, bullying advice

Earth Day Activities

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Apr 22, 2011 @ 17:04 PM

In honor of Earth Day today, April 22nd, here are some highlights from our resources related to the environment, science, and "going green." When you have a chance, be sure to check out the rest of the lesson plans and best practices provided by our wonderful exemplary schools.

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Topics: Service learning, character education in curriculum

Challenge All Students to Seek Mastery over Performance

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 @ 17:04 PM

By Peggy Lobello, 4th Grade Teacher
Orrs Elementary, Griffin, GA

Students come to us in all shapes and sizes. They come in all abilities as well. It is an ongoing task charged to educators to find ways to challenge students at all levels of ability. Teachers at Orrs Elementary School work together to provide meaningful learning experiences at all level of mastery.

Lessons based on choice menus by interest or learning style is one way to challenge students. Another way to challenge students is to provide differentiated lessons to meet the needs of all learners. Teacher-led small groups in reading or math can provide challenging opportunities with teacher direction.

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Topics: Character Education News, character education in curriculum, National School of Character

Bowls for Hunger

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 @ 18:03 PM

CEP's March focus is Principle 5: Providing Opportunities for Moral Action. The following service learning idea was submitted by Tina Sohn, Art Teacher & District Character Leader, Sullivan Primary School a 2010 Nationa School of Character, Sullivan, Missouri . We'd love to hear what your school is doing.

Sullivan Primary School (pre-K through first grade) weaves character into every facet of their day. At such an early age, students are given many opportunities to apply values in everyday discussions and play.

One project that started as a small building service project grew to a district-wide project that now includes every campus in the school district, community businesses, citizens, parents, children, and school staff. The “Bowls for Hunger “soup supper night brings all stakeholders together for an exciting night with donations of goods and services as well as building relationships.

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Topics: Character Education News, character education, Service learning, character education in curriculum, student voice, National School of Character, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum

History of Julian - Youth Service Project

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 @ 17:03 PM

Nancy Younce submitted this story of one of Julian Elementary School's service projects.

The students at Julian Elementary School, a have been focusing on showcasing their Service Learning Projects each year on Global Youth Service Day.  This has made the projects more meaningful to them, with guidance and instruction for high quality service learning.

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Topics: Service learning, character education in curriculum, National School of Character

Building a Caring Community

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Sun, Feb 13, 2011 @ 18:02 PM

This post was written by Jessica Skinner, School Counselor at Lake Carolina Elementary School in Blythewood, South Carolina

Building a caring learning community goes beyond the four walls of a classroom.  At Lake Carolina Elementary, the faculty and staff have been deliberate in their approach to developing a caring community since the school opened in 2002.  We have worked to foster authentic relationships among students, faculty, families, and other members of our surrounding neighborhoods. We acknowledge that each of these stakeholders is an essential part.

As a team of educators, we realize that in order to build a strong school community, it is imperative to invest in each other as colleagues.  Teachers participate in professional workshops and outside-of-school activities to cultivate genuine relationships with each other and develop the faculty into a cohesive team. What we learn as professionals is then transferred into individual classroom communities by incorporating strategies such as daily morning meetings and end of day closure gatherings that give students the opportunity to connect with one another.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Character Education News, character education, character education in curriculum, National School of Character, community of character

Bullying in Schools: A Strategic Solution

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 @ 18:01 PM

Written by Joseph W. Mazzola President & CEO Character Education Partnership

Bullying in our nation’s schools is rampant.

Consider the following data points from the 2010 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit: every day, 160,000 students stay home out of fear of getting bullied at school; 1 in 3 students will be bullied this year (about 18M young people); 75-80% of all students observe bullying; and, depending on definition, 15-35% of students are victims of cyber-bullying.

Fortunately, our elected officials and others are now taking bold action. To their credit, for example, 43 states have passed anti-bullying legislation. 

I had the honor of representing CEP at the Summit. The key takeaways were: (1) bullying in schools is widespread; (2) the ramifications are very serious; (3) we need to learn more through research; (4) several government agencies are truly committed to taking this issue on; (5) policies and definitions need attention and clarity; (6) there are 67 programs that claim to combat bullying; (7) none of them has been shown to be effective through research; and (8) there is no simple, silver bullet solution.

As with all complex and chronic problems in our schools, narrowly focused intervention strategies typically fail to make a lasting impact. Zero tolerance policies, hallway posters and such all sound very good in theory. There is no doubt that they are also implemented by well-meaning people who really do want to make things better. However, according to many experts, such measures are shallow in nature and thus fail to achieve their intended purpose, especially over the long haul.

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Topics: character education, school climate, character education in curriculum, discipline, National School of Character, bullying advice

Optimizing the High School Experience

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jul 27, 2010 @ 18:07 PM

Since my first blog post generated a response from a high school teacher wondering about what the Forum will offer for educators at the secondary level, I thought I’d feature one of our PreForum workshops today: Optimizing the High School Experience.

Just take a look at the takeaways:

Participants will learn how to help secondary students...

  • Develop skills in perspective taking and empathy that lead to respectful and compassionate behavior.
  • Appreciate diversity and work collaboratively with their peers.
  • Build safe and respectful environments in their classrooms and school.
  • Develop positive relationships with their teachers.
  • Address underlying thoughts and emotions that interfere with learning.
  • Become self-motivated and engaged learners.
  • Identify their strengths, set goals, and prepare for their future.
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Topics: Character Education News, character education, character education in curriculum, discipline, CEPForum10, character education in high school

The Greenfield Way: Transforming our School Culture with Character-Based Discipline

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jun 7, 2010 @ 18:06 PM

By Claudia St. Amour, counselor

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Character Education News, character education in curriculum, discipline, testing, student voice

Assessment and Sustainability

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, May 20, 2010 @ 18:05 PM

Posted by Brian McKenney, Principal, Long School

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, S.R. Covey suggests that when planning a program one should start with the end in mind.  At Long School, before planning new initiatives, the character leadership team analyzes data from the CHARACTERplus® School Report, completed each spring, to get a basic picture of the current state of our school.

The CHARACTERplus® School Report is a survey of staff, students, and parents designed to assess individuals’ opinions, feelings, and beliefs about the school.  That data provides useful information, from which the character education team identifies specific areas of need (e.g. Students’ Feelings of Belonging, School Expectations, etc.) that correlate with principles from Character Education Partnership’s Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education.  At Long School, assessment plays the role of bridge between what has been and what should be.  It is the end and the beginning of an endless cycle of school improvement.

The likelihood that character initiatives will survive and thrive over the years, regardless of changes in student population, personnel, and community is also carefully considered when planning new initiatives.

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Topics: Character Education News, character education, character education in curriculum, testing

"Character By Design" - Systematic Character Education Curriculum Development

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Apr 12, 2010 @ 18:04 PM

Submitted by Donna Dunar, principal, Alta Leary Elementary School

What’s that old adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention”? In 2009, we earned National Schools of Character (NSOC) winner status; in 2008, we earned standing as “finalist.” As a finalist in the NSOC process, our site visitors rightly recommended that we work on the integration of character education so as to make it more systematic. We took this feedback to heart as we grappled with what this actually meant.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Character Education News, character education, character education in curriculum, leadership, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum

Character Education Strategies for Life

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jan 19, 2010 @ 18:01 PM

The following was written by Denise Arvidson, principal, Col. John Robinson School, Westford, Massachusetts. What are your character education strategies for life?

Peace-It-Together:  Character Education Strategies for Life
What do playgrounds, lunchrooms, buses, after school programs and neighborhoods all have in common? They are the “hot spots” where many social and behavioral issues take root and then encroach on classroom learning time. Twelve years ago, some members of our school decided to take a proactive approach and formed a study group to address these issues. The  result was a curriculum to give students the skills and strategies to become effective problem solvers in and out of school.

As we developed and implemented lessons, the Peace-It-Together program was born. The program has three components that include lessons on Building Community, Making and Keeping Friends and Making a Difference.

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Topics: character education in curriculum, student voice

Character Integration - authentic or artificial?

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Tue, Jun 9, 2009 @ 18:06 PM

Which is best? Or does it matter? In our preK-3 character building, the character lessons serve as something tangible for our young students to connect with and hold on to as they learn all about the pillars of character. Because of their developmental age, trustworthiness, for example, is kind of an abstract concept, but when we pitch a quarter - which represents a lie - in to a bucket of water and then give the students an "honest abe" penny to pitch in to show that it's impossible to cover up a lie, now we've done some science with the water displacement and given students a concrete visual of the ripple effects that lying and then trying to cover it up can have.

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Topics: character education in curriculum, teachable moments, National School of Character, what works in education

More on Integrating Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Jun 1, 2009 @ 18:06 PM

Dr. Peter R. Greer, former headmaster of Montclair Kimberly Academy (NJ) and member of CEP's Blue Ribbon Panel, adds to the dialogue on integrating character education into the curriculum. He is the author of "Character Education on the Cheap"  [http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/11/14/12greer.h27.html.]

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Topics: CEPLeaders, character education in curriculum, National School of Character