What's Happening in Character?

A Mid-Year Reflection for Teachers and Students

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 @ 12:12 PM

By Maurice Elias

As we edge towards the end of the calendar year and the first half of the school year, we can benefit from taking stock of what has happened thus far and also, put aside regretful events or actions that might hold us back from a good start in the new year. I have explored these aspects of reflection with staff members, and my dear colleague, Rachael Kessler, of blessed memory, used it with students.

Here is a reflection activity for school leaders to facilitate with faculty, and one for teachers to use with students in secondary schools:

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Topics: character education in high school, social-emotional learning, teacher development, middle school development

Promising Practices Spotlight: Clifton-Clyde High School

Posted by Jesse Marble on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 @ 10:03 AM

Clifton-Clyde High School – Clyde, KS

Program: Mock Interviews

At Clifton-Clyde High School in Clyde, Kansas, students participate in mock interviews to prepare them for life after high school and/or college. This Promising Practice implements two principles from CEP’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education: using a comprehensive approach, and offering a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum.

Each student develops a résumé, cover letter, and application form that addresses their chosen field of study (e.g., medicine, education, etc.). Three weeks before the interview, each student’s information is mailed to the “interviewer” for a personal critique. The students participate in four 15-minute interviews on the day of the mock interviews. One week after the mock interview session, each student will mail the interviewers a follow-up thank you letter, thus preparing them for the “real thing” once they enter the work force.

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

Character Education in the Digital Age

Posted by Sweta Haldar on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 @ 13:01 PM

Note: This is one in a series of excerpts from Jason Ohler’s book, Digital Community, Digital Citizenship, which explores the development of character education for those living a digital lifestyle.


Digital citizenship is the term the world of K12 education has adopted to describe the many ethical and character education issues associated with living a digital lifestyle. While it might seem that the values associated with character education are eternal and wouldn’t change with the evolution of technology, the fact is that enough has changed that we need to call special attention to the unique issues associated with living side by side with the immensely powerful machines of our own creation, within a massively interconnected digital community. This is particularly true for our children, for whom technology and the issues associated with its use are largely invisible.

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Topics: integrity, character education in high school, ethics

How can we create more just and democratic schools?

Posted by Adam Williams on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 @ 17:11 PM

In Marvin Berkowitz’s Hot Topic discussion this afternoon, he didn’t hesitate to cut right to the point. “We need to make schools less like prisons,” he said. “When you think about it, it’s disconcerting how much the analogy fits. How can we create more enlightened and just schools?” Marvin’s talk focused on utilizing empowerment and democracy to accomplish this. 

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Topics: cheating, character, CEPLeaders, character education, key lessons, what works in education, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, student voice, character education in high school, core values, CEPForum10, CEP2012

15 Serious Facts about High School Stress

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 @ 16:02 PM

Every parent and educator must know these troubling facts about our teens. Each fact is a wake-up call, but together they should mean: “Time for Code Red”

This blog was written by the Bachelor’s Degree Online and published with its permission.

One of the greatest lies ever perpetuated about the teen years is that they’re supposedly “the best years of your life.” Ask any high schooler these days how he or she genuinely feels about this statement and the opposite sentiment might very well end up relayed instead.

Every year, more and more pressures regarding classes, getting into the right college (or deciding if college is even the right choice), families, jobs, extracurricular activities, friends, relationships, and other stimuli just keep burbling away beneath their still-developing forms.

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Topics: testing, what works in education, character education in high school, Michele Borba

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

Assessing the Challenge Index

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Wed, May 25, 2011 @ 17:05 PM

Once again Jay Mathews, a reporter for the Washington Post, has released his Challenge Index, the ranking of high schools determined by calculating the number of college level tests taken in a given year divided by the number of graduating seniors.

I was happy to see that McLean High School (where I taught before retiring from teaching and coming to work for CEP) was ranked 13th on the list of schools in the Washington, DC area. It was the highest ranked school in Fairfax County Public School District, a fact that I’m sure made the folks on the McLean faculty proud—especially since they were also ranked high in the national list of the top 200 high schools.  I’m sure there is lots of celebrating going on in schools all over who consider themselves to be among the best high schools in America because they made the list.

But is that legitimate? I agree with Mathews on the need to offer challenging courses to anyone who wants to try. As a former Advanced Placement English teacher, I’ve seen kids who had never taken an advanced class before rise to the challenge in my class. Even if they didn’t pass the test, the introduction to the advanced curriculum and the struggle to learn pays dividends in college, which is what Mathews has found through his research. But being a good school requires so much more than that.

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Topics: testing, Education News, National School of Character, character education in high school, challenge index

The Expenses of Prom

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, May 16, 2011 @ 17:05 PM

Prom, a night intended to be full of fun and revelry, can often be an enormous burden on students from lower-income backgrounds. The need to get the perfect dress or tuxedo, find transportation, partake of a fancy meal, and then perhaps coordinate an after-party (in a safe, legal environment) can be a truly stressful experience for those students.

For this reason, it is always heart-warming to hear about schools or programs that have taken it on themselves to make prom night an option for all who want to attend by alleviating some of the financial considerations surrounding the event.

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Topics: Service learning, student voice, character education in high school

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, Character Education News, character education in curriculum, character education in high school, discipline, CEPForum10