What's Happening in Character?

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

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

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

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