What's Happening in Character?

Empowering Students Through Self-Assessment

Posted by Svetlana Nikic on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 @ 08:04 AM

By Svetlana Nikic, Academic Instruction Coordinator & Algebra Teacher, Busch Middle School of Character

In these times of great technological change and computer apps, teachers are inundated with data and therefore often puzzled how to revise their approaches to assessment that often fails to inform about direct learning, teaching and the whole child. To resolve this dilemma in my Algebra 150 class, I developed a scorecard for daily lessons, skills, activities and homework.

Students grade themselves using a point system for every activity based on modeled exemplary answers. I found this assessment tool to be a best fit for my students because it aligns with our school’s core values and mission statement in terms of commitment to inspire our students to value academic and personal growth through character education.

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Topics: testing, student voice, assessment, assessment and character education, student engagement

Why I Serve: A Student Perspective on Servant Leadership

Posted by Franchesca Ramirez on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 @ 08:08 AM

As a part of Principle 9, shared leadership, we aim to emphasize the crucial role students play in character education initiatives. One way we can value students’ contributions is by providing them the opportunity to share their own thoughts. Franchesca Ramirez, the author of this post, is a member of the Milton Hershey School Class of 2016.

We struggle to define a leader by their qualities alone because all leaders are uniquely composed of their own set of skills and traits. 

I have been blessed with my own unique composition over the span of my time at Milton Hershey School. I always had leadership potential, but the ignition of that flame was a result of the time and effort of various adults in my life. Individually, the teachers and advisors in my life at MHS have contributed their own efforts in ultimately making me the leader I am becoming, I will forever be in debt to these people I call mentors for the character they’ve inspired in me. For this reason, I was inspired to serve.

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Topics: Service learning, student voice, Student Leadership

Adventures in Student Teaching: My First Day at School (Take One & Two)

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Oct 3, 2013 @ 08:10 AM

First in a series--how a new student teacher tries to implement character education based on her experience attending a National School of Character before entering college.

With nervous energy and excitement, I arrived at the elementary school where I planned to begin my student teaching. It was superintendent’s conference day, and I was taking the opportunity to get a lay of the land. I walked into the second grade classroom and I could not find it. The heart of an elementary school classroom, it was missing. There wasn’t a carpet or a rug, or even a patch of open floor where the students could congregate around an easel or board. There were only desks. They were laid out in a U shape, with two rows in the center. I couldn’t imagine an effective way to facilitate discussion in this set up. Perhaps I was overly critical, after my professor had assigned us to read McKenna’s “Uncovering the Lessons of Classroom Furniture,” but I couldn’t shake the feeling that building a sense of community in this business-like room would be quite difficult.

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Topics: character, character education, student voice, teachers, school climate, student teaching

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, student voice, technology, cyberbullying

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

Preventing Academic Dishonesty Part 3: Students & Peer Pressure

Posted by Melissa Crossman on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 @ 09:09 AM

As you sit in your crowded lecture hall and toil away at that seemingly impossible math problem, you glance down and see a peer in the next row surreptitiously looking at formulas he has scrawled on his hand. This scene sounds quite plausible to many students. Whether they’ve engaged in the behavior themselves or simply witnessed a friend or fellow student cheating, most students are familiar with academic dishonesty. It’s your job, as a moral and upright learner, to take a stand for what you believe in and do your part to combat cheating. If you fail to do so, you’ll be doing yourself and your fellow learners a disservice.

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Topics: cheating, integrity, student voice, moral character, role models

Back to School, Back to Social Garbage

Posted by Annie Fox on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 @ 17:08 PM

The following first appeared on Annie Fox's blog and she has graciously allowed us to share it. We are so thrilled that she joined us at our 19th National Forum on Character Education this year! Thanks, Annie!

So, summer’s winding down. I broke my arm, but at least I was enjoying a bike ride when it happened. Hopefully you didn’t have that kind of break. Instead, I hope you and your kids shared some quality, unplugged time and reconnected, as a family.

If school hasn’t already resumed in your community, it will soon. On the plus side, that means your children start a new chapter with new opportunities to learn and grow, academically, creatively and socially. A positive attitude from you goes a long way in easing any of the kids’ nervousness or anxiety about the new school year.

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Topics: bullying advice, student voice, school climate, parent involvement

From Classroom Rules to Class Promises

Posted by Dara Feldman on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 @ 12:08 PM

My last year as a classroom teacher, I finally got it! Making a list of rules, even if they were written in a positive way, was not the way to start the year off right.

At the kindergarten parent meeting, which was held the day before school started, I read the book Inch and Miles to the parents and guardians of my incoming kindergarteners. Inch and Miles is Coach John Wooden’s "Success Pyramid for Kids." I then asked the adults to describe what success in kindergarten would like for their child. Instead of talking about learning to read or to do math, they said things such as, their child would be excited to come to school (Enthusiasm), they would do their best work (Excellence) and they would play well with others (Cooperation).

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Topics: student voice, school climate, core values, teachable moments

What's Different for Students in a School of Character?

Posted by Lara Maupin on Tue, Jun 5, 2012 @ 15:06 PM

In schools of character:

  • Bullying is rare

87% of students attending 2011 National Schools of Character reported in climate surveys that they felt safe school or that bullying was rare (with 27 of the 44 NSOC reporting data in this category).

Eldridge Park Elementary School (Lawrenceville, NJ): 100% of 3rd graders report feeling safe at school in exit polls.

Fuguitt Elementary School (Largo, FL): 98% of students report feeling safe at school

Mark Twain Elementary School (Brentwood, MO): The school reports an 85% reduction in incidents of bullying over the past 6 years.

Union Elementary School (Buckhannon, WV): 93% of students surveyed say they have never been bullied.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, bullying advice, National School of Character, student voice

19 Signs Your Child Is Being Bullied and What to Do about It

Posted by Michele Borba on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 @ 15:03 PM

Warnings signs that your child is being bullied

If your child is bullied it means that a peer or peers are intentionally causing her or him pain. Peer abuse! Just the thought can send shivers down our spines.

But the fact is 160,000 children skip school every day because they fear being attacked or intimidated by other students. Reports also confirm that bullying is starting at younger ages and is more frequent and aggressive than before. And the cruel behavior increases with age. Chances are your child may be bullied.

Also troubling is that our children don’t always tell us that they have been bullied. I’ve spent many a meeting with kids who were repeatedly victimized and in clear emotional pain.

“Why didn’t you go to a trusted adult for help?” I’d ask.

Their replies were concerning:

“I did tell my mom. She didn’t believe me.”

“I tried to tell, but I got too embarrassed.”

“If I told my dad he would have only made things worse by yelling at the bully.”

“Why bother? The stuff my mom told me to try wouldn’t work.”

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Topics: bullying advice, student voice, Michele Borba

Member of Post-Columbine Generation Reflects on School Shooting

Posted by Carol Dreibelbis on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 @ 16:02 PM

Monday, February 28th brought us news of another school shooting—this time in Chardon, OH. The entire country has been rocked by this violent act that killed three students and injured two others. This is news that we hope to never hear again.

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Topics: Education News, student voice, school climate

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, student voice, technology

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

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

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

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

Creating Tomorrow's Leaders

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 @ 18:09 PM

The following post was submitted from Beverly Woods Elementary School, a 2009 National School of Character.

How do we prepare our students for a future in which the jobs they will be doing do not yet exist and the technologies that they will be working with have not yet been invented? The answer to this question is varied and controversial. However, one thing we know for sure is we have to teach our students to lead, act responsibly and respect each other.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Character Education News, National School of Character, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum, student voice

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

Character Education and Service: Narratives That Engage Difference and Friendship

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 @ 18:03 PM

This post was written by Nan Peterson, Blake School, Hopkins, Minnesota

Teachers can help students develop the skills to engage authentically across difference through a series of interviews with the end goal of composing and making a gift of a published account of their partner's story. The service is the gift of story and the gift of friendship. The highlighted character quality is respect.

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Topics: Character Education News, student voice

Celebrating Cultural Differences in a Caring School Community

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 @ 18:02 PM

This post was written by Ron Tucker, principal, Bayless Junior High School, St. Louis, MO

In this era of high-stakes testing and ever-increasing accountability, educators across the country have become familiar with the term “as evidenced by” when it comes to defending their school improvement plans. While testing is important, we know that developing healthy, responsible students is a mandate upon which we cannot compromise. As a native of the “Show-Me State,” I look for “evidence” that we are continually attempting to build a safe, caring school community that promotes tolerance for all of our citizens.

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Topics: CEPLeaders, Character Education News, student voice

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.

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

INSPIRING THE VOICE, EMPOWERING THE STUDENT

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, Dec 14, 2009 @ 18:12 PM

The following post was written by Marilyn Jackson, Guidance Counselor, Fox C-6 School District, Seckman High School

We have heard it said many times that “learning is power,” and while obviously this is true, we often do not examine how we empower the learner.  How do we create an inviting atmosphere where students have autonomy? How can they apply the knowledge, skills, and values we have taught them to become moral, ethical people who are committed to themselves and the communities they live in?

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Topics: Character Education News, student voice