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Character Education lesson plans are not just for those of us who teach life skills, advisory, or homeroom.
Character building should be a part of every elementary, middle school, and high school classroom. We can integrate these life lessons into teachable moments in our classrooms.
Sure, teachers have a knowledge-based curriculum that we have to deliver. But, the reality is that we have to provide our students with 21st century learning skills to be independent learners.
Remember, most of the jobs we have today did not even exist when we were growing up. The world is changing, and we need to make sure our children and our students have perseverance and strength of character to handle the unknown.
Back to School is a great time to start the conversation in your class about Growth Mindset and Character Education, but it’s not the only time.
To paraphrase a famous proverb:
The best time to plant a [Growth Mindset] was [at the start of the school year]. The second best time is now.A Chinese proverb about planting trees, among other things…
(Psst, if you don’t know the one phrase you should tell students, you might want to read this article.)
Character Education Lesson Plans – Table of Contents
- What is Character Education?
- When do you do Character Building Activities with your class…
- A week of CHARACTER EDUCATION lesson plans
- What is Character – Life Skills Lesson Plan BIG IDEA:
- Who are these Character Education Lesson Plans for?
- SAMPLE ONE WEEK GAME PLAN: (7 CHARACTER EDUCATION LESSONS)
- Here’s what you get in the Character Education Lesson Plans ZIPPED FILE
What is Character Education?
Schools and teachers often talk about this, but what is character education anyway?
Google defines character as, “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.”
So, character education is a catchall phrase to describe teaching students personality traits and a moral code that will help them to be socially acceptable and successful in society.
Character education is an umbrella term loosely used to describe the teaching of children in a manner that will help them develop variously as moral, civic, good, mentored, behaved, non-bullying, healthy, critical, successful, traditional, compliant or socially acceptable beings.Source: Wikipedia
I’m not sure if I completely agree with everything in that Wikipedia definition, but I think that’s also the point: Different schools and different organizations will have a different take on what character education is.
And that’s okay. Because everything is based on context, and what works for me in my classroom may not work for you in yours for any number of reasons.
At Educircles.org, our goal is to provide you with lesson plans and teacher resources so you can incorporate 21st century learning skills and character education elements into your classroom program.
The beauty of this approach is that you can mix and match our lessons to fit your classroom needs and your school’s take on character ed.
When do you do Character Building Activities with your class…
Character Building Activities are not just for the start of the school year (although that’s a great time to build classroom routines and expectations!)
Here are some times that you might consider doing some character building activities with your class
Character building activities – at the start of the school year
September is a great time to do character building activities with your class. Everyone is coming in fresh from summer vacation, and both students and teachers are excited and looking forward to starting the new year with a blank page.
So whether you’re a homeroom teacher, or subject based teacher, starting the year off right with your expectations about learning and classroom behaviour is important.
Character building activities – After Report Cards at the start of the next term
Report cards and other summative evaluations mark the end of one term and the beginning of another term.
(Unless of course this is the end of the school year.)
Report cards can serve as a wake-up call to both students and families that may be the way that we’re approaching learning might not be the most effective way.
This is a good time to try to build a growth mindset and doing some fun character building activities to show that we can use strategies to learn new skills might help students to realize that they can use the same character building strategies and apply them to their day-to-day learning.
Character building activities – at the first signs of classroom conflict.
I often told my students that you don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to find a way to work with everyone respectfully.
That’s easier said than done. Inevitably what will happen sometime during the school year is that some classroom conflicts will begin to creep in and change the classroom dynamics.
This is a good time to review some character building activities, as well as communication and collaboration activities to reinforce the idea that having character is not a destination, but it’s rather a journey.
Character building activities – as part of middle school advisory or homeroom activities
Middle school advisory or homeroom activities can definitely make or break your homeroom time.
Homeroom Teachers have an opportunity to connect with their homeroom class to teach life lessons and to make sure your homeroom class survives and thrives during the school year.
Middle School Advisory classes are an opportunity to help guide and “advise” our students about academic, social, and future possibilities.
Unfortunately, way too often, our homeroom classes and advisory classes get lost with
- the endless administrivia, form collection, field trip paperwork, photo day handouts, etc.
- extra work periods to catch up on homework or classwork from other periods.
- being expected to talk to our students because they’re misbehaving for other teachers in other classes…
I think part of the problem is that not enough homeroom teachers or advisory teachers have enough middle school advisory or homeroom activities to draw upon to make this time meaningful.
And then we get into conversations about how we shouldn’t be “wasting” time with homeroom periods or advisory periods. And this is a mistake.
With more and more expectations being put onto teachers who are already jam packed with curriculum expectations to deliver, we get fewer opportunities to build teachable moments into our lessons.
Character building activities and teaching 21st century learning skills to our students is a way to make Homeroom periods and Advisory classes meaningful and fun.
We talk about the importance of building character in the classroom – helping our students to develop integrity, overcome obstacles, and be strong
But, how do you teach character as part of your learning skills?
Here is a week of character building lesson plans – it’s part of our Exploring the 6 Cs unit
Help your students get a handle on how to build inner strength and character by using strategies to overcome obstacles.
This is a fantastic package introducing the learning skill concept of “Character” (grit, tenacity, perseverance) to your students.
A week of Character Education Lesson Plans
In this package, we provide a week of Character Education Lesson Plans that…
- introduce the concept of mindset (Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset),
- allow students to explore character building (perseverance) by working through 9 different Sudoku strategies to develop logical thinking
- provide discussion points of 4 different YouTube videos with socially relevant celebrities talking about the work required behind the scenes.
- allow for deeper exploration of the concept of “Character” using the Frayer Model of understanding.
You get 175 SLIDES, HANDOUTS in 7 Character Education Lesson Plans:
- Student self-assessment about “What do you believe?” – to see if they have a Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset
- Differentiated Sudoku activities (21 puzzles ranging from easy to expert, allowing for a wide variety of student abilities)
- Answer key to Sudoku activities (so students can check their own answers.)
- Vocabulary Builder graphic organizer (to develop a deeper understanding of what character means.)
- Student Self Evaluation of their “Character” Learning Skill
- Chapter Review assessment.
We provide 3 different versions of the Character Education lesson plan slideshow (175 slides!):
- A link to the Google Slideshow so you can show it to your students right away. (Get started in seconds!).
- A link to a version of the Google Slideshow that you can make a copy of the presentation. (This way you can edit / tweak the content to fix your exact classroom needs.)
- A powerpoint file that you can download (PPT) and modify. (Edit the presentation to fit your needs, and use the presentation when the internet is down!)
What is Character – Life Skills Lesson Plan CHAPTER BIG IDEA:
After this Character – Life Skills Lesson Plan chapter, students will be able to explain that Character is about:
- “Grit, tenacity, perseverance, resilience.”
- not giving up and developing your inner strength to learn and grow as a person.
- who you are when you are going through challenges. It is about process, and not about the final result (success or failure).
Students will have the opportunity to:
- EXPERIENCE struggles / character building through two activities: a mindset self evaluation activity, and a sudoku activity
- WATCH and discuss short videos of celebrities talking about character building experiences in their lives.
- UNDERSTAND what “character” is by using a vocabulary building graphic organizer (Frayer model) to brainstorm features of Character, examples and non-examples of Character, and finally narrow down essential characteristics of the word.
WHO are these CHARACTER EDUCATION LESSON PLANS FOR?
Here’s are some ways you could use these character education lesson plans TO BUILD a community of CHARACTER in your CLASSROOM or SCHOOL.
Teachers could use this package in their classrooms to introduce the concept of character and growth mindsets at the start of the school year in September:
Middle School Advisory / Homeroom teachers – Character Building Activities
- The Sudoku strategies and overcoming obstacle strategies (perseverance) set a framework for you to use over the next month or term.
- Do this package in the first week of class, and then do Sudoku as 5 minute bell work when students come into class everyday.
- Sudoku becomes an ongoing metaphor: You can get better at Sudoku if you keep at it, and keep a growth mindset by learning and applying new strategies to solve increasingly harder puzzles. There will be times that you won’t want to do Sudoku, or you get stuck and want to cheat and just copy the answers. But, the easy way out doesn’t build character or ability to independently solve Sudoku puzzles.
Literacy teachers – Exploring Examples of Character in literature
- Use this package to introduce inner strength, tenacity, perseverance and desire to learn (i.e. Growth Mindset) for students.
- And then, follow up with a character study (short story, novel, movie, play, etc) looking at characters and how they overcome challenges. (We provided short video snippets of celebrities talking about their experiences and discussion points about how this connects to their character…)
- Possible teaching points:
- Which fictional characters in your character study demonstrate a growth mindset?
- How might a fictional character answer the “What do you believe” mindset handout?
- How might they answer the “Character” learning skill self-evaluation handout?
History teachers – Exploring Examples of Character in Historically Significant Figures
- Similar to the literacy teacher suggestion, but after doing this Character introduction with your students,
- explore historical people from the curriculum
- evaluate whether they had a growth mindset or how they might do on the learning skills self-evaluation handout.
- Justify answers with historical evidence / inferencing.
School leaders (Principals, Admin, Division Leaders) could use this Character Learning Skills lesson package in their schools to create a common language and exploration of growth mindset.
SCHOOL ACTIVITIES / IDEAS to create a culture of character building
It’s easy for teachers to become individual islands, but how do you create an entire culture of character building?
Well, you need a common school goal with common language that everyone buys in to.
Many schools have a School Learning Plan (SLP) that is focusing on a school-wide approach to exploring “Growth Mindsets”
It’s very easy to put up posters about “YET” – and get students to say things like, “I don’t get it… yet”…
But, how do we empower our students to see themselves as learners and not give up when the learning gets tough
This Character Education Lesson Plan Package provides:
- a self-assessment of students’ mindsets,
- an introduction to growth mindsets and fixed mindsets, and then
- an activity (Sudoku) to struggle through and try to maintain a growth mindset.
The open ended class discussions of videos of socially relevant celebrities that students can relate to / look up to helps us to realize that the 10 seconds of running that Usain Bolt does at the Olympics is simply the tip of the iceberg of all the training he has to do to get there.
You need to develop your inner character to get through life’s challenges!
- We felt that Sudoku puzzles were a generic enough learning activity to role-model struggle, perseverance, and a strategy-based approach
- These experiences can transfer to other learning tasks and challenges throughout the year (like studying for a quiz, test, or exam!)
Common Language, Common Learning Goals
This unit provides a systematic way for a grade, division, or school to explore learning skills / character development as a framework of delivering provincial / state curriculum..
- The sudoku activities provides everyone with a common experience between classes so that students can support each other, even though they’re in different classes.
- Doing the same vocabulary building graphic organizer (Frayer model) provides a common tool / framework that students and teachers can build around in other areas (i.e. math concepts, grammar concepts, science concepts, etc).
Ultimately, this chapter is meant to kick off a year / lifetime of discussion, as opposed to being a one-off activity.
If all classes start off with the same approach, then throughout the year, as teachers do different activities, we can all still connect it back to concepts of growth mindset, and how to persevere.
SAMPLE ONE WEEK GAME PLAN:
(7 CHARACTER EDUCATION LESSONS)
We based this schedule on a 50 minute period and providing around 40-45 minutes of content per lesson.
(Let’s be honest. It takes your students a few minutes to wander into class, and you’ll probably need a few minutes at the end of class to go over homework or administrivia stuff for your class.)
Depending on your teaching style and the chattiness of your class, you may find that you can get through all 7 lessons in 5 days… or it stretches out to two full weeks (10 days).
TEACHER PRO TIPS:
If you’re short on time, you might consider some of the following options:
- Simplify the Sudoku section by doing fewer hand outs / strategies / rounds.
- We provide four video suggestions as examples of Character Education. Only watch one video.
PART 1. EXPERIENCE
LESSON 1 – Activity #1 What do you believe Self Assessment Handout / Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset (40 min) – SLIDES 1-39
- Chapter introduction / Part 1 – EXPERIENCE character – Slides 1 – 2
- Doing the “What do you believe” survey (20 min) – Slides 3 – 25
- Taking up the answers – Discussing growth mindset (20 min) Slides 26 – 39
LESSON 2 – Activity #2 Sudoku (40 min) – SLIDES 40 – 90
- Round 1 (20 min)
- Reviewing Mindset (5 min) Slides 40 – 49
- What is Sudoku (10 min) Slides 50 – Slide 72
- Round 1 work period (5 min) Slide 73
- Round 2 (20 min)
- Sudoku Strategies #1-3 (10 min) Slide 74 – 89
- Strategy 1. Inspection – Slide 75-77
- Strategy 2. Start with the Most – Slide 78-86
- Strategy 3. Write down Candidates – Slide 87-89
- Round 2 work period (10 min) Slide 90
- Sudoku Strategies #1-3 (10 min) Slide 74 – 89
LESSON 3 – Sudoku continued (45 min) – SLIDES 91 – 124
- Round 3 (20 min)
- Sudoku Strategies #4-5 (10 min)
- Strategy 4. Go by number – Slide 91 – 96
- Strategy 5. Pointing – Slide 97-102
- Round 3. Work period (10 min) Slide 103
- Sudoku Strategies #4-5 (10 min)
- Round 4 (25 min
- Sudoku Strategies #6-9 (15 min)
- Strategy 6. Go by row – Slide 104-108
- Strategy 7. Double Check – Slide 109-111
- Strategy 8. Go by box – Slide 112-117
- Strategy 9. Hidden Singles – Slide 118-123
- Round 4. Work period (10 min) Slide 124
- Sudoku Strategies #6-9 (15 min)
LESSON 4 – Sudoku continued and Introducing Videos (40 min) – SLIDES 125 – 138
- Round 5 (20 min)
- Overcoming Obstacles (Perseverance) Strategies (10 min)
- Introduction – Slide 125-127
- Obstacles and strategies to overcome obstacle / develop perseverance – Slide 128-132
- Round 5. Work period (10 min) Slide 133
- Overcoming Obstacles (Perseverance) Strategies (10 min)
- Watch Video (20 min)
- Introduction: Part 2 – Watch Videos – Slide 134
- Video and open-ended discussion: Kobe – Slides 135-138
PART 2. WATCH
LESSON 5 – Videos continued (45 min) – SLIDES 139 – 150
- Video and open-ended discussion: The Rock (15 min)- Slides 139-142
- Video and open-ended discussion: Bolt (15 min) – Slides 143-146
- Video and open-ended discussion: Ellen (15 min) – Slides 147-150
PART 3. UNDERSTAND
LESSON 6 – Playing with words (40 min) – SLIDES 151 – 167
- Introduce Part 3 – Understand (Vocabulary Builder) – Slide 151
- Graphic Organizer set up – Slide 152 – 153
- Minds on – Slides 154-155
- Filling out the graphic organizer – Slides 156-159
- Revising graphic organizer – Slides 160-164
- Summary Slides 165-167
LESSON 7 – Self Evaluation / Review (40 min) – SLIDES 168 – 175
- Student Self Evaluation Slides (10 min) 168 – 174
- Chapter Review Test (30 min) Slides 175
Here’s what you get in the Character Education Lesson Plans ZIPPED FILE
Here’s what you get in a pretty zipped file:
This lesson plan is available in PDF format for printing. Pretty.
- 175 Slides!
- Customizable Powerpoint PPT file so you can change the slideshow to fit your classroom needs.
2 Google Slides links
- 175 Slides!
- Get a Google Slideshow link so you can present the slideshow as is (right away without any changes)
- Get a different Google Slideshow link to make a copy in your own Google Drive and modify it to fit your specific needs.
HANDOUT: 21 Sudoku Puzzles with Growth Mindset tips (PDF)
21 different unique Sudoku puzzles ranging from very easy to ridiculously hard.
- Solutions are also provided so students can self-check their work and move onto the next puzzle.
- Growth Mindset phrases and ideas from the slideshow are included at the bottom of each puzzle to remind students to choose to stay in a growth mindset during the activity.
HANDOUT: “What do I believe“ Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset self assessment (PDF)
Adapted from questions and answers in Carol Dweck’s book on Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. What is your mindset when it comes to:
- Sports Ability
- Artistic Talent
- Personality and Character?
(Answers in slideshow)
HANDOUT: Character Learning Skills Self Assessment (PDF)
Student Self Evaluation of their “Character” Learning Skill at the end of the week. You can use the same handout at 3 different times in the term to get diagnostic, formative, and summative information to help with Learning Skills comments for the Report Card.
HANDOUT: Chapter Review Assessment (PDF)
6 short answer questions to see what students remember from the week’s worth of lessons.
- Answer Key not provided as different teachers will be looking for different points that they have been stressing throughout the lessons.
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