An Oldie but a Goodie?

The Character Counts program is almost 30 years old and has been working with schools and school districts across the nation.

Photo of chris fancher

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  Nearly 20 years ago I was in my first school that had adopted the Character Counts program.  With character discussed at regular intervals and students reminded about the "pillars of character," frequently, I know that my students , at a minimum, were exposed to what it means to be a person of good character. It didn't mean that they practiced this after they left the school building. But I really liked the program. Here is a critique of Character Counts from Augusta State University that you can read for yourself as you explore options for teaching character. The CC website does have links to activities (in their Free Resources Tab) that I have used with my students. I have not heard direct complaints with Character Counts but I do know of schools that have moved on from it and I'm not sure what their reasoning was - lack of interest? Cost? Time? All of the above? Take a few minutes and look at it yourself and make your own decision about it. If nothing else find one of the activities and make it your own. Pick one and commit to it for this coming school year. 

Optional: How comfortable do you feel incorporating character education in your curriculum? (1-10, where 10 = very comfortable!)

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Optional: Tell us more! What's one thing you wish there was more of / less of when it comes to character learning in schools?

I wish more teachers felt comfortable enough to grab those "teaching moments" with their students. So often we hear things that we should immediately deal with but we start wondering if we will be punished by parents and/or administrators for discussing sensitive issues in the classroom - instead of our math curriculum, for example. With 20 + years I now feel comfortable stopping and tackling whatever it might be. It's for the good of all students that I do this.

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Photo of Paula Marra

Hi Chris ,
This is the first time I hear about Character  Counts. Thanks for sharing it. I have some catching up to do!
Great to see you here again. Cheers, Paula

Photo of chris fancher

Thanks Paula. I'm starting to see things here that I can use in my first week of school when I like to get to know my students and they get to know each other.

Photo of Paula Marra

I know exactly what you mean!!! I did a lesson based on your idea, remember? Teachers Guild is a great resource tool! 

Photo of Valerie Lewis

Chris! What things do you think standout the most to help you shape your classroom climate during week 1 of school?

Photo of chris fancher

There are many blog posts from the last 5 years that I keep in my Diigo account to reference (for example: http://plpnetwork.com/2012/08/15/first-day-of-school-activities/  -and- http://www.teachhub.com/first-day-school-activities-students-love  )  but I think the key is to keep each day different. I meet the students at the door all year long. However, during the first couple of weeks I take time shaking hands and going over names - I'm terrible with names unfortunately. There will be an activity on the board which forces them into different groups every day. The desks are numbered and certain numbers will have specific tasks such as letting me know if everyone is present and ready to go. All of the activities are collaborative and different numbers are the group leaders so most of the students will end up being a group leader by the end of the 2nd week.  I also will start a project by the second week so they will be in different groups after the opening activity. During these activities we will discuss their classroom norms and my classroom expectations. So..., by the end of the second week of school we have discussed norms and expectations; we've worked in groups (I see the leaders, followers, and clowns); we've started a project; and, the key is that during the rest of the year I stay consistent with what we have established those two weeks. 

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