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6-12 character education lesson plan: disagreeing with respect

Overview:

This lesson focuses on disagreements while respecting the other person.

Character Education Objectives:

Students will:

  • review a video about respecting others even when you disagree.
  • discuss what it means to respect others through disagreement
  • reflect on their own level of respect during disagreements

Materials:

Lesson:

Opening Reflection 

  • What does this quote teach you about disagreeing with respect?
    • Do not focus on being right, focus on getting it right. 

Review content (Whole Group) 

Whole Group Discussion 

  • What was your favorite take away from the video?
  • What are the differences in healthy and toxic disagreements?
  • How can you show respect even when you disagree?
  • What are some hot topics that people around you, on the news or in the community disagree on?
  • What examples have you witnessed recently of people handling disagreements disrespectfully and Respectfully
    • Compare the outcomes and emotions in those disagreements

Reflection

  • Think about the last disagreement you had and consider ways you showed respect or ways you could have modeled respect better. What is a strategy discussed today you can try to remember for the next time you have a disagreement.



K-5 character education lesson: respect and teamwork

respect and teamwork

Overview:

This lesson will give students the ability to practice the skills necessary to show respect through a group project to build a structure. Students will practice teamwork, giving helpful feedback, and patience.

Character Education Objectives:

Students will:

  • practice patience while being limited in their abilities during the challenge
  • demonstrate effective teamwork by completing the structure together
  • reflect on how feedback can change the outcome of the project

Materials:

  • Materials to build a structure: pieces of wood, cardboard blocks, etc.
  • Sample structure should be built ahead of time and piles of exact same building materials laid out for each group.

Lesson:

  1. Divide students in groups of 2-4.
  2. Facilitator shows group the structure. Allow them to look at it for at least one minute.
  3. Give the instruction that each person will take a piece or pieces and must not touch any other pieces other than their own or the group will have to start over.
  4. Each person in the group takes a piece or pieces of building material.
  5. The group now duplicates the structure like the original.
  6. Give the group a set amount of time. If they need more time, negotiate for what they are willing to give up (talking, one arm behind back, etc).
  7. If groups are having trouble, take a time out and have them discuss how they are going to do it, then have them try again.

Discussion:

  • Discuss the process they used either by plan or by default.
  • Discuss what they heard while they were working, were people being encouraging or critical? How did that make them feel? Did they do anything to change the atmosphere?
  • Discuss patience. Is it hard or easy for them?
  • How does this activity reflect other things they have to do as a group or team?



6-12 character education lesson plan: trust and safety

Trust and safety lesson

Materials:

Opening Reflection

  • How do you keep yourself safe in today’s world?
    • Utilize chart paper and markers or a polling/word cloud online tool to record responses. 

Small Groups:

  • Read two different essays (above) by teens about trust and safety.
  • Highlight ways these teens suggest you must learn to trust yourself for your own safety.

Whole Group

  • Why do you need to trust yourself?
    • Who is to blame when you make a mistake?
    • Why is it challenging to keep yourself safe in this world?
    • How can teens learn to trust themselves to be safe physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? (Consider online and physical location)

Reflection (5 mins): 

  • Reflect on your own ability to trust yourself to keep you safe. 
    • What are some ways you already protect yourself?
    • Where or how could you improve?



K-5 character education lesson: trustworthiness

Trustworthiness lesson

Materials needed: Blindfolds

Directions:

  1. Put students in pairs. (This lesson may also work in groups of three or four.)
  2. One partner puts on a blindfold with their partner or group members standing at least 10-15 feet away.
  3. When the blindfolded person gets the blindfold in place, the others begin to walk toward the blindfolded person slowly until the blindfolded person holds up their hands and says, “Stop.”
  4. (Optional variation) Allow the sighted player to approach their partners from any direction, trying to sneak up on them without them knowing where they are.
  5. Trade places until all have had a couple of chances to be the sightless participant.

Discussion Prompts:

  • Ask participants how it felt when they were blindfolded—could they “feel” when the other person was getting close? Relate this to our issues of personal space.
  • Ask participants how it felt when they were sighted? Did they feel superior? If so, discuss how that sense of “control” or “power” can be used well, or how it is sometimes used poorly (like with teasing and bullying).
  • Pick up on any comments you heard and process them out. Ask them how it felt to be the one at risk. Relate to caring and standing up for someone if they are being bullied.



Achieving civility through our mindsets

Mindsets and civility

By Jeff Kluever, Director of Programs

“I’m not allowed to get angry?” That’s a question that is raised in nearly every civility workshop we lead. Participants want to know how to have a mindset focused on civility when they’re feeling angry or frustrated. Our answer to that question is, “Of course you’re allowed to be angry. But, choose a mindset that helps you deal with the problem with civility.” It is our ability to understand the roles of emotions and mindsets that can help us maintain civility through everyday challenges.

While our emotions influence our mindsets, you can choose different mindsets for the same emotion. For example, if I’m feeling angry that my flight got canceled, I can choose a mindset that says, “This is the worst day ever! Why does this always happen to me? Nothing ever goes right.” Or, I can have a mindset that says, “I’ll get through this. There is a solution here. I can get this fixed.” The emotion is the same in both scenarios, but the mindset changes. When we lose someone close to us, we can feel that sadness for the rest of our life, but our mindsets may change and evolve over time. We can be devastatingly heartbroken over someone’s passing (emotion) and think about how grateful we are for the memories we have (mindset) at the same time.

Choosing your mindset, no matter your emotional state, is an incredibly powerful tool because our mindset impacts our response. A negative mindset makes it less likely that we will choose the best possible response.

Our response to any situation is always entirely within our control. No matter how angry or frustrated we get, we can choose any number of responses – from violence, shaming, and name-calling to asking questions, seeking connection, and working to understand the other person. It is the same emotion, but different mindsets produce different responses.

The next time you are struggling to choose the right response in an emotional moment hit pause and ask yourself three questions:

  1. What emotion am I feeling right now and why am I feeling it? Acknowledge the emotion. Acknowledge the reason for that emotion. Feel what you feel.
  2. What outcome do I hope to achieve in this situation? You can’t fix everything, but what outcome is within your influence?
  3. What mindset and response give me the best chance to achieve that outcome?



6-12 character education lesson: digital citizenship

Overview:
Teaching students to think about their digital citizenship through the lens of integrity is important in this digital world. This lesson will give students an opportunity to discuss ways to engage an active conscience to model integrity as digital citizens.

Character Education Objectives:

  • Students will explore their digital footprint. 
  • Students will discuss why it is important to protect your identity and reputation online and offline. 
  • Students will utilize Rules of an Active Conscience to determine what to post on social media.

Materials:

Lesson:

Journal: (5 mins)

  • Google yourself 
  • Write down what you noticed about your digital footprint. 

Whole Group Discussion (15 mins)

  • Share what you noticed about your digital footprint.
  • Why is it so important to be a good digital citizen in today’s world?
  • Share headlines of digital footprints impacting citizens:
    • Harvard rescinded 10 offers of enrollment for students who posted explicit and racist pictures on social media.
    • Woman tweeted a racist post about her trip to Africa when she boarded the plane. She was fired by her boss before the plane landed.
    • Students photoshopped an unflattering picture of a teacher and posted it on the Internet. They students involved were suspended, legal charges were filed, and the students faced five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.  
    • A woman posted a picture of herself dressed like a Boston Marathon Bombing victim to Instagram for Halloween. She was fired because of the insensitive nature of the post.
    • Students posted a meme making light of gun violence at school and they were arrested. Students who liked the post were suspended.
  • What you share on social media matters. It can impact you today and in your future plans and career. Your digital footprint exists and can be used against you when you least expect it. Something you find funny or impulsively post can get you fired, arrested, or fined.
  • Discuss in small groups how the Rules of An Active Conscience can help you decide what to post on social media. 

Small Group Discussion (15 mins)

  • Read each Social media post on the To Post or Not To Post Handout and determine which of the Rules of Active Conscience it breaks.
  • Share your findings with the teacher.

Exit Ticket:

  • Generate a social media post that meets the Rules of Active Conscience. 
    • Use the following site to create a fake account post: https://zeoob.com/ if students do not have one they can use.



K-5 character education lesson: teamwork

character and teamwork lesson

Overview:
An important part of building your skills as a team member is to be reflective. When you have successes or failures, always make time to reflect on what you did well and what you could do better or differently as a team. Thinking about the skills you need to build as a team will help strengthen your team and give individuals opportunities to grow their own teamwork skills.

Character Education Objectives:

  • Students will work as a team to complete a task.
  • Students will reflect on the performance of their team.
  • Students will practice adapting and modifying a plan for success as a team.

Materials: 

  • Rope or yarn in a large circle tied together (large enough for all students to be able to stand and hold a piece of it)
  • Bandanas or fabric
  • Large open space

Lesson:

Large Group

  1. Place the rope/yarn in a circle on the ground and have students find a spot around it. Have students place their blindfolds on themselves and then pick up their piece of the yarn.
  2. Students will now need to work together to turn this circle into a square. They can do anything to make the square except take off their blindfolds. 
  3. Give the students five minutes to complete the task. When five minutes is up, ask students to drop the rope/yarn and step back to see how close they were to making a square.
  4. Ask students to reflect on the activity with a “Praise and Polish” conversation. Instruct students to think about this reflection through the lens of teamwork.
  5. First, talk about things they did well as a team. Guide the conversation by asking questions about their communication and collaboration. Then, ask students to reflect on what they could better or differently next time. This conversation may need assistance, as they may start talking strategy. Keep them on track by encouraging them to make a plan around how they will work as a team.
  6. Put the rope/yarn back in the circle on the ground. Have the students find a space and put their blindfolds on. 
  7. Students will have the same instructions as the first time, but this time encourage them to think about their praise and polish as they work together. 
  8. Give the students five minutes to complete the task. When five minutes is up, ask students to drop the rope/yarn and step back to see how close they were to making a square.

Journal/Discussion

Encourage students to journal or discuss the following prompts:

  1. Was there a difference between the first time and the second time you made the square? What were some of those differences?
  2. Think about the things your team chose as things they could do better or differently for the second time. Did those changes help you be successful?
  3. Praise and polish your team’s second attempt at the square.



K-5 character education lesson: respecting differences

Overview:
Respect means being tolerant and accepting of differences. To practice that skill, you need opportunities to learn about others and how they may be different than you. A great way to practice it and to learn about others is to play ice breaker games throughout the year. You’d be surprised how much you learn about even lifelong friends by doing some get-to-know-you activities.

Character Education Objectives:

  1. Students will learn about the similarities and differences of their classmates.
  2. Students will practice tolerance and acceptance of differences.
  3. Students will reflect on how differences positively impact relationships.

Materials:

  • A balloon for each student
  • A slip of paper for each student

Lesson:

Large Group

  1. Give each student a balloon and slip of paper.
  2. Ask students to think about one question they would like to know about their classmates. You may need to give them some suggestions to help them start to think. They can ask things like “Do you have any pets?” “What holidays do you celebrate in your house?” or “What’s your favorite game?”.
  3. Students will put the piece of paper inside of the balloon.
  4. Depending on the age of your students, you may instruct them to blow up the balloons themselves or you may need to plan time for you to blow them all up.
  5. Put all the blown-up balloons in the center of your circle of students.
  6. Have students grab one balloon, avoiding their own balloon.
  7. One at a time, students will pop their balloon. Please note, you may also choose to have a teacher pinch the tie and cut a slit for the balloon to deflate if concerned about students and the loud pop. Have the students retrieve the question. The student will answer the question inside of their balloon. 
  8. Go around the circle until every student has had the opportunity to answer a question.

Journal

  • What are two new things you learned about your classmates? 
  • Did some of your classmates answer as you would? How about different than you?
  • Why is having differences from your friends a good thing?



Character helps us achieve

By Jeff Kluever, Director of Programs

Talent matters. Talented athletes are likely to win more games. Talented students are likely to achieve higher test scores. Talented musicians and artists are likely to receive recognition for their work. Talent impacts results.

Although our society puts a lot of emphasis on talent, talent is just the minimum that we can achieve. To advance from talent to skill and then to achievement, we rely on our character skills like strong work ethic, leadership, perseverance, integrity, etc.

60-Second Character Reflection

  1. What character skill could you improve to better maximize your talent?
  2. Think of someone you teach, coach, parent, or lead. What character skill(s) could you help that person develop to help them maximize their talent?



6-12 character education lesson: respecting yourself

Overview: Respecting yourself and thinking positively about your body, mind, skills, and situation is important to build happiness in your heart. This lesson will focus on ways to show respect to yourself, others, and your surroundings by being grateful for who you are and what you have.

Character Education Objectives:

  • Students will journal about three things they are grateful for each day.
  • Students will discuss and practice respect for their brain and body by journaling and meditating.

Materials:

  • Composition notebooks or online word document set up for journaling 

Lesson Plan:

Journal (5 mins) 

  • List three things you are grateful for.
    • What is the thing you are grateful for?
    • Why are you grateful for it?
    • How does it make you feel?

Whole Group (5 mins) 

  • Utilize the Calm, Headspace, or Insight Timer app to do 10 minutes of meditation. 
    • Use guided meditation or videos with soft music (YouTube) .
  • Practice deep breathing techniques.
  • Stretch or do yoga for five minutes to clear their heads and body of tension and stress.

Think, Pair, Share (5 mins) 

  • Share something you are grateful for. 

Whole Group Discussion (5 mins) 

  • How does thinking positively show respect for your body and brain?

Individual (20 mins) 

  • Have students choose a relaxing activity.
    • Lego building
    • Play-doh 
    • Arts and crafts
    • Reading a book