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Character Lesson: Teaching Positive Traits

Subjects

Character development
--Positive character
--Character traits
--Prosocial behavior
Health
--Mental Health

Grade

K-5

Brief Description

Students learn about positive character through discussion, reading, writing and performing skits.

Objectives

Students will:

  • Define and give examples of various positive character traits
  • Explain how positive character traits are displayed in everyday life
  • Discuss and write about positive character traits
  • Identify positive character traits by acting out and watching skits

Keywords

Character, positive, traits, behaviors, development, education

Materials Needed

  • Dry-erase board, blackboard or large (easel) paper; markers or chalk
  • Grade-appropriate books that illustrate various character traits (links to book lists provided)
  • Paper and pencils
  • (If desired) video recording equipment
     

Lesson Plan

Preparation
Begin by selecting one or more character traits for class discussion. If desired, teachers can devote an entire class session to each trait over the course of the school year. Suggestions include:

1. Trustworthiness 6. Caring
2. Fairness 7. Empathy
3. Citizenship 8. Courage
4. Responsibility 9. Integrity
5. Respect 10. Perseverance/determination

NOTE: The Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics (CharacterCounts! Program) refers to the first six traits as the "Six Pillars of Character."

Helpful EducationWorld resources on character education include:

Part 1
As a class, discuss and define what each character trait means. The teacher can write the class lists/comments on a board or large paper. (Large paper has the ability to be posted on classroom walls or in school hallways for later reflection or reading by others.) Here are some sample discussion questions:

  • What does it mean to show/be/act with [trustworthiness, fairness, etc.]?
  • What does this trait look and sound like in real life?
  • What are some ways that students in this school can show this trait?
  • What behaviors are the opposite of this trait?
  • (For older students) Is there anyone famous you can think of who has this trait or does not have this trait?

Reinforce learning by using some of EducationWorld's character-development writing templates.

Part 2
Do a class read-aloud of a book that illustrates the trait. (With younger students, the teacher can read the book to the class.) Click on the links below for titles related to that particular trait:

Courage
Responsibility, respect, caring, trustworthiness, fairness and citizenship
Integrity, honesty and other traits
Perseverance and determination
Empathy
Variety of positive traits and behaviors

Discuss how the book’s character(s) exemplify the trait. Talk about whether it was easy for the character(s) to act according to the trait. What choices did s/he have? Is it always easy to do the right thing? Is it always clear what “the right thing” is?

Part 3
Have each student choose a trait and write a short description of a time when s/he or someone s/he knows exhibited the trait. Teachers may wish to model first by sharing a personal story. After screening the writing, teachers may choose to have students read their work aloud. Or, have students trade papers with a partner who chose a different trait, and then ask each student to orally summarize what his/her partner wrote.

EducationWorld's character-development writing templates may be helpful.

Part 4
In small groups, have students write brief dialogue for a five-minute skit about a situation where someone exhibited a particular character trait. Each skit should include dialogue for a narrator and at least two characters. Seeking ideas for situations to be addressed in skits? See the EducationWorld article Teaching Good Citizenship’s Five Themes. Teachers may wish to model first by handing out a pre-written script and asking student volunteers to play the roles by reading the dialogue aloud.

Ask students to perform their skits for the class. Expand the experience by bringing in younger students as an audience, and/or making video recordings of the skits to share with other students. (Video can also be made available to parents via a secure Web site.) If students have learned about multiple character traits, ask them to avoid mentioning the character trait by name in the skit, and ask the class/audience to guess the character trait being illustrated.

Part 5
Re-activate learning and reinforce positive behavior by publicly acknowledging (and encouraging classmates to acknowledge) when students display desired traits throughout the school year. Calling or writing a note or email to parents is also a great way to reinforce desired student behaviors. Also, try EducationWorld's Caught You Being Good template, a reward certificate for positive behavior.

Assessment

  • Assess the quality of student discussion, written products and skit performance.
  • Assess class participation and effort.

Lesson Plan Source

EducationWorld

Submitted by

Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor

National Standards

PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND HEALTH: Health
GRADES K - 4
NPH-H.K-4.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
NPH-H.K-4.4 Health Influences
 

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