One of the best way to work on character building is with literature. There are several authors that I will be highlighting today that offer a collection of books with a character building theme. The first is a favorite of mine (and she’s probably not new to the majority), Patricia Polacco. Patricia lived through bullying, and her experience which is shared within her books provides an opportunity for great talking points. Thank You, Mr. Falker shares what it was like for her struggling to read. Her classmates were unkind, and she suffered. The sequel to Thank You, Mr. Falker is Junkyard Wonders. It tells about her upper elementary experience and how her teacher built she and her classmates up with showing them how junk can be turned to a treasure. Through the love ans support of her classmates and teacher, she learned to be confident and strong. Finally, Bully is a must use mentor text for ALL upper elementary classrooms. It is perfect for internet safety and peer relationships. The units I have developed for these three books will be included in the resources at the bottom of this post if you are interested in exploring them.
Community building activities are extremely important at the beginning of the year, but are also important all year long. To help you with activity ideas, I created a Pinterest board with the purpose to put resources and such all in one place. Here is the link to the board (and a preview).
From this board, there are a few activities and blog posts that I want to highlight. The first is [THIS POST] for the David books on Cara Carroll’s First Grade Parade. I especially love Cara’s anchor charts for peacemakers and peacebreakers. I can see wonderful discussions coming from generating these.
Another activity I loved is this Student Shout Outs box by Kindness Seeds. How wonderful it would be to have specific examples showcased all over the wall. I think it not only emphasizes acts of kindness, but celebrates the individual which gives a huge self esteem boost.
Another way we can send positive messages to our students is by having a weekly motto. Choosing character building quotes or messages like this sample from one of the motivational posters sets I have in my store or some you may create on your own, posting them (or projecting them) for discussion and keeping them in a prominent location for reference throughout the week provides a reminder to carry it out in our actions. The guidance counselor at my previous school runs the Bucket Filler program, and I can see these working well together for that.
I have one more activity I’d like to share from my friend, Sarah at There’s No Place Like Second Grade (and now Third). She blogged about this wonderful project inspired by the book, The Giver. Well, I loved the idea, and I used it with my students shortly after. (and I wish I had samples to share!), but here is one from Sarah’s blog. It is linked to her post, so you can read more of how she used this with her students. The gist is that we each are unique and have special gifts that cost nothing, but add joy to the lives of others.
Technology can be very, very helpful in the classroom and at home, but it can also bring out some of our character flaws. One way to make technology a positive influence on character is with a site like Google Classroom or Today’s Meet where you can have a live discussion with students sharing comments (with a moderator reinforcing positive comments). Today’s Meet works well for those who like Twitter. Prior to your lesson, come up with key questions that are open ended and that lead to deep thinking. Pose these questions and allow time for students to ponder. If you want to tie in internet safety, grab the book, Bully and share it as a lead into the discussion of cyber bullying and internet safety.
Google forms offer teachers a window into the thinking of students too. Teachers can create surveys to gain perspective on their students feels and yet keep things anonymous if needed too.
Another tech tool I’ve used are response paddles. They are great for discussing any type of question, but they can also work well for character discussions too.
Have you seen The Kid President clips? These are wonderful to use as a hook into lessons. Here’s one about how to change the world. Love it!
Thanks so much for dropping in. I really hope that you find something in this post or that’s linked up that will…change your classroom and help just one child feel accepted and another pause and think about a better way.
Finally, I’m going to link up with Andrea at Reading Toward the Stars for her Book Talk Thursday too. If you love sharing books, take a moment to check out the selections she’s chosen for this month, and if you’d like to pin this post to come back to later, here’s an image to help you out.
Happy reading, friends, and just think…only a little more than a week til winter break!