Monday, May 13, 2013

Teaching Character with Animals

So sometimes to reward myself, I love to go browse around a book store.  I have a Barnes and Noble literally next door to my apartment complex, and I recently had the bright idea to check out their Education section, which I had never done before (usually too busy browsing the fiction section or children's lit)!

I was really excited to find this book during my perusal of the Education section:

I am always on the lookout for new ways to teach my kids to be good people.  My students LOVE anything to do with animals, and as I browsed through this book, it seemed like the perfect way to sneak some character ed into our days.  Now is the perfect time, since we only have about 3 weeks of school left, and there is room to experiment with new ideas.  

This book lets you find lessons based on the traits you want to teach.  So I chose to focus our first lesson on "perseverance."  Let's just say most of my students don't really have an "I'm going to keep trying until I get it!" attitude this year.  Even after reading about Wilma Rudolph, an amazing woman who had polio as a child and was told she would NEVER WALK AGAIN, but went on to become a multiple-Olympic gold medalist, inspired my students for about 2 seconds before they were back to turning in lazy work!  

So, the first lesson we did was based on coconut crabs.  My students were hooked immediately when I showed them the picture of a coconut crab provided on the CD-ROM.  Then, we read about coconut crabs and how they will sometimes climb up a palm tree over and over again, carrying a coconut, and drop it to the ground to try to shatter the shell.  If that doesn't work, they will use their claws to work at getting the shell open until they finally succeed.  We used this model to discuss perseverance and the kids made perseverance posters with their own slogans.  

I was really impressed with the slogans these students came up with.  Overall, I was very happy with the students' engagement throughout this lesson, and I am planning on fitting in as many more lessons from this book as I can.  I would really like to work these lessons in sporadically throughout the year next year, because I believe that building good character comes from having these discussions over and over and over and OVER again until it becomes a part of your students.  

I will let you know how any future lessons from this book go.  I highly recommend it if you think you have time to fit in 20-30 minutes of character ed at least once a week.  

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