Ideas for character development without added cost ...

Ideas developed during The Minnesota Student Leadership Seminar faculty small group sessions or submitted via email or facebook -- submit yours today.

New ideas submitted!  Scroll down!

  • As a faculty member - be the example - always.  Be a leader of character in your interaction with students...with peers...with administrators...with parents.  
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  • Conduct a personal values assessment - can be tied to current English or Social Studies curriculum by also doing values assessment for characters or historical figures. 
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  • Discuss common ethical dilemmas that your students might face.  Press them to think critically about the situations, the people involved, the perspectives, the consequences.  Look here for example situations and discussion questions.  Click here for more situations - A new situation added every few weeks complete with a "framework for ethical decision making."
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  •  You probably have a list of classroom expectations that you introduce to your students at the beginning of the year.  Take this a step further and have your students adopt expectations of each other in the form of a classroom honor code. Click here for examples of honor codes.
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  • Don't let the small "teachable" moments that come up in your classroom or on the playing field slip by without using them to reinforce the message that one's character is something to treasure. 
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  • Download and print (for free) the leadership exercises that accompany Bill George's outstanding book True North Exercise #5 is about explicitly identifying "the values that are important to you, the principles you will use in leading, and the ethical boundaries that you will adhere to, even under great pressure. 
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  • Looking for possible texts to incorporate in your curriculum that could include critical examination of values?  Here is a list developed by the Axios Institute of the top 100 leading figures in the history of values and the books associated with them.  Names range from Jane Adams to Jesus to Marx to Nietzche  (Axios Institute description from their website: Axios Institute is dedicated to the study of human values, both the valuations that we make and the ways that we go about making them.
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  • Use the power of the subliminal.  This article contains tips on how to maximize the educational power of posters within the classroom.  While the article is about educational posters within the science classroom, the tips and theory behind the silent yet influential aspects of a classroom is easily applied to character development. Here is a link to values posters that you can download for free.  But assigning a value to a group of students and having them develop a poster that reflects what the value means to them or including a picture of that value in action may be more influential.

  • Introduce your students to the StudentLinc leader training matrix.  The matrix was created to help student government leaders evaluate themselves at different stages in their year in student government, but it is just as effective in evaluating the leader of a project or study team.  Also, students should realize that they can use this same tool to evaluate themselves in leadership positions on sports teams, in other extra curricular organizations, as they interact with friends, and later in their adult life.  You don't need a title to be a leader.

  • Pick a value-a-month or -a-week.  Look for this value being manifested in your school or in your community or in the media.  What does it look like when this value is absent? Look for a list of values here.
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Ideas to use the value card decks and decision making model provided at MNSLS.  (Don't have a values card deck?  Here are printable cards...or a one page version
Download the MNSLS Decision Making Model    
  • Use in counseling situations - job, career, behavior, mediation.

  • Use to help in college selection - Ask: are the college's values compatible with mine?

  • Use in Social Studies/Civics classes to analyze current events or historical decisions and try to interpret the values in play.

  • Use in English classes to analyze characters and the values that motivate them. 

  • Use in Social Studies or English classes to understand how values can be manifested differently.  When can "bad" values be good, i.e. when the value of "control" is used to better a non-profit's effectiveness.  When can "good" values be bad, i.e. religious zealotry.   

  • Use as developmental tool for students in leadership positions such as:  Student Council Officers, National Honor Society members, Team Captains

  • Use as a companion to the Health class curriculum - what are my values?  How do they mesh with ethics?

  • Use in English class as writing prompts:  What are my values?  Why are these my values? 

  • Conduct the values exercise in 9th grade and have the students record the information in the personal journal portion of Naviance, MN Career Information System.  Repeat each year - values change!

  • Use as group exercise at student retreats. 

  • Use in language classes - translate the values and decision making model to the language.  Discuss the decision making model in that language.

  • Guidance counselor -  Use values exercise and then apply the decision making model to work w/ high risk students

  • Use in Math class as a means to collect data (student responses to values exercise) and use these data points in probability, distribution, fractions, graphing etc..
        
     
 
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