Andrea Varnado Performs Original Song
Westwood parent Jean Varnado and his daughter, Andrea, have collaborated to create a song inspired by Westwood's character education efforts. Click here to enjoy Character Counts, performed by third-grade Andrea Varnado and accompanied by her father. We post their work with their permission and we thank the duo for their willingness to share this musical message with us.
Animal Shelter Donations
One of our character education goals at Westwood has been to take our service projects to a deeper level to include all students at all grade levels and provide a tie-in with our pillars and a connection to our academic standards. Service learning does all of that; it takes students well past merely performing a service by allowing the students ownership in the process and reflection once itís complete. See what Mrs. Delka's second-grade class had to say about their Pet Project.
The Bathroom Brigade To instill pride and ownership in our school restrooms, Westwood initiated a Bathroom Briage. First grade detectives use a score sheet to chart their findings as they investigate the state of the bathrooms. Sometimes the teacher has the whole class go check with a few representatives to actually go in the bathrooms and bring a report, and sometimes she sends teams to check the different bathrooms (we have 4 sets). At our weekly Wednesday Warbles gathering, the Briagade makes the report. With the golden plunger in hand, the winners circle the gym to the theme of Chariots of Fire playing. We keep a running tally of the weekly winners on a bulletin board as shown in the picture. Coach Stephens has remarked that the restrooms have not been as clean in 31 years as they are since the Brigade came to town.
Check out this behavior expectation rubric from the Drake University website that will help simplify the process of connecting the six pillar words to concrete behaviors.
Books That Teach
Are you looking for a children's book which focuses on a particular character trait? Check out this list of our counselor's favorite books which she uses in guidance (and at home) to reinforce important character values.
Bucket-Filling 101 Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud challenges its readers to care for others by making deposits in their invisible buckets. Click here to see how students at Westwood reacted to a read-aloud with the Counselor using the Bucket Book.
The Book Buddy Program pairs third graders with first graders and second graders with kindergarteners to give students a weekly visit with their cross-aged peers to read books and build relationships.
Bulletin Boards Showcase Character
One way to share how much Character Counts! is by posting it on bulletin boards around the school. Here are some of our most creative ideas for making character visible.
Creating a character climate is the best way to keep your school bully-free. At Westwood, we encourage students to use the Talk, Walk, then Tell strategy. FISD trains students to be Safe School Ambassadors in grades 4-12 to combat bullying. Click here for a bibliography of illustrated picture books with an anti-bullying theme to help your students become bully busters. Read what an article in the New York Times claims is the Only Way To Stop A Bully. And visit the School Library Journal here to see their extensive list of bullying-prevention resources.
Want to put some bullying-prevention strategies at your students' fingertips? Download this creative design by Jennifer McCaffrey and Belinda Garcia, two Clear Creek ISD counselors. Personalize it and print it out on cardstock to create a beautiful Be A Buddy, Not A Bully bookmark.
Career Awareness Day
Westwood Elementary students discover that it's never too early to start planning for the future.
Character is in full bloom when your little florists fill in and color this bouquet of carnations. Have students brainstorm character traits or values that they'll need as they grow, or have them pick the traits that their heroes naturally model, one for each flower.Then have them color the flowers, cut the bouquet out, and wrap it up in green tissue paper like this one, made by our counselor's third-grade daughter as a Mothers' Day gift.
The Character Connection
Do you want a fun activity that will get your students moving and challenge their listening skills? The Character Connection is sure to get them going and maybe even add some laughter to the room.
This template for a Character Cube will entertain your students while it engages them in a lively pillar discussion. Print the cubes on card stock. Have students write one pillar word on each of the six squares and draw and color an illustration of that pillar in action. Students then cut it out and fold it on the lines, taping the sides to make the shape of a cute. With a buddy, students roll the cube to see which side faces up. They then explain how what's happening in the little illustration shows that pillar and their buddy can give another example of that pillar. Switch cubes or partners multiple times for some riveting game time. Or, let the students think up a dilemma about that pillar.
Character in the Curriculum
At the Josephson Institute of Ethics, they understand the time constraints educators face, and their Lesson Plan Bank will make things much easier. All of their lessons are aligned with one or more of the Six Pillars of Character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship) and you can search by Pillar, age-group, or subject. All lessons are aligned with McREL standards, making curricular integration seamless. One of the Responsibility lessons was written and tested out at Westwood by counselor Barbara Gruener. Click here to visit the Bank and invest in your character building.
Character ROCKS! Are you looking for a creative way to visibly show that your character counts! Click here for a rockin' activity.
If you're looking for an energizing team-builder to help capture your character mission, this activity is likely to suit you to a T.
Hometown Heroes too numerous to count rose bright and early Wednesday morning to make tracks to Westwood so that they could help lead the annual Character Counts!/Red Ribbon Week Pep Rally.
In Our Global Village
Former third-grade teacher Deanna Ellisor found an innovative and engaging way to enrich the Friendswood Unit in their social studies curriculum. After studying all about their community, the class decided to author a book to share with the world through the In Our Global Village Service-Learning Project. We are so proud of the way they told our story that we're eager for you to read all about it.
Warm Up America!, Westwood's third-grade knitting club, makes afghans for people in need.
Musicals For Your Character Building
Music can be an incredibly unifying experience; we cannot all talk at once, but we can all sing at once. And what a great way to develop character, using songs with a positive message! Westwood music teacher Laura Rachita has compiled this list of tried-and-true musicals for elementary-aged students that we are pleased to recommend for your character building.
NSOC Open House
Westwood welcomed 33 character educators from ten neighboring districts to our National School of Character Open House so that they could experience some of our promising practices to enrich their character education initiatives.
PALs are a unique group of specially-trained teenaged mentors who make a positive impact on the lives of tomorrow's leaders by building relationships and modeling healthy choices.
Looking for ways to promote character education in your classroom, your school, or even your home? Click here for ideas to help get your character education initiative off the ground or to strengthen your existing efforts.
Want to know more about the Six Pillars of Character? Here's a little rap to help people understand the Character Counts! framework.
Red Ribbon Week Celebrate National Character Counts!/Red Ribbon Week With Us! Get ready for an extraordinary celebration when we combine National Character Counts! Week with our annual Red Ribbon Week this year on October 21.Activities
Singing About Character is a Snap
Here's a song that we have tons of fun with at Westwood. Written by Counselor Barbara Gruener, this catchy little ditty is sung to the tune of the Adamms' Family. Get your snappin fingers ready!
What is a social contract? An important part of the Capturing Kids' Hearts self-managing classroom program, it's a promise or an agreement made between student and teacher as well as between student and student, compiled by the class as their answer questions, posed by the teacher.
Thank You PTO
Video thanking our parent organization for Donuts with Dudes and Donuts with Divas
Three Cheers For Character
A big part of being a character mentor is cheering our kids on as they progress down Character Road and experience successes in the classrom.
Veterans Day Celebration Program 2010
The Westwood family gathers every Wednesday morning in the gym for a special community meeting to encourage camaraderie within the school body.
Westwood Staff Agreements
Each year, the Westwood staff works together to create a social contract, our promise to one another, that answers the question, "How do we want to work together?" We recently changed the process slightly when we asked our faculty family to align staff norms with our Six Pillars of Character. We post the fruits of that collaborative effort here with a note that this is a working document and can be modified as needed.
Westwood's NSOC Portfolio and Application
As part of the Character Education Partnership's (CEP) State and National School of Character application process, schools must submit a seven-page narrative (and a portfolio) aligning their character-education program with CEP's 11 Principles of Effective Character Education. We're posting our application so you can read all about Westwood's journey down Character Road. Click here to read our story as told in CEP's 2009 National Schools of Character publication.
The Whole Child
Nurturing the whole child is key to a comfortable classroom climate where learning can take place and students can feel successful. If you want to capture your students' hearts, you need to really know them. Get in touch with their learning style, personality type, and love language and try these ideas for motivating, rewarding, and affirming your students. Activity
Want to inspire greatness in your students through reflective writing? Using words of wisdom from our role models past and present is a great place to start. Click here for a few sample essays and some quotes worth repeating.