Building Positive Character Traits

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					Title of Unit:                    Building Positive Character Traits

Author:                           Dr. Richard Stafford

Email Address:          

School:                           Gainesville Middle School

Public or Private School:         Public

Grade Level Range:                5th and 6th

Special Education Unit:           No, but effective for students with limited reading and writing

Concept:                          Respect for Others / Honesty

Masterwork:                       Shiloh, (video and book), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Significant Question:             How do you decide what is right and what is wrong?

Character Traits (QCC’s/Standards) Addressed:
Respect for Others
    Standard: Integrity:
      Confirmed virtue and uprightness of character, freedom from hypocracy.
           o  12.1 Honesty: truthfulness and sincerity
           o  12.2 Truth: freedom from deceit or falseness; based on fact or reality
           o  12.3 Trustworthiness: worthy of confidence
    Standard: Altruism:
      Concern for and motivation to act for the welfare of others.
           o  11.2 Compassion, Kindness, Generosity

Power Standards (Key QCC’s) Addressed that the Unit teaches to mastery:
    Reading Standards:      32 – Reads for a variety of purposes to obtain meaning from
      different kinds of materials
    Reading Standards:      36 – Expands reading vocabulary
    Writing Standards:      71 – Produces paragraphs and compositions for a variety of
    Writing Standards:      75 – Uses descriptive words and phrases
    Speaking Standards: 65 – Participates in oral presentations

Other Related Standards (QCC’s) Addressed (only if applicable):
    62 – Communicates effectively through oral presentation
    61 – Expands speaking vocabulary

Character Through The Arts, a U. S. Dept. of Education Grant                                        1
Funded through the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, No Child Left Behind
Arts Standards (QCC’s) Addressed:
    Theatre Arts Standards:      4 – Demonstrates proficiency in sight-reading at the
       expected competency level
    Theatre Arts Standards:      6 – Artistic Skills and Knowledge: Creating, Performing,
       Producing.   Standard: Uses imagination to form and express thought, feeling,

Arts Partner Role/Contribution:
        Check the appropriate answer(s)
                Unit Planning            __x__ Yes ___ No
                Experience               __x__ Yes ___ No
                Inquire                  __x__ Yes ___ No
                Create                   __x__ Yes ___ No
                Reflect                  __x__ Yes ___ No
        Please explain: Storyteller will experience the movie with the class, assist students in
the art of tableau, and then, instruct students in power-writing and assist students with their
creation/three-minute performance.

    The teacher writes on the board the question…
    How do you decide what is right and what is wrong?
    This question will stay on the board for “focus” during the entire unit.

    Then, the teacher introduces the unit plan telling the class that they will be viewing the movie
    Shiloh, then reading excerpts the book, Shiloh. The teacher tells the class that Shiloh is a
    story about an eleven year old boy named Marty, his family, and how a neighbor’s dog
    changed their lives.

    The teacher will introduce the teaching artist who will be assisting the students with their
    original creations/performances. The artist will give the class an overview of his/her part in
    the unit and join in on the class discussion.

    The teacher then leads a class discussion about pets and responsibility. The initial focus is on
    character words: responsibility, kindness, honesty, trustworthiness and others students
    may include. To facilitate the discussion, the teacher asks some questions for the class to
    answer while the artist assists by writing answers on the board:
        How many of you have pets?
        What kind of pets do you have?
        Who takes care of your pets?
        What character traits do you need to have to properly care for a pet?
        Do you need to be dependable? ….. responsible? …. What others can you think of? Are
    these character traits similar to those you need in relationships with other people?

    After a brief class discussion, the students will begin watching key sections of the movie
    version of Shiloh. The teacher will stop the video for deepening questions or discussion.

Character Through The Arts, a U. S. Dept. of Education Grant                                         2
Funded through the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, No Child Left Behind
Inquiry Centers:
Inquiry Center 1:
Deepening Questions:
      What character traits were not demonstrated in the video?
      What would it look like if good character had been demonstrated?

After viewing key sections of the movie…
Whole class participation…
A student facilitator will lead a discussion resulting in one overarching character trait being
selected by the class. During this discussion, the teacher will remind the class of the question
posted on the board… “How do you decide what is right and what is wrong?” and keep the
discussion about character traits focused in this area.

The students will be divided into three groups to do tableaux showing both how a pet was cared
for in the video, and how a pet should be cared for, focusing on the character traits they
discussed. Each group will create a tableau to represent that character trait. The groups will
perform their tableau for the rest of the class.

Inquiry Center 2:
Deepening Questions: (see below…different questions in each rotation)

Students remain in their three tableau groups from the previous day. They rotate to three
different centers where they begin reading aloud portions of the Shiloh book listed below. Each
inquiry center is grounded in specific character traits depicted by the section of the book that is
being read aloud. Students will discuss what they have read in the context of the character traits
depicted in the text. The teacher and the teaching artist will rotate between the groups to

        1.       Marty and his Dad are taking the dog back to its owner, Judd.
                 (Read Chapter 2, Pages 22-27 beginning with ‘Dusk is settling in now.”)
                 After the read aloud, students reflect on the following questions.
                 a. What character traits are revealed about Judd in this passage?
                 b. What character traits are revealed about Marty?
                 c. Was Marty’s Dad right to take the dog back to his owner under these
                    circumstances? Why or Why not?
                 d. What do you think you would have done?

        2.       Judd’s dog ran away again. Marty hid him in the woods without telling his
                 family. Judd has just come to Marty’s home looking for his dog.
                 (Read page 51… “Dad, sitting on the edge of the porch…. through first
                 paragraph on page 58)
                 After the read aloud, students reflect on the following questions.
                 a. Was it okay for Marty to lie? Why or why not?

Character Through The Arts, a U. S. Dept. of Education Grant                                          3
Funded through the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, No Child Left Behind
                 b. What did Marty mean when he said “You can lie not only by what you
                    say but what you don’t say.”
                 c. What other choices could Marty have made?
                 d. What do you think you would have done?

        3.       Remind the students that Marty sees Judd killing a deer. He then reminds Judd
                 that there’s a $250 fine for killing a doe out of season and threatens to report him
                 to law enforcement authorities. Marty uses the situation to talk Judd into making
                 a deal. Marty will work for Judd for 20 hours, he will not tell anyone about Judd
                 killing the doe, and then Marty will own Shiloh. This creates an ethical problem
                 for Marty when he returns home.

                 Read page 130, as Marty is thinking about how hard it is to lie to his family in
                 order to honor his promise to Judd. Begin with the paragraph that says “But
                 Dad’s still studying my face” and continue through the bottom of page 131.
                 After the read aloud, students reflect on the following questions.
                 a. What was Marty lying to his parents about?
                 b. What does Marty mean when he thinks about “lying by omission.”
                 c. Was Marty right or wrong in not telling his parents that Judd killed the
                 d. What do you think you would have done?

Inquiry Center 3:
Deepening Questions: (see below)

Students remain in their three groups for a research project delving into the ethical treatment of
animals. Each of the three groups will use the computer to research one of the following topics.
You might begin your research at and

        In society today, how are animals used to assist people?
             o i.e., seeing eye dogs, bomb sniffing dogs, drug sniffing dogs, dolphins in the
                 military? Others?
             o Which of these uses do you agree with? Defend your position
             o Which do you disagree with? Defend your position
     How are animals used in research?
             o When is this practice ethical? Defend your position
             o When is it unethical? Defend your position
     What is the humane society?
             o How many animals are put to sleep every year in this city? In this state? In the
                 United States?
             o What can be done to improve this situation?
Each group will record their findings and present them to the class. All aspects of the research
will be discussed by the class as a whole. The teacher will lead the discussion, focusing again on
the question on the board… “How do you decide what is right and what is wrong in a situation
that is not clear cut?”

Character Through The Arts, a U. S. Dept. of Education Grant                                            4
Funded through the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, No Child Left Behind
Original Creation:
    Together, the teacher and the teaching artist will explain power writing (1-2-2-2-1) to the
    class using VAK techniques to get the students motivated. Students will begin writing
    original “speeches” or “monologues” to be presented at a “Character Lessons Learned from
    Shiloh Day.”

    The speech will be approximately three minutes in length, and one to three pages in writing.
    Students must center their writing on one positive character trait and/or ethical issue
    learned from the story and their research. The original writing from each student will be
    delivered in a performance at a final celebration day.

    A storyteller will be made available to help the students prepare and perfect their speeches.

    A “dress rehearsal” day will allow students to practice with a podium and microphone as
    they give their speech/monologue. No special lights, mic off, but in place for practice. They
    will learn public speaking skills, where to stand, how to adjust the microphone and the
    podium, etc. In addition, they will practice eye contact, vocal projection and hand gestures.
    Recognizing that some students may be reluctant to speak in public, they will all be allowed
    to use props to assist them in conveying their point. For example, some may create posters
    or other original art work and describe how that work reflects their point.

    Everyone will be asked to bring sweets for the “cast party” planned for the last day of the

    Performance Day: Students will enter the room, dark except for special lighting on podium
    and folding chairs arranged public meeting style. Balloons will create a festive atmosphere.
    Teacher wears a large cereal-type dog bone around neck, tied with yarn on each end. Music
    will be “Who Let the Dogs Out?” to create a festive, fun atmosphere.

    A table in front of the podium will include a stuffed beagle (Shiloh) and copies of the book
    for display. Students will come up to the podium and perform their original creations.
    Students will receive a surprise, a chocolate chip cookie in the shape of a dog bone. Cookies
    made from standard cookie dough and cut using a dog bone cookie cutter available at kitchen
    stores or made from bending 1” tin into a bone shape.

    During the Original Creation performances, the storyteller and the teacher will keep track of
    the character traits covered, how many times, etc. to guide the “reflection” with deepening
    questions that relate to how the students perceived the story, their research, and the deeper
    meaning(s) that evolved.

Character Through The Arts, a U. S. Dept. of Education Grant                                        5
Funded through the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, No Child Left Behind
After the benefit of listening to all the one minute presentations, teacher will lead the class in
discussion focused around the significant question. The teaching artist will share with the class
what he/she “Heard, Saw, Felt” during the one minute presentations, being careful to include
something offered in each student’s presentation. The teacher will record this information on the
board under the significant question. This should lead to deepening questions about the
character and ethics displayed in the story and in the student research. The teacher will use Venn
Diagrams, to engage the class in comparisons as follows:

             Compare and contrast Marty’s actions in the context of what is “right and wrong”
             Compare and contrast the ethical dilemmas in each of the three research questions
             They will broaden the scope of their reflection by considering:
                 Self reflection on right and wrong
                        o How do you decide what is right and wrong in a particular situation
                            when there are relevant points on both sides of the issue?
                        o In what ways does how a person is raised and the environment they
                            live in impact the way in which they approach moral decision making?
                 Responsibility for self, nature, other people, other living things.
                 Have their thoughts changed after witnessing the original creations? If so,

After reflecting as a group, the teacher will ask each student to write a paragraph addressing the
significant question (How do you decide what is right and what is wrong?) in terms of how they
feel personally about the topic after experiencing the unit.

The writing, along with the original creation, will provide the teacher with assessment tools to
measure character growth and academic growth experienced during the unit.

      Video or DVD of the movie, Shiloh
      3 copies of the book, Shiloh
      Student paper, pencils, dictionaries
      Bulletin board paper, markers
      Stuffed beagle dog, copies of both books
      Podium, microphone, special lighting, folding chairs
      Dog Bone shaped chocolate chip cookies and paper certificates

Submit: Units are reviewed by Susan Hanson and Dr. Richard Benjamin for possible publication on the CTTA
website. In order to be published, the units must effectively integrate arts agencies/teaching artists and the Artful
Learning™ education reform model with proven character education strategies.

Character Through The Arts, a U. S. Dept. of Education Grant                                                            6
Funded through the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, No Child Left Behind

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