This series of lessons center on identifying character traits that lead to student success.
- Rank the traits in order of importance.
- Justify their top 3 ranked traits.
- Agree upon 10-12 essential traits for success that will guide the students through the year.
- Define each of these traits in student-friendly language.
- Chart paper
- A copy of the brainstormed list for each student
- Index cards (optional, see supporting all learners)
- Writing Journals
Set Up and Prepare
- Create a master sheet of the brainstormed list that can be copied for each student to use as a check-off sheet.
- Copy the traits individually on index cards (optional, see supporting all learners).
- (Before Part II) Collect the students’ ranked lists. I like to have the students keep all of their writing in their journals. These traits will serve as a foundation for the year and students will reference their notes for future writing throughout the year. Therefore, when students hand the journals in, they leave them open to the page I will read rather than closing them to hand in.
- Compile a list of the traits that the students feel are most important, this can be done by using the ranked lists as “votes.”
Step 1: Write objectives 1 and 2 on the board and share them with the students. Tell the students that we are going to take out list of traits and choose 10-12 that will become our classroom’s Essential Traits for Success. These traits will be used all year as a guide. We are going review the traits brainstorm list that the students have created. Ask if there are any other traits the students would like to add.
Step 2: Tell the students that in order to agree upon a list of essential classroom traits we need to know which traits we each think are important. Next, write the following question on the board: Which traits are the most important ones for our class to include in our class’s Essential Traits for Success?
Step 3: Partner students with someone near them to answer the questions “Which traits are the most important ones for our class to include in our class’s Essential Traits for Success? Why?” Have students discuss this in pairs.
Step 4: Have students open their journals as a quick write (writing that does not concern itself with spelling/grammar). Have students rank the traits in order of importance, number one being the most important and so forth. Set a time limit.
Step 5: Tell students to examine their list. For their first three traits students need to justify why these traits are most important. Students should give reasoning in writing, below their ranked list.
Teacher should collect the ranked lists.
Step 6: Review the objectives. Were our goals met? (Students can indicate with thumbs up or thumbs down.)
Step7: Write on the board objectives 3 and 4. Share them with the students.
Step 8: Explain the process you went through in order to compile the list of 10-12 traits the students found most important. Use an agreed upon decision-making process to accept these traits as the class’s Essential Traits for Success.
Step 9: Assign each student a trait from the list. Students will define the trait using student-friendly language.
Step 10: Create groups based on the traits (for example, each student that was assigned tolerance will meet together). These groups will share their definitions and develop a common definition that can be used by the class.
Step 11: Groups will share their definitions with the class.
Step 12: Revisit the objective. Did we meet our goal? How?
Supporting All Learners
Do you have any students that would benefit from having the traits written out ahead of time on cards so that they could be physically moved into a rank order?
These traits then serve as a guide for our actions throughout the school year. Before lesson activities we brainstorm what traits we will need to demonstrate in order to successfully complete the activity. Some examples students have shared are: Independence during Reader’s Workshop, Empathy during competitive games, and Tolerance for different learning rates and styles during whole group lessons. These traits in turn help define who we are as a community of learners.
Students should use their family's input to complete the homework assignment.
- Students will rank the traits in order of importance, justifying their top three choices.
- Cooperative groups will define the traits using student friendly language.
- Homework: Students can reflect in writing about the traits: "Which attitudes are your strengths? Which attitudes do you want to further develop?"
- Did the students have a clear enough understanding of successful traits in order to complete the individual ranking?
- How would you change this lesson the next time you taught it?
- Were the students able to justify the traits they deemed most important?
- Did the student-defined traits get at the real meaning of the words?