A successful classroom community promotes positive social skills and academic achievement. Foster a sense of belonging in your classroom with these tips, activities, and unit plans.
The start of the school year is the time to set the tone for the rest of the school year. Members of a learning community demonstrate many traits of success while fostering those traits in others. This literature-rich unit will ignite a discussion about the necessary traits for a year of success.
- Generate a list of traits that facilitate success (tolerance, respect, integrity, etc.)
- Identify the traits portrayed by characters in literature
- Rank the traits in order of importance
- Justify their top three and bottom two ranked traits
- Agree upon 10–12 traits for success that will guide the students through the year
- Define each of these traits in student-friendly language
- Reflect in writing how students are demonstrating these traits in school and at home
- Reflect and discuss how their peers are demonstrating these traits in school
- Reflect in writing about the traits ("Which attitudes are your strengths?")
- Set goals for a successful year ("Which attitudes do you want to further develop?")
In cooperative groups, students will use a digital camera to illustrate each of the traits and write a caption to accompany the photos. These photos can either be made into books or into a beautiful classroom display.
These books contain characters displaying multiple character traits.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
When Grace finds out her class is mounting a production of Peter Pan, she can't wait to audition for the starring role. But her classmates say Peter Pan can't be a black girl. Watercolor illustrations illuminate Grace's heartbreak and triumph as she — with the help of her family — shows everyone that true talent is more than skin deep.
Classroom Tip: This book serves as a good one to model the lesson process for the students.
Angel Child, Dragon Child by Michele Maria Surat
Ut, an immigrant child from Vietnam, tries adjusting to a new life in America.
Classroom Tip: This book has examples of the following character traits: tolerance, respect, and courage.
The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins
This lovely book effectively conveys the concepts of sharing and simple mathematics to youngsters. "Bright, joyous, dynamic, this wonderfully humorous piece of realism for the young is presented simply but with style and imagination." —Horn Book
Classroom Tip: A wonderful book for teaching generosity.
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman
An American sailor courts a young Japanese woman and each tries, in secret, to learn the other's way of eating.
Classroom Tip: This book showcases the character traits such as curiosity, compassion, and empathy.
Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
This contemporary classic offers a starting place for discussing beliefs, peace, and acceptance among the peoples of the world.
Classroom Tip: This book has examples of the following character traits: tolerance, respect, curiosity, and empathy.
Old Turtle and the Broken Truth by Douglas Wood
Earth creatures are suffering, for the people will not share their Truth, which gives them happiness and power, with those who are different from them. Then one brave Little Girl seeks the wisdom of the ancient Old Turtle, who sees that the people's Truth is not a whole truth, but broken.
Classroom Tip: Honesty, compassion, integrity, curiosity, and empathy are prominent character traits featured in this book.
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
As the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school, this historical fiction shows us all how brave and forgiving a 6-year-old child can be. "Our Ruby taught us all a lot. She became someone who helped change our country.... She led us away from hate, and she led us nearer to knowing each other, the white folks and the black folks." —Ruby's mother
Classroom Tip: Character traits such as compassion, empathy, tolerance, courage, and enthusiasm are an integral part of the story.