Wisconsin Promising Practice Designees

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2019 Promising Practice Winners

Literature is the key strategy for teaching character in this school. Using a Book of the Month that is selected to align with their character goals allows for a shared experience for all teachers, staff, students and families each month. Teachers collaborate to design a lesson that drives classroom discussions about the book. The lessons are grade level appropriate and also include extra activities for school and home. This approach allows for common language about character in the school. The feedback from parent surveys has been positive about this approach. The current theme of personal responsibility, or “leadership” has students becoming more motivated to contribute. Embedding character through literature is a strong practice.

Sharing a common character education message by introducing the character trait of the day via a virtual all school meeting ensures this school finds time to work on character education. Their staff team collaborates on strategies and activities to support the daily character trait presented in the morning meeting. Students are invited to be involved in presenting information to their peers, along with the Principal- who leads the virtual meeting. This approach becomes embedded as the language/trait introduced is then a part of the classroom in activities/discussions. The staff uses reflection and feedback to strengthen this practice

Creating a caring community is the foundation of this practice. Within the school, fifth grade students are paired with kindergarten students. Monthly, they work together on projects (ornaments, cards, door hangers) and then go with their buddy to the nearby Senior Citizen center to visit their Senior Buddies. Teachers spend time preparing students by asking about their experiences with the elderly and then follow up with post visit feedback and reflection. These students and seniors bond over time and the activities become more interactive. The students have a chance to be a part of building a caring community.

Catching other students displaying the schools core values –known as the Cardinal REDs (Respectful, Engaged, Dependable and Self- controlled) helps students see what the character traits look like. The After School Program students built the physical structure that represents the Cardinals Care Capsules. These free-standing capsules, placed around the school, encourage students to look for students acting out the core values. They write down and describe who they saw and what trait they saw and place it in the capsule. This practice continues into the After School Program- a reminder that Cardinal REDS are the norm in the building at all times. The collaboration with the After School Program strengthens this practice.

The Rockfield News- a weekly video announcement- is how this school works collaboratively to share what is happening in the school and embed their core values into their school culture. Two staff committees plan, survey, write and prepare for the weekly videos, aligned with the character value being taught each month. Students deliver the news and are encouraged to share their ideas and thematic inputs when they are working on the recording. The information shared on the videos is then reinforced in classroom discussions. Surveys are used to provide feedback on the value and topics for future videos. Students are given a “voice” and leadership opportunities “teaching” the character value.

This Veteran’s Day program culminates in a one-time per year event, but the planning and level of student voice and choice provides an ongoing opportunity for students for moral action and leadership. This program has grown from involving 75 students to now well over 200 students who work to make this day special to honor veterans. Students reach out to local business to donate food for the reception and they also get support to provide gifts for the veterans through their fundraisers. Initially adult run, this event is now student led. Recently, they honored 100 veterans from across the globe.

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