The Ethics Center is proud to launch "Donate A Book Now - Build Character for a Lifetime," a month-long project for December 2013, in collaboration with Giving Tuesday, a national nonprofit giving program for the holiday season, with nearly 3,000 participating organizations. The Center serves thousands of children throughout the country through "Character-Based Literacy," a program which embraces literature to teach ethics. You can help children in some of the nation's poorest schools become good citizens with great character. Purchase a book, or several, and help children learn learn values while learning how to read and write. The special curriculum is also used at many court community and juvenile hall schools, allowing those with challenging circumstances to grow and learn. Fifty-five books are available for purchase, from classics such as "Of Mice and Men" and "The Pearl," to other important literary works on crucial topics such as segregation and the immigrant experience in America. Please include your name and contact information with your order so we can acknowledge your gift! (*Note: this is an in-kind gift program, and not tax-deductible.)
Remember the days when you cut an article you didn’t understand very well out of the daily newspaper and brought it to share during “Current Events” at school? Those days are over.
Newsworthy, a free daily e-newspaper produced by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, provides students and teachers with a daily compendium of news stories culled from different publications.
More important, Newsworthy helps students understand current events by providing a daily lesson plan for middle or secondary school teachers that “highlights the ethical issues behind the headlines,” says Steve Johnson, director of Character Education at the Ethics Center.Within a single week, students may delve into ethical issues around international diplomacy, local government, or new technology, to name a few.
Newsworthy responds to changes in the language arts brought about by the new national core curriculum. Under the new core, English teachers will have to add informational texts to the literature they have been teaching. Newsworthy offers a step-by-step guide to teaching news articles while meeting the core standards.
The program also fills a gap identified by principals when Ethics Center staff visited schools that use the Center’s popular Character-Based Literacy (CBL) Curriculum. Tom Kostic, who writes the Newsworthy lesson plans, explains: “A lot of principals want to do something about character education, and they also want to do something useful with the time kids spend in homeroom or advisory period. Right now, everybody just sits there.” Newsworthy allows homeroom teachers to make better use of that time by engaging young people in a discussion about current events and the ethical issues they raise.
Each daily plan deals with:
·Words and Ideas
Teachers can use Newsworthy with any relevant course, start at any time, and fit the material as they choose into their curriculum. For instance, a social studies instructor may center a whole period around the daily topic, or an English teacher can devote a portion of one class, while a teacher’s aide can make this the focus of study hour in between classes.
The material uses the techniques of the CBL Curriculum and is already in use by CBL subscribers. Anyone can subscribe to Newsworthy free of charge. The development of Newsworthy was supported by a grant from the Markkula Family Foundation.
The moment has come in the Mass for the readings. You look down the row as the reader begins a passage from Malachi or Thessalonians or Luke. Are the children listening raptly to the word of God? More likely they are squirming in the pew, poking a younger sibling, whispering, or daydreaming. The biblical language and concepts have left them behind.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Steve Johnson, director of character education at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, says these ancient texts can speak very directly to kids—with the help of the Center’s new faith formation program, Build. Plant. Grow.
The curriculum pairs the Sunday readings with a classic children’s book and uses both to highlight a virtue that anyone can practice.
Build. Plant. Grow. takes its title from a passage in Jeremiah:
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce...multiply there and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare.
According to Johnson, the curriculum “is a faith formation program for people of any age who build, plant, and grow the word in their lives. It’s especially for use in schools and parishes as children break open the word each week.” The online curriculum provides weekly lesson plans that suggest how people can, as Johnson puts it, “live our daily lives as Christians at our best.”
An illustration: The lesson plan for the third Sunday in September looks at the value of compassion in Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss and a passage from the Gospel of St. Luke, which includes the story of the good shepherd who goes in search of one lost sheep. Participants—both young and old—are encouraged to care for every each individual regardless of their status—as Horton puts it, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” The curriculum then asks how caring and compassion can be put into action by, for example, providing items for distribution to the needy at the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Anthony Mancuso, S.J., chaplain at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif., wrote many of the lesson plans for Build. Plant. Grow. “I took the readings for each Sunday and pulled out a connection between them, often a word related to a virtue, such as justice or courage,” he said. Mancuso tied that idea to a children’s book dealing with the same theme, which “allows the ethics to come alive for a younger mind.” The lesson plans also offer hands-on activities, with different approaches sensitive to the different ways children learn. Another section, called “What can I do today?” asks children to take concrete actions based on the virtue they’re learning about. Finally, the lesson concludes with a prayer.
Build. Plant. Grow. is intended for use by Catholic school and parish religion teachers and by parents who want to engage young people in the Gospel message in a way that is relevant and vital.
“The Person is Not the Problem…the Problem is the Problem,” stated Mary Kindig and Dan Sackheim, keynoters at the June 27th Third Annual Catholic School Principals’ Institute, a program of the Ethics Center and the SCU Department of Education, in collaboration with the Diocese of San Jose.
Kindig has a masters in social work from Columbia University and is Program Development Consultant with the Restorative Schools Vision Project. Sackheim is a consultant for the California Department of Education. The speakers explored a number of key concepts surrounding restorative justice, primarily focusing on the three distinct stakeholders in a scenario where harm has been done: the community, the offender, and the victim(s). Harm, in this context, is defined as bullying, incidents of violence or acting out, or any disruptive behaviors by students from kindergarten age and up.
The restorative approach essentially focuses on understanding the harm done, and developing empathy for both the harmed and the harmer; reintegrating the harmer back into the community as a valuable contributing member; and implementing customized systems into schools such as planning, training, and focus groups, all of which recognize parents, students, teachers, and potentially clergy as key players and decision makers. It also focuses on greater accountability on the part of the school and the community when an act of harm has taken place, and innovative and interactive models as solutions.
Kindig and Sackheim identified challenges such as the role of parents, teachers, and clergy in healing and moving forward; the role social media plays both in exacerbating incidents and potentially providing healing (by replacing negative posts with positive ones); and how to best embrace new and progressive definitions of discipline, self-discipline, and forgiveness. The challenges struck a cord with the audience of educators, many of whom had experienced or witnessed incidences of harm.
The speakers contrasted the restorative justice approach with a more traditional model. In the case of harm, the tradition approach would be to ask: What rules have been broken? Who broke them? What punishment do they deserve? The restorative model asks: Who has been hurt? What are their needs? Whose obligations are these?
What does the model for restorative justice in schools look like in action? Regularly healing circles in which all parties engage in healthy communication would be one example. Contracts between students, teachers, and administrators that describe acceptable behaviors are another. Finally, traditional disciplinary measures are still a fall-back option in some scenarios.
Mary Kindig serves as the Program Development Consultant for The Restorative Schools Vision Project, which brings restorative justice philosophy into schools as a solution to high rates of student expulsions and suspensions. Dan Sackheim is Education Program Consultant, California Department of Education.
A special education teacher describes how her involvement in the Markkula Ethics Center when she was an undergraduate changed the course of her life. Griselda Renteria, now a special education teacher in the Cupertino, Calif., school system, began working with the Center's Character Education Program when she was a freshman at SCU.
The Center's Character Education Program offers basic training in its Character-Based Literacy Curriculum in Bishop, Calif., at a daylong workshop June 14. The training targets teachers, counselors, and administrators in alternative, special, and correctional education programs for at-risk students and juvenile offenders.
The program will cover:
Essentials and Themes of CBL
Introduction to CBL lesson plans
CBL Reading Lists
and other topics
To register, or for more information, contact School Programs Manager Kim McCauley at email@example.com.
Lorraine Ozar, founding director of the Loyola University Center for Catholic School Effectiveness, met today with local Catholic school educators about the first National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools, developed by her center in collaboration with the Roche Center for Catholic Education (Boston College) and the National Catholic Educational Association. This landmark document offers critical school effectiveness standards to more than 7,000 schools across the country.
The Ethics Center's Character Education Program offers curriculum, which integrates ethics and the language arts, tied to these national standards. Ozar is a 35-year veteran in the field of education as both a teacher and administrator. She was the recipient of the 2010 F. Sadlier Dinger Award for distinguished leadership and outstanding contributions to Catholic education, and the 2011 NCEA C. Albert Koob award, which recognizes individuals who have greatly impacted the national standard of Catholic education.
Ozar, director of the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness at Loyola University, Chicago, spoke today at a meeting of Catholic school educators from the San Jose and Oakland dioceses, sponsored by the SCU Department of Education with help from the Ethics Center. The Center has developed a character education curriculum keyed to the new Catholic school standards.
Ozar described the standards as a GPS to help build and sustain excellent Catholic schools. The standards lay out where to go and various ways to get there, but they still require the intelligence of educators and their knowledge of context in order to arrive at the desired destination.
Included in the standards are defining characteristics of Catholic schools. They are:
Centered in the Person of Jesus Christ
Contributing to the Evangelizing Mission of the Church
Distinguished by Excellence
Committed to Education the Whole Child
Steeped in a Catholic Worldview
Sustained by Gospel Witness
Shaped by Communion and Community
Accessible to All Students
Established by the Expressed Authority of the Bishop
The standards themselves lay out what makes an excellent Catholic school. These standards are matched with Benchmarks, which describe what a school that meets the standards might look like.
One standard related particularly to ethics states, “An excellent Catholic school provides opportunities for…action in service of social justice.” One of the benchmarks of that standard is “Every student participates in Christian service programs to promote the lived reality of action in service of social justice.”
While people may not all agree on values or what is most important, rarely will people disagree that respect, responsibility, self-control, integrity, and effort are important values that shape our character and ultimately our destinies.
The Bering Straits School District in Alaska has adopted the Ethics Center's high school, language arts curriculum (Character Based Literacy), which combines classic and contemporary American, world, government, and Alaskan literature with a research-based framework that allows students to explore these values, thoughts, and skills in context with their own unique culture. Students are meeting the state’s grade-level expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language, and social studies with this enriching curriculum.
Saint Michael students at Anthony A. Andrews School have been enjoying using both art and technology to enhance their language arts learning experiences. After reading Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, high school students created brochures that showcased their research skills and understanding of the Great Depression and other social issues that they had been learning about.
Other students were simultaneously reading Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis, also a novel that is set during the Great Depression. Students created a word wall that highlighted the vocabulary that they were learning and a timeline that tracked the novel’s main events. Students listened to famous jazz musicians from the Great Depression and Harlem Renaissance and discussed poetry from Langston Hughes, all in context with one of the novel’s themes: Change Requires Effort.
All high school students contributed to a rock-wall poster that they will proudly hang in their school hallway. Each student created 10-15 rocks of various sizes, shapes, and colors. On each rock students wrote a positive character trait that was being exhibited by a character in the novel that they were reading.
Materials from a Character Education Workshop provide practical tools for meeting the challenges of successful parenting and offer strategies for fostering the moral development of children. The presentation, by Character Education Director Steve Johnson, offered tiips for communicating values as well as how to teach the coping and cooperation skills required for ethical behavior. A focus of the talk was how to raise ethical children in a technological age.
Photo by Epsos.de used under a Creative Commons License