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Character Day guides social, emotional learning

By Team ISTE
September 19, 2016
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Who am I? Who do I want to be in the world? And what can I do to get there? These are all questions that hit at character — a potentially ambiguous topic that can be challenging for students to get their arms around.

Educators can get some much-needed assistance with character-building lessons thanks to Character Day on Sept. 22.

Now in its third year, Character Day is a free annual global event where groups are invited to screen films on the science of character development from different perspectives and join an online global conversation around the importance of developing character strengths like resilience, grit, empathy, courage and kindness.

The event is supported by a host of resources including lesson plans, discussion guides for different ages, research, suggested films, books and apps. These tools are available online year-round to support one-day participation or year-round curriculum.

"Character Day 2016 comes at a crucial time, when what it means to be a good person in our society demands our renewed focus,” says Character Day creator and filmmaker Tiffany Shlain. “From the way we express ourselves and treat each other online to how we communicate our politics — there is amazing scientific research to draw upon when it comes to wanting to strengthen one’s character.”

This year's films, which range from 2 to 11 minutes, include titles like "The Science of Character,"  "Brain Power," "A Declaration of Interdependence," "The Adaptable Mind" and "Engage."

Here's what participation in Character Day might look like in your classroom:

  • Watch any combination of the short films.
  • Use the provided discussion kits, which include a poster of the "Periodic Table of Character Strengths," questions, quotes and discussion guides for kids age 4 and up.
  • Participate in the Character Day Global Google Hangout where experts talk about different social and emotional learning topics.
  • Find other resources on the Character Day Education Resource Hub, including lesson plans, curriculum, articles, books, websites, apps, games or films around different character strengths.
  • Invite a speaker or panel of thought leaders to come talk about character.
  • Create a declaration of what your class plans to do to improve character and have students sign it.

Download the app on the Character Day hub to find additional lesson plans to guide social and emotional learning.

Participating is easy. Just register, and the Character Day team will provide access to the award-winning short films, hands-on discussion kits with conversation cards, a robust hub of online resources to help students build character strengths and a global online Q&A to unify conversations.

ISTE members can read a full-length interview with filmmaker Tiffany Shlain in the October issue of entrsekt, ISTE's member magazine.