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Life Skills/Pressing Issues



Appreciating Those Who Teach * — Students learn that all people, young and old, like to feel appreciated and that showing appreciation can be as simple as saying, "I think you are a very kind person. I want to be a kind person like you." But living the lesson that a teacher has taught them is one of the best ways they can show their appreciation.
Key Idea: Showing appreciation for teachers by living the lessons they teach
Character Traits: Caring - Kindness - Respect - Citizenship
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Teacher Appreciation Week. Please check the Internet for future dates.

Big Ideas * — The founding of America has been called a grand adventure in ideas. Our Founding Fathers knew how to share, analyze, and debate ideas respectfully. As students move through life, it will be important that they listen to and share ideas with others, debate ideas respectfully, and most importantly, pay attention to how ideas influence them and the choices they make.
Key Ideas: U.S. Constitution - Founding Fathers - Citizenship - Ideas
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility - Cooperation
Note: This message and lesson work also well for Constitution Day: September 17.

Birds of a Feather * — George Washington was a great leader who understood how peers influence us, for better or for worse. He also understood the need to treat one another with civility and respect. With this special message and lesson plan, students explore the notion that choosing friends wisely is very important.
Key Ideas: Our friends can influence our choices - Choosing friends with good character
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility - Honesty - Kindness
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for George Washington's birthday.

Brave Hearts — There are two kinds of courage. One kind of courage is physical courage like when a person has the courage to climb a big mountain or travel in space. The other kind of courage is when someone is brave enough to do the right thing even when it's very hard to do.
Key Idea: Acting upon core ethical values often requires moral courage.
Character Traits: Courage - Kindness - Honesty

Cooperation — Supplemental Daily Broadcast - No Lesson Plan
This message takes a look at the importance of cooperation and highlights the benefits of working together. Students will consider the idea that reaching a goal is easier when a group unites with a common purpose rather than each person working alone. 
Key Ideas: Cooperation - Common goals 
Character Traits: Responsibility - Citizenship - Respect

Counting for Something * — It's a privilege and a responsibility to participate in our democratic system, and voting is a right we shouldn't take for granted because the right to vote defines our democracy.
Key Ideas: Democracy - Choices - Citizenship
Character Trait: Responsibility

Cybercitizenship — We live in a cyberworld where we can instantly communicate around the globe. These materials remind students that they shouldn't treat others differently online than they would treat them face-to-face, and that it's just as important to be a good cybercitizen as it is to be a good citizen in their community.
Key Ideas: Cyberethics - Cybercitizen - Cyberworld
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility - Honesty - Fairness

Disagreeing with Respect ** — Respect makes all the difference in the world when we are speaking with someone who disagrees with us. When we speak respectfully to others, they are more likely to listen to our point of view. Students will consider the idea that choosing the right tone and respectful words will lead to a more civil discussion.
Key Idea: Being respectful to others even when we disagree with them
Character Traits: Respect - Civility - Open-mindedness

Elders in a High-tech World * — Sometimes it's hard to imagine our world without the Internet, cell phones, and tablets. However, that's the world that some older citizens face because they don't have access to or don't know how to use the modern technology that we use every day. Students consider the idea of teaching elderly people how to use modern technology and also consider that they can learn from their elders.
Key Ideas: Helping elders learn about new technology - Respecting our elders - Older Americans Month (May)
Character Traits: Responsibility - Citizenship
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Older Americans Month (May).

Extraordinary Possibilities *— On this day when the nation pauses to consider the significance of the U.S. Constitution, students have the opportunity to consider two important notions: 1) they live in one of the freest and most prosperous nations in the world, and 2) it is a nation full of extraordinary possibilities created by ordinary people.
Key Ideas: Democratic process - Civic duty
Character Trait: Responsibility
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Constitution Day: September 17.

Finding the Dream — It is important to set goals and work hard to achieve the American Dream. Vice Admiral Antonia Novello, the first woman and first Hispanic Surgeon General of the United States, tells young people that they should also take a stand for what they believe in and serve others. Students will take a look at the traits needed to achieve their dream.
Key Ideas: Achievement of Antonia Novello - Setting goals - Diversity
Character Traits: Responsibility - Positive work ethic
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Hispanic Heritage Month: Sept. 15 - Oct.15.

From Impossible to Possible * — It's difficult to imagine that there was ever a time in history when American women could not vote or own their own houses or land. Extraordinary women have paved the way for today's young girls to reach for their dreams. Students will learn about the important role that women in American history have played in shaping our country.
Key Ideas: Achievements of American women - Great American female role models
Character Traits: Fairness - Respect - Citizenship - Perseverance
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for National Women's History Month which in March.

Getting to Come to School * — Democracies are made strong by educated, responsible, and caring citizens. Some would say that a democracy cannot survive without citizens who are capable of making informed and wise choices. This is an opportunity for students to consider the benefits of a free and public education and how their education can impact our common future.
Key Ideas: Citizenship - The Importance of educated citizens in a democratic society
Character Trait: Responsibility

Good Sport — Sports events provide great opportunities to enjoy the spirit of competition while practicing the Golden Rule. Students consider that whether their team is winning or losing the game, they can be winners by simply being fair and courteous human beings. When they practice good sportsmanship, they always win.
Key Ideas: Good sportsmanship - Sports events
Character Traits: Respect - Courtesy - Civility

Head, Heart, and Hands — To develop strong character, you need three things: your head so you can carefully consider what values to live by, your heart so you care enough to make those values part of who you are, and your hands so you put those values into action.
Key Ideas: Character is power - Choosing a strong character - Character in action
Character Trait: Self-responsibility - Citizenship

A Hero's Character — On January 15, 2009, Captain "Sully" Sullenberger landed a crippled plane on the Hudson River and saved the lives of 154 passengers. He is known as a man of strong character and has been hailed a hero for his actions. People of good character make positive impacts on our world every day. Students consider that every time someone acts with honor, integrity, and caring, our world is better for it.
Key Ideas: "Sully" Sullenberger - Fame and popularity fade, but character endures - Heroes
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility - Humility - Ethics

Honest Success * — Thomas Jefferson once wrote that "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." Our students deserve all the benefits that come from living an honest life and from making wise choices. It's essential that they learn to understand the importance of being honest with themselves and with others. Choosing to live an honest life will help them achieve true success.
Key Idea: True success in life requires honesty with self and others.
Character Traits: Honesty - Integrity - Citizenship - Trustworthiness
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Thomas Jefferson's birthday: April 13.

Honoring Elders * — Often we place too much importance on the young and beautiful, and forget the beauty that comes with age. The elderly have much to offer. As Plato wrote, "They have been over the road that all of us must travel and know where it is rough and where it is level and easy."
Key Ideas: Wisdom comes with age - Young people can benefit from listening to their elders
Character Traits: Respect - Caring
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for International Older Persons Day: October 1.

Leading the Way — Great leaders are those who inspire others to reach their goal. They must show good character while helping others to have confidence in their own skills. Young people can be leaders in our school, community, and country. Students will take a look at the character traits needed to be a good leader as well as considering their own potential leadership skills.
Key Ideas: Becoming a good leader - Leading with strong character
Character Traits: Responsibility - Citizenship - Perseverance

Planting for the Future * — Arbor Day began out of one man's vision for planting trees on a Nebraska prairie and the tradition is continued almost 140 years later across our country. Students will consider the importance of continuing the Arbor Day tradition and recognizing the positive impact that just one caring and responsible person can have in our world.
Key Ideas: Planting trees for the future - Conservation - Arbor Day
Character Traits: Responsibility - Citizenship

Playing by the Rules * — It's a new school year and it's time to talk about the rules. Rules help us maintain order, fairness, and safety. Most rules are established for an excellent reason and are intended to benefit the whole community. Students explore the rationale for rules, responsible ways to challenge rules, and the need to follow rules as responsible members of society.
Key Ideas: Rationale for rules - Following rules for the benefit of self and others - Golden Rule
Character Traits: Responsibility - Citizenship
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for the beginning of a new school year.

Quiet Strength — We don't hear a great deal about humility today. With so much pressure to succeed, the virtue of humility can get lost. Students will consider the idea that someone who is humble shows strength by appreciating his or her own talents but not boasting about them and that by choosing to be humble, they can discover a quiet strength within themselves.
Key Ideas: The virtue of humility - Encouraging others
Character Traits: Humility - Strength - Kindness

Respecting the Land — Part of the Native American culture is a deep respect for the land, air, and water. What we do today to the environment will affect future generations. Students will explore some of the heritage and culture of the Native American people and how we can draw upon their wisdom to help protect our environment.
Key Ideas: Respecting the earth - Reducing, reusing, recycling
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility - Cooperation
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Native American History Month or Earth Day celebrations.

Teamwork — Supplemental Daily Broadcast - No Lesson Plan
In this message, students will learn about some of the benefits of teamwork — beyond winning. Working as a team can teach communications and time management skills as well as perseverance. While individual talent is important, students will consider the advantages of working with others toward a common goal. 
Key Ideas: Benefits of teamwork - Building skills    
Character Traits: Responsibility - Perseverance - Fairness

Winning Hearts * — This message and plan are written to honor International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27, but do not directly discuss the horrors of the Holocaust, which would be inappropriate for this age group. Materials focus instead on the unfairness of treating others unkindly because of differences. Students explore how fairness and kindness create more peace in our homes, schools, and communities.
Key Ideas: Hurtful teasing - Unfairness - Creating more peace in our homes, schools, and communities
Character Traits: Respect - Kindness - Fairness
Note: This message and lesson plan is appropriate for any event that memorializes the Holocaust.

* Materials with an asterisk (*) relate to Citizenship and are also related to a calendar event. These same materials can also be found under Calendar Events.

** These same materials can also be found under Respect of Self and Others.

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