Life Skills/Pressing Issues
All in Good Order
Some people are naturally more organized than others, but anyone can learn organizational skills. Becoming and staying
organized can help students perform better at school while reducing stress. This is a great opportunity for students to think
about the benefits of becoming and staying organized as they begin the new school year.
Key Ideas: Benefits of staying organized - Organizational skills - Reducing stress
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility
At the Core
Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney, once said that "It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your
values are." Students explore the notion that deciding which core values will guide them through life is one of the
most important decisions they will ever make.
Key Ideas: Making choices is easier when you know what your values are - Determining one's core ethical values
Character Traits: Integrity - Respect - Responsibility
Students will take a look at ambition and consider the ways that it can help them reach their goals as well as the idea
that there are good and bad ways to express ambition.
Key Ideas: Ambition - Helping others
Character Traits: Responsibility - Perseverance
Be True to Yourself
It takes moral courage for students to stay true to themselves by not participating in activities that go against
their personal values, especially when they are afraid of being ridiculed or rejected. Being true to themselves is much
easier when they know who they are and what they stand for.
Key Idea: Doing what's right is easier when we know what we stand for
Character Traits: Moral courage - Self-awareness - Integrity
Catching a Thief
Students will examine the costs to themselves and others if they choose to steal, even if they are not caught. They will consider the fact that those who steal are gambling with their own future and robbing themselves of dignity, honor, and integrity as well as a clean conscience. The message and lesson plan also explore the concept of good character as a valuable asset to possess and how that is lost when someone steals.
Key Ideas: The implications of stealing - Good character is a valuable asset to possess
Character Traits: Honesty - Integrity - Dignity
Cheating in school or other activities is never honorable. By choosing to be an honorable person, the decision has already
been made not to cheat. Students who choose to cheat may find it easy at first but there are short- and long-term negative
consequences if they are caught. Students will consider these consequences and the loss of self-respect whether they are caught
Key Ideas: Choosing not to cheat - Being honorable
Character Traits: Honesty - Integrity
Did You Do That on Purpose?
* Life can be so random at times. It can be confusing and challenging. For life to make sense, it has to have
meaning. It has to have purpose, and having purpose in our lives is something we choose because when we do anything on
purpose, we do it deliberately. Students explore the importance of choosing a worthy purpose in their lives.
Key Ideas: Deliberately choosing positive actions - Goal setting - Self-absorption
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for National Be On Purpose Month: January.
Directing Your Own Life
Every time students act responsibly, they earn more trust. With that trust usually comes more freedom to choose.
Being trustworthy can mean making some tough short-term choices, but long-term, it can mean having greater control over
one's future. Students explore the idea that the benefits of making responsible decisions far outweigh the costs.
Key Ideas: Taking responsibility for one's choices and actions - Taking responsibility builds trust which can
create more freedom in our lives.
Character Traits: Personal responsibility - Trustworthiness
Doing One's Best
Imagine a world where people simply did as they pleased all the time and felt no duty to excel at school, at work,
or in their relationships. Abraham Lincoln once wrote that "a duty to strive is the duty of us all." Students
consider the idea that we each have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to strive to do our very best.
Key Idea: Striving to do one's best
Character Traits: Responsibility - Human excellence
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Lincoln's Birthday, Feb. 12.
Don't Be Late
For the most part, whether we ourselves are punctual or not, we expect others to be punctual.
We expect movies to begin at showtime, and ambulances to arrive promptly. Students explore the notion that being
tardy or late not only is discourteous but can have serious consequences for ourselves and others.
Key Ideas: Punctuality - Tardiness
Character Traits: Responsibility - Punctuality - Courtesy - Respect
Some of the "luckiest" people you will ever meet are not lucky at all. They simply
set goals, work hard, and reap the natural consequences of all their effort. Students consider the idea that they
can make the decision to work hard to reach their goals rather than counting on luck.
Key Ideas: Work ethic - Luck versus hard work - Hard work and success
Character Traits: Responsibility - Diligence
Here Comes Tomorrow
Students are often tempted to put things off until tomorrow, but moving their responsibilities forward does not make
them go away. In fact, it can make them seem bigger and more stressful. In this plan, students consider the negative consequences
of procrastination and explore tools and strategies for staying on top of things.
Key Ideas: Procrastination - Tools for overcoming procrastination
Character Traits: Self-management - Responsibility
Each time students are faced with a choice between doing what they know is right and doing what is wrong, they have
the opportunity to choose a life of integrity and to enjoy the riches that come with such a life.
Key Ideas: Standing up for your beliefs - Speaking out against wrong - Creating real success
Character Traits: Integrity - Honesty - Courage
Living an Ethical Life
We aren't born knowing how to live an ethical life. It's a skill we develop and then it's a choice we make. Making
ethical choices means taking the time to think through the values we believe are important. When we do this in advance,
we are better equipped to make the right choices. Students will explore the costs and the benefits of living an ethical life.
Key Ideas: Ethical literacy - Doing the right thing - Consequences of unethical living - Choices
Character Trait: Integrity
We all want to have nice things, and many of us want to improve our standard of living someday. That's all very normal,
but some of us can never seem to get enough. Students examine the implications of greed on themselves and society and
consider gratitude as an antidote to greed.
Key Ideas: Overcoming greed - Gratitude as an antidote to greed
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility - Prudence
The Power of Words
* Young people don't always understand the power of the words they write and speak. Using inspiration drawn from
best-selling author Amy Tan, students explore the power of words to bring together people of diverse cultures and backgrounds.
Key Ideas: How we use words - How we are influenced by language
Character Traits: Caring - Respect - Responsibility
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Asian-Pacific Heritage Month in May.
Power to Change
Making changes in behavior or breaking a habit is never easy. However, there are people who can help us change for the
better, because sometimes we need someone else to come along beside us and show us the way. In the end, though, we have to be
the ones to make the changes ourselves.
Key Idea: We each have within us the power to change for the better.
Character Traits: Self-respect - Responsibility
You are never too young to learn to save money for the rainy days of life. Life is unpredictable and we never know when we
will be faced with a challenge that requires some money to resolve. Students explore the benefits of making a lifelong habit
of saving money.
Key Ideas: The importance of saving money - Financial literacy - Personal financial education
Character Traits: Responsibility - Trustworthiness - Gratitude
Every choice we make ripples out and impacts our world in ways we may never understand. Students consider their own
personal code of conduct and the ripple effects of making unethical decisions.
Key Ideas: Consequences of unethical behaviors - Personal code of conduct
Character Traits: Respect - Integrity
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Ethics Awareness Month.
The Road Ahead
Every day we make choices, and every choice comes with a consequence. A wise person strives to make good decisions,
decisions that will reap the best outcomes. A stubborn or unaware person will continually make unwise choices, and in the
process, he or she will live a life less fortunate than that of the wiser one.
Key Ideas: Choices - Consequences
Character Traits: Responsibility - Self-discipline
Strength of Habit
* Aristotle once said "The habits we form from childhood make no small difference, but rather make all the
difference." Students explore the idea that it is easier to form positive habits now than to break bad habits, and
that our habits shape our character and our character determines the outcome of our lives.
Key Ideas: Creating good habits -Habits help form our character and determine our future
Character Traits: Self-respect - Self-responsibility - Citizenship
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for the beginning of the school year.
* Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. faced many difficult decisions in his life. With these materials, students have an opportunity
to reflect on the fact that each of us faces many decisions each day. Some may be very difficult, but whatever the situation,
we can learn from Dr. King's example by using these opportunities to do the right thing.
Key Ideas: Awareness of our daily choices - Doing the right thing
Character Traits: Moral courage - Integrity - Honesty
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Black History Month and/or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Day.
Sometimes on the path of life we are faced with a fork in the road. Deciding which way to go can be challenging particularly when we want to make the right choice. Students will consider the notion that just because everyone else is choosing a well-beaten
path does not mean it's the right way to go.
Key Idea: The well-beaten path isn't always the right path to take.
Character Traits: Prudence - Good judgment - Moral courage - Self-respect
What Kind of Person Am I Going To Be?
* It's important for all of us, adults and young people alike, to take time to reflect on the principles that will guide
our lives, to make a conscious choice as to what kind of person we are going to be. Life can be difficult to navigate. Choosing
our principles first can help make the journey easier and more rewarding.
Key Ideas: The importance of choosing in advance the principles that will guide us
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility
Note: This message and lesson plan also work well for Character Counts Week.
The Words We Speak
Students stop to consider that the words we choose to speak are a reflection of who we are. Either words earn the respect
of others, or they can cost us respect when others hear our bad language.
Key Ideas: Bad Language - Cursing - Abusive language
Character Traits: Respect - Responsibility - Civility
Not the Boss of Me! One of the hardest things about being
a teenager is having to bite your tongue when you want to say, "Hey,
you're not the boss of me!" But the truth is, until you learn
how to "boss yourself," somebody has to do the job or you
might be making some truly unwise decisions.
Key Ideas: Choices - Authority - Freedom
Character Traits: Responsibility - Self-management
* Materials with an asterisk (*) relate to Responsible Decision-Making
and are also related to a calendar event. These same materials can also
be found under Calendar Events.
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