Arizona Teacher Talks About How CHARACTER COUNTS! Works

Best Practices in Character Education: Q & A With Teacher James Sye

Best Practices in Character Education: Q & A With Teacher James Sye

The following is courtesy of Character Educator Blog:

In his latest blog post, CHARACTER COUNTS! Director Jeff McMurdy spotlights a few exemplary educators who are doing great things with CHARACTER COUNTS!. James Sye, a seventh-grade language arts teacher at La Paloma Academy in Tucson, Arizona, was one of them. We asked him to share his perspective and a few pointers on how he makes CHARACTER COUNTS! work in his classroom.

What is your most important goal with your students? How does character education or pro-social learning factor into it?

As a 7th-grade language arts teacher, I have several goals. Over the course of the year, my primary goal is to get my students to read like detectives and to write like investigative reporters. In terms of including character education, I feel it’s my responsibility to teach my students life skills that revolve around being productive citizens as well as people of high character. CC! is a great tool to model good behavior.

In your blog, you’ve written about CHARACTER COUNTS! and the Six Pillars of Character. How have people responded to these posts? 

I’ve received nothing but positive feedback. Continue reading

Closed for the Summer ;)

Summer Time!

Summer Time!

In my Boys To Men voice, we have come to the end of the road. School is now officially out for the Summer. We’ve all said our goodbyes, and 8th Grade Graduation was yesterday. I will miss that group of students, but it is time for the next step in their academic journey. I wished them well, and told them to make good choices because this is the next step in their life and the choices they make will determine who they will become in the near future…

As for my 7th Graders, the majority of students will be returning for their 8th Grade year, but a few won’t. Those were the hardest goodbyes. I told them my door is always open for them to stop by and say hello. For those leaving the state, I let them know the blog is open to say hello as well.

This year has flown by, and I have enjoyed it tremendously. I know I have given my best effort to prepare this group of kids for 8th Grade academically as well as socially.  Soon it will be time to get ready for the next group of kids. Until the end of July rolls around, I will have a busy summer. My first child will turn 1, so I will have my hands full. I will also start my Master’s Degree in Education this summer, so I will stay pretty active. I will keep this blog updated periodically… Enjoy the Summer!

View & Respond – #LookUp

Language Arts/Writing classes will work on (7.SL.1) & (7.SL.5) common core speaking/listening standards today. I put together a view & respond about a viral video called, Look Up. As the year comes to an end and summer is almost upon us, I thought this video had the right kind of message. If you haven’t seen the video, below, the overall message is to get off social media and enjoy life. The students had a very deep discussion. The overall response was that this was a nice message for multiple reasons, but it won’t make a big difference. However, a good portion of students did say it would make them think before diving into social media and possibly miss out on the real world around them. I can accept that – small possible change is better than no changing at all…

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Class update #34 [Week of 05/05/14 – 05/09/14]

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Week #7: Essay Assignment for The Old Man & The Sea, journal entries, vocabulary HW/Quiz, Unit 4: Back To The Future w/ Reading Packet w/ an emphasis on Essay Writing Assignment…

Greetings! Here is an update for 7th Grade Language Arts (Literature & Writing). I have a hyperlink to my lesson plans for the week of 05/05/14 to 05/09/14. If you would like to view the lesson plans in detail, please do so here >>> Lesson Plans for Week 7 – Quarter 4[click to open word document].

In Language Arts/Literature, students have completed reading The Old Man & The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. The students will know display their knowledge in the form of a 5 Paragraph Essay Assignment [here]. As an added visual to The Old Man & The Sea, we will be viewing the T.V. Movie starring Anthony Quinn [here]. We will also viewing As enrichment, students will continue to read Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck. However, this particular reading will only take place 10 pages at a time every Friday of Quarter 4. I will also be pulling all of this year’s regularly scheduled vocabulary words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee & SAT lists for 7th Graders >>> [vocabulary guidelines & instructions]… Please make sure your student is completing their vocabulary homework every Monday because we will have a quiz assessment on those words every Friday. Continue reading

Class update #33 [Week of 04/28/14 – 05/02/14]

Week #6: Class reading of The Old Man & The Sea as well as Of Mice & Men, journal entries, vocabulary HW/Quiz, Unit 4: Back To The Future w/ Reading Packet w/ an emphasis on Essay Writing Review…

Week #6: Class reading of The Old Man & The Sea as well as Of Mice & Men, journal entries, vocabulary HW/Quiz, Unit 4: Back To The Future w/ Reading Packet w/ an emphasis on Essay Writing Review…

Greetings! Here is an update for 7th Grade Language Arts (Literature & Writing). I have a hyperlink to my lesson plans for the week of 04/28/14 to 05/02/14. If you would like to view the lesson plans in detail, please do so here >>> Lesson Plans for Week 6 – Quarter 4[click to open word document].

In Language Arts/Literature, students will begin reading The Old Man & The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. During our in class reading, students are required to take notes for comprehension in the following format – Question, Quotation (MLA Format), Characters, Setting, Connect, Conflict & Summarize. Those notes will help students with their ticket out of class via journal entries that they will be completing after daily reading. Journal entry requirements include students selecting a specific piece of text, cite it in MLA Format, and elaborate on why they selected that particular piece of text to cite. As enrichment, students will also be reading Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck. However, this particular reading will only take place 10 pages at a time every Friday of Quarter 4. This week students will be given Week #6′s vocabulary words on 4/28/2014, and they will have two assessments in the form of homework due on 04/29/14 and a quiz on 5/02/2014. Students will also work on Buckle Down AIMS for various reading comprehension skills. I will also be pulling all of this year’s regularly scheduled vocabulary words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee & SAT lists for 7th Graders >>> [vocabulary guidelines & instructions]… Please make sure your student is completing their vocabulary homework every Monday because we will have a quiz assessment on those words every Friday.

 

In Language Arts/Writing, students will begin Unit 4: Back To The Future. During this unit, students s will journey back in time during the 4th quarter of 2014. Students will be reintroduced to historical topics that they may have prior knowledge to via their Social Studies classes. Topics include but are not limited to political assassinations, slavery, and 9/11. Students will also be posed the question, what if these events never happened in order to jump start their imagination… Students will be able to respond via writing about incidents that changed the course of history as well as display their knowledge through a collage assignment (time permitting). Student will receive a reading packet [Back To The Future Reading Packet] that will guide them through the unit. Students are expected to read and complete activities inside and outside of classroom based on the previously mentioned packet… Students will be reintroduced to informative, persuasive, and expository essay writing this week. We will have a class lecture with notes, class room discussion, and a view and respond.

If you have questions about Language Arts, please feel free to stop by my classroom before or after school. If you can’t make it to my classroom, feel free to send me an email at james.sye09@gmail.com.

Class update #32 [Week of 04/22/14 – 04/25/14]

Week #2: Class reading of The Old Man & The Sea, journal entries, vocabulary HW/Quiz, Unit 4: Back To The Future w/ Reading Packet...

Week #5: Class reading of The Old Man & The Sea as well as Of Mice & Men, journal entries, vocabulary HW/Quiz, Unit 4: Back To The Future w/ Reading Packet…

Greetings! Here is an update for 7th Grade Language Arts (Literature & Writing). I have a hyperlink to my lesson plans for the week of 04/22/14 to 04/25/14. If you would like to view the lesson plans in detail, please do so here >>> Lesson Plans for Week 5 – Quarter 4[click to open word document].

In Language Arts/Literature, students will begin reading The Old Man & The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. During our in class reading, students are required to take notes for comprehension in the following format – Question, Quotation (MLA Format), Characters, Setting, Connect, Conflict & Summarize. Those notes will help students with their ticket out of class via journal entries that they will be completing after daily reading. Journal entry requirements include students selecting a specific piece of text, cite it in MLA Format, and elaborate on why they selected that particular piece of text to cite. As enrichment, students will also be reading Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck. However, this particular reading will only take place 10 pages at a time every Friday of Quarter 4. This week students will be given Week #5′s vocabulary words on 4/22/2014, and they will have two assessments in the form of homework due on 04/23/14 and a quiz on 4/25/2014. Students will also work on Buckle Down AIMS for various reading comprehension skills. I will also be pulling all of this year’s regularly scheduled vocabulary words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee & SAT lists for 7th Graders >>> [vocabulary guidelines & instructions]… Please make sure your student is completing their vocabulary homework every Monday because we will have a quiz assessment on those words every Friday. Continue reading

Letter Writing Activity #Dreams

set goal, make plan, work, and stick to it...

set goal, make plan, work, and stick to it…

I decided to do an impromptu writing activity in Language Arts/Writing today. The students will participate in a letter writing activity about their future aspirations. Students will begin class with a bell work question, “Describe 3 realistic life goals that you want to reach by the age of 18.” Once they have completed that, they will be given the following instructions:

 

1) You will be writing a letter about your future dreams and aspirations.

2) Address the letter to yourself (future you)

3) List specific goals that you hope to attain by the age of 18 and beyond.

4) For every goal, give yourself advice on how to reach that goal.

5) Open the letter upon high school graduation or when you feel yourself getting off track later in life. Continue reading

Class update #31 [Week of 04/14/14 – 04/17/14]

Week #4: Class reading of The Old Man & The Sea, Journal Entries, Vocabulary HW, Unit 4: Back To The Future w/ Reading Packet, and Viewing of Amistad [Permission Slip]…

Week #4: Class reading of The Old Man & The Sea, Journal Entries, Vocabulary HW, Unit 4: Back To The Future w/ Reading Packet, and Viewing of Amistad [Permission Slip]…

Greetings! Here is an update for 7th Grade Language Arts (Literature & Writing). I have a hyperlink to my lesson plans for the week of 04/14/14 to 04/17/14. If you would like to view the lesson plans in detail, please do so here >>> Lesson Plans for Week 4 – Quarter 4[click to open word document].

In Language Arts/Literature, students will begin reading The Old Man & The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. During our in class reading, students are required to take notes for comprehension in the following format – Question, Quotation (MLA Format), Characters, Setting, Connect, Conflict & Summarize. Those notes will help students with their ticket out of class via journal entries that they will be completing after daily reading. Journal entry requirements include students selecting a specific piece of text, cite it in MLA Format, and elaborate on why they selected that particular piece of text to cite. As enrichment, students will also be reading Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck. However, this particular reading will only take place 10 pages at a time every Friday of Quarter 4. This week students will be given Week #4′s vocabulary words on Monday, and they will have one assessment in the form of homework due on 04/15/14. Students will also work on Buckle Down AIMS for various reading comprehension skills. I will also be pulling all of this year’s regularly scheduled vocabulary words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee & SAT lists for 7th Graders >>> [vocabulary guidelines & instructions]… Please make sure your student is completing their vocabulary homework every Monday because we will have a quiz assessment on those words every Friday. Continue reading

One Shining Moment #LifeGoals

On Wednesday, I will pose the following question during bell work, “what will be your defining moment(s) in your lifetime?” I will use the “One Shining Moment” media clip via the NCAA montage of highlights that they have at the end of March Madness to jump start the discussion (below). Students will see this question before we watch the 3 minute clip. Once the clip is finished, we will then open up the floor for discussion about life goals. At this age, students are beginning to define who they are. That being said, they are in the beginning stages of that process, but it’s never too early to start thinking about their future. My main objective is for students to think about their future, and I will reach that objective through multimedia as well as classroom discussions. This should serve as a nice break from AIMS (Arizona’s Measurement for Measuring Standards) that we have on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday… Continue reading

AIMS Week – April 7th to April 11th #7thGradeChallenge

AIMS - April 7th to April 13th!

AIMS – April 7th to April 11th!

I’ve tried to motivate my students in various ways throughout the years (here & here), but this was a little different. I decided to have a little fun with my 7th Graders. On Thursday, we brainstormed for ideas that would embarrass Mr. Sye (me) as well as motivate students if they met/exceeded a certain level on their upcoming state standardized tests. There were several outrageous suggestions, but the classes settled on having me change my hair color. On Friday, I gave each of my Literature classes the following announcement: Have you ever wanted to embarrass Mr. Sye? Here is your chance! Mr. Sye has agreed to bleach his facial hair blonde as well as what little hair he has on his scalp Of course, there is a catch. He has challenged his 7th Graders on their upcoming AIMS (Arizona’s Instrument for Measuring Standards) test. If 95% of 7th Graders either meet or exceed the state standards (Literature Assessment), it will happen at the beginning of next school year…  Are you up for the challenge?

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