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Soaring Higher in Education

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A character education program delivered through physical education for grades K-5.  
Submitted by Tommy Bowling, Greenwood, South Carolina.

BACKGROUND: At Merrywood Elementary School we have been integrating “Character Education” in our Physical Education classes. At the end of each Physical Education class, we recognize a “Star Student” for a specific Physical Education skill and a Character Education trait.

On a wall outside the gym, we placed a banner with our school theme “Soaring Higher in Education” written on it. Each class has a large construction paper hot air balloon under the banner.

After each Physical Education class, two students are recognized for “soaring higher in education.” These two students place their star on their class balloon. When we present the star, we are always conscious to emphasize that this was not the only person to exhibit the star behavior or skill today.

We usually point out what made the student’s behavior outstanding and how we appreciate other students when they display the same behaviors.

At the end of every nine weeks, each of our students usually has two or more stars that they can take home. Each star has the date and the reason why the student was selected as a “star.” Each week we have a special focus on a specific Physical Education skill and a Character Education behavior.

For example, the first week of school the first grade students have a focus on safe exercises and being kind to others. During this week there is a special focus on safe and contraindicated stretching exercises. The students are shown the proper and safe way to stretch the major muscle groups during our warm-up and/or cool-down activities. In addition, this week has a Character Education focus on being kind to others.

During our skill activities and/or lead-up games we look for opportunities to encourage and reinforce our students who display the ability to show kindness to one another.

We also use the last several minutes of each class as another opportunity to review the lesson and discuss the week’s Character Education focus. During this closure time at the end of the class, two students are selected to place a star on their class balloon. One student is selected for his or her ability to demonstrate the Physical Education skill (safe stretching) and the other is selected for the Character Education focus (kindness).

As mentioned before, we always let the other students know that these two students were not the only ones displaying these behaviors. Our students understand that we appreciate all of our students when they display the appropriate behaviors.

Examples of Our “Star Student” Program for First Grade

First Week
Physical Skill: Safe Stretching Exercises
Character Education: Being Kind to Others

Second Week
Physical Skill: Hop/Gallop
Character Education: Being Responsible

Third Week
Physical Skill: Leap
Character Education: Being Helpful

Fourth Week
Physical Skill: Curl-Ups
Character Education: Sharing

Fifth Week
Physical Skill: Underhand Toss
Character Education: Pride

Sixth Week
Physical Skill: Sit and Reach
Character Education: Being Cooperative

Seventh Week
Physical Skill: Cardiovascular Fitness
Character Education: Being Dependable

Eighth Week
Physical Skill:Catching Skills
Character Education:Fairness

Ninth Week
Physical Skill: Upper Body Fitness
Character Education: Encouraging Friend

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