Commit to Character: Inclusiveness

The SCDSB’s 10 values are a key part of our commitment to character education. We refer to our values as our character attributes. Each month our schools recognize and celebrate a different attribute. This month on the blog, we are highlighting ‘inclusiveness’.

Inclusiveness: We include everyone in what we do and value their contributions

Some examples of how we can be inclusive are:

  • listen to and consider everyone’s ideas
  • don’t exclude anyone
  • let others join in when playing games
  • don’t discriminate or judge
  • be open to everyone and consider their feelings
  • include everybody!

Some ways that students in our schools learn about and develop inclusiveness include:

  • create a T-chart with Inclusion and Exclusion as column headings. Work with students to complete the chart by listing some of the consequences of each (i.e. hurt feelings, violence, and friendship)
  • encourage students to interview a classmate, a staff member at school or someone within their family circle. Have them focus their questions around the topic of inclusion

“Practice tolerance and live together as good neighbours.” – The United Nations Charter

Learn more about character education in the SCDSB. 

Commit to Character: Honesty

The SCDSB’s 10 values are a key part of our commitment to character education. We refer to our values as our character attributes. Each month our schools recognize and celebrate a different attribute. This month on the blog, we are highlighting ‘honesty’.

Honesty: We behave in a sincere, trustworthy and truthful manner

Some examples of how we can show honesty are:

  • don’t say things about people that aren’t true
  • admit to your actions/mistakes, even if it means getting in trouble
  • explain how a situation really happened, don’t lie (ex. if you break something, be honest and admit it was you)

Some ways that students in our schools learn about and develop honesty include:

  • analyzing product advertisements and their tendency to “stretch the truth” to encourage consumer purchases
  • creating a list of categories of people in the world who are expected to be honest at all times, then discussing the importance of these people living up to this expectation

“Be truthful, gentle and fearless.” – Ghandi

Learn more about character education in the SCDSB. 

Seniors and students bond through storytelling project

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
~ Betty Friedan, writer/activist/feminist

It’s true that youth learn from their elders.

Grade 11 students at Innisdale Secondary School are learning with local seniors as part of a school project – and the seniors are learning too.

Eleanor Alexander’s social science class interviews members of the 55+ Club at the Allandale Recreation Centre. The students prepare questions and interview the seniors to learn about changes in social institutions such as the family, schools and the workplace. Four weeks later, the elders visit Innisdale to watch students present their reports. They also have a chance to chat, share stories and socialize.

“It’s heart-warming to see the interaction between youth and seniors – they definitely learn from each other’s stories,” says Eleanor. “There always seem to be bonds that form during this project and the smiles that come from it are priceless.”

This activity, which has been happening for the last six years, is part of the Introduction to Anthropology, Psychology & Sociology course at Innisdale. The course provides students with opportunities to think critically about theories, questions and issues, and develop an understanding of the approaches and research methods used by social scientists.

Fashion students sew happiness into the lives of Roberta Place seniors

Think sewing and knitting is a lost art that was only for Grandma in her rocking chair? Think again.

Heather McNamara’s Family Studies students at Bear Creek Secondary School are changing that perception every day with their work. Heather teaches fashion classes at the west Barrie high school. It’s evident in the way she talks about and shares her class projects that she’s passionate about the subject matter and the work of her students. She instructs Grade 10 to 12 classes on theory and practical applications of fashion design, including hand sewing, as well as learning to use sewing machines and sergers. Students get to create fashion crafts like hand warmers, and can express their creativity by using abstract materials like toilet paper, tin foil and sticky notes to build high fashion replica items.

Their projects give back to the community too. The class recently created fidget quilts for Roberta Place seniors who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Each student in the Grade 11 and 12 classes made a quilt based on a resident profile provided by Roberta’s Place. The profiles included seniors’ hobbies, past careers and favourite colours – all incorporated into the quilt.

“We were so lucky to be able to hand deliver the quilts to the seniors,” says Heather. “It was very rewarding for my students.”

Student Kelly Anderson notes: “It personally made me feel really good because my grandfather passed away having it (Alzheimer’s) and didn’t really remember anyone in my family. The project was hard but definitely worth it.”

Another community project the class contributes to on an ongoing basis is making colourful and cheerful pillowcases for a charitable organization called Cases for Smiles. The pillowcases are delivered to The Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto.

“I love that the kids get to practice their sewing skills and contribute to our community,” adds Heather.

Other recent projects included refashioning baggy pajama pants and turning an old dress shirt into a chic dress with a button back. Follow all of the amazing class projects on Twitter and Instagram.

The courses are part of the Social Science and Humanities curriculum. The fashion course offerings start in Grade 10 with an introduction to the world of clothing, and learning about techniques and technologies used to create garments and accessories. The Grade 11 class focuses on the world of fashion through theories, trends and consumer behaviour. Students use tools, technology and techniques to create items. In the Grade 12 World of Fashion course, students explore the world of fashion through practical skills application, research projects and the global fashion industry.

Choose Kind: What I learned from deaf/hard of hearing students and the movie “Wonder”

Last Wednesday, I was honoured to join a group of over 100 Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) students, staff and parent volunteers at a special screening of the movie Wonder. Based on the New York Times bestselling book by R.J. Palacio, Wonder tells the story of August Pullman, a boy with Treacher Collins Syndrome who starts middle school for the first time. August encounters bullying, new friendships and ultimately teaches those around him that it’s ok to be different and that it’s what’s on the inside that truly counts.

The students attending were deaf/hard of hearing, so this version of the movie at North Barrie Cineplex was specially ordered to be open captioned for students. What’s the difference between open captioned and closed captioned? Open captions are always are in view and cannot be turned off, whereas closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.

I spoke with Rebecca Flowers, a Grade 5 student at Portage View Public School, about the book and the movie. I was able to communicate with Rebecca via her Interpreter, Kendall Salazar, who used American Sign Language to ask Rebecca questions.

Student holding "Wonder" movie poster
Rebecca shows off her “Wonder” movie poster

“I read the book as well, but liked the movie better,” said Rebecca. “My favourite part of the movie was at the end when Auggie got his award.”

Some of the SCSDB’s Hearing Resources Teachers (HRTs) accompanied students on this special field trip. HRTs are centrally-based special education staff that provide assistance to all schools and support students with hearing loss throughout the SCDSB. The Hearing Resource Team is available for consultation with students, parents and staff.

Melissa McKee is a Hearing Resources Teacher who helped organize the movie trip.

Before the movie began, Melissa encouraged the students to use captioning and advocate for it. She told students: “What makes us different is what makes us awesome, just like the characters in Wonder.”

The movie was heart-warming, inspirational and is a must-see for all humans. And bring the tissues – it will bring you to tears. Numerous times.

Choose kind. Embrace different. Be a wonder!

~ Melanie Rumley, Communications Officer

Commit to Character: Empathy

The SCDSB’s 10 values are a key part of our commitment to character education. We refer to our values as our character attributes. Each month our schools recognize and celebrate a different attribute. This month, we are highlighting ’empathy’.

Empathy: We strive to understand and appreciate the feelings and actions of others

Some examples of how we can show empathy are:

  • listen to what others are saying
  • look someone in the eye when they are communicating with you
  • if someone is feeling down or having a hard time, offer them a hug or other gesture of kindness
  • don’t judge people, gain a deeper understanding of the person and their perspective
  • offer help
  • volunteer

Some ways that students in our schools learn about and develop empathy include:

  • gaining a greater understanding about the importance of recognizing and considering the feelings of others and the impact that our actions can have on these feelings through role-playing
  • using community service hours and additional volunteer time to meet the needs of others who are going through difficult situations and experiences

“How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

Learn more about character education in the SCDSB. 

Commit to Character: Courage

The SCDSB’s 10 values are a key part of our commitment to character education. We refer to our values as our character attributes. Each month our schools recognize and celebrate a different attribute. This month on the blog, we are highlighting ‘courage’.

Courage: We do the right thing even when it’s difficult

Some examples of how we can show courage are:

  • trying new things, even if you might fail
  • working to overcome your fears
  • admitting your mistakes and learning from them
  • refusing to give in to negative peer pressure
  • doing the right thing, even if others are not

Some ways that students in our schools can learn about and develop courage include:

  • helping students to connect being courageous with the goal of putting an end to bullying. Use role playing to help them rehearse situations where they need to stand up for what they know to be the right thing to do
  • prompting students to write a narrative about a character who was faced with a difficult decision, one in which a great deal of courage was required

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon

Learn more about character education in the SCDSB.