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Character Lessons


To get your students on the right path, teaching character is a must. Their character defines them. You need to start from day one when they step through your door, molding them into productive youth with strong character. The best part comes when you see students acting out these principles.  The following videos will assist you in teaching character from all different angles.  I suggest you preview the videos before showing them to your classes.  You will see the time length next to each description, and feel free to utilize the questions following the videos.  Try using these lessons in these situations:

  • When you have extra time during a lesson that finishes quicker than expected.
  • When you see the need for them in your classes throughout the school year.
  • When you want to split up a longer block scheduling class period.
  • When your students have no homework during study hall.
  • When you see a connection between these topics and school curriculum.

 

Perseverance/Never Quitting:

A track athlete falls on the last lap and gets up to win (2:49)

Heather Dorniden showed perseverance in her track race.  She never gave up.  What is frustrating you in your life right now that you are tempted to give up on?  A friendship?  School?  A sport you play?  A relationship with a family member?  Whatever you are tempted to give up on, persevere through the trial and remember the Heather Dorniden race.  Don’t give up!

 

Nick Vujicic talks about never giving up (8:17)

What inspires you about Nick Vujicic?  Do you think he has always been this positive about life?  How can a man with no arms and no legs choose to act this way?  Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt like quitting?  How can Nick’s words encourage you to keep trying over and over again?

Derek Redmond pulls his hamstring in the Olympics and hobbles to the finish line (3:14)

Why do you think Derek Redmond chose to finish his race even though he knew he lost?  How did his father play a role in helping his son finish?  Who is a person in your life who needs your help like Derek needed his father?  What could you do for that person to encourage them?

 

A high school cross country runner crawls across the finish line to finish strong (8:48)

Some would say that Holland Reynolds won this race for her team.  How was this victory a team effort?  How did each runner play a huge role in the victory?  How did Jim Tracy’s battle with ALS inspire his team?  How is this story a metaphor for life in general?  How can you use these lessons in your own life?

 

Here is a list of ten celebrities that failed at one point in their life. (2:33)

Which story inspired you the most?  Which story shocked you the most?  How do you think these celebrities stuck with their dreams after failing?  Does it really matter what others say to us to bring us down?  How can these stories inspire us to never give up?

 

Leadership:

The shirtless dancing guy teaches us a lesson on leadership (3:00)

What lessons about leadership are present here?  How was the first follower of the shirtless dancing guy an important part of the video?  What are qualities of a leader?  Who do you see as a leader in your life?  Are you a leader or a follower?  Do leaders all have to be the same, or can people lead in different ways?  How can you be a leader?

 

Watch this video about 9 qualities of a great leader (6:15)

Do agree that these 9 qualities make a great leader?  Which qualities would you add or leave out?  Who shows these qualities the best in your life?  Why do you respect that leader?  Is it easier to be a leader or a follower?  Do you think more students are leaders or followers?  Why?

 

Friends:

Marc Mero, a former professional wrestler, talks about how friends can influence your life for the good or the bad.  He also tells the humbling story of losing his mother. (5:50)

Mero explains some major truth here: Show me your friends, and I will show you your future.  What does this mean to you?  What type of friends do you hang out with?  Do your friends build you up or bring you down?  What type of friends do you want to surround yourself with?

 

Kindness:

Watch and see how one kind act leads to another (5:44)

It is amazing how one act of kindness can make someone’s day.  The truth is that we have no clue what others are going through.  If we reach out in love to others, that love will come back to us.  How does the video show this phenomenon?  Brainstorm ways that you can be kind to others.  Write down five random acts of kindness that you could do for someone, then go out and try it.  You won’t regret it!

 

Bullying/Kindness

A student who was bullied found a way to be kind to others by opening doors (6:04)

Why do you think Josh wanted to be kind to others even though he was bullied?  How did this small act of kindness affect others?  Do you think Josh would have ever thought he would be a good motivational speaker?  How did his situation of being bullied lead to an opportunity for him to overcome his fear of public speaking?  What fear do you need to overcome?  What small act of kindness, different from Josh’s, could you do to help others?

 

Validating Others/Encouragement

This longer video proves the point of how validating others can make their day (16:23)

How does Hugh Newman make people feel better?  Do you think people do not realize their strengths unless others point them out?  Who needs validation in your life?  Do you need validation?  When Hugh was discouraged, how did his attitude affect others?  What happened to the music and the snapping when Hugh discovered his new passion for taking pictures?  How did this shift in tone change your mood?  What gift does Hugh have that he uses every day?  What gift do you have that you could use to build others up or make them happy?  Why is smiling so important in life?  Does smiling go hand in hand with encouragement?  Even Hugh needed a little encouragement at the end from his soulmate.  Who needs encouragement in your life?

 

Forgiveness:

A boy has difficulty forgiving his father (2:13)

After watching this scene from Gridiron Gang, why would you say forgiveness is so difficult? Do you have someone in your life like this young man does that needs forgiveness for what they did to you? What can you do to forgive that person?

 

Stereotyping:

This short film shows how famous people were stereotyped unfairly (2:24)

How were the celebrities in this video stereotyped?  Have you ever stereotyped anyone?  Has anyone ever stereotyped you?  How did it feel?  Do you tend to judge people based on their gender, the way they dress, their race, income, where they live, their accent, taste in music, or in any other way?  How can we look past the stereotypes that are out there?  Common stereotypes that need to be discussed:

  • All blondes are dumb.
  • Jocks are all egocentric jerks.
  • Cheerleaders are always stuck up.
  • All Asians are smart.
  • White men can’t jump.
  • You won’t be good at sports unless you are bigger, stronger, faster.
  • New Yorkers are all rude.
  • Girls are smarter than boys.
  • If you dress nice, you are successful.
  • People who listen to heavy metal music are trouble-makers.
  • People who have tattoos are tacky.
  • Hispanics love burritos and tacos.
  • All rich kids are snobby.
  • All Southerners are sweet.
  • Everyone in California loves surfing.
  • All Christians are judgmental hypocrites.
  • Homeless people holding signs are just looking for money for alcohol and drugs.
  • The more expensive your car is, the more successful you are.
  • All football players are tough.

 

Judging Others:

How did the boy misjudge the girl in the video?  What could the boy have done differently?  What would you have done in this situation if you were the boy?  Have you ever misjudged someone unfairly?

 

Random Acts of Kindness:

A girl celebrates her birthday with 20 random acts of kindness (3:05)

When you have compassion for others like this girl, it truly brightens someone else’s day.  Which act of compassion was most impressive to you?  Did you see any ideas from this girl that you could do yourself?  Are there any new acts of compassion you can think of that would be cool to add to this list?  What happens when you reach out to others in compassion?

 

Confidence/Fear of Presenting or Speaking

This Dead Poet’s Society scene shows a student who is reluctant to speak rise to the occasion (3:11)

Why do you think this student was so nervous to speak?  Why do you think the teacher did not allow him to fail?  How did the student perform once he was challenged?  How can you use this scene to inspire you to overcome your own fears of public speaking?

 

Self-Esteem/Overcoming Suicide:

Michael Phelps talks in a commercial about how he overcame suicidal thoughts through therapy (0:45)

When you think of Michael Phelps and his 23 gold medals, would you ever think he would feel suicidal?  According to Michael, how did he overcome those dark thoughts?  How can talking about your own problems be helpful?  What happens when you keep your problems to yourself?

 

Nick Vujicic talks about how he overcame suicide (2:54)

Do you ever find yourself feeling sorry for your situations in life?  How can we use Nick’s message to inspire us to be thankful?  What is something you could be thankful for that you have taken for granted in life?  Write a list of things that you are thankful for and focus your attention on those things.  Be positive!

Four people talk to loved ones lost to suicide (4:45)

How does suicide affect others?  Do you think these people feel any guilt for not being able to save their loved ones?  If someone you know is showing signs of suicide (being withdrawn, low grades, low self-esteem, feeling like a failure, talking about death, etc), what could you do to help?

 

Kevin Briggs talks about helping people make the choice to NOT commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge (14:13)

What points does Kevin make about how we can help others who are having suicidal thoughts?  When Kevin spoke with a man for an hour and a half about his depression and hopelessness, what did the man say brought him back over the railing?  Who does suicide affect besides the victim?

 

A man shares his testimony of how he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge … and lived (5:07)

How lucky is Kevin to be sharing his story?  What percent of people survive jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge?  What thought went through Kevin’s head right after he jumped?  How did Kevin’s suicide attempt affect others that cared for him?  Is his life perfect now?  What changes did Kevin make to recover from suicide?  Why do you think he is sharing his story now?

 

Live Life to the Fullest:

This one is a tearjerker that will help you appreciate life.  It is about a baby boy, Eliot, who only gets to live 99 days due to an undeveloped lung. (6:10)

What did you learn from this video?  How did Eliot’s parents savor the days with their son?  If you knew you had 99 days to live, what would you do?  Who would you see?  What things do you have in your life that you can be grateful for?  If you have something you want to do, what is stopping you from doing it?  Live life to the fullest!

 

Technology Temptation:

This video called “Look Up” will revolutionalize your thoughts about your smartphone (4:58)

What part of this video touched you the most?  Explain what happened to the married couple in the video.  What was the creator of this video trying to show us from those scenes?  What might you be missing in the world if you spend too much time on your phone?  Do you think adults, teenagers, or both are most at fault for misusing technology?

 

This Prince EA “Autocorrect” video follows the same theme as “Look Up” from a slightly different angle (3:27)

What are the benefits of a face-to-face conversation as opposed to a conversation over social media?  How many hours a day do you spend on your phone?  What is the first thing you reach for in the morning when you wake up?  When your phone goes off, do you immediately have to check it?  Do you take your phone with you wherever you go?  Do you bring your phone out at meal time?  During homework?  Does it keep you up late at night?  What restrictions do your parents put on your phone?  Do you restrict yourself at all?  Do you feel you have self-control over using your phone too much?

 

Humility:

Watch this video from Beautiful Mind. (2:26)

How do you feel about people who brag about themselves? For example, have you ever heard someone you know brag about making the play cast, scoring well on a test, or making a certain team they were trying out for? Have you ever put yourself above others for one reason or another? Why is it better to be humble than to be arrogant?

Patience:

Watch this movie clip from the Karate Kid (1:30)

Have you ever felt like Mr. Miyagi? You need patience, but you want something to happen immediately. You just can’t wait for it to happen on your own time. Then someone else comes right in and completes what you were attempting to do easily and quickly, making you wonder how the heck they are so lucky.

 

Positive thinking/Visualizing/Finishing Strong:

When Billy Mills ran in the 10,000 meter race at the 1968 Olympics in Tokyo, he was not even favored to be in the top 10, but he knew he was capable of running with the best. Watch this video about track legend Billy Mills. (3:38)

How did Billy Mills use the power of positive thinking to help him win this race? Did his haters have any influence on his thoughts? Do you think his journal had anything to do with his success? How did goals come into play in regards to his victory? Where is an area in your own life that you could use some more confidence? Write a goal for yourself to achieve and hold yourself accountable in whatever you decide to do. An example of a goal might be to get a B in science class. After writing your goal, journal about how you will achieve this. Check up on yourself like Billy Mills did in his own journal.

More thoughts … When you wake up every morning, you have the choice to make it a good day or a bad day. How can you choose to make your day a good day? When you come across a bad situation, how can you switch your mindset to look at the positive? If you think positive about a test, are you more likely to perform better or worse? Why?

 

Self-Control/Anger:

In this video clip from the movie Friday Night Lights, the football player gets an MRI on his football injury. The doctor is from a rival town of his team, and James does not like the doctor’s prognosis. (3:19)

Has your anger ever felt like this? Maybe you feel someone has wronged you when it is not really their fault? When someone does something wrong to you, do you ever want to repay them? How is this negative? How could doing good back to someone who wrongs you actually work out for the best?

 

Embracing Uniqueness/Being Different:

Watch this clip from Dead Poet’s Society which shows us a lesson in conformity (2:09)

How does this lesson teach us a lesson to be leaders, not followers?  Do you think the majority of students are this way?  What makes a good leader?  Why is it hard to be different?  When was a time in your life when being different was the right thing but not the easiest decision to make?  How did this choice benefit you and others?

 

Jealousy:

Animated movie clip about jealousy (3:06)

Do you ever get jealous of someone else’s successes? What good can possibly come out of feeling jealous? Does feeling jealous ever make you feel happy? Or do you simply burn with envy inside, wanting to be like someone else when you know in your heart it may not even be possible?

 

Change For a Dollar video:

Watch a video about how a few coins go a long way (10:06)

In this video the smallest amount of change is used to spread kindness. Sometimes it doesn’t even take money to show that you care for others. Brainstorm a list of ideas on how you could brighten someone else’s day then share with the class. Put a star by the idea you want to implement this week!

 

Bullying:

Watch the following video clip from the movie Freedom Writers (3:03)

How can a seemingly innocent picture drawn by someone be a LOT bigger than they think? Is the teacher being overly dramatic or is she absolutely right? Why? Who is she referring to when she speaks about the leader of this gang? (Adolf Hitler) What gang is she referring to? (the Nazi party) How can a picture like the one seen here lead to a Holocaust?

 

See how standing up for the underdog is important in life when they are bullied (4:37)

Even thought these were actors, how did they teach us to stand up for those that are bullied?  Have you ever seen this happen in your life?  How can you help stop bullying?  Would you stand up for the underdog even if you knew you would be ridiculed and made fun of?

 

Never Quit (Sports)

Kansas City Chiefs comeback vs. the San Diego Chargers (7:00)

If you were watching this game, would you have turned it off and given up hope?  Why do you think the Chiefs didn’t quit?  Which players did you notice taking leadership roles in encouraging their teammates?  Who do you know that is a good leader or motivator?

 

Kansas City Royals comeback vs. the Oakland Athletics in the 2014 Wildcard game (8:56)

This game was a one-game playoff to see who would advance in the American League Playoffs.  Do or die!  What key plays did you see being made?  Was there a moment that stood out to you as the most important play, or was it an overall team effort?  What team have you been a part of that gelled like the 2014 Kansas City Royals?  What made that team fun to play on?

 

Kansas Jayhawks vs. the West Virginia Mountaineers (8:29)

How did the Jayhawks come back on West Virginia?  Which plays, offensively or defensively, did you notice helping them win?  Do you think having a good offense or defense is more important in sports?  Why?  If you could win a basketball game in a dramatic fashion like this, how would you script the story?

 

Kansas Jayhawks vs. the Memphis Tigers for the 2008 National Championship (4:22)

If you were down by 12 points with two minutes to go in the biggest game of your life, would you feel like quitting?  What plays sparked the Jayhawks comeback?  What has been the biggest “comeback” in your life (could be sports or not sports related)?  What made that moment so special for you?

(Note to the viewer … during this game I almost gave up hope on my Jayhawks by going to the kitchen to make my lunch for the next day.  Luckily for me, I caught the ending when I started hearing the comeback!)

Cyberbullying:

Watch how cyberbullying works and see how to defeat it (4:39)

The majority of bullying today comes through something we call cyberbullying.  Whether it be social media, e-mail, texting, or something else, we can truly hurt others through hateful words.  How quickly can hate travel with technology?  What should you do if you are a victim of cyberbullying?  What should you do if you are faced with a situation where you see it happening to someone else?

 

Another cyberbullying video: stop, block, tell (2:36)

This cyberbullying video shows how viscious words can tear us apart.  How does the video show this?  The boy in the video gives three pieces of advice to help conquer cyberbullying.  What are they?  How can we use these three words to better the cyberbullying situation?

 

Lying vs. Honesty:

A girl shares her feelings about her dad’s lies (4:14)

Do you think this girl would love her dad any less if he was honest about his work?  Why do you think the dad lies to her?  Why does the little girl want her dad to be honest?  Is there ever a time it is okay to lie?  Explain.  When have you kept the truth from someone only to be caught in a lie?  What are the consequences of lying?  There are some that say the truth will set you free.  Do you agree with this statement or not?  Explain.

Songs to Discuss:

Britt Nicole’s “Gold” to provide positive self-esteem and discourage bullying (3:04)

There are five individuals persecuted for different reasons here. Split the class into five groups and have them analyze each of these characters: the cutter, the ballet dancer, the girl with the eating disorder, the skateboarder, and the basketball player. How are each of these kids hurt by others? Do you know anyone like them in your school? What could you do to take a stance for them? How can others stand up to bullying?

 

Hawk Nelson’s “Words” to explain how words can bring you up or down (3:24)

What lyrics spoke to you the most?  Do you think people use words more for the positive or the negative?  How can you use your words the right way?

 

Laura Story’s “Blessings” to show how bad moments can actually be good (4:59)

Have you ever had an awful event that made you stronger in the end?  What happened?  How can a tragedy be seen as a blessing?  (Example: The Collumbine High School massacre of 1999 took the lives of 12 students and one teacher.  One student who was killed, Rachel Joy Scott, had loving parents who wanted to honor her and reach out to help stop bullying.  They started the foundation for Rachel’s Challenge, touching over a million students’ lives for the good, promoting kindness.)

 

For King and Country’s “Not Over Yet” to promote never quitting

Are there any stories you know of people who never gave up you could share?  Share the story!  Have you ever fought through a tough time?  Why did you choose to not quit?  When have you quit on something then regretted it later?

 

TobyMac’s “Speak Life” to show how to be encouraging to others

What lyrics stood out to you?  Do you think students do more to encourage one another or discourage one another face-to-face?  What about online?  Why do people find it easier to tear others down online?  How could you prevent this from happening?

Amazing Speeches:

These videos are longer and are great for block scheduling days, study hall (when there is no homework assigned), or when your lesson fails you for one reason or another and you just need a filler.

Admiral William H. McRaven graduation speech (19:04)

Were there any lines from the speech that spoke truth to you?  What advice stuck out to you the most?  How will you apply one or two aspects of this speech to your own life?

Nick Vujicic bullying video (20:01)

What part of Nick’s testimony touched your heart the most?  Are you surprised people treated him this way?  If you were there watching this happen, what would you have done?  How can bullying victims stand up for themselves?  If you are being bullied, what should you do?  How can we stop bullying in our schools?

 

(What about you?  Do you have a neat video that you think belongs here?  Please share it with me and the rest of my followers by replying and attaching the link to your video below or by e-mailing me at theteachersdevotional@gmail.com.)

 

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