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. You cannot cite scripture with these lessons in a public school; however, the lessons themselves are priceless. Their behavior will be shaped toward something better than the normal kid, and their character will shine. The following are all journaling and discussion ideas for students to participate in. I did decide to include scripture following each trait, but remember, public school teachers are not allowed to give any mention to these.
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!
Scripture: I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4: 12-13, ESV).
It is amazing how one act of kindness can make somone’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!
Scripture: A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself (Proverbs 11: 17, ESV).
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?
Scripture: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4: 32, ESV).
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?
Scripture: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Colossians 3: 12, ESV).
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!
Scripture: Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5: 18, ESV).
Watch this video from Beautiful Mind.
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?
Scripture: For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 14: 11, ESV).
Watch this movie clip from the Karate Kid.
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.
When do you tend to lose your temper most? Why do you think this happens? What can you do to show patience in these circumstances? How can patience actually lead to something better down the road?
Scripture: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12: 12, ESV).
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.
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?
Scripture: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4: 8, ESV).
Watch this movie clip from Do the Right Thing.
Step out of your own shoes and examine yourself through the eyes of someone else. When looking at your life, would you say that love or hate is seen through your actions by others? How can we display love to everyone in our lives? Are there any people who need our love that might not deserve it? How can we deal with those types of people? If we were loving toward everyone in our lives, would that make the world a better place? If that statement is true, what is preventing you from living your life this way?
Scripture: But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you … (Matthew 5: 44, ESV).
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.
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?
Scripture: A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls (Proverbs 25: 28, ESV).
Watch this movie clip from Stepmom.
The mother here is a little jealous of her ex-husband’s new wife. She is pretty, she has been bonding with her own children, and the new wife’s hip ways make her feel older and unwanted. 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?
Scripture: For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? (1 Corinthians 3: 3, ESV).
Change For a Dollar video
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!
Scripture: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4: 32, ESV).
Watch this music video from Britt Nicole: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9PjrtcHJPo
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?
Watch the following video clip from the movie Freedom Writers: http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/freedom-writers/how-a-holocaust-happens
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?
Rachel’s Challenge video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWVSTqkTpTA
We all know the story of Columbine. Two young men, both of whom were tormented daily by the more popular kids, went on a killing spree to seek revenge upon the entire school for their torment. It was the worst school shooting in history up to that moment, an act of hate that rocked America. It was the 9/11 of school shootings, an event that would forever change the way educators are proactive in keeping their students safe.
Out of this act of hate, this atrocity of violence, came the parents of Rachel Joy Scott, attempting to spread love in remembrance of their beloved daughter. Rachel was the first victim at Columbine, and her story is being spread to millions. You see, Rachel chose love over hate, and her parents began an anti-bullying program known as Rachel’s Challenge. This program has spread love to minister to schools nationwide. Love sprung out of an act of hate. What will you do to spread kindness and love?
Rachel was just one person yet her heart is touching the lives of millions. Write a plan about how you as one person can make a difference in your school. What can you do to start your own chain reaction of kindness that will echo for all eternity?
Scripture: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6: 35, ESV).
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?
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?
Scripture: A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit (Proverbs 15: 4, ESV).