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Smart and Good Schools Resources (K-12)

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SMART & GOOD SCHOOLS is a project of the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs. It is engaged in trainings and dissemination to build a network of Smart & Good Schools committed to the mission of developing performance character and moral character within an Ethical Learning Community.

Participate in the Smart & Good Schools project

Free Resources

As a first step toward learning about and beginning to implement the Smart & Good Schools vision, many schools have formed study groups around these resources.

1. View online or print out and read Smart & Good High Schools: Integrating Excellence and Ethics for Success in School, Work, and Beyond. (You can also order a hard copy of Smart & Good High Schools.)

"A brilliant blend of research, conceptual clarity, and real-world best practices."
--Journal of Research in Character Education

Smart & Good High Schools is a 2-year study describing 100 promising practices drawn from 24 diverse, award-winning high schools. It provides the theory, research, and practical strategies that serve as the foundation for the Smart & Good Schools approach now being used by elementary, middle, and high schools.

The following handouts will help you access the core ideas of the Smart & Good report, share them with colleagues, and apply them in your work.

Questions for pair-share or small-group discussion:

  1. What is the mission of a "Smart & Good School"?

  2. In what sense is this mission a "paradigm shift"—a new way of thinking—for the field of character education?

  3. In what ways are performance character and moral character both needed for and developed from any academic subject? Consider a subject area such as math, and make a list:
  • Performance character qualities needed for and developed from math
  • Moral character qualities needed for and developed from math.

  • Performance Values: Why They Matter and What Schools Can Do to Foster Their Development 
    This Character Education Partnership position paper sets forth an expanded view of character and character education that recognizes the importance of performance character (needed for best work) as well as moral character (needed for ethical behavior). It builds on work first presented in Smart & Good High Schools. The paper reviews research on the complementary contributions of performance character and moral character to human development and achievement and describes ten practices that teachers and schools have used to develop performance character. In this expanded vision of character education, a school or community of character is one that helps us "be our best" and "do our best" in all areas of our lives.

    As you read the section, "10 Ways to Develop Performance Character," do a School Audit: For each of the 10 practices, rate your school 1, 2, or 3 (where 1 is low and 3 is high) on the extent to which you think the school effectively uses a particular practice (e.g., rubrics, providing models of excellence, creating a culture of excellence).

    Questions for pair-share or small-group discussion:

    1. In what ways did this paper increase your understanding of performance character and moral character?

    2. Share two practices for which you gave your school relatively high ratings and two for which you gave low ratings. Explain your reasons.

  • "The 4 KEYS: Maximizing the Power of Any Character Education Practice" (lead article in the winter 2009 issue of excellence & ethics)

Questions for pair-share or small group:

  • What are the 4 KEYS? Define and give an example of each.
  • Choose one character education practice (e.g., character quotations, cooperative learning, class meetings, 
  • service learning, studying heroes) your school currently uses. Brainstorm ways to get more power from the practice by using the 4 KEYS.
  • Share your ideas with another pair or small group.

  • "Developing Performance Character and Moral Character: 4 KEYS" (from the Smart & Goodreport)

    This table lays out 16 strategies for using the 4 KEYS. Do an audit: Which of these strategies does your school use? Which does it not use? For each KEY, select a strategy that you think your school should adopt or adapt.

  • "Fostering an Ethic of Excellence" (article in the Winter/Spring 2006 issue of The Fourth & Fifth Rs)

    Excerpted from Berger's book, An Ethic of Excellence: Creating a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students, this article describes 5 strategies for creating a culture of excellence in the classroom.

  • "Smart & Good Schools: A New Paradigm for High School Character Education"(chapter by Matthew Davidson, Thomas Lickona, and Vladimir Khmelkov in L. Nucci and D. Narvaez , Eds. Handbook of Moral and Character Education. NY: Routledge, 2008)
    Describes the theory, research, and essential practices of the Smart & Good Schools vision.

  • "Smart & Good: Integrating Performance Character and Moral Character in Schools" (article in Independent Schools, Winter 2007.)

    A quick introduction to performance character, moral character, and the 4 KEYS with special attention to how these ideas are relevant to high performing schools.

  • Character Quotations: Activities That Build Character and Community

by Tom Lickona & Matt Davidson. Character quotations that foster performance virtues and moral virtues for each week of the school year, along with reflections questions and action assignments.

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