We started the year off by focusing on the virtue of Responsibility. This is a good topic to start the year off with to help students learn to take responsibility for themselves - their actions, their words, their education, and their relationships.
1st Grade: We talked about the new responsibilities the students have this year that differ from when they were in Kindergarten. I drew a large body on poster board and named it "Freddy First Grader". We then filled in the body with new responsibilities or activities they have now in first grade.
2nd Grade: We read the book Regina's Big Mistake and talked about how Regina was irresponsible in handling her mistake at the beginning of the book (crumpling up her paper) and how she was able to act responsibly at the end (admitting she made a mistake and trying to turn it into something better). We discussed ways that they could handle mistakes in a responsible manner (saying sorry, trying hard not to do it again, etc).
4th Grade: We discussed the poem Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out by Shel Silverstein and related the piling up of trash to the piling up of problems if we do not take responsibility. I illustrated this by brining in a garbage bag of "trash" (crumpled up paper). We tackled the responsibility of school work and homework. I started off saying that a student decided not to write in his/her assignment notebook and threw a piece of paper on the ground. We then went through a series of consequences that might happen as a result (not completing the homework, not knowing when the test is, not doing well on the test, not doing well in the class, etc) each time throwing a piece of paper on the floor until the floor was covered. We then discussed how they can be more responsible. Each time they gave an idea, I picked up one of the pieces of paper.
5th Grade: We discussed how our attitudes, thoughts, and actions can impact our ability to be responsible. If we have a negative attitude about something (I hate math), that leads to a negative thought (Math is useless and I don't have to do it), which leads to a negative action (Not completing math homework). Positive attitudes, in turn, lead to positive thoughts, which lead to positive actions. We can be much more responsible when we are believing, thinking, and doing something positive. These are the "keys" to responsibility success. Each student decorated a paper key with one way they planned to be responsible this year.
Responsibility is the Key to Success: Suggesting ways to be responsible such as writing assignments down, coming up with plans to get things done and not blaming others or making excuses.