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Character Education for the 21st Century (K-12)

Does it often seem that students are lacking good character? Do you believe if your students had better character they would be better behaved in class? Incorporating character education into your daily lessons can help your classroom run more effectively. This online course is designed to guide teachers through the six pillars of character education — trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Teachers will explore innovative ways to incorporate each of the six pillars into their daily lessons so that students are better able to make the right choices when confronted with problem situations. Throughout the course, teachers will learn specific strategies for incorporating the six pillars into their daily lessons through the use of scenarios, classroom activities, service learning projects, and literature. Teachers will learn about the relationship between character education and bullying, and how behaviors can be managed through the use of good character and strong, positive, inclusive classroom practices. Finally, teachers will learn how to use restorative justice to put the onus of good character back on their students through the use of conflict resolution and peer mediation. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"I started my new year out by writing a respect agreement with my class. It is working great. I am so glad I took this class. I have been teaching the character traits to my students and it is really making a difference in the way our class community is treating each other." - Margaret Nicholson


Enrollment Options

Register Course Registration Only $199

RegisterCourse Plus Credit from UC San Diego Extension Only $429


Required Resource Book: This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

Discipline that Restores: Strategies to Create Respect, Cooperation, and Responsibility in the Classroom” by Ron and Roxanne Claassen

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List


Topical Outline / Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

PDI Course Number: 3BXX

UCSD Course Number: EDUC40129

Unit One

  • Why teach character education?
  • Overview of the Six Pillars of Character Education
  • Pillar #1: Trustworthiness
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography/Write an article reflection

Unit Two

  • Pillar #2: Respect
  • Pillar #3: Responsibility
  • Pillar #4: Fairness
  • Assignment #2: Plan and teach a character education activity

Unit Three

  • Pillar #5: Caring
  • Pillar #6: Citizenship
  • Other Common Character Education Traits
  • Assignment #3:Plan character education integration

Unit Four

  • Using Literature to Teach Character
  • Integrating Character Education into Other Subjects
  • Service Learning
  • Assignment #4: Create a character education activity based on a piece of literature

Unit Five

  • The Impact of School/Classroom Climate on Achievement
  • Strategies for Strong Positive Classroom Climates
  • The Importance of an Inclusive Community
  • Assignment #5:Design a team-building activity

Unit Six

  • The Character Education and Behavior Management Connection
  • The Relationship between Character Education and Bullying
  • Restorative Justice
  • Assignment #6: Respond to classroom scenarios
  • Assignment #7: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)