What is Character Day?

Now in it’s third year, Character Day, is set for September 22, 2016. Character day is an exciting global day where students and educators from around the world screen films by an Emmy-nominated film studio on the science of character development from different perspectives. Students dive into free printed discussion materials and resources while joining an online global conversation around character — focusing on who they we are, who they want to be in the world, and how to develop these character strengths (resilience, grit, empathy, courage, kindness)–all rooted in evidence-based research. Teachers are encouraged to sign up now to make the most of this free day for the fall.

Last year there were over 6,784 events at schools and classrooms across the world, each tying Character Day into their lesson plans, after-school programs, and special assemblies or back to school events. Your Character Day event can look and feel any way that you would like it to be – any time of the day, anywhere, and any size. Some schools did campus-wide assemblies, other teachers did specific events in their classrooms. The Character Day organizers leave the creativity of what the day looks like to the Principals and the teachers, they just provide the materials (Films, Periodic Table of Character Strengths Poster, printed discussion materials, a robust online hub of resources and lessons plans and an online conversation with leading experts on Character education from multiple perspectives). Character Day is supported by grants so there is no cost to participate. You can watch the acclaimed films “The Science of Character” (8mins) and “The Adaptable Mind”  to get a better sense of what types of films will be shown on Character Day.

Once you sign up, there will be webinars that invite educators to learn more about best practices for hosting your own Character Day film screenings from inspiring examples that have happened in previous years. All you need to do is register (which takes 2 minutes) and all of these materials will be provided for you.  Please sign up at CharacterDay.org!

This Year Character Day is Partnering with Janell Burley Hofmann to bring Digital Character to Character Day!

What’s Digital Character?

Digital Character is who we are and who we want to be online. Knowing how we want to show up online is a choice, but we’re human, so it takes practice to develop those skills. We can be our best digital-self online through discovering and developing our Digital Character.

Join us as we create a series of conversations, activities, engagements and tools to support Character Day both on the screens and away from the screens.

Your Digital Self!

Your Digital Self is made up of as many great qualities as you are IRL (in real life!). Over the next few months leading up to Character Day 2016, we’ll talk about qualities that contribute to our Digital Character and enhance our Digital Self.

Blogs, Videos, Social Media Conversations & Discussion topics will include:

Digital Character – How Can I Make The Internet A Better Place?

Digital Health – What is My Tech Lifestyle?

Digital Choice – What Do I Want From My Technology?

Digital Leadership – Who Am I Online?

Digital Mindfulness – How Can I Bring Intention & Attention to Life Online?

Digital Character Activities Will Include:

  1. HASHTAG Campaign:

    • Start a positive school-community hashtag. It can be the school name, mascot, portion of the mission or other online tool for community and spirit building. If your school team name is “Tigers” think #tigerpride. Eventually this hashtag will be used by parents, teachers and students to describe all facets of their school community beyond character day.

      Here’s a sample tweet: Today we learned about digital character today w @JanellBH (character day hashtag). #tigerpride

    • PERMISSION TO POST! Encourage students to ask permission of their peers prior to posting a photo online or on a group chat. They can add the hashtag #P2P to show that they got approval. This step is part of the process in using technology and practices a mindful extra step.

    • CHARACTER TRAIT: COMPLIMENTING Builds CHARACTER! Add online compliments to your Character Day for your school community. Encourage parents, students and educators to give a positive shout out about the school, an individual, activity or behavior that they love over social media. Tag the school in your posts (and maybe even use that new hashtag!) & character day. Be sure to announce this in advance so everyone can participate. This can even be integrated and used as an example of the balance and connection in our analog and digital lives.


    Have the students create an offline profile – include name, age, a drawing of a profile picture, interests, activities, followers/friends IRL (in real life). Then have them create a drawing of their online profiles. Do they match? This exercise is meant to have students be sure their offline and online personalities match. We want to be our whole self online. Ask questions like “What character traits to you bring both on and away from the screens?” “Am I making the internet a better place?”


    Create a collage or profile of the “Askable Adult” in your life. An Askable Adult is an adult in our lives that we trust and can talk to about life online and beyond. What words would you use to describe him/her? What makes them “Askable”? What are their character traits from the periodic table of character. What types of questions can we ask? Everyone should be able to identify at least one Askable Adult. Integrate and highlight the character traits of these adults as models on and away from the screens.


    Try doing an activity, trivia or game without using the internet – no spell checking, no online definitions, no fact checking. What happens when we don’t know the answer? What other tools do we have available to us? What can we learn about others around us? Discuss the positives of nurturing imagination, problem solving, resources, 
thought incubation, and creativity. Ask why these qualities are so important even when we have correct answers available to us all the time? What does not knowing reveal about our character?


    We all know our online conversations, comments and shares aren’t private, but sometimes we need to be reminded. Imagine your online conversations were posted on a billboard outside of your school. What would you want your billboard to say? How do you want to talk about others? How do you want to represent yourself? Make a Billboard that represents your best digital self!


    Engage students in the development of conversations that they can use to support their use of social technology. Then develop these scenarios to act out the conversations. When we have opportunities for cognitive rehearsal, we are more likely to use it because it is familiar and accepted.

  7. Example If a student sees friends hanging out and sharing photos over Instagram and feels left out, empower her to create a conversation to let her friends know she would like to be included next time. Then choose some classmates and act it out. 
Allow time for students to create their own skits with scenarios & solutions to enhance learning about digital character.


    Can being positive online make the internet a better place? Try it! Set a challenge for yourself to go tech positive and see how it impacts your friends & followers.


    Make yourself an iRules contract! Set a list of tech agreements that you make for yourself that support your character traits. How can you take care of yourself to enhance your character – sleep? Self compassion? Exercise? Putting away the screens sometimes or “No Phone Zones”.

    Stay Tuned for a Schedule of Social Media Events on Digital Character!

We encourage you to use this content and these activities to support Character Day, noting that all curriculum content is property of Janell Burley Hofmann and iRules Academy.