Power2LearnTM & Power2TeachTM: National Field Testing Underway


Twenty-five high schools in four states -- Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, and New York -- have begun initial field-test implementation of the first two programs in our series of Power2Programming.

Twenty-five high schools in four states -- Iowa, Kansas, New Jersey, and New York -- have begun initial field-test implementation of the first two programs in our series of Power2Programming (see www.excellenceandethics.com). Built on the theory, research, and practices of the Smart & Good High Schools report (www.cortland.edu/character), Power2Learn and Power2Teach provide teachers with a curriculum of lessons and practical tools to develop the essential culture and competencies needed for teaching and learning.

These are our first practical steps to distill the Smart & Good vision into user-friendly, replicable, data-driven, and researchable programs. During the spring-summer of 2009, leadership teams from participating schools were trained by Power2 National Trainers Phil Catania and Ken Fisher.


Power2Learn is a high school curriculum designed to boost academic achievement, reduce dropouts, improve workforce preparation, and prepare youth to become productive citizens and lead fulfilling lives. Our experience with schools convinces us that sequenced curricula with learning objectives and lesson plans targeting character competencies are an essential part of a school's ability to develop excellence and ethics. Power2Learn therefore teaches character competencies -- such as taking initiative, setting goals, and "working smarter" -- that students need to succeed in school.

Power2Learn field-site schools have committed to the following:

A two-three day training, preparing the school's implementation team to train colleagues in Power2Learn.

28 weeks of student programming designed around the following features:

  • 50-60 minutes per week of student curriculum with flexible implementation options.
  • Integration of this curriculum into preferred time of day, such as content area class, homeroom, advisory, etc.
  • Lesson activities and reflections with engaging and student-friendly materials, including movies, music, experiential activities, as well as practices from Smart & Good High Schools.
  • Video learning resources, voice-over PowerPoints, and a facilitator's guide.
  • A mid-year assembly designed to help students reflect on their school experience thus far, refocus on their goals, and recommit to daily growth.
  • An end-of-year celebration and rite of passage ceremony.
  • Continuous reflection, including formative and summative evaluation (pretest and posttest student surveys).


Power2Teach is a staff development program that builds trust and collegiality among teachers and gives them tools to improve the culture and competencies needed for learning. It prepares all faculty and staff to align with and enhance the Power2Learn student experiences. It also develops the Professional Ethical Learning Community needed for high-quality teaching and learning. Power2Teach field sites have committed to the following:

A two-day introductory training for the School Leadership Team (3-5 people) designed to train them to deliver Power2Teach.

75 to 90-minute monthly learning modules, called Essential Conversations, that focus on key issues that contribute to (or detract from) the character and culture needed for effective teaching and learning. These monthly conversations, typically conducted in groups of 7, center on questions such as, "Is this a community dedicated to continuous improvement?" and are facilitated for the entire staff by the Power2Teach leadership team.

Academic achievement will improve when schools develop the culture and competencies of excellence and ethics.

Each Essential Conversation uses curricular materials, prepared for the school, that include a:

  • Community-Builder to help the group reconnect, recommit, and refocus
  • Collegiality Compact to reestablish respectful and efficient working norms
  • Knowledge Burst to introduce important theory and research
  • Data Reflection from the school assessment used to examine culture and character competencies
  • Action Planning to adapt or adopt specific tools to address areas of need
  • Closure and Commitment to summarize discussion and send the group forward.

Ripple Effects

We believe that such programming for students, coupled with concurrent professional development for faculty, has the potential to help subject-area teachers build on the character competencies their students are developing in the "character class." For example, once subject-area teachers see what students have learned about goal-setting, they can help them apply those goal-setting strategies in math, science, history, and so on.

Power2 field sites are receiving ongoing coaching and support from IEE and the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs, as well as from regional support centers, including Iowa's Institute for Character Development at Drake University and the Kansas Character Education Initiative at the Kansas State Department of Education.

Our hope is that as these programs become an integral part of the teaching and learning experience, schools will see significant improvement in the culture and competencies of excellence and ethics. That, in turn, should begin to make a demonstrable difference in boosting academic achievement, reducing disciplinary problems and dropouts, and preparing students for success in school, work, and beyond.



Matthew Davidson. "Power2LearnTM & Power2TeachTM: National Field Testing Underway." excellence & ethics (Fall, 2009): 8.

Reprinted with permission. excellence & ethics is the Education Letter of the Smart & Good Schools Initiative, a joint project of the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs and the Institute for Excellence & Ethics (IEE). excellence & ethics features essays, research, and K-12 best practices that help school leaders, teachers, students, parents, and community members do their best work (performance character) and do the right thing (moral character).

excellence & ethics is published three times a year and may be subscribed to, without cost, here.


Dr. Matthew Davidson is president and director of education at the Institute for Excellence & Ethics. He can be reached at mdavidson@excellenceandethics.com or (315) 677-8114. Together with Thomas Lickona he is a co-author of Smart & Good High Schools (www.cortland.edu/character), Character Quotations and Character Education Evaluation Toolkit. To learn more about the field sites, or to inquire about the time and resource commitments to participate in the Power2 Programs, contact IEE at info@excellenceandethics.com.)

Copyright © 2009 excellence & ethics

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