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Character Education With Coach John Wooden

By Nancy Jang on October 21, 2010
  • Grades: 1–2

Happy 100th birthday to Coach John Wooden, who would have been 100 on October 14, 2010. Coach Wooden was best known for his amazing coaching career with the UCLA basketball team, but his most lasting contribution to our school's everyday culture was his philosophy and his lessons about life. Read on to learn about how John Wooden's children's book Inch and Miles is cultivating a culture of success at our school.

Image courtesy of bruinsnation.com.



Who is John Wooden? Even if you have never followed college basketball or heard of UCLA, you may have heard of John Wooden. Watch this short video tribute to his life to learn more.

Video clip courtesy of YouTube.

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How does our school incorporate Inch and Miles into the school day?

  • Murals of the characters featured in Inch and Miles decorate the front of our school and our halls.
  • We give "success awards" for students caught doing good and "success reminders" for things students are working on.
  • Every trimester, we give Principal's Awards based on the blocks from the pyramid of success.
  • The "Success Song," written by Susan Shaw, one of our very own 1st grade teachers at Woodland, is performed at every Flag Deck, twice a month.
  • Second grade musical performances use songs that center around building blocks on the pyramid of success.
  • Students write in their "success journals" every week in the classrooms.
  • Everyday discussions often refer back to themes introduced in Inch and Miles, with questions such as "What characteristics does this character show? What do they need to work on?"  
  • We do class projects inspired by the book, such as building the pyramid from shoe boxes.DSC00161







Sponsored by McDonald's, coachwooden.com is an excellent interactive resource that gives great background information about John Wooden's life and career, as well as a description of his philosophy about teaching and living life.

Check out these books by John Wooden to get started in your classroom:


What do you like to use for character education, and how do you integrate it into your day?

Join me next week when I post a booklist, some fun activities, and wonderful Thanksgiving resources!

Happy teaching,

Comments (4)

Thank you for your comment. Happy Teaching, Nancy

Its really a very informative article indeed. In fact i got your point which you want to define. Thanks for sharing such valuable info with us.

Peanut, Thank you so much for your comment! It is such an honor to hear from one of the co-authors of the books. I am looking forward to meeting you when you are in southern California in March. You and Coach Wooden are inspiring.

Thanks for continuing the work with kids in Coach's honor.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Dear Nancy,

Congratulations on all the amazing work that you and your fellow teachers at Woodland Elementary are doing with Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success using Coach Wooden's children's book, "Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success," which was co-authored with Steve Jamison. It was such an honor for me to be a collaborator on Inch and Miles with Coach Wooden and Steve Jamison.

To see schools such as Woodland Elementary share our passion for teaching children about Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success is inspiring. All of your ideas that you have posted on your page on how your school has incorporated "Inch and Miles" into the school day is going to be so helpful to other teachers.

All of Coach Wooden's books co-authored with Steve Jamison are treasures but I highly recommend that teachers everywhere read "Wisdom of Wooden." It was Coach Wooden's final book that he did with Steve and it is a very special book.

Thank you for all that you are doing and for being such a caring teacher! Peanut Louie Harper Harper for Kids www.harperforkids.org

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