It all started with me noticing a lack of gratitude amongst my students- complaining about lunches their parents made for them, the clothes that they resorted to wear because no one had time to do laundry, the goodies that were specially made for them that they carelessly left behind in my classroom... Being a big believer of expressing gratitude, I did some research about gratitude projects being implemented in other settings like workplaces and the like and found a Youtube channel called SoulPancake. This channel promotes positive thinking and shows the science behind it; how positive thinking and showing gratitude can actually put you in a better mood. So, I decided that I would create a project that allowed the kids to not only explore gratitude, but learn to express it as well.
When we first started, we made lists of things we were thankful for and explored the really basic things that we take for granted and created a visual representation of that list. I remember one of my students say “Is this, like, health class or something?”. Then we thought about those around us who we are grateful for and wrote a paragraph about that person exploring why we are grateful for them. Inspired by SoulPancake and with the help from Tammy Tkachuk, we learned how to create a video reel that would allow us to document the conversation reading those paragraphs out loud to the recipients. They recorded their video on all types of media, like our chromebooks here at the school, their home webcams, cameras and iphones. They learned how to upload the videos to their Google Drive and then shared the file with me. I then compiled all of their videos and created our class video using WeVideo. In retrospect, I think I would try to use a different video editing system because I found it to be a bit glitchy, but it worked fine for our simple purposes.
We finished the project by creating a school-wide incentive, where we made “Thank You” cards and wrote notes on the back, giving them to people who help us throughout the day. From start to finish, it took us 5 weeks and I really enjoyed seeing their personalities evolve into highly empathetic and understanding ones. Even though we assume we all have this trait innately, I truly feel that gratitude is something that we must be taught and I am happy that I got the chance to show my class how to express themselves using gratitude!
This blog and resources website has been developed through the work of various AISI coaches in PHRD. The lead collaborative teachers for the 2015/2016 school year, Cheryl Frose, Christine Quong and Tammy Tkachuk will continue to update this site. If you have resources you would like to share or would like to contribute to the blog, please contact us.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.