Ever since I saw this Soul Pancake video (I also posted this on my Facebook for my 30th birthday request), I’ve had my eye on using it during the week leading into Thanksgiving. Holiday weeks can be strange beasts for teachers–we are tired, the kids are amped, no one seems to have the energy to focus. So, I wanted a meaningful, engaging activity that would build our class culture while still relating to my curriculum. Bingo!

Today, I had my students identify one person who has had an impact on them and then write either a letter or essay answering the following: How has this person impacted me? Why am I grateful for them in my life?

In each period, I put on my focus music, and we did a free write for 20 minutes. I wrote with them–focusing on a different person each period. Is it any surprise that I was in a good mood most of the day? **Psst, it shouldn’t be if you watched the video :)

Then, after they had already completed their writing, I showed them the video. We talked about how sharing was the key to increasing happiness in both themselves and their recipient. I volunteered to read my letter first, to open the door for others to feel safe. The room was dead silent as I read my essay of gratitude to my friend Ellen (see link below!). Then I asked if any of them wanted to share their own gratitude writings.

A student volunteered to read a letter about how much she values her sister. She wanted her sister to know that she would be a support no matter what. Another student who rarely volunteers and seems to hate having any attention on her surprised me by volunteering to read her tribute to her great-grandmother. With each person’s shared gratitude, the room felt warmer…friendlier…and filled with happiness. My eyes may or may not have misted over a time or two.

Then, I asked my students to share their notes–email, hand-delivered, read out loud–whatever form they chose, I challenged them to complete the experiment and share their gratitude.

So now I will do as I have asked my students and share the essays I wrote with them in class. I will express them to spread happiness and gratitude in honor of the holiday we are approaching. The following links are to public Google docs honoring three people who have impacted my life. I welcome you to read them! I also challenge you to write a note of your own and then share it. Express gratitude, increase happiness.

Note of Gratitude: My friend Ellen

Note of Gratitude: My college professor

Note of Gratitude: My sisters

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