Saturday, December 6, 2014

Our November Gratitude Garden

        Our personal excellence quality for the month of November was, of course, ‘gratitude'.  Everyday the students and I each thought of at least one thing that we were grateful for.  After seeing a unique way to make a thank you card on Pinterest I decided to have each student make their own ‘gratitude flower’.
They wrote one thing they were thankful for on one petal a day and at the end of the month they  each put their own flower of gratitude together.  It was wonderful to see each student get in the habit of looking for all the things that they were grateful for in their lives.  We are so fortunate to have so much bounty in our everyday world and we seldom stop and appreciate how lucky we are.  I put up our flowers on our ‘Gratitude Garden’ wall so that we would remember to continue to be grateful and just so we could admire them.
Students wrote one or more things they were grateful for in their life everyday on a petal.  At the end of the month they cut them out, we hole punched the leaves, and used a brass fastener to hold them together.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Random Acts of Courage

       In case people are wondering if I'm still practicing Education for Life in my public school classroom the answer is a resounding,  "Yes!!"     EFL is becoming part of my DNA.   I work with a whole new batch of 6th graders every year which lets me reuse and expand the activities that I liked, that worked in the previous two years, and that I feel will benefit this year’s 6th graders.   
        One thing that I am doing this year is extending the Personal Excellence qualities or universal principals from previous years.  I’m using a “Word of the Month”.  This is not a new idea.  What is different is the depth of use.  Whatever quality I pick is our theme for the month.  For example, I chose “Helpfulness” for September.  Being helpful is an activity that will lead the students to begin the year successfully, allow them to experience the joy of giving to others, and help them to be the type of person others would want to include as their friend.
       At first I let them practice “helpfulness” on their own while documenting their experiences daily in their writing journal.    We also read stories of people that showed this quality and we looked for this quality in historical figures in Social Studies.  Half way through September the activities were feeling a bit static so I found a “Random Acts of Kindness Board” activity on the web.

      I went ahead re-wrote and tailored it to “Random Acts of Helpfulness”.  By the end of the month the students were in the habit of looking for ways to be helpful in class, at school, at home as well exercising their will to finish the challenge of finishing the "Random Acts of Helpfulness" board.

For October the word is “Courage” and within a few days of practicing courage the students were clamoring for a “Random Acts of Courage” handout.  They were having a hard time figuring out how to be courageous and they wanted the challenge of trying to finish 16 acts of courage.  At first they thought courage meant things like saving someone from a burning building.  But soon they realized that it's the small acts of courage that prepare you for the bigger acts of bravery.  This time they came up with all 16 acts of courage ideas themselves and I just wrote it up for them.  This is what they picked.