Attitudes of gratitude on display at L-S (Hometown Press article)

posted Nov 23, 2017, 7:46 AM by Webmaster lynnville-sully

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Developing hearts of gratitude is the goal of L-S Middle School language arts teacher Mrs. Melanie Sharp in the gratitude unit she and her students will wrap up right before Thanksgiving, the holiday traditionally known for giving thanks.

Sharp kicked off the unit on Nov. 6 with the sixth-grade class. Her motive? Encourage students to express gratitude freely and in a variety of expected and unexpected ways. Because the studies and activities were so well received, Sharp involved her seventh-grade students and plans to incorporate the full unit to both sixth- and seventh-grade classes next year.

“We all have so much to be grateful for but we often don't reflect on those things or express gratitude to others,” said Sharp. “I wanted the students to see how showing gratitude not only makes someone else happy, but it also improves their own mood and quality of life.”

Every day, the students read stories about gratitude from the popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” gratitude series. The students then journaled about something they were grateful for and shared their feelings with the class.

Projects branching from the gratitude unit include the “Thankful For” tree. Each sixth and seventh grader wrote down things they were thankful for and hung the thankful leaves on the tree, a daily reminder of the many blessings in their lives. Students also wrote thank-you notes to staff members, expressing appreciation for all they have done. In class, students shared stories about staff members whom they have made a personal connection with. Students utilized class time writing and sending the letters, which were well received by the recipients. The power of a thank-you note was emphasized during class and students saw firsthand how simple strokes of thanks can make a big impact on someone’s life.

In addition to thank-you notes to staff members, students also wrote notes of appreciation to the unexpected receiver. “The idea behind this is that at any moment, you have the power to improve someone else's life by simply saying thank you,” said Sharp. Unexpected receivers included mail deliverers, the person keeping students safe at the crosswalk, and the Walmart employee gathering shopping carts.

Random acts of kindness (RAOK) were also part of the gratitude unit. Sharp challenged each student to perform three RAOK’s, handing out an RAOK ticket to each person they showed kindness to. “Students loved this idea,” noted Sharp and said many students came back for more RAOK tickets to hand out.

Gratitude projects in the works include a gratitude board and a thank-you video that will highlight people who have been an inspiration to students. Sharp hopes to have the video completed in time for Thanksgiving.

“This has been my favorite unit by far. I think it has impacted me as much as the students,” shared Sharp.


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