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July 7, 2017 On the Road: Real Life Stories to Spark Class Discussions By Lindsey Petlak
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    Are you looking for content that promotes kindness, character, and values? Look no further than these great free and engaging videos from Steve Hartman’s On the Road (OTR) segment on CBS News. Hartman travels around the country and finds real-life stories about individuals performing real-life acts of kindness. The videos are short (around three minutes) and on inspiring topics that offer great ideas to weave into your lessons. These are especially perfect for setting the tone when you are building your classroom community.

    Let me share some of my favorite OTR videos with you and tell you how teachers are using this great resource in their classrooms around the country.

    Following are three of the stories paired with activities to spark thought and discussion. Try these few and I promise you’ll be hooked.

    EPISODE: Man proves, once again, that kindness can be a calling

    In this inspiring episode, Eugene Yoon, a California man, is featured for making spreading kindness his full-time job. Scholastic Director Kathy Walsh used this video in a third grade classroom she visited. She started the lesson with the OTR video and then led the discussion with the questions and writing prompts below.

    QUESTIONS/DISCUSSION:

    1. What convinced Eugene Yoon that he had a calling to perform a kindness?

    2. What was the first obstacle that Yoon originally faced?

    3. How did Yoon attempt to solve the problem?

    4. Why do you think Yoon decided to raise money by walking?

    5. What inspired Yoon?

    6. How do you think Yoon felt when he met the man he helped?

    7. How are the acts of Yoon’s helping a man to walk and helping a family establish a business similar? How are they different?

    8. What do you think the future holds for Yoon?

    WRITING RESPONSE:

    Write a simple plan for an act of kindness that you or your classmates might become involved in at school. Write a persuasive argument that you could present to your principal to make your case for allowing you to proceed with the project.

    PAIRED RESOURCES:

    I’m a HUGE Kid President fan (I mean...who isn’t?!), and so after seeing the OTR video about Eugene Yoon and thinking about the corresponding discussion questions, I feel that this “pay it forward” with kindness video by Kid President is the perfect pairing. Use this as a segue into the writing response above or with the additional activity suggestion below.

    PAIRED ACTIVITY:

    Pay it Forward Day is April 28, but why wait until then? I say kick off back-to-school and set the tone of your classroom community and culture by instilling the idea of paying it forward from DAY ONE. Using the OTR video/article partnered with the Kid President video and discussion questions/writing prompt provided, your kiddos will be set to take on the world armed with random acts of kindness (RAK). Use this plethora of amazing RAK ideas to engage your students in self-selected acts of kindness that fit their interests, personalities, and personal passions. Kicking this off at the beginning of the year will have a ripple effect of positivity in your classroom that would make Hartman smile ear to ear!

     

    EPISODE: Teen who lost his hands, and most of his arms, becomes unlikely basketball hero

    This heartwarming episode features the inspiring story of Jamarion Styles, who against all odds becomes a basketball legend. It pairs perfectly with discussions about inclusion and discrimination based on appearances or perceived disabilities. Let’s look at a few suggestions by OTR fan (and teacher), Kelly Lester.

    ACTIVITY:

    Lester suggests partnering this video and questions with a game of kickball, and I think that’s a great idea!

    • Before showing the video, take students outside to play kickball.
    • Assign two of the students as captains and ask them to pick teams.
    • Encourage students to help influence their captain on teammate choices as they join each team.
    • After teams form, play a round of kickball.
    • Call students in to watch the Hartman clip.
    • Ask the questions below to spark discussion and tie the comments back to the kickball game.
    • After all questions are asked, bring students back outside for another round of choosing teams and playing kickball. Encourage them to suspend all thoughts of discrimination and rejection as they form teams and work together to play the game.

    QUESTIONS/DISCUSSION:

    1.     Why do we sometimes reject others?

    2.     What are the consequences of being/feeling rejected?

    3.     How can rejecting someone impact you?

    4.     What does it mean to be part of a team?

    5.     Think about a time when you “judged a book by its cover” without giving someone a chance.

    6.     What were thoughts of discrimination/judgement or rejection you had as either someone choosing teammates or someone waiting to be chosen for a team.

    7.     After watching and discussing, what will you do differently when we go back outside to choose teams and play another round of kickball?

    PAIRED RESOURCE AND ACTIVITY:

    This lesson on rejection ties closely to bullying and how both impact our children internally, even if it doesn’t show on the surface. Read this article from the Huffington Post to see how one teacher used two apples to illustrate this point to her students, and see how it weaves nicely into Styles’ story. You might find you want to use this as a follow-up or to extend the idea of rejection to the act of bullying. Check the original post on the Relax Kids Tamworth Facebook fan page.

     

    EPISODE: Saying goodbye to a local legend

    In this episode, Hartman revisits Woody Davis of Corbett, Oregon, who touched his local community with his generosity. Residents were able to return the favor during Davis' final months as he battled Lou Gehrig's disease. We love how educator and OTR super fan, William Blank, uses this story to teach about the positive impact and importance of gratitude to increase our “set” happiness levels.

    PAIRED RESOURCE:

    Blank suggests pairing this Soul Pancake video about gratitude and another from TED Talks as supplements to Hartman’s compelling story about Davis. Doing so gives your students additional perspective on the topic and will aid in both classroom discussions and additional activities/extensions.

    WRITING PROMPT:

    Blank had his students write a thank you letter to someone who made an impact on their life, focusing on genuinely expressing their gratitude in detail. You could prompt your students with these thoughts:

    • What has this person done to positively impact your life?
    • How do they make you feel by doing these things for you?
    • Why do you feel it is important to express your gratitude to them?
    • What would you like to do to repay them for their impact on your life (as a physical way to show your gratitude)?

    GRATITUDE ACTIVITY:

    This next part will likely move you to tears. Blank and his students didn’t stop at just writing the letters. They didn’t hang them up in the hallway at Thanksgiving time and then take them down. (And while Thanksgiving would be a great time for this activity, shouldn’t we give thanks more than one time each year?) They didn’t even just mail them to the recipients. After writing the letters, Blank’s students called the subjects of their thank you letters in class, read the letters aloud, and let everyone hear both the letter of thanks and the recipient’s response. (I’m teary-eyed right now as I’m typing this.)

    You can only imagine the genuine, heartfelt emotional response by all involved, including students simply listening in the classroom. TRY IT OUT. You will be surprised and moved by how even if students are shy to volunteer to call at first, more and more will step up to spread gratitude in front of everyone. Giving thanks is contagious in the best possible way, and it’s beneficial for all.

    So, in addition to other Netflix series you have on your summer TV binge list, be sure to add On the Road. Not only will it give you a much needed dose of feel-good vibes, but it will open up a whole new world of classroom possibilities for building culture, community, and character!

    Are you looking for content that promotes kindness, character, and values? Look no further than these great free and engaging videos from Steve Hartman’s On the Road (OTR) segment on CBS News. Hartman travels around the country and finds real-life stories about individuals performing real-life acts of kindness. The videos are short (around three minutes) and on inspiring topics that offer great ideas to weave into your lessons. These are especially perfect for setting the tone when you are building your classroom community.

    Let me share some of my favorite OTR videos with you and tell you how teachers are using this great resource in their classrooms around the country.

    Following are three of the stories paired with activities to spark thought and discussion. Try these few and I promise you’ll be hooked.

    EPISODE: Man proves, once again, that kindness can be a calling

    In this inspiring episode, Eugene Yoon, a California man, is featured for making spreading kindness his full-time job. Scholastic Director Kathy Walsh used this video in a third grade classroom she visited. She started the lesson with the OTR video and then led the discussion with the questions and writing prompts below.

    QUESTIONS/DISCUSSION:

    1. What convinced Eugene Yoon that he had a calling to perform a kindness?

    2. What was the first obstacle that Yoon originally faced?

    3. How did Yoon attempt to solve the problem?

    4. Why do you think Yoon decided to raise money by walking?

    5. What inspired Yoon?

    6. How do you think Yoon felt when he met the man he helped?

    7. How are the acts of Yoon’s helping a man to walk and helping a family establish a business similar? How are they different?

    8. What do you think the future holds for Yoon?

    WRITING RESPONSE:

    Write a simple plan for an act of kindness that you or your classmates might become involved in at school. Write a persuasive argument that you could present to your principal to make your case for allowing you to proceed with the project.

    PAIRED RESOURCES:

    I’m a HUGE Kid President fan (I mean...who isn’t?!), and so after seeing the OTR video about Eugene Yoon and thinking about the corresponding discussion questions, I feel that this “pay it forward” with kindness video by Kid President is the perfect pairing. Use this as a segue into the writing response above or with the additional activity suggestion below.

    PAIRED ACTIVITY:

    Pay it Forward Day is April 28, but why wait until then? I say kick off back-to-school and set the tone of your classroom community and culture by instilling the idea of paying it forward from DAY ONE. Using the OTR video/article partnered with the Kid President video and discussion questions/writing prompt provided, your kiddos will be set to take on the world armed with random acts of kindness (RAK). Use this plethora of amazing RAK ideas to engage your students in self-selected acts of kindness that fit their interests, personalities, and personal passions. Kicking this off at the beginning of the year will have a ripple effect of positivity in your classroom that would make Hartman smile ear to ear!

     

    EPISODE: Teen who lost his hands, and most of his arms, becomes unlikely basketball hero

    This heartwarming episode features the inspiring story of Jamarion Styles, who against all odds becomes a basketball legend. It pairs perfectly with discussions about inclusion and discrimination based on appearances or perceived disabilities. Let’s look at a few suggestions by OTR fan (and teacher), Kelly Lester.

    ACTIVITY:

    Lester suggests partnering this video and questions with a game of kickball, and I think that’s a great idea!

    • Before showing the video, take students outside to play kickball.
    • Assign two of the students as captains and ask them to pick teams.
    • Encourage students to help influence their captain on teammate choices as they join each team.
    • After teams form, play a round of kickball.
    • Call students in to watch the Hartman clip.
    • Ask the questions below to spark discussion and tie the comments back to the kickball game.
    • After all questions are asked, bring students back outside for another round of choosing teams and playing kickball. Encourage them to suspend all thoughts of discrimination and rejection as they form teams and work together to play the game.

    QUESTIONS/DISCUSSION:

    1.     Why do we sometimes reject others?

    2.     What are the consequences of being/feeling rejected?

    3.     How can rejecting someone impact you?

    4.     What does it mean to be part of a team?

    5.     Think about a time when you “judged a book by its cover” without giving someone a chance.

    6.     What were thoughts of discrimination/judgement or rejection you had as either someone choosing teammates or someone waiting to be chosen for a team.

    7.     After watching and discussing, what will you do differently when we go back outside to choose teams and play another round of kickball?

    PAIRED RESOURCE AND ACTIVITY:

    This lesson on rejection ties closely to bullying and how both impact our children internally, even if it doesn’t show on the surface. Read this article from the Huffington Post to see how one teacher used two apples to illustrate this point to her students, and see how it weaves nicely into Styles’ story. You might find you want to use this as a follow-up or to extend the idea of rejection to the act of bullying. Check the original post on the Relax Kids Tamworth Facebook fan page.

     

    EPISODE: Saying goodbye to a local legend

    In this episode, Hartman revisits Woody Davis of Corbett, Oregon, who touched his local community with his generosity. Residents were able to return the favor during Davis' final months as he battled Lou Gehrig's disease. We love how educator and OTR super fan, William Blank, uses this story to teach about the positive impact and importance of gratitude to increase our “set” happiness levels.

    PAIRED RESOURCE:

    Blank suggests pairing this Soul Pancake video about gratitude and another from TED Talks as supplements to Hartman’s compelling story about Davis. Doing so gives your students additional perspective on the topic and will aid in both classroom discussions and additional activities/extensions.

    WRITING PROMPT:

    Blank had his students write a thank you letter to someone who made an impact on their life, focusing on genuinely expressing their gratitude in detail. You could prompt your students with these thoughts:

    • What has this person done to positively impact your life?
    • How do they make you feel by doing these things for you?
    • Why do you feel it is important to express your gratitude to them?
    • What would you like to do to repay them for their impact on your life (as a physical way to show your gratitude)?

    GRATITUDE ACTIVITY:

    This next part will likely move you to tears. Blank and his students didn’t stop at just writing the letters. They didn’t hang them up in the hallway at Thanksgiving time and then take them down. (And while Thanksgiving would be a great time for this activity, shouldn’t we give thanks more than one time each year?) They didn’t even just mail them to the recipients. After writing the letters, Blank’s students called the subjects of their thank you letters in class, read the letters aloud, and let everyone hear both the letter of thanks and the recipient’s response. (I’m teary-eyed right now as I’m typing this.)

    You can only imagine the genuine, heartfelt emotional response by all involved, including students simply listening in the classroom. TRY IT OUT. You will be surprised and moved by how even if students are shy to volunteer to call at first, more and more will step up to spread gratitude in front of everyone. Giving thanks is contagious in the best possible way, and it’s beneficial for all.

    So, in addition to other Netflix series you have on your summer TV binge list, be sure to add On the Road. Not only will it give you a much needed dose of feel-good vibes, but it will open up a whole new world of classroom possibilities for building culture, community, and character!

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