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November 19, 2015

Simple and Sweet Gratitude Writing Project

By Lindsey Petlak
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    In my Thanksgiving post last year, I shared love, respect, and gratitude for my teammates. This year, I want to share how my students are expressing their thanks for everything their hard-working teachers do for them. This simple activity made our staff feel so special, incorporated Common Core State Standards for writing, and made for a great hallway display long before and after Thanksgiving passed.

     


     

    Count Your (Teacher) Blessings

    As a class, we looked at a master list of teachers and staff in our school. Across our grade level (three classes), we asked students to think of two or three teachers or staff members who have made a special, personal impact on them. We wanted our students to have one or two teachers to write about, with a backup so that every staff member had at least one essay of thanks written about them.

    In preparation for this activity, we learned about character traits, figurative language, and both essay and letter-writing structure. With your class, you could decide upon one specific format, or give your students options. We asked that students use three specific character traits to illustrate why each teacher has been so impactful. As details supporting each trait, students listed specific memories from that teacher illustrating evidence of that special trait. Since we had learned about figurative language, we challenged students to use similes and metaphors in each paragraph to emphasize those personal traits.  

     

     

    Display Your Gratitude

    To illustrate our displays, we had each student design an 8.5 x 11 inch thank you poster that included elements specific to their teacher of choice (sports gear for a physical education teacher, art supplies for the art teacher, etc.). I had some cardboard frames from the local craft store that we used to hold the finished poster designs, but you could just have students make their own border or paper frame. Finally, take a photograph of the student holding their poster together with each teacher they wrote about. We paired the essays/letters with horizontal photographs of the teacher and student together.

    Kick It Up a Notch

    Record each student reading their essay or letter aloud. They could do this privately to the camera, or you could capture them reading their thoughts aloud to the teacher who is the subject of the writing. Upload the video recording to Google Drive or YouTube (be careful of privacy), link it to a QR code, print the QR code, and attach it to your displayed writing with photo. People may then scan the code and watch the recording for a virtual, touching experience! For more instructions on creating digital displays using QR codes, check out my blog post on tech-integrated hallway displays.

     


    Show your colleagues and teachers of your own children how thankful you are for them. We love our jobs and it is our passion, but always remember that a little gratitude goes a long way!

    To show my gratitude to my Top Teaching blog readers, I invite you to use the discount coupon below to the Scholastic Store.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and may you have a wonderful holiday!

    In my Thanksgiving post last year, I shared love, respect, and gratitude for my teammates. This year, I want to share how my students are expressing their thanks for everything their hard-working teachers do for them. This simple activity made our staff feel so special, incorporated Common Core State Standards for writing, and made for a great hallway display long before and after Thanksgiving passed.

     


     

    Count Your (Teacher) Blessings

    As a class, we looked at a master list of teachers and staff in our school. Across our grade level (three classes), we asked students to think of two or three teachers or staff members who have made a special, personal impact on them. We wanted our students to have one or two teachers to write about, with a backup so that every staff member had at least one essay of thanks written about them.

    In preparation for this activity, we learned about character traits, figurative language, and both essay and letter-writing structure. With your class, you could decide upon one specific format, or give your students options. We asked that students use three specific character traits to illustrate why each teacher has been so impactful. As details supporting each trait, students listed specific memories from that teacher illustrating evidence of that special trait. Since we had learned about figurative language, we challenged students to use similes and metaphors in each paragraph to emphasize those personal traits.  

     

     

    Display Your Gratitude

    To illustrate our displays, we had each student design an 8.5 x 11 inch thank you poster that included elements specific to their teacher of choice (sports gear for a physical education teacher, art supplies for the art teacher, etc.). I had some cardboard frames from the local craft store that we used to hold the finished poster designs, but you could just have students make their own border or paper frame. Finally, take a photograph of the student holding their poster together with each teacher they wrote about. We paired the essays/letters with horizontal photographs of the teacher and student together.

    Kick It Up a Notch

    Record each student reading their essay or letter aloud. They could do this privately to the camera, or you could capture them reading their thoughts aloud to the teacher who is the subject of the writing. Upload the video recording to Google Drive or YouTube (be careful of privacy), link it to a QR code, print the QR code, and attach it to your displayed writing with photo. People may then scan the code and watch the recording for a virtual, touching experience! For more instructions on creating digital displays using QR codes, check out my blog post on tech-integrated hallway displays.

     


    Show your colleagues and teachers of your own children how thankful you are for them. We love our jobs and it is our passion, but always remember that a little gratitude goes a long way!

    To show my gratitude to my Top Teaching blog readers, I invite you to use the discount coupon below to the Scholastic Store.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and may you have a wonderful holiday!

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