I love Thanksgiving, and not just for the mashed potatoes. I love being with family, bustling around the kitchen and bumping into each other as we try to get five dishes done in the last few hours before dinner that we really should have started preparing a day ago. And after the meal, it feels great to relax and count my blessings (if not the calories that were just consumed).
But gratitude doesn’t have to stay relegated to one day a year. In fact, studies show that a daily gratitude journal not only helps us to be aware of our blessings that may otherwise be taken for granted, but counting those blessings daily can lead to a happier state of mind and pave the way for more blessings to come our way.
Whenever I see a practice that seems to be improving people’s lives, I want to figure out a way to integrate that into education. An interesting article on Edutopia outlines the benefits of practicing gratitude for students, including higher grades, higher goals, and better relationships.
Why not try one of these ways of integrating gratitude into the classroom?
- Many teachers, whether in elementary, middle or high school, have a daily journal write or warm-up writing activity. What if that warm up was a gratitude journal?
- How about circle time or advisory? Could students share what they are grateful for, creating a positive habit of mind that can carry over to the rest of their day?
- For older students, what if we encouraged them to use a free gratitude app on their phone to keep track of what they are grateful for?
Here are a couple (free) ways technology can help increase gratitude in the classroom:
Google Keep app
Students can use Google Keep as their gratitude journal. There’s a Google Keep app, which is free and syncs with Keep in Google Drive. Or they can use Google Keep on their iPads or Chromebooks or any other device they have. Google Keep allows you to add lists, photos, links and share with others. Plus you can access it on any device, anywhere.
Gratitude Wall on Padlet
You can create a gratitude wall for your class that students add to each day on Padlet. Students can post text, photos, videos or links to share what they are grateful for.
And what if as part of their gratitude practice, we asked students if they’d like to try to practice one random act of kindness per day and add that to their gratitude journal? After all, givers are said to experience greater happiness than those who receive. And that gives them something to feel grateful for.
The last thing I want to do is advocate something that I’m not practicing myself, so as of today I’m going to start using Keep as my gratitude journal and include one random act of kindness in my daily log. I’ll let you know how it goes.
If you have ways that you incorporate gratitude into your classroom, please share!