Currently, in my classroom we're reading the novel Rules by Cynthia Lord. Fantastic fifth grade read and perfect for a workshop mentor text! However, one of my favorite pieces of this whole unit focused on building character because in Rules, Catherine's character has to make some difficult decisions in regards to family and friendships. In Rules, Catherine helps her parents take care of her little brother with Autism. She also makes friends with Jason, a boy unable to speak or walk. At times these relationships cause obstacles in Catherine's life but she is able to help out both Jason and her brother without expecting anything in return. The 30 Day Pay it Forward Challenge is based on idea that if our students are able to help out just two or three people in some way - big or small, the world would be a better place to live or at least someone's life would be a little better for a day. Then, hopefully, those people would be willing to help out someone else so that world would be a little kinder place. The concept is simple and the project is not graded nor does it need to be tied into a particular novel. Thanks Chelsea and Abby for all your hard work on this project!
First, ATP & I get our students motivated by showing them a clip from the movie Pay it Forward to explain the concept:
Then, we went over some ideas and examples from last year's students. We also had our students brainstorm ways they could Pay it Forward. They could choose to do one big thing or many little small things.
brainstorming sheet to help them narrow down their focus and start "creating" ideas for their projects. Students did a great job with this! Allowing them to work with a friend and offering to run a 5K with them as a team was also a huge motivator this year (Kudos to Mrs. Wirtz!).
Then the students have 30 days to put their plan into action! This is not required so some students do absolutely nothing. That's completely fine, it's not required. As a team this year, we're collecting supplies for the Dragon Fly Foundation's hospitality bags so all students will be participating in collecting and making bags for Children's Hospital. These bags help make the families stay at Cincinnati's Children Hospital a little more comfortable during long stays. At the end of the 30 day challenge, we stop and reflect on the great things we all did to help Pay it Forward. We may read the MI Pay it Forward Blog or share some projects the students put together. Last year, I had some iMovies, PowerPoint presentations, and photo journals of all the great deeds my students had been tackling around town
Pay it Forward Reflection sheet. I usually collect these reflections and write each student a personalized "Thank You" message supporting their efforts and hopefully encouraging them to keep up their community service and pride! I can't wait to share their projects with you in 30 days!
How do you spark motivation to get your students involved in the community or character building activities?