Saturday, September 21, 2013

Motivating Students to Pay it Forward

 
Just wanted to share my excited for the weekend and our Pay it Forward project! Last night, our team received our first email message via Facebook that some of students had already started working on their Pay it Forward Projects because they were so motivated and inspired after yesterday's visit from the Dragon Fly Foundation! So this was the perfect opportunity to link up with Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for Spark Student Motivation Saturdays because our team is really motivated to get out there and help the community!


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.
Students filled out a 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
Students also have time to personally reflect on how it made them feel to participate or in some rare cases not participate in the Pay it Forward Challenge. Each student has time in class to fill out a 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?
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13 comments

  1. I haven't heard of Rules, but going to have to check it out! Sounds like a great book to read aloud to my 4th graders when we finish Wonder. Love the Paying it Forward project...such a wonderful life lesson!

    Jess
    I {Heart} Recess

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  2. I love the Paying it Forward idea! Children can really grasp that concept and get excited about it. What a great habit to start forming now!

    Mary
    Fit to be Fourth
    Follow me on Bloglovin

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  3. I agree with Jess. I'm thinking I will need to read Rules to my students after we finish Wonder. I love everything about this post! Amazing!
    Alison
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

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    Replies
    1. I actually did use Wonder in my classroom as one of my book club books last year. My students LOVED the book and it fit so perfectly with Rules - however, this year it's the sixth grade read aloud so it's hands off :( Major bummer!

      But I definitely recommend it! If you decide to use it and need anything just let me know!

      Amanda

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  4. I agree with Jess. I'm thinking I will need to read Rules to my students after we finish Wonder. I love everything about this post! Amazing!
    Alison
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

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    Replies
    1. It's great! I'll post a follow-up with some great You Tube videos about Autism that we show our students. I think Wonder and Rules and those books make them so much more understanding and compassionate people - besides great readers :)

      Amanda

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  5. I love the book Rules - I made both of my daughters read it (well strongly encouraged!). Loving your Pay it Forward challenge - I think it is a great life lesson for your students and hopefully they continue paying it forward even after the challenge is over.

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  6. I wish that more projects like these happened in school. One of our districts goals is to build the social/emotional/empathy for students and people throughout the community. This is just great!

    Also, as a side note, I was an intern in college for the production studio of Pay It Forward. Sadly the movie didn't do well and that studio lost a lot of money.

    matt
    Digital: Divide & Conquer

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  7. Love, love, love! What a wonderful opportunity and life lesson you're giving your students! Such a wonderful project that will hold such great memories for your class. I've never read Rules as a class, but I use it every year for literature circles...you've got me thinking now! Thanks for sharing and linking up!
    Joanne
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

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  8. Ooh--I love your idea of motivating students by offering to run a 5K as a class and making bags for Children's Hospital is such an amazing idea! I love that the kids have such an amazing project to be part of to help pay it forward. Great work, Ladies!! :)

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