Making Thinking Visible

Spring fever has officially set it. We are a day away from Spring Break, and two weeks away from end-of-year state testing. Everyone is exhausted, including me. But while I’ve been teaching the past few weeks, we have noticed an uptick in snarky, hurtful comments, and some competition among students. There is also an abundance of shouting out, interrupting, and inability to listen for directions. Its time for an intervention.

My amazing GT teacher came to me yesterday saying that my class is usually the highlight of the day, but yesterday they were disruptive, rude towards each other, and left her classroom a mess. She came to class today for Genius Hour with a lesson on kindness. First we watched this video about kindness being contagious. Each student had to talk to a partner about what they thought the main idea of the video clip was.

Then we asked them to get into groups of four. We asked them to pick people who we don’t normally work with. We wrote “Kindness” in the middle of each group’s poster and had the kids each write a single word to the focus word (kindness). There could be no repeating of words.


Next, each person  added an additional word or phrase to the group members’ words to add additional meaning. Lines were drawn between two words or phrases to make connections. And finally, the students were given a sheet of paper to create their own definitions of kindness.

While the students were in another class, Lisa-the GT Teacher, made a poster that says, “Acts of Kindness Inspire Kindness” and she placed small post-it notes around the room. She encouraged the kids to write down acts of kindness they see in their classmates and add them to the poster. She and I each added a few before the students returned. We told them they must be ninjas and complete these without me knowing, so as not to disrupt class. We already have some posts and are looking forward to seeing it multiply.

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