I got a little bit ahead of myself when I posted my zest article . . . I went ahead and assumed that my optimism lesson wasn’t that good because I never had any student work to prove that it went well . . . and then I discovered a sneaky little pile of paper that proved me wrong!
There tucked safely away, was a month’s worth of optimism lessons. Just sitting there optimistically awaiting their finding. So after reviewing what I actually taught and looking at the work samples, I was surprised to see just how awesome the lesson actually was! Cue “Everything is Awesome” song in your head . . . . and scene . . .
ANYWAYS! Losing some papers has to be part of the job I suppose . . . I plan for 12 lessons a week, teach 8 a week, and then inevitably lose my sanity by Friday forgetting everything except to place my car keys into the ignition at 4 pm. Here is the infamously lost, and found again, optimism lesson!
Today is Wonderful Because
Character Trait: Optimism
Character Skills: Communication Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Motivation to Achieve, Self-Confidence Development
Begin the lesson reviewing open minds and closed minds . . . please, please, pretty please, note that this character trait should come after grit . . . so open and closed minds should be ingrained in their brains . . . Also please know, that in the past 2 seconds I have become a poet . . . now note the “ingrained in their brains” comment if you missed my extremely impressive and spontaneous rhyming skills. . . Okay back on track . . .
After reviewing open and closed minds, discuss which mind is more like optimism?
If optimism is more like an open mind then what could be more like a closed mind? The word for that is pessimism.
Pessimistic people believe that bad things that happen to them are permanent and unchangeable.
What would a pessimistic person say if they made a mistake? What about an optimistic person? I also went ahead an related this to grit, as well.
Next, I gave examples of both pessimistic and optimistic children.
If a pessimistic child doesn’t win a contest, he says that it’s because he’s not smart. He decides he probably shouldn’t enter any more contests. School just isn’t his thing.
BUT An optimistic child might say, “I didn’t win the contest because I didn’t try as hard as I should have. Next time I will do better.”
To practice being optimistic we want to think of things in a good light. What do we do well? How can we do better? If something goes wrong, we don’t blame others, instead we say, “Oops I made a mistake and I better fix it.”
I always try to force my boys to think about and share things an optimistic person would say. It’s my personal opinion that in order to believe something we must first hear it out loud. Then, we can internalize it.
Identifying between optimism and pessimism.
Following an understanding about what optimism sounds like, I gave them examples of each and they had to decide which was an example of optimism and which was pessimism.
- I just can’t read as well as John.
- Why does this always happen to me?
- He pushed me first, so I pushed him back.
- I am a great artist. I hope I win the art contest.
- I’m always getting in trouble.
Last, we read Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.
I had the boys hold out an opened hand (for open mind) when Lilly is being Optimistic, and to hold up a closed fist (for closed mind) when Lilly is being Pessimistic.
We finished the lesson by completing a simple activity page, Today is Wonderful Because . . .
The activity forced the boys to think of one positive thing that happened to them that day and write it down.
This whole lesson goes along with what I gave up for Lent, which I would love to share, but I will keep it to myself and with God until our Lenten weeks are over.
Next question . . . is the “Everything is Awesome” song still stuck in your head? I’ve been singing it all day . . . again . . . And if it wasn’t stuck in your head, it is now. My apologies.