Middle school lessons remind seventh and eighth-graders that gratitude matters

In a cross-curricular activity between Jennifer Bittner’s seventh and eighth- grade social studies classes and Jamie Gallo’s eighth- grade English classes, November has been a month to celebrate gratitude.

Keep an attitude on gratitude signIn Mrs. Bittner’s social studies classes, students have been talking about the social and emotional benefits of the power of gratitude. Students have been keeping track of all the things they are grateful for in a gratitude journal and are careful to come up with different items each day.

Students used their journals and what they learned in social studies to writea personalized, well-developed essays on gratitude in Mrs. Gallo’s English class.

They will bring their journals and essays home to share with their families over the Thanksgiving holiday.

At the end of the experience, students were asked to explain what they learned about the power of gratitude. Here’s a sampling of their work:

Eighth-grader Michael Zechewytz

Michael writing in his journal“The power of gratitude has changed me for the better in many ways. I have learned to accept myself because of gratitude. Gratitude has given me confidence to try new things and be stronger over negative people. Gratitude makes me remember that I have a loving family and amazing teachers and friends. I count my lucky stars for the people in my life. I have a dad that puts a roof over my head and takes me to football games and a loving sister who plays video games with me. My teachers provide me with the education that I need. I am grateful for my loveable dog who I can always count on. Finally, I am thankful for all of those who have sacrificed their lives for all of us. I can’t say thank you enough for them and it is all because of gratitude.”

Eighth-grader Calel McEwen

Calei writing in his journal“I learned a whole bunch of things about the power of gratitude. I learned to be kind, respectful, appreciative, powerful, and resilient. I learned that it is a big world with some good people and some bad people, and that not everything in this world will be for the good. However, I realized that everything happens for a reason and that if you do good things for people, good things will come back to you. I know that some people do not have a lot of clothes and a lot of money, but I am grateful that there are organizations that help people in their difficult situations. So now for my last gratitude note, I am grateful for life, family, and friends. Family and friends are the ones that are there for you when you’re mad and upset. I am grateful for all there is to experience in life.”

Seventh-grader Justin Mauras

justin writing in his journal“I learned that I am grateful for everything I do and that it helps me. Gratitude can help you see that you are grateful for a lot of stuff and know that you have some good in you. It helps you to not focus on the bad and what you do not like because you are focusing on how many things you are grateful for. It helped me see how I can be happy and proud of myself. I also realized that you can pass your gratitude on to others. You can inspire them and give them happiness that they will also spread to others. The world can become a happy place and we can appreciate others.”

Seventh-grader Jennifer Lopez Godinez

jennifer writing in her journal The gratitude project helped me learn that if you do something in life you are thankful for and that you are happy about, it will help you. When you are sad, you can always, and I mean ALWAYS, go back and see what made you happy. Also, you have to focus on the positive things and not the negative things in life. You only live once, so make it right, happy, and show your gratitude. At the start of this project, things weren’t going so well with me. When Mrs. Bittner said, ‘We should start gratitude journals and share what we are grateful for’, it made me realize that all this time I was sad, but I have really good, happy, nice family and friends. The lesson I learned from this is that we should be thankful no matter what and put a smile on our face. When we are sad we can journal about our gratitude to feel better.”