Gratitude. A word often tossed around in conversation, but an act one has to practice. You have probably heard frequent positive thoughts create more frequent positive thinking. Slicing in March, and on Tuesdays, here at Two Writing Teachers, could be an example. Though not every post a person writes sheds light on gratitude, it is about noticing. Writing about what we see, experience, and notice allows us to fully process our ideas. Joyous moments of gratitude do not become fleeting thoughts. Finding time to practice the writing of gratitude is a simple practice once it is begun.
If you searched for “does gratitude journaling work,” you would be directed toward research, articles, and referenced studies that support the idea of processing one’s gratitude. How this act of writing can, in fact, change thought patterns.
Working with seventh-graders this year, I wanted to etch out some time to focus on journaling with a gratitude focus. Gratitude journaling, even just a sentence, engages writers in the act of gratitude.
As we embark on standardized testing, schedule changes, and interruptions to your day, gratitude journaling can become part of your routine or the perfect ready-to-go workshop when time is limited.
Here are my tips for setting the stage for gratitude journaling success.
Begin by setting up the expectations with a chart or projectable slide for students to reference. This also helps once the routine is established and signals what is going on for your writers.
I also set aside time, once a week, to share. We call it “circle,” and students get an opportunity to share something from their gratitude journal, fun things going on, or ideas they have for their journal. It also provides an opportunity for students to gather future entry ideas. Below is our talking pass. It has some sensory elements included–velcro to rub and beads to move or twist. After adding these minor elements, students hold the talking pass longer and share a bit more.
Calm music in the background sets the mood and helps everyone settle in quickly. Some of my favorites are on Youtube. Just search for “ambient tunes” or “lofi hip hop.” Both bring up a nice selection of music for independent writing time and help drown out other noises.
By setting the space and mood of the classroom, students can spend a little bit of time focused on gratitude. I hope these dedicated spaces within the year help develop habits students can practice in the years that follow.