Idea Dump

I read the text Pay It Forward at the beginning of the school year because it was a Scholastic Book Freebie and I thought I might be able to use it in my classroom. My students are many wonderful things, but often I question whether giving is one of them. The mentality here for giving from oneself is to throw money at the problem and make it go away.

Pay It Forward is a fictional novel (sadly) about a teacher who challenges his students to an extra-credit assignment where they have to change the world. So a student decides he will help three people and those three should help three more etc.

I have a couple of implementation problems. First is that I don’t want to give a grade for doing nice things. Because really, they should want to do them. I also don’t want to force kids necessarily to be nice.

So here is what I am thinking. Students will have to complete a random act of kindness and send a picture of it to an email. The student will not tell the other person what they did but simply write a short description of the task in the email and send the picture each week. The goal will be to be stealthy and not let anyone know you did it. Then my plan is to grade the fact that they did it and then post the pictures to a blog to showcase all of the cool things they are doing. I’m thinking we do this until the last few weeks of school.

Then because this is an argumentative unit, they write a paper discussing whether people have a moral obligation to give unto others.

I am still trying to decide whether we should read the text. Simply because it’s a good book and that may aid in the process or if I should let that particular part of the assignment go, or if we do an excerpt etc.

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5 thoughts on “Idea Dump

  1. spiffygryphy says:

    I love this idea! The great thing about it, besides the fact that it’s centered around kindness, is the open-ended aspect. They can be creative – what, how, it’s all up to them. I offered a creative extra credit for my high school students and got everything from paintings to board games to screenplays. I think you’ll get some wonderful acts from this.

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  2. newtreemom says:

    Maybe if you do the activity, then let students know where the idea came from, some will choose to read the book. There is a foundation started by Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of the novel. Also it was made into a movie in 2000.

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  3. Kristi Lonheim (@lonheim) says:

    Yes, grading for being nice is a challenge on many levels. I wonder if they think of nice things and fictionally write about them and create a picture if that doesn’t get them thinking about nice things and eventually leads to actions. Hmmm

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