I would like an activity I could use so my learners could learn to practice social-emotional learning.

ANSWER: We would suggest then an activity which deals with the themes of kindness or friendship  Either theme will help our learners think about themselves and their commitment to the people around them. Also, either would be appropriate as a Valentine’s Day activity.

TITLE: “What is Kindness?"

LEVEL:  Early Adolescents+

LANGUAGE & SKILLS FOCUS: Collective poetry writing;  sentence completion;  proofreading and editing; confidence building; recitation; fostering imagination; social-emotional learning; interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, self-esteem.

TIME:   10 - 15 minutes

MATERIALS:  writing paper and pen

BEFORE CLASS: No preparation  required

IN CLASS:
1.Ask learners to inhale and exhale two to three times so they can feel more relaxed. Tell learners to think of "kindness" and of what it means to each one of  them. 
2.    Write the following half sentence on the Board: "Kindness is. . ."
3.    Now, ask learners to complete the half sentence by using a noun or, if higher Levels, an adjective and a noun. Give two examples, e.g. "Kindness is a blessing." Or, "Kindness is a warm hand."  Elicit one-two examples. Each learner is to write ONE sentence only. Set a 4-minute time limit.
Once time is up, ask 5-6 learners at random to read out loud their complete sentences. As they do, write the collective poem on the board, without repeating each time the phrase, "Kindness is", after the initial sentence. (See example below.)

"Kindness"

Kindness is a blessing,

a smile,

a warm hand,

a cup of chocolate,

a sweet word.

Kindness is a friend. . .

5.  Once the collective poem has been completed and you have explained    why the half phrase, "Kindness is", does not need to  be repeated, ask learners to form groups of five and ask them to use their complete sentences to write a new poem following the example on the board.[1]

6.   Report Back: Make sure learners recite their poems.

RATIONALE: Poetry writing activities are used to develop the skill of writing and to make teaching and learning a pleasant experience. We do not create poets. We teach through self-expression. The aim of these techniques is to give a sense of achievement and to enhance self-esteem.

EXTENSION USED AS A MINI-PROJECT:

Ask learners to think of acts of kindness that have affected their lives and to talk about one or two in class or within a smaller group. Explain that an act of kindness could be just a smile, especially if a person seems to be sad or lonely. Then, ask them to think of at least one act of kindness they could do for the next three days, e.g., help their mother with housework, take their younger sibling for a walk or play with him/her to give more time to their parents, help an elderly neighbor with shopping or cleaning their yard, etc.

The poems the learners write above can become beautiful cards (using colorful construction paper folded in two),  which they can send to their parents, friends, or pen pals within Greece or abroad.

S. Antonaros - L. Couri©


[1] To the teacher: the nouns and phrases which follow "Kindness is" serve as a kind of appositive to the noun, kindness. Poetic license allows us to omit the repetition of the phrase "Kindness is", using a comma before each one of the nouns that follow.