Thursday, February 6, 2014

Oops. I Assumed.

You know what that means, guys.  Lol.  It's not good.

Last year, I downloaded this FANTASTIC "100 Acts of Kindness" freebie created by Jennifer Dougherty:

I can't say enough about how much I love it - how it ties the 100th day and Valentine's Day together.  It is so simple, too - a page of 5 hearts that each student fills out with acts of kindness that they have completed.  If you have 20 or more students, you end up with 100 Acts of Kindness!  And it's FREE!  And it makes an amazing bulletin board!!!
See?  So cute!  My class' acts of kindness last year.

So... you're thinking... this sounds ideal... what's your problem, Lindsey?  


I gave this project as a homework assignment the week before Valentine's Day.  I asked the kids to record their acts of kindness and decorate their hearts "to make them as beautiful as your kind acts".  I didn't ask them to do any other homework that week. (Bonus... no papers to mark all week!  And think of the trees you are saving!)

Sounds great, huh?  And it IS!!!  Except.  That I assumed.  BOTH TIMES I HAVE DONE IT.

Last year, I assumed that when I sent it home with directions, the kids would do 5 acts of kindness and write about them. That week.  Except that instead, when they came in, a bunch of them said things they had done "one time"... like... hmm, let me think of some nice things I have done, ever.  "I fed my baby sister with a bottle."  I thought your sister was four? "She is." Confused look. "But I did that when she was born!"

Hmm, that wasn't really the idea; the idea was to spread some kindness during the week of the homework assignment.    So I learned from last year, and this year, I added the specific direction that acts need to be done during this week and recorded.  Much better!

Except.  I assumed again.

I sent this project home on Tuesday after a snow day on Monday and then we had another snow day Wednesday, so in my happy, cheery heart, I was thinking, "Oh!  How great!  The kids have an extra full day to do kind acts and then make their hearts! And they even have a few more days to make them extra lovely!"

And then today, my first ones came in.

And some said:

"I did my homework."
"I wrote books on my book log."
"I listened."

And others said:
"I was nice."
"I was helpful."
"I behaved."

So this time I assumed the kids would know what I meant by kind acts (since we have been working on kindness all year).  

But they didn't.  

Which actually led to a very good class meeting today about the difference between an act of kindness and a  responsibility of a first grader.  We ended up defining acts of kindness together, as: Something you don't have to do.  You do it just to be nice.  We also talked about writing specific acts, such as how you were nice or what you did that was helpful.  And I emailed parents to explain the assignment better and I sent home new hearts to all of the kids so anyone who needed or wanted to rethink their acts of kindness could do so.  And I extended the assignment until Monday.

I have to admit that, at first, I was disappointed that the kids didn't know that homework is not really an act of kindness (or who knows, maybe they just really do it to make me happy lol).  But in the end, we all learned from this teachable moment, myself included. Don't assume.

Maybe I'll do this project right next year... :)

Some other "sweet" things I'm using this February:

SMARTboard glittery hearts attendance!
February Owl Calendar Cards & Headers
Lunchtime Love Notes (for my own kids!) - Sweet Tweets


  1. That is so funny! I am actually using the same resource with my 4th graders right now! We are doing ours during schook though, but I do keep getting things like "I picked up a pencil." I was thinking "but you were the one that knocked it down! On purpose! An act of kindness isn't just trying to undo a misbehavior."

    I like the definition your class came up with. I may have to borrow that :)

    If my class reaches their goal by Friday, my plan is to bring in some fun "rewards." Like hot chocolate for everyone and 100 marshmallows to share, 100 m&ms to play this math game I want to play, maybe 100 stickers or something. I want the reward to be how it feels to be kind, but this is just an extra surprise. Plus we don't really get to celebrate the 100th day the same way the younger kids do, so this is a fun excuse.


Speak to me! :)