Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
Fourth-graders at the John F. Kennedy School participated in National Pay It Forward Day by doing “random” acts of kindness at school and at home for a week. By the end of the week, they had performed over 1,400 such acts.
Fourth-grade teachers overseeing the project were: Jennifer Cottone, Lori Dillon, Michael Norberto, Laura Paul and Janet Rumble, and teaching assistant Lisa Keen.
Laura Paul describes the project and how it expanded to include nursing home residents and children injured after the Boston Marathon bombings: “Fourth-graders discussed and brainstormed ways to pay it forward, and teachers added their ideas. Students then picked three individual goals to try to achieve each day. Checklists of the goals were hung up in the classrooms. If a checklist said, “I helped my parents,” then whenever a student did that particular act of kindness, he or she would add a check to that list.”
There was also, Paul explains, a “Secret Complimenter” list, where students drew names from a hat and wrote a complimentary note to that peer without signing their name. There were also Class Compliment Sheets that circulated through the class with each classmate writing a compliment about each peer, so that every student ended up with a whole page of positive things written about him or her. The fourth-graders also wrote letters of appreciation to their second- and third-grade teachers, and several students asked to write to additional teachers in the building. When a student’s father died, impromptu Act of Kindness cards were made for him.
Students decided to send letters to nursing home residents and learned about expressions from the 1940s and 50s to include in the letters as a little “blast from the past.” Finally, the students reached out to Boston n the aftermath of the marathon bombing. “Students made ‘hugs’ for Boston—big, colorful pictures of themselves with their arms outstretched as if they’re about to give a hug,” Paul says. “These drawings were sent to the Boston Children’s Hospital, where the young victims had been brought.”