College English students at JEHS learning wellness-oriented skills through gratitude journal projectSince the fall, the 45 students in Amanda Ward’s Onondaga Community College (OCC) English class at Jordan-Elbridge High School have kept “gratitude journals” as they learn various wellness-oriented skills in their coursework. In the journals, students hone their writing skills while focusing on the present and documenting something they are grateful for (such a good friends, a good school, etc.).
Gratitude represents one of the signature "character strengths" the students are learning as part of the Positivity Project. Students and staff at the school have focused on building positive relationships by studying the values of the nationally recognized Positivity Project, or “P2” since the beginning of the year.
Each Monday, students at the high school stay in their Eagle Mod class and participate in Positivity Project inspired lessons that include videos, essays and discussion questions. Each lesson has an activity that highlights the character trait of the week.
Ward decided to weave gratitude journaling and other wellness-oriented skills into the OCC English coursework, so they don’t just represent a stand-alone unit, but rather, components that appear regularly in class. In the fall, the students periodically read and responded to articles about gratitude.
“I love how the P2 was developed from work with positive psychology, and gratitude is a skill that I believe helps support the development of many of the other character strengths the program values, such as ‘perspective,’ ‘forgiveness,’ and ‘open-mindedness,’ to name a few,” she said.
So, what are some of the students grateful for?
“I’m grateful for this school and the opportunities,” said junior Gabrielle Skotniski.
“Students in some other schools don’t have the chance to take college courses from OCC, so we are very fortunate.”
In the new year, students have begun a gratitude journaling challenge, where they journal for 2-3 minutes a day for 21 consecutive days.