Students reframe a negative experience by focusing on the positive aspects of it.

Objectives

  1. Cognitive: Students will be able to discover the positive aspects of an experience they consider negative.
  2. Affective: Students will experience a sense of happiness and relief.

Materials

Journal, Pens/Pencils

Teacher Prep

None

Exercises

Time Activity Notes
3 min To start in a positive mindset, ask students to list five things that make them feel like their lives are enjoyable, enriching, and worthwhile in this moment. Explain that these things can be broad, like “I am healthy” or “I have a few good friends” or specific, such as “I’m in the middle of watching a good series ” or “I went to my favorite restaurant last night.”
2 min Ask students to flip over their paper or close their computers and reflect on a recent time when something did not go their way, a time when they felt frustrated, disappointed, or annoyed.

Ask them to describe the situation in a few sentences.

10 min Ask students to reflect on and write about three things that can help them to see the bright side or “silver linings” of the situation.

For instance, if they missed the bus this morning, three ways the situation could be reframed as positive are:

  • Even though I missed the bus, I got to have a good conversation with my aunt when she drove me to school.
  • I’m fortunate to have a family member just a few minutes away who can drive me to school.
  • Five years from now, I probably won’t remember or care about missing the bus this morning.

Optional: Have students create a “Silver Linings” journal where they go through this activity daily for a week or a month.

Encourage students to close their eyes to focus on the possible silver linings of the experience.

Some questions that may help students focus on the positive aspects of their experiences are:

What can I learn from this experience?
When will this experience not matter anymore?
How could things have been worse?

10 min Go around the room and ask students to share their experiences and their silver linings OR how the activity made them feel. This can be done as a pair share, in small groups, or through whole-class discussion. Ask: What did you notice about how you felt before and after the activity? When might it be helpful to reflect on the silver linings in our negative experiences?

Optional: Give personal examples as the teacher, ask students to give examples or bring in a board game that has existing questions that you draw from and have the students draw a question that serves as an example. Once the students get in a rhythm and habit of this exercise, then you can have an anonymous question box that you have students add questions to each day (which they create) and you can start pulling questions from this box to use as well.

Teacher Reflection

How did you feel after the activity? Did students participate and seem engaged? Remember to ask the students to share their feedback on the activity: What went well? What suggestions do they have for making the activity better? Think about what you might do differently next time.

Emotional Intelligence Tips

  • Acknowledge that it will be hard for some students to think of positive aspects of seemingly negative events. Providing prompts such as the questions above may help
  • Suggest that if students repeatedly find themselves focusing on negative feelings, they can learn to refocus their mind on the positive events in their lives. This may be challenging at first but gets easier with practice.

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