Students watch and reflect on a video about “everyday leadership.”

Students will be able to:

  1. Define what a lollipop moment is and explain how these moments redefine our idea of leadership
  2. Identify a time when someone has connected with or supported them
  3. Acknowledge and express gratitude for their own “lollipop moments”

CASEL Competencies

  • Self-Awareness
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Skills


computer and projector, guided notes tool (differentiation), pen/paper for each student


Students should produce a letter that does all of the following:

  • Clearly identifies a person and a “lollipop moment”
  • Clearly explains the impact that this person/moment has had on his/her life
  • Clearly expresses gratitude for this act of kindness
  • Communicates professionally and effectively


Time Activity Notes
1 min

Spend 1 minute introducing Drew Dudley’s TED Talk and establishing expectations for how to engage with the video.

You may wish to introduce students to the idea of a TED talk if they are unfamiliar. From the TED mission: “TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world…Our agenda is to make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.”
7 min
Video: TED Talk by Drew Dudley

Show students the 6:14 minute video. Provide a guided note-taking tool (a template can be downloaded here) if necessary for differentiation, or instruct students to take notes on the video independently.

Differentiation: This TED talk comes with subtitles in many languages as well as an interactive transcript. Provide these resources to students as necessary for them to access the content and ideas in the talk.
5 min
Video Discussion

Sample discussion questions and responses:*

  1. What is a “lollipop moment”? Sample response: A moment where one person changes the life or perspective of another through a seemingly simple gesture. The giver of the “lollipop” may or may not be aware of its impact on the receiver, and the receiver may or may not have told the giver how it impacted them.
  2. What does Drew Dudley mean when he says, “As long as we make leadership something bigger than us, as long as we keep leadership something beyond us, as long as we make it about changing the world, we give ourselves an excuse not to expect it every day from ourselves and from each other”? Put this quote in your own words. Sample answer: Leaders can be everyday people, they don’t have to be famous or special. We think of leadership like this big idea and that allows us to say that we’re not that important so we’re not a leader.
  3. How does Drew Dudley believe that lollipop moments can change our understanding of leadership? Sample answer: Dudley says that when we start to look for and acknowledge lollipop moments, we add value to everyday leadership and we show others that they can be leaders. We also start to believe that we can be leaders ourselves with our own simple actions.
Before asking students to apply these ideas to their own lives, you may want to explain the idea of a “lollipop moment” for all students. Depending on how readily accessible you feel the video is for your students, you can either cold-call for responses to the questions listed or have students work in groups or pairs to establish their answers based on the video.
2 min
Introduce Letter

Introduce the idea of taking Drew Dudley’s challenge to identify and express gratitude for “lollipop moments” as the class activity. Tell students that they will write a “Lollipop Letter” to someone who has changed their life for the better (alive or dead) and acknowledge what the person did and say thank you.

If you want to assess the letters for class credit, plan to have students hand them in. However, this may prevent students from giving the letter to the recipient. Plan out how to address this by making copies, etc. Alternatively, you could have students draft emails rather than letters and send to you so that they also have a copy.
5 min
Brainstorming Letter

Give students time to brainstorm to whom they will write and what they will say. Suggested brainstorming questions (students need not answer all questions):

  • Who is someone that has helped shaped who you are in a positive way? What specific things has that person done to help you?
  • What big moments or milestones in your life can you remember? What people were important in making those moments happen?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of? Who helped you reach those accomplishments?
  • Who is someone you never thanked for something kind they did but always wanted to? What is it that this person did?
You may want to play quiet music while students brainstorm or write. You can also engage students in several brainstorming modalities to help give all students access to the activity. Alternating between writing, speaking, quiet reflection, or some combination of these may help students generate ideas.

NOTE: Students will not be able to complete the activity if they have difficulty identifying a “lollipop moment.” Monitor brainstorming and provide support as necessary to students who have difficulty identifying a “lollipop moment.” You may wish to provide a model of your own “lollipop moment” for students who struggle to identify their own.

20 min
Writing Letter

Once students have identified their “lollipop moment,” they can draft their letter.

Differentiation: You can provide letter writing templates with sentence starters to students who have difficulty with written expression.
8 min
Sharing Experiences

After letters have been written, give students time to share out their experiences in a small group of 3 to 4 students. You can model what this looks like by sharing your own example of a “lollipop moment” and what you would choose to say to that person to thank them.

Another option would be for students to share in large group. In this setting, ask for volunteers rather than cold calling, as forcing students to share personal stories can create stress and negative emotions.
2 min

Take 2-3 minutes to close out the activity, including: thanking students for sharing their personal experiences, encouraging students to look for “lollipop moments” and to be cultivators of “lollipop moments” for others, and expressing gratitude when others “give them a lollipop” in the future. Preview upcoming exercises with “lollipop moments” and encourage students to give their letter to the person to whom they wrote it if possible.

See note above on logistics with collecting letters.