Students reflect on the diversity of positive traits in the classroom and the feelings associated with giving and receiving compliments.

Students will be able to:

  1. Articulate the positive traits of others in the class
  2. Create visual displays of their own positive traits
  3. Articulate how others view them and reflect on those views

CASEL Competencies

  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Skills


  • Technology – Google Docs or email and Microsoft Word, website that builds word clouds
  • Technology Free – pens, lined paper, art paper, and markers/crayons


Time Activity Notes
2 mins Introduction/Icebreaker: Take a few minutes to introduce the activity and its purpose. Share a whole-class compliment (Ex: “One thing I love about this class is that you are very creative! Every time I give you an assignment, every student in here brings his or her unique perspective and ideas to it and I learn something new! I appreciate that about our class.”) and ask students their thoughts on what you said. Alternatively, share a quote (Ex: “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” – Mark Twain) and ask students to reflect on its meaning.
15 mins Instructions: Read the appropriate instructions for your classroom materials below.



Create a Google document for each student in class with that person’s name in the title. Type in 2 positive words or phrases that you think describe this person. You will have 15* minutes to do this for every single person in this room. [Suggestion: Think carefully about whether you want these to be anonymous or whether you want to require students to write their name next to the traits they include. Both options have pros and cons. You may want to remind students that you can check to see who wrote what on Google docs.]


Technology Free

Take out a piece of looseleaf and write your name clearly on the top of the paper.

We’re going to pass the paper clockwise around the room. When you get your neighbor’s paper, take a few seconds to think of 2 positive words or phrases that describe this person. Write them on their paper. You must write at least 2 positive things for every piece of paper you get! We will continue passing clockwise until every student has written on every paper. This will take about 15* minutes.

While students are writing, ask them to refrain from talking so that they will have quiet or silent space to think. You may want to play quiet and calming music while they work.

*The 15-minute time estimate is based on a classroom of 25 students. It should take students less than a minute per classmate to write down their ideas. Consider students’ ability with typing and Google docs and the logistics of passing papers when estimating time for your own class.

Differentiation: Provide English-language learners or students with difficulty writing or articulating ideas with a list of personality traits and encourage them to choose one of these traits for each peer. Some good examples of lists can be found online.

10 mins You can monitor students during the activity to ensure that students are writing for every one of their classmates and that the words they choose are positive and encouraging. Keep a watchful eye for student word choice. Sometimes although students intend to frame something positively, it may sound negative to readers. For example, a student may write something like, “doesn’t talk much” which could be said more positively as “reflective” “thoughtful” or “good listener”. Point out these moments to students with careful questions like, “What do you mean when you say ____?” or “What might someone who doesn’t know you or the other student think when reading those words?”
8 mins Give students several minutes to read over the words their classmates have written about them. Allow them to process these descriptions in one of the following ways:

  • Write a star next to the description that is most surprising to them
  • Circle the description that is closest to how they would describe themselves
  • Reflect on and write down: (1) how these descriptions make them feel and (2) how others seem to see them in general
This will be an initial time for students to process and react to their own list of traits. You can come back to this at the end of class for the formative assessment (described below) and have students revise, or you can have them start over on a new reflection.
15 mins Create Visual Display


Use a word cloud website to build a word cloud with everyone’s contributions.


Technology Free

Give students 15 minutes to create a visual display of the words/phrases that their classmates used to describe them. Provide large art paper and colorful writing utensils (markers/crayons/colored pencils). Encourage students to be creative, add color and personality to their visual images. [Suggestion: provide your own example of a display of words so that students know how to create theirs. You can have friends or family members help you create your set of words. Then use a Wordle print out or draw your own.]


Depending on printing requirements and students’ facility with computers, creating a wordle and printing it out can take as little as 2-3 minutes. Encourage students to customize these designs and share their final products with the class (you can create a “gallery wall” and post them) if this takes less time.


8 mins Reflection/Formative Assessment: Give students 8 minutes to write responses to the questions listed below in the Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment. The time it takes students to complete this section may vary. If the class completes these in fewer than 10 minutes, have students share out with a partner or with the class some or all of their answers.
2 mins Closing: Articulate the connection between this lesson and feeling connected/supported in class. Ask students to remember the way they felt when receiving their list of positive traits and encourage students to tap into that list when they need some positive affirmation.

Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment

  1. What was it like to give compliments to your classmates?
  2. How did you feel when you saw your list of positive traits?
  3. What surprised you about this activity?
  4. In what ways can our class use these lists of compliments to help everyone feel supported in the future? Be creative with your ideas!