Reflection + Action Writing Activity
>Download and print this STUDENT WORKSHEET.
>If you can, get small hand mirrors, enough for the class. You can get them cheaply online. Here's one site where they are $6.00 for 12.
A good introduction to this is to frame it in terms of work by individuals such as Langston Hughes and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each used their strengths to create a change that they felt mattered. Hughes used his talent and passion for writing to focus attention on the reality of African-American life in a time of deep segregation. King used his talent for speaking and organizing to change circumstances Hughes highlighted. Use This Handout for a quick timeline view and small collection of Hughes poems.
To look at examples of Hughes poetry that focuses on African-American life in a way that would reach across dividing lines, look at "Marry-Go-Round" as well as "Minstrel Man" and even "Baby." These are all found in The Dream Keeper and other poems as well as online.
Explain that each of us has character strengths, what we might call "super-natural" powers--things we like to do and are good at. Our natural stengths as a person. In this lesson, we'll work on identifying our strengths, something we don't ofen do in school (so it will feel awquard). Then we'll look at how we may use them to make changes we care about.
>Hand out worksheets.
> Ask students to think of an older person who loves them or who cares for them and knows them well -- but not a parent. Have them write that name in the blank next to the heart.
>Tell them something like this: "Think of what that person would say if I asked them to tell me what's truly wonderful about you, when makes you the amazing person you are. Don't write until I say go, but when I do, write AS that person. Write in the blank space below the heart. Think of the way they would say it. You'll write for one minute. OK. Go."
>Time 60 seconds (or other appropriate amount.)
>Next ask students to think of a peer who is not in their family who cares about them and repeat the process with the name in the blank and the timed writing. They should try to think of that way that person would speak differently than the first, and write as they would.
>Next have the students write "me" in the blank next to the box.
>Next, if you have the mirrors, hand them out face down. Tell the students that this is the hardest part. When you say go, they will look into their own eyes with the mirror and think about their own strengths and positive qualities. It will be a long 20 seconds. Then time them doing it.
If you don't have the mirrors, have them think about themselves with their eyes closed for 20 seconds.
>Time 60 seconds when they write about themselves (first person.) They write in the blank space below the box.
>Finally, have the students read over the three entries and try to think of three positive qualities or "super-natural" powers they posess. Write one on each of the blanks next to a), b), and c) at the bottom of the page. '
This may be enough for one lesson. You can continue on another day.
>Reverse the page. Have students copy the "super-natural" powers from a), b), and c) on the bottom of the first side to the the circles with matching lables on the other side.
>Next, ask the student to think of and state how old they will be in 20 years from now. Stress that they will be adults and talk about what that means.
>Ask students to think of one significan change they would like to see in the world by that time--something that's true for adults today that they would like to see changed by the time they are adults. It should be something that focuses on comunity, however large or small. They write this thing in the middle circle.
>Next, have them brainstorm things they could do using their powers (in a), b), and c) ) to help make that change. They should draw the web OUT to connect actions to qualities to change.
This works best if you can model it yourself before you have them do it, especially the bubble part of the sheet.
Reflection Exercise Poem Follow-Up
Write a poem based on your bubble chart following the following form. The center bubble is the problem or "too-rough fingers" described in 1st stanza. The 3rd stanza is related to your "super natural power" and how it connects to that change.
I live a world ...
[Describe the "too-rough fingers" you see today in poetic language. Add 3-4 lines after the first line.]
I dream a world ...
[Describe the world you can imagine when you are 33 where that problem is no longer a part of your world. Use poetic language. Add 3-4 lines after the first line.]
I maake a world ...
[Describe what you can imagine about you involved in making that change. This is where your bubble chart comes in. Use poetic language. You don't need to be literal. Add 3-4 lines after the first line.]
Optional: Add a two-line stanza at the end that sort of sums up the whole poem.