Random Acts of Kindness: Real World ELA

Random acts of kindness make for a wonderful way to teach students about community, giving, and respect. I'm sharing the processes I used to assign random acts of kindness projects two different years, so click through to read about them and grab links to more ideas!

If you're interested in outreach, real-world extensions of ELA, or character development, then you might be interested in random acts of kindness! {Scroll down for pics.}

I first did this project last year, during my unit on A Christmas Carol, when I wanted to talk to students about the importance of NOT being like Scrooge! Students couldn't decide how they felt about it at first, but in their reflections afterward, they were almost unanimously glad that they did it! 

Though I'm using this to celebrate the holidays, I firmly believe you could use this anytime in the school year, especially with other novels, in bullying units, as homework over a break from school, or as a fun deviation from normal lessons.

Here's how the project went (last year)
  1. Background research activity: Students learned what RAKs were and what other people around the world have done for them. 
  2. In-class reflection & brainstorming: Students thought about what kinds of nice things they could do for others and themselves, and then made teacher-approved plans for their RAKs. 
  3. Complete & reflect: students answered prompted questions in paragraph form and turn in reflections to tell me how their RAKs went. 
  4. Narratives: Students wrote real or fictional stories about kindness!

What I'm doing now (this year)

This year, we have a slightly different calendar, and I don't have enough time to do all of the same steps as last year... so I simplified the project a little bit to make sure we could still do the experience.

This year's edition is a simple front/back handout with short answer reflection questions (that we will hang in the hallway later). Part of the deal is that they have to list an adult who witnessed them do the RAK, and they have to attach a photograph and/or artifact to prove that they did it.

Last year, one of the rules was that students could not spend any money; they were limited to gifts of time or talents, and I suggested a 30-60 minute minimum. (Students could use any supplies or materials that they already had in their homes, such as if they wanted to make cards or letters.)

Though I think that went well - a lot of students opted to spend quality time with extended family or younger siblings - I think I might give them a $5 or $10 budget this year. I don't want them to "buy a grade" or compete, BUT I think some crafts and projects could merit a small budget.

This year's handouts:
Please don't judge my bad drawing skills! :-) This is a picture of me anonymously leaving cookies on my neighbor's porch. (There are more reflection questions on the back side, too.)

Random acts of kindness make for a wonderful way to teach students about community, giving, and respect. I'm sharing the processes I used to assign random acts of kindness projects two different years, so click through to read about them and grab links to more ideas!

I also decided that we needed to further define what RAKs were and what would count, so we broke down the term more...

Random acts of kindness make for a wonderful way to teach students about community, giving, and respect. I'm sharing the processes I used to assign random acts of kindness projects two different years, so click through to read about them and grab links to more ideas!

... and we spent more time discussing ideas, with lists like...
If you want to do this project with your class (or adapt it to your needs), grab the editable files from my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Random Acts of Kindness Action Project: Common Core ELA Unit

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