This is a lesson I did on my contract last week and then did again today while subbing. It is a pretty simple lesson but led to some great discussions and I love hearing what kids have to say on important topics.

First I posted these five quotes on the board and we read through them together:

1. “What we know matters but who we are matters more.” – Brene Brown

2. “Compassion is not a virtue – it is a commitment. It’s not something we have or don’t have – it’s something we choose to practice.” – Brene Brown

3. “We judge when we don’t understand.” – Unknown

4. “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know when it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

5. “Wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. Right is right even if no one is doing it.” – Unknown

After we read these they each chose a quote and wrote it at the top of their paper. Then they had about 20 minutes to free write about the meaning of the quote and what it made them think about. If they ran out of things to say about the first one they could choose a second one to keep going.

Once the 20 minutes was up I had the students read back through their writing and choose one sentence or phrase that they wanted to share with the class. By choosing one phrase they could choose something that was meaningful but not too personal if they weren’t comfortable sharing. Then we just did a whip around and everyone read their sentences out… It was very powerful!

Out of the two classes I’ve done it with I had three silly responses and the rest (~50 students) said something meaningful, pretty great results for middle school in May/June!

I would absolutely love to hear what your students say if you do this activity. Please share in the comments if you end up doing this activity!