Brainstorming Groups – Creativity Techniques

▪ Back in Class:
– Ask students if they were surprised with their Character Survey results. Lead a class discussion for a few minutes.

– Put students in groups based on character strength similarities. Groups of 3-4 should discuss their results with each other and possible real-life evidence (reasons) why that character strength is accurate.

– Teacher-led discussion:
▪ Review the idea of making strong claims, backing those claims up with reasons, and then elaborating on those reasons with specific evidence.

▪ Tell students that some of the real-life incidences they discussed in their groups should be used as “evidence” when they write a narrative essay about their possible life plan.

▪ Hand out and introduce the narrative essay.

Introducing the Narrative Essay

▪ The essay handout titled Narrative Aspirations Essay and thorough rubric can be found at my store for just $1.50! I hope you enjoy this assignment!
~ Elizabeth B. Jamison

Directions for VIA Character Strength Survey

▪ Navigate to the URL

▪ In the yellow “Register” box, fill out your first name and last initial, a password of your choice, and your email.

▪ Click on the VIA Survey (Youth –Ages 10-17) button.

▪ Uncheck the “I would like to receive the VIA newsletter…”

▪ Check the “Terms & Conditions.”

▪ Take the survey. Be sure to answer honestly. (Do not answer as you WISH you were, but as you REALLY are. You’ll get more accurate results that way.)

▪ At the end of the survey, record your top three strengths. Bring the list back to class.

Whole Class Reflection

▪ After completing the Four Corner exercise, have students return to their desks.

▪ Students should complete a quick write (one paragraph in length, casual and free-flowing) that encapsulates what they saw, heard, and learned from the activity.

▪ Ticket Out the Door/Questions the Teacher Might Ask Students:
– Have you ever thought about these issues before?
– Did any part of this conversation make you uncomfortable?
– What did you learn about yourself?
– What is one surprising thing that you learned today?
– * I like to use post-it notes for a quick ticket so that students can stick the notes
to the wall on their way out the door; however, teachers may also make actual
tickets for students to fill out.

Prep: Students will need access to the Internet for approximately 25 minutes, so the teacher may want to reserve a lab or a set of computers for the lesson.

▪ Before going to the computer lab, view the following short video titled, “The Science of Character,” by Tiffany Shlain & The Moxie Institute Films (located on YouTube; length: 8:04).

▪ Once in the lab, have students go to the following URL ( and fill out the Character Strength
Survey (see directions for students on next slide). I would suggest that the teacher take the survey first.

* As with all surveys, this is not 100% accurate; however, it will spark interesting conversation and serve as evidence for the final essay.

Four Corners of Awareness

Four Corners Activity (30 Minutes):
Teacher Preparation: Make sure there is plenty of space in your room so that students can gather in one of four “corners” (if a corner isn’t free, use an empty space near a wall. The middle of the classroom will work as well).
– Label each corner with the following: AGREE, SOMEWHAT AGREE, DISAGREE, SOMEWHAT DISAGREE.
– The teacher should have a timer ready to monitor discussion length.
– The teacher should display the next four slides on an overhead or PowerPoint presentation. Each slide has a central question/statement.

▪ Four Corners Activity Continued… (30 Minutes):
Directions for Students: Tell students that they are to carefully read the statement or question on the slide, and after thoughtful consideration, should move to the “corner” that best represents their opinion. After everyone has relocated, each corner group will have a few minutes to discuss their answers.

Then, they must designate one speaker from each group to represent the group’s “position” as a whole.

– Each speaker will have a chance to present the group’s position, and then the other group speakers will have a chance to react to what was said and to give their own group’s opinion.

– * I suggest using debate terms including claims, reasons, evidence, justification, refute, qualify, pro, con, and counterclaims. Using these terms adds a sense of formality to the discussion.

I am not afraid of failure, because I know that it means I am learning and growing.

Guiding Students Towards their Best Life

Goals of this Unit

▪ Help Students Discover their Character Strengths Survey
▪ Guide Students through a Self-Reflection and Brainstorm Session
▪ Synthesize the Character Strength Survey, Video, and Reflection in a Narrative Essay that makes a strong claim about a possible life path
▪ Final Essay must Achieve the Following:
– Correct MLA Formatting
– Thorough Claims, Reasons, and Evidence
– A Clear Synthesis of all Materials Covered in the Unit, with References and Citations

Assignment Purpose

▪ To use self-motivation and self-awareness as a driving force behind authentic writing.
▪ When students feel that they are not “good” at a subject, they often give up. This assignment will help students understand that if they shift their belief system about school and achievement, they can unlock endless potential within themselves.
▪ Because this essay centers on the students and their ultimate happiness, the end product is heartfelt and purposeful; therefore, it serves as an effective and meaningful springboard into authentic writing.

Déjà Vu Essay. Self-Evaluation and Revision

No, you don’t get to write an essay about experiencing the strange phenomenon of déjà vu. You do, however, get to revisit an essay you wrote during the first week of class—a different sort of essay revision.

Follow instructions carefully!

1. WITHOUT WRITING ON IT, read your “Diagnostic Essay” very carefully.

2. Write a paragraph in response to your original essay. (Was it well-written? What could be better? Has your opinion on the issue changed?)

3. Reread your essay, and with a different pen or pencil, mark any changes you think should be made.

Then, briefly discuss each of the following with regard to your personal essay:

o Organization

o Introduction and thesis statement

o Conclusion

o Compelling support (body)

o Use of examples in body

o Transitions

o Wordiness

o Punctuation, Spelling, Mechanics

o Sentence Variety

o Interesting title

4. Rewrite your essay by addressing any problems mentioned above and by making at least one significant change, such as the following:

Add 3-4 examples to the body
Add another point of support (another body paragraph)
Significantly rewrite the introduction or conclusion
Specifically refute the opposition’s view for each point

Expository Writing Quality of Evidence Handout

How do you determine whether or not the evidence you’re using in your essay is credible?

The following guidelines can help you decide.

1. Personal experience. Your own experience carries weight. However, for most academic papers, you’ll need other evidence as well.

2. If the evidence is from a written source or the internet, you need to ask certain questions, such as the following:

a. Who is the author?

b. Does the author have expertise on the subject?

c. What is the author’s education, experience, job, reputation, achievements?

d. Is the author free of bias?

e. How recently was the source written?

f. What is the author’s purpose for writing the book, article, etc.?

g. Is this a source my audience will value? If you’re writing about autism, for example, and your audience is medical doctors, anecdotal stories from parents of an autistic child may not carry much weight. However, research from a respected university research center that is doing scientific studies on what causes autism probably will.

3. What type of evidence is it?

a. Fact
b. Opinion
c. Claim that needs verification
d. Statistic
e. Physical evidence (an artifact)
f. Observation
g. Belief or feelings