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Classroom Activities for Making Hope Happen
By Shane J. Lopez Introducing Hope
Assign students a twenty-minute free write, in which they define hope. Hold a class discussion so that students can share their definitions. Discuss with students the difference between wishing and hoping, the role fear plays in keeping us from fulfilling our hopes, setting goals, and the importance of recognizing our limitations so that we can set realistic goals. Have students discuss the following statements identified by Shane Lopez in Making Hope Happen
: 1) Hope matters; 2) Hope is a choice; 3) Hope can be learned; 4) Hope can be shared with others. Have students identify their source(s) of hope (self, parents, friends, religious beliefs, etc.). Reflecting on the Nature of Hope
Have students agree or disagree with the following statements/concepts taken from Chapter Two of Making Hope Happen
and then discuss their responses.
• Our thoughts about how the future affects us today.
• The present and the future are connected through our behavior.
• When hoping, I feel compelled to act.
• Hope is active, not passive.
• We have the power to make the future better than the present.
• There are multiple paths leading us to our goals.
• Hope walks hand-in-hand with fear.
• Fear can hijack us.
• We often fear loss even more than we desire gain.
• Hope is created by our daily choices. Taking the Hope Scale
Have students put their hope to the test by completing the hope scale identified by Lopez in Chapter Two at the following link, and then analyze their scores: www.makinghopehappennow.com. Making Out a Hope Plan
Conduct an interactive exercise that takes student about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Introduce this to a student once they share with you that they are excited about a particular goal, or committed to learning how to learn a new skill. Go to www.makinghopehappennow.com for more details. Studying a Novel
Select a classic or young adult novel that deals with the theme of hope for a class read. Have students read and discuss the challenges the protagonists face and how the protagonists overcome odds to achieve goals. Below are novels containing strong hope themes: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie Behind the Eyes
by Francisco Stork The Comeback Season
by Jennifer E. Smith Death Comes for the Archbishop
by Willa Cather Feathers
by Jacqueline Woodson Foxfire
by Joyce Carol Oates The Goose Girl
by Shannon Hale Hope Was Here
by Joan Bauer House of the Red Fish
by Graham Salisbury If I Stay
by Gayle Forman The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros Life of Pi
by Yann Martel Little Bee
by Chris Cleave 13 Little Blue Envelopes
by Maureen Johnson The Magician’s Elephant
by Kate DiCamillo The Maze Runner
by James Dashner My Sister’s Keeper
by Jodi Picoult One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
by Alexander Solzhenitsyn The Other Wind
by Ursula K. Le Guin Out of Bounds
by Beverly Naidoo The Road
by Cormac McCarthy The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
by Ann Brashares Speak
by Laurie Halse Anderson Stand Tall
by Joan Bauer Stargirl
by Jerry Spinelli To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee Tuck Everlasting
by Natalie Babbitt Unwind
by Neal Shusterman Waiting for Normal
by Leslie Connor Wintergirls
by Laurie Halse Anderson Holding a Distinguished Alumni Day
Identify several graduates from your school who have achieved professional success. Invite these individuals to your class to discuss how they identified and achieved their goals, what motivated them, what pitfalls they had to overcome, and how they managed to maintain hope when facing difficult times. Prepare students for their visits by giving them brief bios on each guest and assisting them in developing questions ahead of the guest speaker visits. Journaling
Have students maintain a daily journal in which they brainstorm their personal areas of interest and their “fantasies” about their futures. Use “future day” scripts from Hopeful How-To’s on www.makinghopehappennow.com if you need an engaging prompt. Ask students to reflect on their dreams and write steps they will need to take to achieve these goals, identify possible obstacles they may confront and identify possible steps they may take to overcome these obstacles, and write about fears they may have about their abilities to achieve these goals. Forecasting the Future
Have students write about goals they would like to achieve by year’s end. What steps will they need to take for success? Have students reflect on their goals. Do they believe they have set their goals high enough? Too low? Why? If either, what adjustments can they make? Extend this activity into the future: where they would like to be in five years, ten, etc. Interviewing Family/Friends
Have students identify an older adult whom they know well and view as successful. Ask them to interview that person about how that person achieved his/her goals, what obstacles he/she had to overcome and how he/she overcame them. In small groups, have students share and reflect on their interviews. What did they learn from the interviews? From small group conversations with their peers? Shadowing Someone at Work
Working collaboratively with parents, other community members, and/or businesses, arrange for students to shadow an individual for one day or several in the workforce. Afterward, have students discuss their experiences and discuss steps they need to take to achieve a career in the areas they shadowed. Dreaming About a Great Job
Have students close their eyes and envision themselves working in their dream job. What are they doing? Where are they? With whom are they working? How do they feel about their work? How are they viewed by others? Have students write about their dream or draw an image depicting their vision. Taking a College for a Test Drive
Working with a local college, organize a campus visit for students. During this visit, students explore the campus but also have opportunities to sit in on some classes that may pique their interest in attending college and setting goals for a future career. Studying a Role Model
Professional sports have many athletes who have achieved success despite incredible odds—athletes who grew up homeless, lost loved ones, or overcame physical and mental challenges to achieve success. Have students identify such a figure and research his/her pathway to success and share their findings with the class. What personality characteristics have contributed to this individual’s success? What obstacles did this individual have to overcome? What motivation, both internal and external, spurred him/her on during difficult times? How might this individual have set realistic goals and identified his/her talents and strengths? Understanding Historical Figures/Leaders
Have students research a historical figure who provided successful leadership during a difficult time. How did this person rise to a position of leadership? Identify personality characteristics that contributed to his/her success. What external forces influenced his/her success? What role did family and/or friends play? Analyzing Characters
As a class, have students view a film featuring a strong character who is determined to accomplish his/her dream and/or who must face incredible odds to achieve success. Have students document the high and low points in this person’s journey and discuss how he/she managed to forge ahead, despite disappointment. Discuss this person’s source of hope and how this person managed to stay motivated. Some films to consider are A Beautiful Mind
(2001), The Blind Side
(2009), Dead Poets Society
(1989), October Sky
(1999), and Rudy
(1993). Completing the Gallup Student Poll
If you want a sense of how hopeful your school is, register for the Gallup Student Poll. For no fee, you can measure the hope (and engagement and well-being) of every 5th through 12th grader in your school. Go to www.gallupstudentpoll.com for details. Guide written by Pam B. Cole, Professor of English Education & Literacy Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA.
This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.