Pay It Forward

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Students will be able to produce a sentence to narrate an event.

Big Idea

Writing about a time they were kind helps students practice narration skills.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet, go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell them they are going to watch a short video about the Martin Luther King Jr. I use the video from the Scholastic Let’s Find Out website called A Hero to Remember. You will need to have a subscription to this site in order to watch the video and use the other resources available. I find the site very useful as it is interactive for the students and provides a way for students to listen to the magazine handout they receive – this is beneficial for my non-readers.

“Boys and girls today I am going to show you a very short video about a famous American figure. Can anyone tell me who they think this video will be about?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand.

“That’s right Hamish; this video will be about Martin Luther King Jr.”

“Can anyone tell me why we are going to watch a video about Martin Luther King Jr.?”

Again I select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand and waiting to be called on.

“Nice one Joshua; yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. day and we did have the day off from school.”

“I want you to use you good observing skills to collect new information about the man Martin Luther King Jr.”  

By telling the students to use their “good observing skills,” I am reminding them to listen for new information and to watch for interesting facts.


When the short video clip is over I have the student stand-up and stretch, touch their hand to their opposite foot and then switch sides to help wake up both sides of their brain. Then I ask them to sit back down on their spot.

“Now that you are sitting like responsible students I would like someone to tell me one new piece of information they learned from the video.”

I select three or four students who are following the correct classroom protocol to respond to the question. At this point I am only listening or repeating back to the students what I heard them say so I can reinforce the message of using “good observing skills.” I will have a more in-depth discussion about Martin Luther King Jr. with the students during the main activity.


I use this short video clip to arouse their curiosity and set them up with some prior knowledge before reading the book about the Martin King Jr. Having some prior knowledge will help the students begin to make sense of what is about to be read to them. Watching the video can also help them decode unknown vocabulary words we may come across during group reading.


45 minutes

“Today’s book is called My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart. This book is written by Angela Farris Watkins. PhD. It was illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Who do you think the author is if the title reads My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart (I place an emphasis on the word “uncle”)?”

I will select a student who is following the correct protocol to respond to the question.

“That is a good assumption Rachel. Rachel thinks the author is Dr. King’s niece. Does everyone agree with that assumption?”

Most of the time the majority of the class does agree.

“Let’s go ahead and read the book to see if our assumption is correct.”


During reading I will stop and discuss new vocabulary words such as segregation, disturbed, assassinated, etc.   

We might not discuss all of the new vocabulary words as this would take too long and interrupt the flow of the book. I would also run the risk losing the attention of some of my audience members’ focus which can lead to behavior issues. I will gauge the interest of my audience before discussing too many new vocabulary words.   


When I have finished reading the book I will ask the students, “Now who can tell me with certainty whether or not the author was Dr. King’s niece?”

I select a student to respond.

“Well done Bryan. Bryan told us the author is Dr. King’s niece because the book stated this fact on the very first page. Great observation. I am going to tell you another clue we had was the fact the book was written from a first person perspective. The author, Angela, told us the things she saw and felt. She used words like, my and I and this tells the reader it is her.”

“Who can tell me one fact about Dr. King?”

I select enough students to respond to this question to cover most of the facts we have heard both from the video and from the book.

Next I say, “Would it be fair to say that Dr. King was a fair and kind hearted man?”

I allow the students to call out the response, “Yes!”

“Great, I agree. I think based on the information we heard from both the video and the book would support our idea that Dr. King was a fair and kind man.”

“Can anyone tell me one way they are kind to others?”

I use the fair sticks to select three students to respond to the question.

Once I have heard from three students I say, “It is okay if you did not get a chance to tell me about how you are kind because at one of the integrated work stations today you are going to write about how you are kind to others.”

“You will get a paper like this one (I hold up a sample for the students to see).”

I was being kind when I...

“On it you will need to do what first?”

I allow the students to chant the response, “Write your name!”

“That’s right. Next you will complete the prompt, “I was being kind when I…””

“You will write about something kind that you did. Now if I am writing what are some things I need to keep in mind?”

I just point to students to respond and when I have had enough responses I will repeat back what they all said to me.

“You are all right; I need spaces between my words, I need punctuation, I need a picture clue and my sentence needs to make sense. How will I make sure my sentence makes sense to the reader?”

I select one of my more advanced writers to respond as I want the correct answer to be given as a model for everyone else.

“That’s right Ava; I read the sentence to myself and if it makes sense to me it will probably make sense to someone else.”

“What if I need help to write some of the words I need for my sentence? What resources are available to me?”

Once again I just point to students until all of the resources have been covered.

“Those are all good resources; I can tap out the word, I can use the sight word wall, I can use books in book area, I can use a friend or a grown-up. It sounds like you are ready to go and be awesome writers.”

“I will place the checklist at the work station so you can go over it to make sure you have remembered all the things good writers do.”  

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some kind writing fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15-20 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely. 

Students working on writing assignment.

Student using resources - spaceman and friends nametag.     Student illustrating to support his writing

While the students are working I have them read their sentences to me to make sure they are narrating an actual event. This helps the students to stay on task and helps them recall the words they want to use as they may lose track while sounding out and writing previous words.

Student sharing her writing 1 


Students need to practice writing narrative pieces to share experiences with others for two reasons. First they can share what they know from a personal experience, and secondly they can share what they learned from that experience and make a personal connection to the reading or classroom discussion. 



10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.


Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me one way they promise to be kind at school.

“Today’s exit ticket requires you to tell me one way you will continue to be kind and make the classroom a safe and pleasant environment for all who are here. We need to remember it is always nice to have pleasant environment in the classroom because people learn better when they are not worried about being bullied or hurt.”

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

Once a student has told me his/her kind action they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help remind them of the characters in the story, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on coming up with a kind action together.

This exit ticket task closes out the activity by connecting the activity to their future actions. Hopefully they will recall what they have heard, what they have written and now practice those ideas in their actions. 


I use the checklist to go over the student’s work and once it is complete I will place the student’s work in his/her collection portfolio.

Being Kind Writing Prompt checklist

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objectives of the lesson. I am looking to see if the student is able to accurately follow the directions for the assignment which means they will meet the overall objective for the lesson. Did the student write their name on their work? Did the student use proper grammar? Does the student’s sentence make sense? Did they draw an illustration which supports their sentence and could be used as a picture clue?

The checklist can be used to guide my instruction as I have evidence of the student’s capabilities and will use that information to scaffold instruction accordingly. The checklist is also a nice way to keep families informed on their student’s progress in the classroom. 


Read the magazine handout A Hero to Remember on the SMARTboard from the Scholastic Let’s Find Out website. We also play the game “Main Idea and Details” and I use the fair sticks to select students to come up and participate.


Students make a dove poster using a quarter of a paper plate and a dove body outline glued onto a sheet of construction paper. There is a title poem “Remember Dr. King’s dream today, Where we live, learn and play.” They draw a picture of themselves doing something nice for others.

Peaceful Poster Poem     Student working on Peaceful Poster.  


Students complete a Peace Dove book where they have to go through the pages and on each page they must decide from two actions which one is the better action to take.

Students working on Peace Dove book.     Student sharing her Peace Dove book     Student sharing her Peace Dove book 2.