Even now, every time Beth Hartokolis’ fourth-grade Bernice Vossbeck Elementary class walks past their gratitude quilt in the hallway they look on it with smiles (even under those masks).
“When students see their work displayed in the hall, they usually have some pride,” says Hartokolis, “but when the class saw the quilt all put together, you could see on their faces that this was pretty special.”
During the current restrictions and pandemic changes, Hartokolis says she still wanted to help her students see that good things were happening not only in the world around them, but also in their own world. “We have had great discussions about the things we are grateful for, and that there are often ‘silver linings’ when bad things happen,” she says. “It was really inspiring to hear them think and talk about some of the good things that have come from COVID.”
By pairing a writing effort with a Character Strong curriculum lesson on gratitude, Hartokolis made the gratitude quilt project a writing, art and gratitude assignment in one. In the lesson, students learned how to make a sentence better by adding in adjectives and explanations of when, where, how and who. These specific descriptors help the reader gain a broader “mind picture,” Hartokolis says.
Next came actually creating quilt squares to patch together for the BVE hallways. Students reviewed color symmetry to better understand the art portion of their square while using what they learned about writing to describe gratitude.
“The best thing to come out of this activity was the discussion that we were able to have and continue to have regarding gratitude,” Hartokolis says. “The students shared honestly and made connections with each other over shared celebrations and even some disappointments. They continue to look for positives and support each other in a myriad of ways. It is such a blessing to see their interactions with each other.”