Category Archives: Videos

An Experiment in Gratitude

This video is old (2013), but I think it’s a good time to revisit it. It is the first in a series of videos produced by Soul Pancake (the same people who brought us Kid President) on The Science of Happiness. In “An Experiment in Gratitude,” the host shares the results of a study devised to determine how much gratitude affects happiness. The adults who are featured each take a survey to get a base line score for their happiness levels, and are then asked to write a letter to thank someone who has made a positive difference in their life. To their surprise, they are asked to call the person they wrote to and read the letter out loud.

I won’t divulge the results of the experiment, but I think you can predict that expressing gratitude does boost levels of happiness. If you want to get more into the science, here is an article that explains how the two emotions are related. And, if you are not feeling particularly grateful lately (because, you know, pandemic), here is another article on how you can make a conscious effort to change that.

This video is only about 7 minutes long, so it’s a good one for older students. However, be aware that there is some “language” between 5:20-5:27 that may not be considered appropriate by some. If you are looking for some ideas on how to encourage your students to think about gratitude, be sure to check out my Thankful Wakelet, which has many links for all ages. And for more Inspirational Videos, try my Pinterest Board.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Give a Little Love

This year’s holiday ad from John Lewis is just as creative and inspiring as usual. It’s about celebrating kindness, and gosh, it’s like a salve for the soul to watch it and see something that isn’t inflammatory or scare-mongering. As they did last year, John Lewis and Waitrose partnered to produce the ad, “Give a Little Love,” and they are hoping to raise money for two charities in the United Kingdom: FareShare and Home-Start. You can visit this page to go behind the scenes of the video and purchase some “Give a Little Love” merch.

The plot of “Give a Little Love” reminds me of a video I’ve recommended many times on this blog, “Kindness Boomerang.” For other videos about kindness, here are 7 more. You can also see some of the past John Lewis videos I’ve used in class here and here. And, don’t forget that I have a huge collection of Inspirational Videos for Students on Pinterest here.

Forest Man

I don’t know about you, but I needed a bit of inspiration today. Regardless of the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, there is much evidence that our country has many people who condone and take part in activities that perpetuate hatred – and I woke up this morning feeling defeated by the sheer magnitude of those numbers. Like many, I have fleetingly considered moving somewhere else – though I’m quite sure the places I would go are not amenable to accepting a bunch of disgruntled Americans at the moment.

So, I searched through my Wakelet collection of inspiration in order to take my mind off current events. I ran across a short video I had saved from Twitter, shared by @MikeHudema, about a man who grew his own forest by planting one tree every day for over 37 years. While I was hunting for sources and a YouTube link, I found several more videos about this remarkable man, Jadav Payeng. This one is a good summary (only a minute long) of the story – how Payeng transformed a desolate, eroding piece of a river island into a lush forest that is now home to multiple elephants, tigers, and other animals.

But then I found a longer, award-winning video by William D McMaster, Forest Man, and I realized that I was meant to watch it. Today. At this moment. I was meant to be reminded by Jadav Payeng that we cannot despair, and we cannot abandon what seems to be an overwhelming task. We need to take a breath and do what we can, and even though it appears that we are doing very little, those tiny achievements will grow and multiply.

As Payeng’s forest has grown to be over twice the size of New York’s Central Park, he has had to defend it from those who want to cut it down for economic gain. “There are no monsters in nature except for humans,” he says. He knows what it’s like to protect something valuable from people who care only about their own benefits.

The narrator of Forest Man says, “Sometimes I wonder what 10, 100, or 1000 Payengs could do.”

Payeng inspires me to stand my ground and keep on doing what little I can, each day, to combat the monsters.

(My friend, the awesome Joelle Trayers, just told me that there is a children’s book, The Boy Who Grew A Forest, about this amazing story! Be sure to share it with your students along with the video!)

I will be adding Forest Man to my Inspirational Videos for Students Pinterest Board, as well as my Inspirational Videos for Teachers. For a similar theme of an ordinary man doing ordinary things making a difference, I also recommend the animated video, King of the Island.

YouCanBe ABC’s

Fridays have typically been my day for publishing my weekly anti-racist posts. I almost saved yesterday’s video about engineering for today because I know that we not only have small number of women in STEM fields, but also people of color. But then I saw “Sam’s ABC’s”, and knew it would be a perfect Friday post.

Sam White raps potential careers for each letter of the alphabet in this video. If he doesn’t inspire you to become a gastroenterologist to solve “problems in the gut,” you might want to become a university president and “the future of your nation.”

I have seen too many stories of black students talking about being discouraged from pursuing careers, and spoken to too many high school students who never imagined all of the possibilities out there. Sam already knows at least 26 things “you can be,” and I am certain he is going to be great at whatever he chooses.

For a list of my previous anti-racist posts, click here.

Engineering Myths

This video from Mimi-Isabella Nwosu (@EngineerMimi_), an Assistant Materials Engineer in UK, is a fun way to dispel many of the myths that surround pursuing careers in engineering. For example, “Engineers are boring white guys,” seems to be a common misperception – and Nwosu is anything but boring, white, or a guy. Another one? “You have to be a genius to become an engineer.” For my students, this seemed to translate as, “You have to automatically understand math and be able to do it quickly in your head.” Also not true.

Nwosu’s short video is the first in a coming series from “Born to Engineer.” Don’t assume you need to be teaching engineering to show it to your students. In fact, high school may be too late if we are trying to attract more females to STEM professions. The exuberance, humor, and down-to-earth attitude that Nwosu exhibits in this video may be just the inspiration a 10-year-old may need to begin to consider getting more involved in STEM inside and outside of school.

If this interests you, here are some more engineering posts I have done in the past.

If the embedded video below does not work, you can also view it here.

Do Kids Voices Matter?

Kid Correspondent is a new series of videos brought to you by Soul Pancake. Hosted by the delightful Riah and numerous other amazing children, the show has the energy and charm of the Kid President videos (also produced by Soul Pancake) and John Krasinski’s Some Good News. Episode 3 of Kid Correspondent asks, “Do Kids Voices Matter?” In a brief interview with Mandy Moore, viewers will learn why we have elections, while other segments of the show look at a child’s perspective for getting his or her voice heard. Although the episode is nine and a half minutes long, young children will likely stay engaged throughout as they watch peers present, act silly, and inspire. Like Kid President, Riah gives a short Pep Talk during the video, and ends it with a Dance Party.

Let young people know that we value what they have to say by showing them this episode of Kid Correspondent. Voting is important, but there are many other ways they can make their voices count before they reach the age of 18.

The amazing Kid Correspondent, Riah