Positive emotions

Learning outcomes:

  • To develop an appreciation of the factors that cause a change in mood;
  • To become familiar with some tools to assess mood (MoodMap and Positivity Ratio Test);
  • To become aware of how we can establish certain (‘positive’) emotions in order to accomplish what we want to accomplish.

This lesson builds on the curiosity and flow lessons and focuses on how ‘positive’ emotions can help us to stay engaged.

Tuning in.

  • Ask students to report what their mood is when they come in to the classroom, using the emotions zones diagram on slide 1 of the positive emotion powerpoint.
  • Run an activity to generate positive emotion. Play a funny or uplifting video from youtube; play a fairly high energy game; ask a student to perform something for the rest of the class.
  • Ask students to register whether or not their mood has changed. Do they think that a positive mood change might help them to accomplish any more than if they were in a negative mood? Why?
  • Show students the Cherokee story (on the positive emotions powerpoint). What do they think it means?
  • Ask students to take the positivity ratio test here. What is their ratio for today? Do they need to feed the good wolf? Has the bad wolf had a good breakfast?
  • 2 questions: why should we feed the good wolf and how should we feed it? There are 10 actions to bring positive emotions (feed the good wolf) on the lesson powerpoint.
  • Extension: give students the Barbara Fredrickson article on the benefits of positive emotion in our lives, which addresses the first question.

Trying out positive emotion.

  • Ask students to try 1 or more of the 10 actions to bring positive emotions: e.g. set up experiences of mindfulness (guided audio file here), getting into nature or writing a gratitude letter.
  • Do we need the bad wolf? Why? What role do negative emotions play in our lives? Fredrickson argues that the ratio of positive to negative emotions should be between 3:1 and 11:1, but that we need the negative emotion to keep us grounded, steady and balanced. Negative emotions are also entirely appropriate responses to certain situations (e.g. sadness at the experience of loss, anger when we have been wronged etc).

Prep: ask pupils to try to use one or more of the 10 actions to bring positive emotion when feeling stuck/de-motivated. They should write about their experiences and any benefits that they find with learning, relationships, overcoming problems etc.