Teaching Writing Skills Through Gratitude

Teaching Writing Skills Through Gratitude

During these challenging times, I try to make my classroom environment a safe, supportive, and positive place to learn. PANDA’s Mental Wellness Tip Sheet has given me some great tools to help with this. The Mental Wellness Tip Sheet is available in 10 languages and can be found on PANDA’S website.

Gratitude journals

One of the suggestions I use on a daily basis in my classroom is gratitude journals. Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity and that gratitude can decrease stress and anxiety. Gratitude journals are a great way to give students frequent writing practice with mental wellness benefits.

For daily journaling, I have students write down three things they are thankful for and why. This is a way to get students writing everyday to increase the quantity of writing they are doing. I usually do not collect these, but I often have the students share them with the class because I find it creates a positive feeling to start the school day.

Practicing writing skills

Periodically, I will use the opportunity to practice the writing skills that we are working on in our lessons, so I will give them a prompt. These I usually collect and give feedback on in order to help improve students’ writing quality. Using gratitude journals as a daily routine has increased and improved student writing, has reduced student stress, and has helped create a positive learning environment in my classroom.

Here are some examples of prompts I use for different skills.


  • Present tense: What are you thankful for today? What makes you happy? What is something that makes you smile?
  • Past tense: What is something that made you laugh yesterday? What is one of your memories that you are most grateful for?
  • Future tense: What is something you are looking forward to? What are three good things you hope for in the future?

Compound/complex sentences:

  • Write a compound sentence about two things you are thankful for.
  • Write a complex sentence about someone you are thankful for.
  • Sentence frames: I am thankful for ___________ because _______________.


  • Describe someone who fills you with gratitude. Why are you grateful for them?
  • Describe an act of kindness you did for someone else. How did it make you feel?
  • Describe an act of kindness someone did for you. How did it make you feel?
  • What is one of the best gifts you have received? What is one of the best gifts you have given?

Quotes: I often share quotes of gratitude with students and ask them to write a response.

  • “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” – Shauna Niequist
    • Write about a challenge or difficulty you have experienced that you are thankful for. Give reasons to support why you are thankful.
  • “Gratitude is like a magnet; the more grateful you are, the more you will receive to be grateful for.” – Iyanla Vanzant
    • Do you believe this is true? Explain your answer.



Erin Parker, ABE Instructor and PANDA Consultant Robbinsdale Adult Academic Program & PANDA