Expressing Gratitude - Intermediate High

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes: Students will recognize positive feelings through talking about the video and experience positive feelings through participating in the gratitude experiment. Language Learning outcomes: Students will connect content to background knowledge and make predictions.

Lesson Information

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. recognize positive feelings through talking about the video.
  2. experience positive feelings through participating in the gratitude experiment.

Language Learning outcomes

Students will...

  1. connect content to background knowledge.
  2. make predictions.

Materials Needed

Note: Please make sure you leave at least 15-20 minutes for the last activity. If you need to skip one activity, please skip Activity 2.


A few weeks ago we discussed the topic of gratitude and today we are continuing that discussion. We are going to watch some videos and do some activities that will increase our knowledge and experience regarding gratitude.

Activate Background Knowledge

Last time, we watched a video and discussed some benefits of gratitude. Do you remember any of those benefits? Display the following image and briefly discuss it.

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Activity 1: Listening/Speaking

Now that we know that gratitude has many benefits in everyone's life, let's talk about how we show gratitude to others.

We are going to watch a video about gratitude.

But first, let's look at the title, "5 Ways to Show Gratitude." Let's make some predictions about what we think we'll hear about in the video. Making predictions is a strategy that helps with listening comprehension.

  • How do you think the speech in the video is organized?
  • What are some ideas that you think you might hear?

For lower level students, you could have students watch the video as they listen.

For higher level students, you might choose to turn off the video since the words are embedded in the video.

As you listen, what are the 5 ways to show gratitude mentioned in the video? What do they each mean? Take notes. Show video from 1:02-4:09.

5 Ways to Show Gratitude

Discussion: With a partner, discuss all five ways to show gratitude. 

  • What do they each mean?
  • Which one takes more effort for you to do? 
  • Have you had success with any of them so far? 

Share with a partner.

Activity 2: Reading/Speaking

(If you are running short on time, please skip to the next activity)

We are now going to read two stories of people expressing gratitude to others that have been influential in their lives.

Have students work with a partner. Depending on the size of your class, you should have 3-5 groups read one story (Story 1) and 3-5 groups read the other story (Story 2), meaning that half of the class should read Story 1 and the other half should read Story 2. Each partnership reads the story out loud and discusses the following questions:

  • What happened in the story?
  • How did you feel when you read the story?

Next, pair one partner that read Story 1 with one partner that read Story 2. The students take turns describing their story to each other (make sure they use the past tense)

Story 1 

"Hola Nancy,

Do you remember me? I could never forget you. True, at first I might have been scared of you, guardian at your desk, and too close to the basket of baby books that my son always walked towards when we entered this unbelievable place. The children’s book section of the Western Addition public library.

I remember years later, I came to visit you. You told me that my expression had changed. 'How so?' I asked. 'In those days, in those first days, when you and Kelly came to look at books,' you said, 'You always looked sad.'

Nancy, I was very sad. I was heartbroken. Feeling the weight of having to raise my son in a country where I didn’t know the language. And I could not make myself understood. A place where I felt very alone.

At first, I might have been afraid of you. What if I made a mistake? Or broke the library rules? Would you tell us to leave the library because we didn’t belong? Instead one day, you talked to me, in English I didn’t quite understand, and before we knew, you were giving Kelly a library card.

Today, Kelly is a 24-year-old lover of books. And he often helps me review and correct my still imperfect English when I write the children’s books I create. Books like the ones you put in my hands. Nancy, ever since the library became my home, and books became my path for growth, you have been an amazing guardian. Thank you."

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Story 2 

"I have always been blessed with health, comfort, happiness and joy in my life, however, one of the main things that I’m extremely thankful for is my ability to be able to take care of my parents, especially my mother, during my adult years. We are so blessed that we live with her. From my childhood days, to moving to a new country, starting a new life, getting married, having my first child right up until now with our third one being 8, she has been so instrumental in my life and a guiding light. For me, having my children around her and having them learn some of life’s most important principles from her is priceless. Both my wife and I have witnessed what an important role her presence has played in our children’s life and her impact on their character development, behavior and attitude. We are beyond thankful that we have her every hour in our lives and though her everyday tasks may seem ordinary, for us, she is our one of a kind everyday angel who does nothing but have love and care for everyone around her."

–Mustafa Masumi

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Discuss as a class: How did you feel when you read/heard the stories? What impressed you about each story?

Activity 3: Listening/Speaking

On March 8 people in many parts of the world celebrate International Women/Mother's Day. Is this something you celebrate in your country on March 8th? On this day, many people thank their mothers/wives/daughters/sisters, etc. by writing notes to them, calling them on the phone, buying them flowers and small gifts.

We will now watch another video that is similar to the stories we have read. Some people have done a Gratitude Experiment in which they asked participants to do something that many of them have never done before.

As you watch it, think about what impressed you the most in the video. Please watch only to minute 5:00 (Later on in the video there is some bad language)

An Experiment in Gratitude

Now it's your turn...

Think of an influential person in your life. Write down a few sentences about that person. Why are they influential? How have they helped you?

Now call them and express your gratitude for them. If calling is impossible, have students write an email/text message and send it to the person right away.

Class Discussion: How do you feel? What was easy about this activity? What was difficult? Why?



Discuss with a partner. You might need to explain some vocabulary words depending on the proficiency level of your students. Research has shown that there are many benefits to expressing gratitude. Some say that "grateful individuals tend to be agreeable, emotionally stable, self-confident but less narcissistic, and non-materialistic." (Watkins et al., 2009) Do you agree with this statement? Why? Have you seen this in your life?


Discuss the following quote with a partner:

"The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated." --William James


Discuss with a partner

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." — Marcus Tullius Cicero

Additional Videos:

It's a Wonderful Life:

"Synopsis: George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all - and it's Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence - who then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn't been for all his good deeds over the years."

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It’s a Wonderful Life

  • How is this an example of gratitude?

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