Ongoing engagement

Gratitude Journal

Support students’ wellbeing by suggesting a daily or periodic practice of gratitude, promote radical self-compassion.

Click on the CC icon in the bottom right corner of the video to turn on closed captions.  

Gratitude Journal
Educator prep: None
Student prep: None
No tech needed, Paper / pens
Duration: 5-30 mins

Activity purpose

Support students’ wellbeing by suggesting a daily or periodic practice of gratitude, promote radical self-compassion.

Useful for

Promoting wellbeing at the beginning of semester, mid-semester, end of semester - beginning of class, end of class, asynchronous assignment, shared or private.


Minimal - prepare prompts and tips (see resources).


In the video, three faculty developers explain their own personal regular gratitude journaling practices. Ideas include making time in the morning to prepare for a day where you notice things for which you are grateful, and making time at the end of the day to reflect on things you are grateful for.

Teachers and students should feel free to adapt to what fits their purposes and suits their context.

Classroom applications include:

  1. Suggesting it for students to do on their own for their own wellbeing. Possibly ask them after trying it to write a reflection on the process or share with the class.
  2. Occasionally or periodically asking students to share some of their gratitude (without forcing all to share).
  3. Give students options to reflect on things they’re grateful for, things that bring them joy, their accomplishments, etc. Point out there are things that are within us (gratefulness for our own competence) and things that are external to us (gratitude for people in our lives) and things that we start to notice (taking joy in little things). 


Individually, it can take 5 minutes of someone’s day. It could take 5 minutes at the beginning or end of class, or if people want to talk, it may take longer. It can be a written assignment or just a suggested, ungraded practice, but you can grade students’ reflections on how it has made them feel (e.g. ask students to do it daily for a week or two, then reflect on the process). The Growing forward journal from Stacy Thomas is about 15 minutes of journaling.

Technical requirements

Pen/cil and paper (though one could write digitally too).

Useful resources

More 'Ongoing engagement' activities:
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Use this activity to help students to reflect on what's working for them and how to identify actions that can be taken to make improvements.
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Equity Unbound Activity
Pass the Paper
Create an opportunity for your students to connect through writing.
Sarah Silverman

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