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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

This Thanksgiving, I considered expressing my thankfulness for great teachers -- but I've got a Teacher Appreciation playlist already that says it all. Instead, I'd like to express some love for a few of the things that I am thankful for, and share some stories of generosity and kindness.

According to Randy Taran's blog post "The Power of Appreciation," research has shown that for students, expressing gratitude increases life satisfaction, positive attitudes, and hope. In the classroom, at home, or just in your day-to-day life, it seems clear that gratitude is one of the keys to happiness. With that in mind, here's a list of things I am grateful for, illustrated in video.

Video Playlist: Ten Things I Am Thankful For

Keep watching the player below to see the rest of the playlist, or view it on YouTube.

  1. Caine's Arcade (10:59)

    Unexpected Acts of Wonderfulness: Filmmaker Nirvan Mullick happened upon a little boy who ran an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad's auto parts store and proceeded to give him the best day of his life. The story went viral and has inspired a foundation and scholarship fund for kids who need a helping hand. Learn more in this Edutopia blog post.

  2. 16: Moments (04:17)

    Beautiful Moments: This lovely short film from RadioLab celebrates the collection of tiny experiences that make up life. A wonderful reminder to slow down and be grateful for every second we have. A heads' up -- there are a few very brief shots that may not be suitable for children.

  3. What Do You Love: Official Trailer (00:57)

    GOOD's What Do You Love? Videos: There are so many things I appreciate about GOOD -- from the daily inspiring stories in my inbox to the style and voice -- but this series that interviews people about what they love just makes me smile all over. Watch more on GOOD's YouTube Channel.

  4. The Generous Store (01:44)

    Random Generosity: I am so thankful for companies that market their wares with creativity and love. I was delighted by the Dutch chocolatier Anthon Berg -- they opened a pop-up chocolate shop for one day only, where you couldn't pay with money -- only promises of good deeds.

  5. Gotye - Somebodies: A YouTube Orchestra (05:53)

    Crowdsourced Creativity: One musician's viral video (345 million views!) inspired thousands of parodies and covers, so he went back and built a new video of the song from pieces of all those spinoffs. Gotye illustrated the post-modern remix culture so beautifully in this amazing project.

  6. What is Chai? (04:51)

    Chai Tea Lattes: Some people love their coffee, but for me, it's chai. The perfect balance of sweet with spicy, there's nothing like a chai latte to make me feel cozy and pampered -- and no wonder, I just learned from this video by Zhena's Gypsy Tea that it used to be reserved for royalty in India.

  7. Amélie Trailer, 2001 (01:05)

    Jean-Pierre Jeunet's film Amélie: French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's films have an uncanny ability to make me appreciate life. I adore his saturated technicolor palette and penchant for magical realism. After the whimsical Amélie, check out MicMacs and City of Lost Children.

  8. This American Life: "The Invisible Made Visible" Trailer (01:57)

    This American Life: This phenomenal NPR radio show makes my long commute into a pleasure, every time. I was particularly moved by this powerful show, one of This American Life's rare live productions, which I had the opportunity to see in a movie theater.

  9. From Love to Bingo in 873 Images (01:07)

    My Family: I'm lucky enough to have a large, complicated, close family -- and we all get along. We don't have any public videos on YouTube, but I thought this clip was a fitting and sweet tribute. Fair warning: reproduction is implied, but nothing explicit is shown.

  10. Thank a Teacher (02:07)

    Great Educators (that's YOU): This clip is shamelessly lifted from that Teacher Appreciation playlist, but I can't end this without a shout-out to all of you. I am grateful to you every single day. Keep up the fantastic work and don't forget to feed the generous spirit that makes you an incredible educator!

More Resources About Gratitude

Hopefully this list got you thinking about what makes you happy, what you're grateful for in your life, and how to express your appreciation for the people and things that you love. If you'd like to explore more about how gratitude affects us, and find some resources for teaching it, check out the links below. Some ideas you can try: recognizing someone you appreciate, keeping a gratitude journal, or simply saying thank you for small acts of kindness. And as always, please feel free to share what makes you happy, or what you are thankful for, in the comments below.

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