Connect and Engage: Happiness

These two top-notch resources offer opportunities for you and your students to truly understand the benefits of giving, and the strengths and virtues that make people and communities thrive.
snapshot of December 2008 Newsletter

Great Resources for Teaching

from the December 2008 YES! Education Connection Newsletter

Read the newsletter: Sustainable Happiness

These two top-notch resources offer opportunities for you and your students to truly understand the benefits of giving, and the strengths and virtues that make people and communities thrive.

:: Pay It Forward Foundation
:: Positive Psychology Curriculum


Pay It Forward Foundation logo

Pay It Forward Foundation

SEE WEBSITE :: Pay It Forward Foundation

The Pay It Forward Foundation (PIFF) was established in September 2000 by author Catherine Ryan Hyde and others to educate and inspire students to realize that they can change the world, and give them opportunities to do so.

Pay It Forward begins with doing a favor for another person, without any expectation of being paid back, and follows by requesting that the recipient of that favor do the same for someone else—ideally for three other people.

The unconditional favors can be large or small. It doesn't have to be a big thing. It can just seem that way, depending on for whom it is done, and what is chosen to be done.

Ask your students to think of an idea that can change your school, your community, or the world, and put it into action. Suggestions for designing your students’ own Pay It Forward Project, along with examples of projects that have received mini-grant support are available on the foundation’s web site. PIFF’s mini-grant program provides supportive education materials and funding for up to $500 to those who qualify.

As your students create their own ideas for how to pay it forward within their school or community, this presents an opportunity to incorporate relevant social issues and current affairs into classroom discussions.

Learn more about designing a project. :: Apply for a mini-grant. :: See recent grant recipients and examples.


TOPSS logo
Cover of Positive Psychology Curriculum

Strengthening Our Students’ Humanity

DOWNLOAD LESSON PLAN :: Positive Psychology

According to Martin Seligman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania considered the father of positive psychology, unlike traditional psychology that focuses on deficits, disease, and dysfunction, positive psychology highlights human strengths and potential, and celebrates what is best in life. By building strengths, instead of dwelling on weaknesses, teachers can immediately affect students’ lives. Enrollment in this discipline has sky-rocketed at the university level over the past few years—it is the most popular class at Harvard University—and its influence has trickled down to the secondary level.

Positive Psychology: A 7-Day Unit for High School Psychology is a comprehensive curriculum that introduces the concepts of positive psychology. Critical thinking exercises, transparencies, and activities are thoughtful and spot on so that teachers and students will want to do them. These include daily mood forms, measuring optimism, and imagining the future with a hope scale.

Amy Fineburg, who established the psychology program at Spain Park High School in Alabama, is also the past chair and member-at-large of Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS), the high school teacher affiliate program of the American Psychological Association (APA). She is a veteran presenter and the author of several publications, including Thinking About Psychology, a high school psychology textbook written entirely by high school psychology teachers. Through networking and attending conferences, she acknowledges she becomes a better teacher. And, Amy admits to “stealing” activities from others, giving her students an experience they wouldn’t have had if she had stayed home.

Find more resources from TOPSS here.

Ms. Fineburg graciously granted permission to post her curriculum on our site.


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