Strategies for Empowering Students


  • To help students with self-discovery
  • To promote students' appreciation of their individuality
  • To help students understand their feelings
  • To help students make inferences

  • Promotion of language and thought development
  • Introduction and development of vocabulary words
  • Introduction and development of higher-order thinking skills
Integration of Content/Subject Areas

  • Language Arts
  • Character Building

Write the sentences listed below, and any others you wish to include, on individual sentence strips or large cards. Place in a box. Have students form a circle. Select a leader to stand in the middle of the circle. The leader will pull a sentence strip or card, read it aloud, and then point to someone in the circle to react.

The student who has been selected must begin his or her reaction by saying, "I feel . . " The student can either answer in words or express feelings with facial expressions or body language. If facial expressions or body language are used, the other students are to try and guess or read these expressions and determine how the student feels. Discussion about why some students feel the way they do about certain things and how to help bad feelings turn into good feelings should follow.

To ensure that everyone gets a turn at being a leader and the opportunity to participate in expressing themselves, student leaders should be rotated after two sentences, and selections of students should be done in a clockwise fashion.

Sample Sentences

How do you feel when you:

    . . . are praised for something good you did?
    . . . are not included in a game?
    . . . get all of your math problems correct?
    . . . have something taken away from you?
    . . . share with a friend?
    . . . win a game?
    . . . want something that belongs to someone else?
    . . . are told that you did a very good job?
    . . . are home alone?
    . . . are accused of something you did not do?
    . . . get a hug or a kiss?
    . . . and your best friend have an argument?
    . . . are told that you are smart, beautiful, helpful, loving?

The circle leader pulls the following sentence from the box: "How do you feel when your big brother plays with you?"

Selected student: "I feel great, happy, wonderful, etc." (or the student can give a broad, happy smile).

Teacher: (If the student gives an oral response, the teacher may ask), "Why do you feel this way?"

(If the student smiles, the teacher may ask), "Class, can you tell me how Maria feels by reading her expression?" "Maria, why do you feel happy when your big brother takes time to play with you?"


  • How were students able to demonstrate their ability to express their feelings using oral language?

  • How did students exhibit their understanding of body language or facial expressions?

  • How were students able to demonstrate their ability to use inferences?

  • How did students express empathy for and understanding of others' feelings?


Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.