In small groups of 3-4, ask students to talk about what it means to be optimistic versus pessimistic, and to write brief, one sentence descriptions of both optimism and pessimism. Students should not need longer than 5 minutes to complete this exercise. Then, ask a couple of groups to share what they came up with. After hearing at least two definitions for each of optimism and pessimism, reinforce that optimism is a state of hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something, whereas pessimism is a tendency to anticipate the worst outcome or to focus on the negative side of things. Let students know that optimism and pessimism are sometimes simply referred to positivity and negativity, respectively.
Using a show of hands, ask students to vote “yes” or “no” for the following question:
Can positivity or receiving positive support influence your abilities? For example, would you have a higher chance of shooting a free-throw in basketball if you believed in yourself than if you didn’t believe in yourself?
Count students’ responses and allow a number of students to explain their answer. Then, watch the 3-minute National Geographic Brain Games video to discover the power of positivity.
After the video, ask if any students want to change their answer to the initial question. Hopefully every student will agree that positivity has power. Let students know that, in today’s lesson, they will learn all about optimism so that they can harness the power of positivity.