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A Random Act of Kindness: Upworthy Video


Activity Website:
Tech Product/Equipment:
Computer and projector, Mobile devices for students, Speakers

Activity Description

Source: Pixabay by reneebigelow (License: CC0/Public Domain)

Students view an animated video from Upworthy's YouTube channel, answer questions about it, and then write about, design a slideshow or poster, or summarize another video about a random act of kindness.


  1. Check the website to ensure it is not blocked at your site.
  2. Read through the lesson plan.
  3. Print and make copies of any handouts.

Teacher Tips

The Random Acts of Kindness website has lesson plans and a high school curriculum.

More Ways

  • Both the Upworthy YouTube Channel and website have interesting and emotive short stories from real life that are good sources of authentic input for English language learners to discuss and reflect on.
  • Using the transcript as a model, students could work in pairs or small groups and write a made-up story about a random act of kindness and/or a dialog. The teacher can ask students to focus on relevant grammar (simple past, past continuous, using adjectives and adverbs to make the story more descriptive, and using coordinating conjunctions to write complex sentences).

Program Areas

  • ESL: English as a Second Language
  • ABE: Adult Basic Education


  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced
  • Low
  • Intermediate
  • High
  • All Levels

Lesson Plan


Preview the questions that follow and then split the class into pairs or small groups for conversation:

  1. At what age is a person considered “elderly”?
  2. Do you have any elderly family members? If so, tell others about them.
  3. Do you know any elderly people in the U.S.?
  4. What are some challenges or problems that elderly people face?
  5. How would you describe the lives of elderly people in your native country compared to the lives of elderly people in the U.S.? How are their lives or how they are treated differently?
  6. What are good hobbies or pastimes for elderly people?
  7. Do you use public transportation? If so, what type (bus, train, subway?) and where do you go? How did you learn to take public transportation in the U.S.?
  8. Have you ever gotten lost in the U.S.? If so, tell others what happened - when and where, and what did you do? Did you ask for help? If so, who helped you? How did you feel?
  1. Tell students that they are going to hear a short story about a random act of kindness.
  2. Ask if anyone can define what that means or provide an example.
  3. Tell students that in the story, a bus driver made a woman’s day. When someone says, “You made my day!” What does that mean?
  4. When was the last time someone made your day?
  5. When was the last time you made someone else’s day?  Explain what happened.
  6. Were these random acts of kindness? If not, have you ever experienced or witnessed a random act of kindness?

Tell students that the conversation questions relate to topics that are in a story they will watch or listen to, “This Bus Driver’s Simple Act of Kindness Made a Woman's Day!”

Ask students to make predictions about what the story will be about. Tell students that they will listen first for the gist or big ideas of the story and then listen again for details. 

Engagement Enhancement

Before playing the video, preview the questions below to help students focus their listening: 

  • Where was the woman going? Why? 
  • What was the random act of kindness that happened? (Who helped her and how?)
  • How did the man “make her day?”

Play the video: This Bus Driver’s Simple Act of Kindness Made a Woman's Day! Upworthy Animated Video on YouTube (1:24)

Students will watch again, this time listening for details. Preview the questions to help students focus their listening:

  1. How did the woman appear to the bus driver?
  2. What was surprising about what the woman was wearing?
  3. How did the bus driver help the woman find the restaurant?
  4. What special did the bus driver do to make the woman feel special?
  5. How did the woman say the bus driver’s treatment of her made her feel? 
  6. What did the woman tell the bus driver that had happened to her recently?

 As desired/needed, students can do a discrete listening with the transcript (Note to teacher: Remove the words you choose and make a word bank, as desired):

And I remember one woman, in particular, a senior who had gotten on my bus and she seemed completely lost. I could see she was confused. I don't know whether it was an illness, but she looked so beautiful for a hot summer day to have fur on.

So I said, "Are you okay?"

And she said, "I'm fine. I'm fine. But I don't know the restaurant I'm meeting my friends."

I said "You sit in the bus, I'll run in and I'll check each restaurant.

The very, very last one on the left, I said, "It's got to be this one." So I said, "Stay here, Sweetie, it's really nice and cool in here."

I went in. I said, "There's a lady on the bus and she's not sure of the restaurant."

And I saw a whole bunch of other seniors there, and then they said "Well it's Poppy Hall." So I ran back to the bus. I said, "Sweetie, your restaurant is right here." And I said, "No. No. Don't move."

I grabbed her hand and then on my right hand grabbed her right hand. I wanted to make her feel special like it was a Limousine: it's a bus. And she said she felt like Cinderella.

And she said, "I've been diagnosed with cancer and today is the best day of my life."

Just because I helped her off the bus, and I never forgot that woman.

Listen a third time to make inferences, as needed. Then have students discuss in pairs or small groups their answers to these questions:

  • What is the surprising or ironic part of the story?
  • Why did the woman say it was the best day of her life?
  • Why did the bus driver say he would never forget the woman?
  • Describe the woman. What kind of personality does he have? What is her attitude?

 Ask students about their general impressions of the story: Have they ever experienced something similar? Have they ever met someone like the woman?

[ABE] Watch the video and ask the questions after "Listen a third time" Have students discuss their answers with their neighbors then share their answers with the group.

Have students share their answers to "Have you ever experienced something similar?"



  1. Tell students that their assignment is to tell the class about a random act of kindness and the effect it had. These are the options for the assignment: Write a paragraph or essay about a random act of kindness they have been the recipient of or that they have witnessed. 
  2. If they have never known about a random act of kindness, they can read a story at and write a summary. 
  3. Using and other websites, make a poster (digitally using Canva, Padlet, Glogster) or slideshow (PowerPoint, Google Slides, or another slideshow program) about a random act of kindness that includes the following (note: this could be an individual or group project): Three ways that people in the school or in the community can be kinder A quote about kindness (famous or one they make up) Three Benefits of Kindness
  4. Find a video about a random act of kindness. Create a slideshow that includes the video. In presenting it to the class, give a brief summary, show the video, and tell why the act was kind and how those benefiting from the act of kindness could “pay it forward.” Depending on the assignment choice, create a rubric for a written assignment or a presentation. Rubistar, Quick Rubric, Rubric Maker. You could also use a simple checklist or score sheet to give feedback, such as these: 

Paragraph Feedback 

___ / 1: Format (heading, title, indent, spacing) 

___ / 6: Content (topic sentence, details, conclusion) 

___/ 3: Mechanics (grammar, spelling) 

What this paragraph does well: 

What to work on going forward: Other comments: Total = ___ /10 = ___% 

Presentation Evaluation 

  1. Introduced self
  2. Gave topic/introduction to the presentation
  3. Visual aids enhanced the presentation with appropriate visual images
  4. Correct spelling/grammar/punctuation on visual aids
  5. Used an effective conclusion
  6. Used clear pronunciation
  7. Used good volume
  8. Used good pace in speaking (not too fast, not too slow)
  9. Made eye contact with the audience in all areas of the room

Students will communicate fluently in informal conversations, discern main ideas and details in a recording of a native English speaker telling a story, and compose a well-organized, coherent paragraph about a random act of kindness with detail and sentence variety and modify writing for content, organization, grammar, and mechanics OR prepare and deliver an organized presentation based on a variety of sources (readings, broadcasts or personal experience).

[ABE]: Students discuss the ideas of "Random Acts of Kindness" and "Pay it Forward" with people outside of class, friends, or family. Report back what others expressed. As a class decide on an "Act of Kindness" the class can do. 


  • Writing
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
    • CCR Anchor 7 - Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • Speaking and Listening
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • CCR Anchor 3 - Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
  • Language
    • CCR Anchor 3 - Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


Listening, Speaking, Writing, conversation, listening, reading, video, writing, Upworthy


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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.