Optimism Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan is a tool for helping teachers explain the difference between optimists and pessimists to students. Students will apply their understanding to case studies.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on optimism, students will be able to:

  • Ask and answer questions about optimism and pessimism.
  • Summarize the thoughts, feelings, and actions of an optimist and a pessimist.
  • Apply the understanding of optimism and pessimism to case studies.


90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9-10 texts and topics.


  • Confidence
  • Control
  • Cope
  • Depression
  • External
  • Fault
  • Internal
  • Isolated
  • Mood
  • Negative thinking
  • Optimism
  • Optimist
  • Pessimism
  • Pessimist
  • Positive thinking
  • Reconcile
  • Resilience
  • Self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Traumatic


  • Copies of quiz
  • Copies of the lesson
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Sticky notes
  • Case study cards (see Case Study Activity for preparation)

Reading & Discussion Questions

  • Preview vocabulary with students prior to watching the lesson.
  • Watch What is Optimism? - Definition & Explanation as a class, and discuss the following questions:
    • What does the expression 'the glass is half full' mean?
    • What is an optimist?
    • What will an optimist tell themselves when something bad happens?
    • What is a pessimist?
    • What message will a pessimist tell themselves if something bad happens?
    • Turn and talk: Do you think you are an optimist or a pessimist? Why?
    • What are the advantages of optimism?
  • Ask if there are any questions, then give the students the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.
  • Check the answers as a class.


Materials: copies of lesson, paper, pens, chart paper, markers, sticky notes, case study cards (one set per group) prepared as follows:

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