Saturday, March 28, 2015

Empathy - Part 1

I really love this definition of empathy...
Seeing with the eyes of another,
Listening with the ears of another,
and Feeling with the heart of another.

Empathy is a really hard concept for children to understand. I think this definition explains it well in kid terms. 

I started a 2-part lesson on empathy with 3rd graders this week. In the first lesson we discussed that empathy means to be able to understand another person's feelings and emotions. To help us understand peoples feelings, they give clues and cues of their feelings with their facial expressions and body language. We need to be able to "read" those clues and cues. We also have to appreciate another person's perspective/point of view (I put on giant glasses when talking about perspective). 

To practice reading facial expressions and body language, I used the "Expression Arcade" iPad App (see below). The app has a spinner that shows an action and a feeling that must be acted out. I had students get into pairs. One of the students in the pair had their back to the SMART Board so they couldn't see the spinner (I used an apple TV to mirror my iPad on the SMART Board). The other student was facing the board to see the spinner.  The student facing the board had to demonstrate the action and feeling that was displayed. The other student had to guess how they were feeling based on the clues and cues their partner gave. When they guessed correctly, they shared what clues helped them determine the feeling and then they switched places. 

We discussed why it is important to read other people's feelings and emotions in order to empathize with them. Understanding the other person's point of view/perspective is equally important. Everyone experiences things differently and understanding their perspective will help us to have empathy for them.  

We will continue in Part 2 of this lesson in a couple of weeks when we will practice our empathy skills.  Stay tuned for that post.

I give a newsletter after every lesson so parents know what we discussed and how to reinforce concepts at home. The newsletter for this lesson is shown below. I realize that I haven't been posting about lessons much so I will try to start sharing more of my lessons in the future.