TeachersFirst's Resources Related to Empathy
Empathy is our desire and ability to understand and share another person’s feelings and use that information to guide our actions. It’s the foundation of respect and inclusivity and is an essential component of relationship building, resolving interpersonal conflicts, and understanding cause and effect. In this collection, we share resources that will help you create lessons and experiences that cultivate empathy in your students and informational websites about this important topic.
Grades9 to 12
In the ClassroomThe Whiteness Project provides a unique and interesting resource for introducing and discussing difficult topics in the classroom, including racism, prejudice, bias, and empathy. Share this site with students and provide them time to listen to some of the conversations and the provided statistics. Encourage students to choose one statistic as a starting point for additional research. For example, one piece of data shared is the number of adults who have two or more races in their background. This provides a starting point for researching race in your community, state, or in the country. As students complete research, ask them to share their findings in a multimedia presentation using a tool like Sway, reviewed here, to add graphs, charts, images, and video that support their findings.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomInclude Spent as a learning resource to include with your lessons on empathy or difficult conversations. Ask students to spend time playing Spent as a way to explore how choices they make affect their living situation. Ask students to take a screen recording of a difficult choice they make while playing Spent and discuss their thinking behind the option chosen. Use Screencast-o-matic, reviewed here, to record and share student's recordings. If you teach older high school students, use Spent to introduce a research unit into understanding poverty in your community. Have students share their learning using multimedia presentation tools like Adobe Spark for Education, reviewed here, or Visme, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomAll classrooms face difficult conversations at some point; bookmark this article to use as inspiration on how to address those moments and help students understand and develop empathy for others. Even if you don't have time for an extended lesson, encourage students to think beyond the moment by creating a Padlet, reviewed here, that curates and shares resources based upon your conversation. For example, one topic discussed in the article is "bonding" teasing and "annoying" teasing. Ask students to share examples of teasing in a Padlet that has columns for each form discussed. Use FlipGrid, reviewed here, as a platform for discussing difficult moments and ask students to share ways to handle biased or insensitive comments.
Grades2 to 6
In the ClassroomInclude this lesson and others found at Tolerance.org as part of your teaching the character trait of empathy. Engage students as you gather responses to questions using Google Jamboard, reviewed here. Post a question onto your Jamboard, then share the link with students and ask them to add sticky notes onto the board with their response. Have students return to the Jamboard throughout your activities to modify or add additional responses. Use the extension activities to encourage students to produce and create scenarios that teach younger students about empathy. Have students use the tools found at Adobe Spark for Education, reviewed here, to create short video presentations, flyers, and engaging web pages to share.
Grades5 to 9
In the ClassroomInclude this lesson with others as you teach the character trait of empathy and incorporate these ideas into lessons about bullying and bias. As you begin your lesson with the essential questions, use a digital question response site such as Answer Garden, reviewed here, to share student responses. This site offers the opportunity to look at the entire class's responses while still allowing students to provide anonymous thoughts. Take advantage of the suggested extension activities to allow students to use their creativity to share their understanding of empathy in various ways. Some tool suggestions for the extension activities are to create comics using ToonyTool, reviewed here, share videos created with Powtoon, reviewed here, or publish podcasts using Buzzsprout, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomInclude lessons and materials found on this site within your classroom to develop empathy and community. Engage students in your activities by creating word clouds of words that promote empathy and understanding using a word cloud creation tool such as WordClouds, reviewed here. Develop those words even further by using Answer Garden, reviewed here, as an anonymous answer response tool. For example, one activity focuses on Appreciating Those Behind the Scenes. Create an Answer Garden poll for students to share specific ideas on those that help behind the scenes and ways to express appreciation for their work. Extend student learning by asking them to create and share ways for others to demonstrate empathy. Provide options for students to create videos using Adobe Spark Video Creator, reviewed here, design digital books using Book Creator, reviewed here, or write a poem using the Poem Generator, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse this article to show students how to develop empathy for others and provide appropriate emotional support to those in need. Engage students in learning about the different forms of empathy by creating mind maps using a creation tool such as Whimsical Mind Maps, reviewed here, to provide a visual representation of how to support others in distress. If you teach younger students, help them understand emotions by creating word clouds at WordClouds, reviewed here, using words provided by students that describe feelings. Extend learning further by creating a Padlet, reviewed here, divided into three columns representing each form of empathy. Ask students to share ideas on recognizing the different forms and methods for showing compassion towards others.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomInclude this lesson with others as part of character education and empathy activities. The starter activity includes students sharing a time they experienced different feelings. Use AnswerGarden, reviewed here, to post each question and ask students to share their response. This allows students to answer anonymously while still creating a visual word cloud with responses. Copy the embed code to include each of the word clouds on your class website or share using your AnswerGarden poll's link. Include all of the polls within one collaborative Wakelet collection, reviewed here, that includes students' responses to the other lesson activities including written reflections, analysis of your school's bullying policy, and discussions of how to recognize and encourage empathy in others.
GradesK to 5
In the ClassroomBe sure to investigate the abundance of resources and information shared in this free toolkit for use in classroom lessons on social and leadership skills, empathy, and problem-solving. Several portions in the booklet include scenarios and questions for discussions. Extend student learning by challenging student groups to create weekly podcasts addressing common social issues along with suggestions for dealing with them. PodcastGenerator, reviewed here, offers free tools for podcasting. Use the resources and suggestions with character education activities throughout the year. Share ideas from this site with parents to use at home with their children. Create a class (or school) bulletin board with examples of students demonstrating empathy.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomBe sure to view these free materials to use as a supplement to your current social studies lessons and character education activities, including empathy. These materials also are an excellent way to demonstrate the use of primary sources as a learning tool. As you build supplemental materials to include with these activities, use Padlet, reviewed here, for you and your students to curate online information instead of sharing a list of links. Use Padlet's shelf option to organize your resources by topic. For example, divide your Padlet into sections for biographies, videos, newspapers, and books related to the resource studied. Enhance learning when sharing online articles for students to view together by using Fiskkit, reviewed here, as a collaborative study tool. Fiskkit offers the ability to collaborate by adding highlights, tags and comments on information, and to label information as true or false. As a final project and to extend learning, ask students to use Adobe Spark for Education, reviewed here, to share their projects demonstrating their inspiration for the future. Adobe Spark offers a variety of creation tools, making it easy to provide options for students to choose how to share their learning. Provide students the option to create a video, build a webpage, or create a series of custom graphics as part of a multimedia presentation.
Grades4 to 8
In the ClassroomTake advantage of the many suggested classroom uses for this resource found on the Instructional Guide (PDF). Include this Reading Trek as part of lessons in empathy, racism, and character traits. Consider using content from the book as an inspiration to have students create a timeline of their friends. Find a variety of free online timeline creation tools located here. Using the map and locales, trace and then calculate distances for some Little Italy locations. Use Google My Maps, reviewed here to create and share custom maps.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): africa (137), alaska (21), anthropology (9), cross cultural understanding (146), cultures (97), empathy (27), india (26), middle east (38), native americans (79), Project Based Learning (11), psychology (64), scotland (7), south africa (11), south america (38)
In the ClassroomUtilize these free lesson ideas and videos to incorporate into any lessons on tolerance, empathy, culture, and to bring a personal touch to learning about nations around the world. Consider using the embed code found in each video and add the video to your class website for students to view at home before your lesson. Ask students to provide a short response to the video on an online bulletin board like Pinside, reviewed here, then use these responses to guide your lesson. The following ideas lend themselves to using this resource for project-based learning or blended learning: At the start of students' ongoing research, share Mission Possible: Successful Online Research, reviewed here. Enhance learning by using information learned to create infographics with Canva Infographic Maker, reviewed here. Instead of a typical report or assessment at the end of your unit extend students' learning by having them use Story Maps, reviewed here, to build a virtual field trip to tell the story of students in other cultures. Include links to articles, videos, student-created infographics, and more.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this game as part of any lessons on persuasion and empathy. Use the four options from the card deck as models to create your own role play game using different situations specific to your students. For example, debate the use of mobile devices in your classroom or the ability to go off campus for lunch. This could be done easily by writing the Deciders role cards out on 3x5 cards and using a timer. If you are beginning the process of integrating technology, have students create the cards using a Google doc, reviewed here. An alternative would be to allow your "techies" and or gifted students to modify their technology use and create a game using Twine, reviewed here, or Quest, reviewed here. These two tools create text-based interactive games. Have school counselors use @stake to model non-confrontational methods for problem-solving and deliberation.
GradesK to 3
In the ClassroomTake advantage of the free materials provided by Peekapak to introduce or reinforce social-emotional lessons including character traits such as empathy in your classroom. Share the included digital books on classroom computers. After your lessons, enhance classroom technology by having students contribute to an online bulletin board of the important terms they learned from this site using a tool such as Dotstorming, reviewed here. Then ask students to vote on each word they agree with. Tally up the votes. At this point, you can create a word cloud of the words or allow students to create their own using a tool such as Word Clouds for Kids, reviewed here.
GradesK to 8
In the ClassroomYou may want to start your school year by sharing the three part video series on Empathy. Each video is five minutes and has a discussion guide. As a follow up use the Ripples of Kindness activity in small groups. Share younger students' observations on a whiteboard or poster. Older students can share their observations using a tool like Dotstorming, reviewed here. Dotstorming allows participants to add comments Share other videos with a projector or on an interactive whiteboard to introduce a video each week and explore the discussion questions together. These videos could be very useful when preparing and motivating students for upcoming standardized testing or at the beginning of a school year to set a tone that everyone can learn. Include a link to videos on your class web page for parents to discuss at home with their student, and be sure to send home the take-home questions with topics to talk about.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomBecome a "RAKTIVIST" and start a kindness raid on unsuspecting communities, classes, or schools! Give children power and voice through their actions. Partner this with character education programs to make a difference in all the lives you touch. For example, you may want to use the Ripples of Kindness activity included in the Empathy videos at the Big Ideas Video Series, reviewed here. During social studies, find ways kindness has changed the world. Look for times in which kindness was thwarted, such as during civil wars, dictatorships, or wars. Start a research project on world leaders who have changed the world through nonviolence, education, or generosity. Explain the power of nonprofit organizations and all the lives affected. Look into your own community and school to find needs that are waiting for active, caring participants. Create school or classroom rules to promote the power of kindness. Show your students how to embed media transforming their work and enhance their learning by challenging students to create "kindness" commercials and share their knowledge with their peers in a multimedia presentation using Adobe Spark for Education, reviewed here. Alternatively, students could create a video using Typito, reviewed here. Share them using a tool such as SchoolTube, reviewed here. Emotional Support or Autistic Support teachers may find some of the ideas here helpful for talking about how others feel and ways to show kindness in a very deliberate way.
GradesK to 6
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