I love hearing about positive student-initiated actions happening at elementary schools, especially by 5th graders. Too often, it’s with 5th graders that teachers and parents start to notice harmful patterns such as the “5th grade mean-girl syndrome.” Last week my co-facilitator for our district’s digital citizenship program sent me the link to the video below. It’s pretty inspiring to watch five 5th grade boys embrace kindness and empathy.
In my own district, I want to give a shout-out to Christine Goodwin’s 4th and 5th graders, who responded to an anti-bullying school assembly by becoming “difference makers.” They quickly moved their commitment to taking a stand on bullying beyond the classroom walls, starting with a pledge and posters in the hallways and multi-purpose room, and onto a VoiceThread, with the possibility of a worldwide audience.
Two years ago, I heard Alan November cite a study that found empathy to be a top 21st century skill. Since then, I’ve been bookmarking resources that provide parents and educators with a structure for teaching and showcasing kindness and empathy across grade levels.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Books that Teach Empathy – Common Sense Media continues to review and share resources for parents and teachers. This very comprehensive list for ages 3-15 is a great starting point for tapping into the power of story to transform hearts and minds.
Ten Amazing Multicultural Books for Helping Others – I had the privilege of joining Mia Wenjen (PragmaticMom) for a June 4 Twitter chat (#servechat). I think her blog subtitle says it all: “EDUCATION MATTERS. A MASHUP COVERING PARENTING, CHILDREN’S LITERATURE AND EDUCATION.”
Tips for Using Children’s Books to Teach about Kindness, Service, and Compassion – It was thanks to the invitation from Sheila, founder of Pennies for Time and organizer of the June #servechat, that I learned more about her organization and commitment to teaching kindness.
Five-Minute Film Festival: Videos on Kindness, Empathy, and Connection – Another great collection from Edutopia.
Teaching Empathy through Design Thinking – Also from Edutopia, the article walks you through the Design Thinking framework, starting with Empathy.
Three Strategies for Using Empathy as an Antidote to Bullying – ISTE’s Nicole Krueger writes about “expanding the circle of caring,” “engaging students with storytelling,” and “converting bystanders to upstanders.”
Upstanders, Not Bystanders VoiceThread – I’ll tag onto Nicole Krueger’s reference to “upstanders” with an invitation to add to a VoiceThread I curate with my Digital ID partner, Natalie Bernasconi. We welcome stories of those who have crossed the line from bystander to upstander – stories from across generations, geographic locations, historic events, and everyday acts of courage.
If you have resources to add, please leave a comment.