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EDUC 618 Lesson Concept: Empathy Melanie Miles

Lesson Concept: Empathy


The concept that I plan on teaching is empathy. The concept of empathy is a great

concept to tackle in lower elementary grade levels as it teaches students to look at another

persons point of view; considering others realities at a young age has been described as the

basis, or springboard, for having a lifetime of empathy (Mitra & Serriere, 2015, p. 26). Not

only does empathy have an effect on classroom management, but it helps students understand

that there is more than one right answer. All students have the background information and

experiences to share in discussions. Helping students discover and build empathy also moves

them away from the idea of being simply in the world and allows them to think about the

feelings and lives of others.

Since I am about to embark on my Student Teaching journey in a Kindergarten

classroom, I wanted to create something for a classroom that I was already familiar with and

could potentially use in the future. I plan on teaching this lesson to a group of 15 Kindergarten

students; age 5 to 6. There are several instances in which I feel this class would benefit from

learning about empathy including whole group discussions, lining up, and taking turns. The

essential questions or enduring understanding I wish to instill in my students is What is

empathy? and How can we better show empathy towards others in the classroom?

It is my hope that by learning about empathy, I will be able to engage students in an

active dialogue to create a new set of classroom rules as a community of learners, and integrate

regular activities to enhance the concept of empathy such as Random Acts of Kindness (as a
EDUC 618 Lesson Concept: Empathy Melanie Miles

family challenge) and end of day appreciations (e.g. I appreciate Aiden because he let me get

first in line today).


30 to 40% of children enter Kindergarten without the social and emotional skills,

language experiences needed to be initially successful in school (Darling-Hammond, 2010, p.

33). With a focus on 21st Century Skills to develop concepts in mathematics and language arts,

we are missing opportunities to educate the child as a whole person which includes citizenship,

fairness, and empathy. When we have 30 to 40% of our students entering the school system

without social-emotional skills, it is necessary to teach those skills. Zakrzewski (2014) explains

that research suggests that the learning process is 50 percent social-emotional and 50 percent

cognitive. Even if we give our students all the resources in the world to develop conceptual

understanding and strive towards a 21st Century curriculum, they would still struggle due to a

lack of social-emotional skills. A lot of what we learn comes from making connections to

previous knowledge and personal experience. When we connect to something on a personal

(emotional) level, it increases our understanding and further develops the concept.

I was inspired to teach the concept of empathy after reading the selection Defying

Egocentrism (Mitra & Serriere, 2015, p. 26-27). The traditional social studies curriculum in

elementary school focuses on a childs own emotions, wants, and needs. This way of thinking

concludes that children in the lower elementary grades (especially Kindergarten) are naturally

egocentric, incapable of taking perspective. However, in Mitra and Serriere, Mrs. Benson noticed

a positive change in her classroom during their service learning project; students became more

compassionate and respectful towards others. Although my lesson concept isnt nearly as
EDUC 618 Lesson Concept: Empathy Melanie Miles

impressive as Mrs. Bensons, I think its a good introduction to perspective taking in a

Kindergarten classroom.

Articulation of Concept

Learning objective: Students will analyze emotions, how they affect others, and evaluate others

emotional reactions.

Common Core Standard:


With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters

in familiar stories.

Hawaii Content & Performance Standards III:

Benchmark LA.K.1.9

Use new grade-appropriate vocabulary learned through stories and instruction.

Teaching Strategies: Group discussion, shared writing, role playing, and personal reflection.


To develop vocabulary for the read aloud and subsequent discussion, I will give students

examples of various situations and ask How would that make you feel? or How did that make

him/her feel?

EDUC 618 Lesson Concept: Empathy Melanie Miles

I will read the story of The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland.


The sheep was the only animal that looked at the situation from the Bears perspective. He didnt

think about what would make himself happy, but what would make the Bear happy. The Zebra,

Moose, and Lion did not step out their own shows to make this realization. While they all tried to

help, the Sheep was the only character who looked at the situation from the Bears point of view.

During group discussion, I will ask students to describe the different characters. I will ask the

following questions:

Why was the Bear cranky?

Who made the Bear happy?
Why was the Bear happy now? (Who agrees? Disagrees?)
Why wasnt the Bear happy after the Zebra, Moose, and Lion tried to help him? (Who

agrees? Disagrees?)

To further develop the concept, I want to transfer understanding of the story to our own lives. I

will ask the following questions?

What can you do to make others happy? (Parents, classmates, siblings, teacher)
What does empathy look like?
What does empathy sound like?
What does empathy feel like?

We will record our answers using Shared Writing to gain a better understanding of what empathy

looks, sounds, and feels like.

EDUC 618 Lesson Concept: Empathy Melanie Miles

Following the read aloud, students will work in small groups to role play different scenarios

(similar to the Alien Invasion role playing activity by Cowhey). I have two friends that I want to

specifically monitor and scaffold during small group role playing: Aiden, who often pushes

others trying to get in line first, and Caedmon, who interrupts or talks while others are sharing.

In this lesson, I have included visual learners through the use of a picture book and shared

writing. Auditory and verbal learners will greatly benefit from the read aloud and whole group

discussion. And kinesthetic learners will be especially engaged in the role-playing activity. My

logical learners have a choice of an Empathy worksheet I created (see worksheet at the bottom)

that gives them different scenarios and options on how to move forward showing empathy or the

role-playing activity.


Journal writing prompt: Think of a time when you were upset. Who made you feel better? What

did they do? Draw a picture to match your words.

____________________ showed empathy when I was _____________because



Criteria 4 3 2 1

Recognition Labeled emotion Labeled emotion Emotion was Emotion is

of emotion accurately and accurately in somewhat clear missing or does
clearly in writing writing and in writing, but not match events.
and drawing. drawing. difficult to detect Drawing does
in drawing. not match.

Understanding Clearly described Described what Significant focus Focus on event,

of empathy what empathy empathy looked, on event and not feelings or
EDUC 618 Lesson Concept: Empathy Melanie Miles

looked, sounded, sounded, or felt own feelings, empathy.

or felt like in like in writing and little mention of
writing and drawing; some what showed
drawing. overemphasis on empathy.
personal emotion.

Text-to-self Used personal Mostly used Loses connection No perspective

connection experience to personal to text; focus on taking.
make a text-to- experience to emotion not
(Taking self connection. make a text-to- empathy.
perspectives) self connection.

At the end of the day, students will share their journal entries.

EDUC 618 Lesson Concept: Empathy Melanie Miles

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education: How Americas commitment to

equity will determine our future. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Mitra, D., & Serriere, S. C. (2015). Civic education in the elementary grades: Promoting student

engagement in an era of accountability. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Zakrzewski, V. (2014). How to integrate social-emotional learning into Common Core. Retrieved



How would you move forward?
EDUC 618 Lesson Concept: Empathy Melanie Miles

Circle the arrows that show empathy?

Play with
Matt another
lost his friend.
him find
Ask Can
I help?

Ask him to
join your
group Tell him
to work
doesnt Keep
have a doing
partner. your

I ask her
whats I eat my
wrong? snack.

Avery is
sad I give
her a