Far Away Friends
- Work on a collaborative book to share about their community, such as people’s homes, local stores and restaurants, and the natural environment
- Explore a partner class’s community through their book, and reflect on similarities and differences between how people live
Research shows that classroom activities that are culturally-responsive, which provide students with the opportunity to share about their experiences, collaborate on projects meaningful to them, and affirm the value of cultural differences, help create a more inclusive classroom environment. Educators should encourage students to practice kindness and collaboration as they work together on the book, and ensure that they seek out, listen to, and include their peers’ ideas throughout the project, and inclusivity as they exchange their books with an Empatico partner class to explore each other’s communities and perspectives.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
- Engage students in a discussion about their community by asking the following questions:
• What words would you use to describe our city, town, or region?
• When you walk around our community, what do you notice? (e.g., homes, stores, animals, cars, and streets)
• What are some beautiful, unique parts of our community and the people who live here?
• Imagine we had someone visiting our community. What would we want to show them? Where would you take them?
• What activities might our visitor enjoy? (e.g., exploring our natural environment, trying our favorite foods, or attending a local festival or sports game)
- Introduce the project to students: creating a book to share about your community! Share this example to spark their imagination, which was a collaboration between students in the U.S. and Iceland.
Similarly, your students will work with “faraway friends” in a partner class to create a book featuring both communities.
- Share ideas with students around details they might include in their book, such as:
• Class photo
• Stores and restaurants
• Streets and roads
• Nature (e.g., animals, plants, and geographic features)
• Schools and other community buildings
• Transportation (cars, trucks, boats, and trains)
• Parks and playgrounds
• Sport events
• Landmarks and historic sites
• Festivals and other celebrations
Help students gather materials for the book - for example, each student (or group of students) might be responsible for collecting photos, videos, or drawings for a different category. Ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute ideas and participate in the decision-making process as you decide what information to include in your book.
Coordinate with your partner educator to work on the book together!
To create the book, follow the Book Creator instructions below.
- After both classes have contributed to the book, consider facilitating a live virtual exchange and reading the book together. Then, encourage students to ask questions to learn more about each other.
Alternatively, you can participate in an asynchronous exchange by sending your books to each other and reading them to your students, then using Empatico’s messaging tool or email to share students’ questions and responses.
- After the activity, engage students in a reflection by asking the following questions:
• How are our communities similar to each other? How are they different?
• What is something that you found interesting about our partner class’s community?
• How did this activity help you see the world from our partner class’s perspective and gain a better understanding of their lives?
Book Creator Instructions
- Sign up for a free Book Creator account (if you don’t have one already).
- Navigate to your Teacher Dashboard and add a new library for your class.
- Share the invite code so both classes can join the library.
- Create a blank book and start adding pages. Make it rich with multimedia by including photos, videos, drawings, and audio!
- You can either turn on collaboration so you both work on the same book, or work on separate books and then combine them. Try to mirror each other’s pages – for example, if one class shares about homes in their community, then the other class should add photos of homes in their community as well.
If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...
Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call.
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.
If students in either class don’t have individual devices...
Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.