- Use technology to meet a partner class located in another community
- Share and learn about ways to practice kindness and help others
Research shows that when we observe or learn about others acting with kindness, we are inspired to act with kindness ourselves. Educators should encourage students to practice skills around kindness and collaboration as they share about ways they help people in their community and ideas for how they want to help others in the future, and inclusivity as they explore different forms of community service across locations and reflect on similarities and differences in how students help others.
To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
Empatico offers an exciting opportunity for educators to connect their classrooms with other classes around the world. Once you have connected with another educator in the Empatico community, you can schedule live virtual exchanges to bring your students together. These cross-cultural experiences enable students to share their stories, explore different perspectives, and make new friends in another community.
Empatico exchanges are most successful when educators plan and get to know each other beforehand. To do this, please schedule a video call to connect with your partner educator, and use this opportunity to share your goals for this experience, exchange helpful information about your students, and discuss how you will lead the exchange together. Our "Get to Know Your Partner Educator" resource provides suggested conversation prompts for your meeting.
For more tips on leading a positive, cross-cultural experience for your students, please watch our “Teacher Tips” video.
Prepare: plan for the virtual exchange.
- Lead a discussion about how students make a difference in their communities by engaging them in a “Think-Pair-Share” exercise. Students will:
• Think individually about, and write down, 2-3 ways they contribute to a community they are part of (e.g., their school, family, or neighborhood).
• Pair with a classmate to share their ideas and prepare a list together.
• Share with the rest of the class about how they help and why their contributions make their communities better, stronger, or more welcoming.
- Then, introduce your students to Empatico by watching this video, and ask them the following questions:
• How do you feel about meeting our partner class? What do you think our new friends will be like?
• Do you know anything about the city or country where our partner class is located? Where can we find more information about their location? (e.g., by using Google Earth to explore their neighborhood, or searching for images of their city online)
• What do you think it might be like to live there? What do you think our neighborhoods might share in common, and how do you think our neighborhoods might be different?
Throughout your conversation, nurture positive feelings such as excitement and curiosity. Explain that it’s normal to notice differences between ourselves and others, and that you will practice doing so respectfully. If any misconceptions or stereotypes arise, gently counteract them and explain how to reframe assumptions by asking questions or making "I wonder..." comments. (e.g., "I wonder what chores our new friends might do at home.") Ensure that students see this experience as an exciting opportunity to learn from their partner class!
- Encourage students to reflect on their experiences helping others, and prepare a story they might share during the virtual exchange. For example, if your class completed the “Mission: Spread Kindness” activity, students might describe some of their favorite moments, show their class’s “kindness data”, and share how it felt to be a part of this collaborative effort to foster more positivity in their school community.
- Ask students to prepare questions to ask their partner classmates, such as:
• Do you have chores that you complete at school or at home?
• Do you have any younger siblings that you help? How do you help them?
• What does kindness mean to you?
• What is an act of kindness that meant a lot to you?
• How do you like to practice the three types of kindness? (to yourself, others, and the world around you)
• What are some other ways that you would like to help others in the future?
Encourage students to write down their stories and questions on notecards that they can reference during the virtual exchange.
- Establish and share communication norms for the virtual exchange, such as:
• Keep yourself on “mute” (unless you are talking) to limit background noise, and raise your hand when you want to speak.
• When it’s your turn to speak, come close to the device, say your comment or question loudly and clearly, and remain at the camera to hear your partner classmate’s response. Start by saying your name (e.g., “Hi, my name is ___. My question is...).
• Listen attentively to the speaker and use hand signals (e.g., thumbs-up, “me too” signal, etc.) to indicate agreement or similarities.
• Make sure that others have a chance to speak during the exchange.
Ask students to share additional ideas for how they will show respect to their new friends, and consider leading a practice session so students can practice these strategies and imagine having a fun, positive interaction with your partner class.
For more tips on setting up your classroom for a virtual exchange, please visit this resource.
Interact: meet your partner class over a live virtual exchange.
Facilitate the virtual exchange using Empatico’s built-in Zoom integration, or the video tool that you previously selected, and follow the suggested exchange structure below:
- Take turns introducing yourselves (e.g., one student from each class can say “Hello!” and share a fun fact about their class or community).
- Lead a quick mindfulness activity, such as Grounding Like a Tree, and invite students to practice kindness towards themselves, and help settle and focus their energy (optional).
- Encourage students to ask their questions and share their stories.
- Say thank you and goodbye!
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.