Book Ideas for Teaching Empathy -- THE TEACHERS EDITION -- April 6, 2017

The Teachers Edition

What Teachers Are Talking About This Week

April 6, 2017  |  Sign up to receive The Teachers Edition.

Month of the Military Child, April 2017

military child

April is designated as the Month of the Military Child. To kick off the commemoration, Secretary DeVos visited Kimberly Hampton Primary School (Fort Bragg, N.C.). She visited several classrooms, read to students, and met with school officials and parents stationed at Fort Bragg. "We have a responsibility to ensure every child has access to a quality education, especially those children whose parents dedicate their lives to the service of our country," she said. The annual commemoration, established by former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger in 1986, seeks to recognize the sacrifices and challenges military children face while supporting their loved ones in uniform. Check out some activities and resources and ways to celebrate the resilience and sacrifices of military children (US Department of Defense Educational Activity, DoDEA).


Finding Their Own Stories
When students at one Philadelphia school looked for books that represented them, they found very little. The solution? To research what existed, write books of their own, and bring those new books to elementary students. Teacher Kathleen Melville of Workshop School (Philadelphia, Penn.) distinguishes between culturally relevant pedagogy and culturally sustaining pedagogy, which "acknowledges that culture is fluid and changing." Melville hopes her students' efforts can help break the cycle of young readers who don't connect with books because they don't see themselves in those books (Melville, Education Week).

Kwon with student

Coding and Algebra Cross Paths

"Students these days are immersed in a world full of technology," says algebra teacher Joshua Kwon of Mariner High School (Everett, Wash). "I don't want students just to play with the technology; I also want them to build something out of it." In this video produced by The Teaching Channel, Mr. Kwon shows how he encourages students to integrate coding into their algebra studies by examining variables such as speed and distance as they build a computer-animated rocket (TeachingChannel).

Gaming for the Classroom

legends of learning web image

Calling it “Edgames that give your lessons super powers," a Washington, D.C.-based computer startup introduced a free, Web-based platform that will allow teachers to assign educator-vetted games to their students. Teachers can get started by signing up and watching the easy-to-digest video, which shows how to create game play lists. Students can sign in to play games created just for them. Legends of Learning was designed with educator input, with games linking to states’ academic standards (Toppo, USA Today).

Using Story to Create Empathy
Teaching empathy can be an important part of activity in the classroom; empathy helps people understand one another and calls on the common humanity in all of us. The staff at TeachThought has compiled a list of 30 books that can be used in the classroom for the purpose of teaching empathy.  The list contains some classics as well as a few surprises. Check it out! (Staff,

Scratch to Create Something Great

scratch coding image

The free Scratch programming language and community was in the news recently when Hedge fund pioneer David Siegel advised kids interested in investing to "start from Scratch." It helps kids learn coding, "the language of our times," he said. The name Scratch came from the concept of remixing music, and users share their projects online, remix them and help one another learn more about coding (Gordon, Bloomberg).

Words Can Heal

children using hip hop words

A Wisconsin motivational speaker and student advocate shares his message of using the spoken word and hip-hop for reflection and healing.  Corey Torres, a New York City native, conducted several workshops with middle school students, delivering the message that writing can empower and strengthen both the writer and its intended audience. Several students were later selected to provide their message to elementary students (Zettel, USA Today).

student painting

Community Celebrates Cross-Curricular Creativity

Students in 15 Vermont schools are incorporating multidisciplinary cross-curricular studies with support from a local non-profit arts institution.  The Vermont Creative Schools Initiative of the Community Engagement Lab stresses collaboration with both the schools and the local arts community. It is part of a statewide program of professional development.  Teachers from across all disciplines propose projects and apply for teaching artist residency grants (Gow, Rutland Herald).

100th Anniversary of the U.S. Entry into World War I

Watch the Live stream of In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I, hosted by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Mo. The event will be viewable starting 9 am CDT, April 6. This international ceremony will consist principally of the reading of passages from significant and representative American writings from a century ago about the U.S. decision to enter the war, including selections from speeches, journalism, literature, poetry, and performances of popular music of the time. 

Fact or Opinion

California fifth-grade teacher Scott Bedley shares how he uses lessons styled as games to teach his students how to determine the accuracy of online information. Bedley asks his students to examine seven different elements of a news article. If the information checks out on each of these points, it has a high likelihood of being accurate. Still, passing the test is not a guarantee that it’s fact, he says (Bedley, Vox). 

Increasing Transparency of Charters

Charter schools are improving quality by responding to criticism with transparency and accountability, according to Valentina Korkes, Chief of Staff at Education Post. Korkes cites reports from two organizations as evidence that charters' focus on improvement is evolving: The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and The National Association of Charter School Authorizers released information on the changes in self-reported accountability measures and the importance of careful authorization protocols. Korkes writes, "Given that so many anti-charter folks talk about lack of accountability in charter schools, it’s encouraging to see charter school leaders coming right back at them with more quality, transparency and accountability" (Korkes,

Resources to Use

What We Heard from Educators This Week

BD with Students

5. "I hate when people say there are no silver bullets. There are silver bullets all around us. They're great teachers and principals." Principal, Pennsylvania

4. "We need to talk about home-school partnerships. I bring my child to the doctor because she's sick. I don't tell the pediatrician what medicine to use." Principal, Virginia

3. "Building relationships will help you find the strengths in every person you work with. See everyone as the best they can be." Vice Principal, British Columbia

2. "Presuming positive intentions goes a long way!" Principal, Missouri

1. "When you recognize creativity, risk-taking, or collaboration: Celebrate it! Praise teachers for their work." Superintendent, Arkansas