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This lesson is on Understanding the concept of Empathy and may be helpful in Handling Terrorism


Social Studies  


5, 6, 7  

Title – Understanding the Concept of Empathy
By – Johnna Benware
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – 
Grade Level – 5-7

Objective: After completing this activity, students will have an understanding of one of the concepts we refer to frequently during the year. This is the concept of empathy. In addition to this, students will be given an opportunity to discuss the recent terrorist attacks in a safe and guided environment.

Materials: Worksheet provided with this lesson.

Motivation: Teacher will tell students that they will be discussing empathy with a partner. Teacher will then ask if anyone can describe what empathy means. After listening to volunteers, teacher will ask students to write the definition he/she provides (on board, overhead, etc.).

Situation: Definition: Empathy – the ability to understand others through being able to identify in one’s self through similar experiences.

Activity: Teacher will initiate discussion about the terrorist attacks faced by this nation. Teacher will bring up many different aspects of the “ripple effect”. After some class discussion, students will break into pairs, or groups of three, to “Think-Pair-Share”. This involves the students thinking, discussing (based on teacher provided criteria) with their partner, and then sharing their feelings with the class.

Teacher will set the “Think-Pair-Share” criteria by explaining the students should discuss how they would feel if they were in the situations they are about to receive. The teacher will then pass out the “situation sheets” (see attached). At this point, students will begin discussion.

Closure: After pairing, students will share both their situations and their feelings with the class. Teacher can assess students understanding of empathy through their answers, as well as, a serious of guided questions.

Situation:A 50-year-old woman gets a call from her son who is on the plane that is being hijacked. He has called to say good-bye.

Situation: A 15-year-old child is released from school early because of the world trade center collapse. When he gets home he finds out that his father, who was a firefighter, died when tower two collapsed.

Situation: A woman just moved to New York City to work as a stockbroker at the World Trade Center. She was on a break with a friend when the first airplane flew through their break room. Now her mother is sitting by the phone waiting to hear about her missing daughter.
Situation:A man, who works at General Electric making airplane parts, is driving home trying to figure out a way to tell his wife that he was just laid off.

Situation: A Indian (from India) child cries as his father tells him that his uncle was killed by a man who thought he was from Afghanistan. The man was just working in his store when he was shot to death.

Situation: A flag maker in Florida has just left the local car dealer after paying cash for a new car. The extra income came from the sudden increase of flag sales.
Situation: A woman delivers her newborn son at a hospital alone while her parents assist in the cleanup of the World Trade Center collapse. The very tragedy that took her husband.

Situation: A boy, who is sitting and trying to do his homework, listens as his mother talks on the phone about how her husband has just left. The boy’s father has been called to active duty. He is a member of the National Guard.

Situation: Doctors and nurses sleep on couches, eat donated food, shower at the hospital, and spend days separated from their families as they try to help the wounded that have flooded and overloaded their hospital.
Situation:A woman wonders how she is going to pay her rent or buy food next month. She used to work for a major airline, but now people are afraid to fly. Because of this, the airline cannot afford to keep paying all of their employees. She was one of many who arrived at work to find out that they no longer had a job.

Situation: A group of students from Plattsburgh State University goes to New York City to help with the rescue effort. One student calls home and frantically cries as he begs his mother to come and get him.

Situation: A pharmacist worries as he waits for his shipment of life-saving medicine to arrive. The planes were grounded after the hijacking and that meant that his shipment couldn’t be flown to him on time.

E-Mail Johnna Benware !

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