Five Strategies for Developing Student Compassion in Core Instruction

logo-rakThe Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and Discovery Education have launched “Discover Kindness in the Classroom” – a national partnership focusing on students’ social and emotional learning skills.

Access standards-aligned resources for grades K-8 that teach important social and emotional learning skills and stimulate thoughtful conversations between educators and students about the importance of kindness in their daily lives at Discover Kindness in the Classroom.


Explore these curated strategies that promote kindness, compassion, and empathy from Discovery Education’s Spotlight on Strategies series – research-based instructional that incorporate digital media in meaningful, effective, and practical ways.

1. Multiple Perspectives


Multiple Perspectives

(Canadian) is a teaching strategy that requires students to engage deeply with an image or video as they assume a perspective other than their own. Students create a narrative from inside a piece of media, from the perspective of an object or person within.

For example, this image shows Ruby Bridges, the first black student to desegregate an all-white elementary school in Louisiana. Ask students to assume an identity of someone pictured in the photograph and create an artifact that represents their perspective on that historic day. For example, Ruby might write a diary entry or draw a picture, or a U.S. Marshall might have a conversation with a spouse. The police officer inside might write a report about the day. Have students reflect not just on the facts about the event, but how the event made them feel, think, or wonder. (Canadian users)

2. Get Your Thinking Hat On

Get Your Thinking Hat On (Canadian) is a teaching strategy that provides students with a specific perspective from which to consider information and ideas. Students are assigned various thinking styles and use only that style to consider a resource or interpret information.

Student “hats” can be a standard set for repeated classroom use, like those mentioned in the Get Your Thinking Hat On resource, or they can be adapted to the instructional purpose of the content. For example, if students are examining a fictional work, these suggested hats engage students in creative and abstract thinking:

Artists – Artists are looking for examples of beauty or artistry that they observe. What caught your eye about the surroundings? In the story? The media or works of art you see?

Innovators – Innovators are looking for examples of problems or challenges that were solved differently, or examples of new ways of thinking.

Collaborators – Collaborators are watching for examples of when two heads were better than one and where teamwork made something better.

Storytellers – Storytellers are watching for examples of information conveyed as a story. What were important details of a story that was told? What were the lessons learned? What made the story exciting or interesting?

Wonderers – Wonderers are the question-askers. What do you want to learn more about? What was intriguing about what you learned?

3. Step Inside

the_boston_tea_party___december_16__1773_circleStep Inside (Canadian) is a teaching strategy that encourages students to consider content from multiple perspectives. Students are assigned roles that may be found within a piece of media and then answer questions from the point-of-view of their assigned person or object.

For example, what would the crate of tea have to say about its depiction in this image of the Boston Tea Party? What would the boat or water say about the event? The Sons of Liberty or the British? Assign or have students select a person or thing to adopt as their perspective. After students have observed the media from their point-of-view, have them respond to prompts such as:

  • What can this person or thing see, observe, or notice?
  • What might the person or thing know, understand, or believe?
  • What might the person or thing care deeply about?
  • What might the person or thing wonder about or question?

Facilitate discussion in small groups of like-perspectives, then mix the groups and have students reflect upon how different experiences can be depending upon one’s point-of-view.

4. Fakebook

Fakebookoffline_fakebook_circle (Canadian) is a teaching strategy that uses a well-known social media platform to encourage students to investigate and develop an understanding of a person of historical significance, a fictional character, or even a place or object. Students create a digital or offline profile page, requiring them to make connections to important events and individuals of a particular time and place.

By creating friend requests and curating photo uploads with captions, students identify contemporaries and relationships. By writing status updates or comments and replies from friends on the newsfeed, students convey emotions, synthesize events, and see connections between people, events, and each person, character, or object’s journey.

5. They Said What?

They Said What?they_said_what_greek_gods_circle (Canadian) is a teaching strategy that allows students to use their imagination to demonstrate knowledge. Students receive content-related images with embedded characters and create a logical dialogue, based on content knowledge. The process helps students develop varying perspectives about historic, fictional, or other moments.

Select an image that corresponds to the unit of study and has at least two people, animals, or objects. Create thought bubbles on the image digitally, or use sticky notes for the same effect. Display the image to students and have them create a dialogue working alone or in pairs, then have students compare their dialogues with other groups, identifying similarities or differences. Students can also dramatically act out their dialogues.



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