Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Linky-ing Up on Empathy

Today I am linking up with the delightful Maria Dismondy, author of Spaghetti on a Hot Dog Bun and Pink Tiara Cookies for Three! You should check out Maria's blog. There are so many wonderful features, articles and links to be explored.

Maria has recently added another element to her blog called "Make A Difference Mondays." On the first Monday of every month, there will be a Linky Party focusing on a different character trait. This link-up will serve as a resource guide to parents and teachers where lesson ideas, books, videos, and other resources will be shared and exchanged each month. So whether you come by to read, or to share, or to take something with you, you can become a part of the teaching and learning community helping children to develop positive character traits.
I began my teaching career in a classroom for students whose multiple disabilities included deafness. These students had autism, cognitive delays, medical/health impairments, cerebral palsy, and other physical disabilities. Initially, we struggled to be recognized as part of the school site. In time, my students were "mainstreamed" and/or "included" into regular classes and became a visible part and celebrated part of the school culture.

When I transitioned into general education, one of my former students with Down Syndrome was included into my general education class. Since then, in the last twenty years, I have had students with significant special needs at least half of the time. And, like most teachers, I also have many students with IEPs for learning differences and other educational needs every year.

EMPATHY. What a difficult word for students to understand and practice.  In my classroom, I have used books, role playing activities, guest speakers, and music to help students understand how life can be different for other people. Whether we are trying to understand students from different backgrounds, cultures, home situations, or abilities/disabilities, all students need opportunities to discuss and explore how other people feel as they work through challenges and work towards success.
graphics by KPM Doodles
One of the best teaching tools that I have used is a song called, "Walk a Mile." It's an old song, but a good one! It has a catchy tune and lends itself to the exploration of what it means to "Walk a mile in someone's shoes." Over the years, this song has led my students into a variety of discussions. These discussions have, in turn, facilitated a deeper sense of empathy toward one another. And, more than once, a child has started humming the song, and not long afterwards, we are all singing along... and another step in community-building occurs.

I want to direct you to a link for the song... but there is currently a problem with the link to the Vitamin L website (www.vitaminL.org) where (when it is up and running again) you can find lyrics and other information for purchasing this song and others.

However, I was able to locate two other options!

On the website, "Songs for Teaching," you can download a copy of the album or order a CD to be mailed to  you--and both come with song lyrics. This page also has links to other song clips in the collection. There is another page at this site that has a song clip and lyrics for "Walk a Mile." Click on the picture below to take you there.

I also found a clip of "Walk A Mile" performed at Vitamin L's 20th Birthday concert in Ithaca, New York on YouTube. These are not the singers from the recorded version (I like the album version better), but you can get the idea.

I hope you will check out "Walk A Mile" and other songs from Vitamin L. And I REALLY hope that you will link up with Maria and join in on her Make a Difference Mondays Linky Party. Why don't you click on the button below and help us take another step toward making a difference?


  1. What a great way to instill empathy in your students. I have never heard of that song...I will have to check it out. Empathy is so hard for the kids, but I am sure the song is a great gateway for them.

    Teaching in Room 6

  2. Love this song! Thank you for sharing your ideas.

  3. Thank you for the wonderful addition to Make A Difference Mondays! Kim---what an excellent song!!! I really appreciate you linking up!

  4. YAY - I just KNEW you'd link up with Maria. I'm told that if we elevate empathy, we can decrease bullying. SO important!!!

    Cool clip, excellent song!


  5. I have never heard this song but I love it so much! What a great linky party. Thank you for sharing!!

    Think, Wonder, & Teach

  6. I am your newest follower! I love the idea of Make a Difference Mondays! Trying to find a way to tie it into my classroom.
    For the Love of Fourth Grade

  7. I never heard this song before so I am glad you told me about it!! I also tagged you on my blog.

    The Crazy Adventures of a University Graduate
    The Crazy Adventures of Two Quilters

  8. Kim, I've been trying to figure out how to email you. You are the sweetest thing on this planet and I can't believe you sent me a $10 Target card. That was so not necessary -- I AM over the dress but I meant the blogging about it to be funny, not complaining or trying to elicit sympathy. Honestly, I am shocked (in a good way) and I just can't believe your sweetness. Thank you from the bottom of my heart -- you mean the world to me!!!!!!!
    A Teeny Tiny Teacher

  9. Hi Kim! Don't forget to enter to win the giveaway for linking up to Make A Difference Mondays!

  10. This is my first Linky party. Love your idea of using a song to teach empathy. My contribution is Top 10 Books to Teach Kids Compassion



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