Our second graders this year are at lots of drastically different levels...both academically and socially. And in their English fluency! It means that 1) we're having to differentiate lessons by classroom way more than usual and 2) we're needing to break concepts down a bit more. This, paired with the fact that conflict is forever and always an issue, lead us to decide to do both a perspective taking lesson and an empathy lesson as part of second grade's social skills theme. The hope is that starting with perspective taking will scaffold (or plant some seeds) before we tackle empathy, especially because we are looking for students to apply the lessons, just not learn the lingo.
We started the perspective taking lesson by showing the students the following three images and asking:
- What do you see?
- Does anyone see anything different?
- What do these pictures all have in common? They don't have right or wrong answers, they include more than one idea, etc.
Then we read the book Hey, Little Ant! by Phillip and Hannah Hoose. We preface it by explaining that it's a dialogue between a kid and an ant and give them the heads up that there is no ending to the story. While we're reading it, we stop a few times to rephrase some of the ideas and do some "think alouds" as our literacy coach calls them (when we verbalize, out loud, a thought we have while reading it).
The next step is for the students to generate reasons to "save" (or "spare" as one of my high vocab kiddos said today!) the ant and reasons to "squish" the ant. In order to give some talk time and incorporate movement, we have students find 3 different partners and share with each of them a different idea they have. I facilitate the rotating with my chime. Then we sit back together on the rug, they share their ideas, I write them on the easel, and then we repeat with the other side (save or squish, depending on what we started with). Sadly, I forgot my phone for these lessons and didn't get any pics of how it turned out.
I was a little surprised by how enthusiastically they shared their reasoning for squishing the ant...but then they surprised me more by voting (with their eyes closed, no peer pressure involved) to save the ant!
We ended the lesson by a short discussion of how this lesson and story applies to situations at school. We talked through the following examples (using myself and/or actual students as examples):
- One student tells the other student "I think you're doing that math worksheet wrong." They think they're being kind and helpful, but the other student thinks they're being mean and bossy.
- Two students are sitting by each other in the cafeteria. One student accidentally bumps the other and they spill some of their milk. The student who spilled their milk says “I hate you”. The second kid’s perspective is “they bumped me on purpose and didn’t apologize, that was so mean”; the first’s is “it was an accident and I didn’t know they spilled their milk”.