Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reading and empathy: seeing the world from another's shoes

"Empathy" is a popular buzzword of late. Articles explaining how reading fiction develops empathy pop up regularly in the news. That said, other voices remind us that empathy is not a magic cure-all:

"Empathy is biased; we are more prone
to feel empathy for attractive people
and for those who look like us or share
our ethnic or national background."

All of which is complex and intriguing, especially when you encounter a book that has huge kid appeal and exemplifies the sort of empathy that helps us connect across differences as Steven Arntson's The Wrap-Up List does.

My new article, "Growing Empathic Readers," appears in the spring issue of The Medium, pp. 22-23. In it, I describe a conversation with Steven in which he describes, among other things, how he successfully bridges gaps and how he's challenged students to question their own beliefs. His insights offer something for all of us to ponder!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Middle school videos support K-3 contest!

A highlight of the year for Kindergarten through 3rd grade students is the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award, which allows students to select from 20 nominees. Over 100,000 students across the state take part, and everyone waits with great anticipation to see whether their favorite will emerge victorious!
Adding to the excitement, 5th graders created video book trailers to promote each title. In the process they practiced important information literacy skills, such as:

  • Respecting copyright by using images licensed by Creative Commons
  • Effectively conveying the essence of a book (using "hooks," revealing just enough of the plot, and choosing images and music that fit the story)
  • Keeping your intended audience in mind when crafting a promotional item (how much text to use and how quickly should it scroll by?)
  • Proofreading your own work and offering constructive criticism to others
The results were very impressive! I wish I had room to share all 33 video trailers with you, but since I don't, here are just a couple for you to enjoy!