This blog was originally published on the Book Creator website on August 17, 2023.
We’ve always been huge proponents of global collaboration. Book Creator has been used by classrooms across the world to build a deeper appreciation of other cultures. Here are some great examples from the last 10 years!
- Book Creator supports cultural exchange with Amazon tribes (2014)
- Using Book Creator for digital pen pals (2022)
- The World is My Audience (2015)
- Expand your students’ horizons with global collaboration (2015)
- Faraway Friends – Connecting curious students in Chicago and Iceland (2013)
Whilst we’ve been able to offer a platform to make it easy for classrooms to collaborate together, this missing piece was a good way to connect teachers in the first place, and a framework to help them engage.
Empatico is a free to use, not-for-profit initiative that aims to connect students around the world through virtual interactions and activities. It’s designed to foster empathy, curiosity, and understanding among young learners by allowing them to connect with peers from different cultures and backgrounds.
The platform provides tools and resources for teachers to set up these virtual exchanges between their classrooms. Through Empatico, students can engage in activities like video calls, discussions, and collaborative projects with their partner classrooms in other parts of the world. The activities are carefully designed to promote communication, critical thinking, and mutual respect.
The Empathy Framework
The Empathy Framework was developed by Empatico in conjunction with Knology – a social science think tank. This framework is all about helping students grow in a healthy way and become more empathetic in three important areas: their emotions, thoughts, and actions.
Students get to practice understanding and caring about their own feelings, as well as those of others, including groups from different backgrounds.
The framework has three main areas:
This is about feeling and understanding others’ emotions.
- Intrapersonal: Mindfulness, staying aware of our own emotions and being present.
- Interpersonal: Recognizing others’ emotions and facial expressions.
- Intergroup: Diplomacy, managing emotions when interacting with people from diverse backgrounds.
This involves understanding people’s thoughts and perspectives.
- Intrapersonal: Self-awareness, understanding our own thoughts and biases.
- Interpersonal: Perspective-taking, imagining others’ experiences.
- Intergroup: Inclusivity, recognizing diverse perspectives and norms.
This is about showing care and helping others.
- Intrapersonal: Self-care, taking care of our mental and emotional health.
- Interpersonal: Kindness, treating others with respect and concern.
- Intergroup: Collaboration, helping not only our group but others too.
Each level teaches valuable skills for building empathy, understanding others, and interacting positively with different people and groups.
How can you use Book Creator and Empatico together?
Hopefully this Empathy Framework is already sparking ideas for your next collaborative Book Creator project. But we’re ahead of you! We have already teamed up with Empatico to bring you four activities built right into their platform.
- Far Away Friends – Using Book Creator, engage students in a collaborative project to learn about each other’s community.
- Alternate Storytelling – Using Book Creator, engage students in a collaborative comic book project!
- Our Favorite Recipes – Use Book Creator to make a classroom cookbook by reflecting on students’ favorite foods, special memories and traditions, and culture.
- Practicing Wellness – Lead a discussion about fostering students’ well-being, then use a Book Creator template to create personal “wellness” books!
What’s more, you can find other Book Creator teachers to collaborate with by joining the Book Creator community in Empatico. Just use this link to create your account and you’ll automatically be added to the Book Creator community, or search for Book Creator in the Community area once you’ve signed in (use the code BookCreator).
You can learn more about our partnership with Empatico in this webinar with our Teacher Success Manager Jon Smith and Empatico’s Noah Garcia-Hassell.
Exploring communities through collaboration: The Far Away Friends lesson
This month our Faraway Friends lesson is one of the Featured Lessons in the Empatico library.
This lesson provides students with an inspiring journey that unites them with a partner class in crafting a unique book. Through Book Creator, they share stories of their local communities, including unique features of their homes, stores, restaurants, and natural environments.
The real magic occurs when they explore their partner class’s community and reflect on the similarities and differences in lifestyles. Research shows that culturally-responsive activities like this can foster a more inclusive classroom environment, nurturing kindness, and inclusivity.
What makes this lesson unique is its emphasis on collaboration and empathy aligned with real-world scenarios. By engaging with an Empatico partner class, students don’t just learn about other communities; they experience them. Encourage them to practice kindness, inclusivity, and truly listen to their peers’ ideas throughout the project. The skills they develop here will resonate beyond the classroom, preparing them to navigate our interconnected world.
The inspiration for this lesson comes from Carolyn Skibba and Ingvi Hrannar Omarsson, who connected their classrooms in 2013 using Book Creator. This is the book they created together.
Join forces with Empatico and Book Creator
So we’ve connected Empatico and Book Creator… now it’s your turn. Join the Book Creator Community on Empatico’s website today and bring the Far Away Friends lesson to your classroom.
By being part of this vibrant community, you’re not only enhancing your students’ learning experience but shaping the future of education. Allow your students to embark on a journey of cultural exploration, empathy, and collaboration. Because when we reach out and connect, we’re not just teaching lessons; we’re building bridges.
Together, let’s make education a pathway to a kinder, more understanding world!