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Sympathy and empathy are not synonyms. Empathy has to do with appreciating another’s thinking and emotions – in other words, putting yourself in someone else's shoes. Doing so enables a new perspective and allows us to gain insight into diversity and collaborative problem solving, which are important topics in society.
This lesson is part of a developing book, which is meant to be used by middle-grade teachers to encourage students to understand real-life problems and acquire an understanding of individuals who have them. It features a short story that is relatable for many students the teacher may have, and asks them to adopt the role of a character in the story to better experience the value of empathy. A series of follow-up questions probes deeper into the students' response to their role, and enables teachers to pursue broader questions of empathy.