-School News Network: The format was simple, and what it produced was profound. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) teacher Stephanie Cionca asked Central Woodlands 5/6 students to look at Dorothea Lange’s iconic black-and-white images of people in rough times and try to imagine what they were feeling. Cionca’s prompts included “I see,” “I want,” “I feel” and “I dream.” Sixth-graders Tyler Woldman and Hannah Levering said their groups studied closely the photo they chose — the subjects’ faces, body language and surroundings — and came up with feeling words such as “tired,” “lonely” and “frustrated.” In their classmates’ poems, there also were words of hope amid the solemn images, such as “proud,” “hope” and “curiosity.”
The poetry activity was part of a collaboration between Cionca, fifth-grade counselor Judy Bouley and sixth-grade counselor Christine Field to help students explore the concept of empathy. The unit grew from a now three-year-old event where sixth-graders team up with a group called S.W.I.M. (Safe Water International Ministries) to assemble, test and wrap for shipping more than 50 chlorine-producing units (CPUs). The units will be sent to developing countries such as Nepal and South Africa. To read more about this empathy-building unit, and learn more about what poetry and art have to do with building empathy, click here for the complete story on School News Network.