Empathetic Story-Telling & Active Listening

Through story-telling and active listening, students become not only responsible digital citizens but also community builders and healers.

Photo of Darius White
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To teach digital citizenship and responsible technology use in my English classes, I start with the fundamentals— teaching my students empathy through story-telling and active listening. To be responsible, constructive, and productive in their technology usage, my Sophomores and Seniors learn why we create stories, for whom we create stories, and how we create stories. Whether creating iPhone documentaries, conducting home interviews with their families, or making digital PSAs, my students create, consume, and analyze media with the intention of honoring or humanizing different voices, educating others, and combatting injustices. In assuming the dual role of consumer and producer, my students learn the difference between individual intent and communal impact when picking up that camera, posting that tweet, or selecting that song for our classroom playlist. Rather than fearing or banning technology, I invite tech as long as my students and I invite one another to ongoing, open dialogue about the uses and effects of such tools. Through the frameworks of empathetic story-telling and active listening, my students understand technology as a means for healing and building together as we share our experiences in creative and transformative ways.  


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Photo of Paul Kim

Hi Darius,

First of all, thanks for participating in this collaboration between the Teachers Guild and ISTE. We really appreciate your contributions!

We’re in the last week of the build phase of the challenge on digital citizenship so it’s time to fine tune your idea before final voting begins next week.

Here are some things to consider as you continue to build on your idea:
- is your idea clear and will it inspire action from other teachers?
- would it be easy for a teacher to incorporate your idea about digital citizenship in their classroom?
- does your idea include some component of research and are there shareable resources?
- is your idea student-centered and does it promote agency?


Photo of Darius White

I want to give a shout-out to my partner, Cara Brancoli  for her ideas on our collaborative project. Our collaborative project focused on empathy and story-telling included students sharing parts of their own life story or upbringing with one another, and then re-telling their partner's life story and life facts using first person. In other words, the students had to pay attention to their partner's response to the question of "Who are you?" as well as pay attention to their partner's body language and emotional delivery of responses. After this project, the students claim to have felt closer to their classmate and their classmate's story when they had to re-tell their classmate's story using the "I." Having done this project after a months of ongoing community-building, the classroom community became a bit closer as students had to somewhat embody their classmate's experience for just a few minutes. Thank you again, Cara Brancoli ! We may continue this activity as a way to analyze character development in fiction literature.

Photo of Cara Brancoli

Thank you, Darius! I am so glad that we have the chance to work together on this project! I appreciate your ideas and the amazing rapport you have with the students. I think it would be very difficult to facilitate this kind of storytelling and sharing without building the trust that you have with your students. I am learning a lot and look forward to collaborating more!

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