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Dedicated to Teachers

Online PLC: Teaching Empathy Through Read-Aloud and Role-Play


“While whole-school climate initiatives and programs are being implemented with some success, there is a need to bring the message closer. Make it personal.”

Last week, we shared an article about using read aloud to combat bigotry. This week, we’ll continue to explore the power of read aloud in classrooms.

In their article from the Heinemann Digital Library, Darla Salay and Jennifer Brittin outline ways to initiate discussion following read aloud, with examples of integrating role play and writing to extend the experience and deepen understanding. They explain why the experience of read aloud can be so personal when exploring empathy:

  • The simple act of read aloud creates community

  • Books offer “windows and mirrors”

  • Stories present readers with situations to role-play and cause them to consider the “what ifs” and the “should have beens”


As you read through their flexible protocol for this process, from introducing text through role play and discussion, think about some of your favorite titles and activities you have used with students before. What has been the most effective? Which of your favorite titles might work well as a catalyst for role play?

We look forward to hearing your ideas!

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Darla Salay is a curriculum supervisor in Hammonton, New Jersey. She is also a former reading specialist and literacy coach with the New Jersey Department of Education.

Jennifer Brittin has been teaching fourth grade in Hammonton, New Jersey for twelve years. She has written for Talks With Teachers and Nerdy Book Club.

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Wondering where to connect online? Start by signing up below for Heinemann's Online PLC! Each week, we'll share content from the Heinemann Digital Library as food for thought and discussion. Our conversations can occur in comments here on the blog, on Twitter using #OnlinePLC or in our Facebook Group. Looking forward to sharing content, conversation and camaraderie!

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Topics: Education, Empathy, PLC Series, Read-Aloud, Darla Salay, Digital Campus, Jennifer Brittin, Professional Development

Date Published: 01/25/16

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