The Torn Heart
Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School

Students listen to a story read aloud, thinking and reflecting about instances in the story where someone was wronged, was unfairly treated, or was not treated respectfully. Each time they feel this way, the students make a “thumbs down” gesture. Each time the students make a “thumbs down” gesture, the teacher tears a little piece of the heart cut-out that is taped to the teacher’s shirt, symbolizing how the book character feels throughout the story. The teacher conducts a classroom discussion and reflection afterwards.

Students will develop and reinforce empathy in their behavior inside and outside of the classroom.
Students will build upon their awareness of actions that constitute put-downs and put-ups.
Students will develop their commitment to positive interactions.
Students will create and build upon common language around put-downs, put-ups, and thumbs-down, thumbs-up behavior.
Don’t Laugh at Me by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin (2002, Tricycle Press)
Red construction paper
Before reading Don’t Laugh at Me, ask the students to rate their day on a scale of 1-10.
Briefly describe how people can feel differently at different times during the day.
Before reading, explain that each time the protagonist in the story is treated poorly, students should make a “thumbs down” gesture, and each time the protagonist is treated exceptionally well, they should make “thumbs-up” gesture.
Begin to read aloud.
Each time the “thumbs-down” gesture is made, the teacher tears a piece of the heart cut-out that is taped to her/his shirt, symbolizing how the character is feeling.
After the read aloud, have a discussion about the various situations that the protagonist experienced. Ask, "How do you think he felt? Have you ever felt this way? What are different ways we can make each other feel safe and included?"
Listening, observation, and discussion