- Partner: A La Par Foundation
- Title of the practice: “Four Little Corners”.
- Country: Spain
- Source: Jérome Ruiller (2004). Quatre petits coins de rien du tout.
- Age of children: 6 to 8 years old
Main characteristics of the practice
Working empathy is especially important when it comes to inclusion. The storytelling methodology facilitates feelings of empathy. In the stories, situations of unfair injustice are generated that, sometimes, it is not so easy to identify in reality.
Transporting the empathy generated from a character in a story to a classmate is simple. This makes the storytelling methodology a good tool for conflict resolution and the generation of help attitudes.
In this practice, students not only discover the difficulties of others to be part of a team, but they also experience these difficulties in themselves. Making a new character to interact with those of the story is quite simple with this particular book. Simple characters to draw, cut and paste support students with some special needs.
Finally, the last session of alternative endings to history allows us to identify future support and, above all, express concerns that have not been resolved in the activity.
General goal of the practice and specific objectives
General goal. Develop feelings of empathy and design attitudes of support and help in students.
- Improve teamwork.
- Enrich verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Awake imagination and creativity for inclusion.
- Foster a positive attitude towards problem-solving.
The practice takes a total of 3 sessions of 45 minutes distributed in one week.
- Session 1: Reading the story
- Session 2: Feeling empathy
- Session 3: Creating different finals.
The activity can be realized in the middle of the first term when the classmates know each other and they have built a friendship.
The activity is carried out in the classroom, but it will have three delimited spaces.
- Reading space: identified as a comfortable and pleasant place.
- Space for cooperative work: with a large common table that allows the creation of the mains characters of the story.
- Informal stage: where the children can play and do the activities of session two.
Description of procedures/methodology
The activity seeks to create feelings in the children, empathy feelings. So, it is important for the creation of a comfortable and relaxing environment. The success of the activity depends on the capacity of the teacher to guide the feelings of the children and put them in words. In the case of students with special education needs the expression of the feelings could be by draws or body expression.
After feel empathy, the teacher can explain how to manage properly the feeling and how they can use it to create supports for others and develop helping attitudes.
The students are at the center of learning. They are the protagonists of the activity; the professor is a mere facilitator of student expression.
The activity is based on students’ prior knowledge about diversity and disability, from that previous knowledge, all other concepts are built.
Session 1: Reading the story
The first session starts with audiovisual support. By watching the video, the information becomes easier to understand by students with special education needs.
After watching the video, the story could be read by the teacher. Then an informal debate could start. There are important questions to be resolved by the children:
- Why the shape and the color of the character are different between them?
- What represents “big house”?
- The door of the buildings is important?
- How must be the perfect door?
- If we found doors that don´t allow all the characters to enter, what we can do?
- How are the feelings of the little square?
- How do the little circles see the little square?
Session 2: Feeling empathy
This session requires good previous preparation. In it the students are going to work with emotions, they will express things that are difficult for them. That is why it is very important to create an atmosphere of relaxation and trust in the group. It is very useful to start the session by listening to quiet music and reminding students that only from respect can they live together.
In this session each student creates a character for the story, they can be squares, circles, triangles of any color and size. But the creation process is special: one by one, the students create their own character, they must draw and color the character but with their eyes closed. The rest of the group guide the classmate with the eyes closed.
A lot of concepts are going to appear: what they feel when their eyes are closed? How they feel by helping others? If all the group speaks together the activity becomes easier or more difficult? How is the best way to support a classmate?
Then the exercise is repeated. But this time the student with the eyes closed must go through a little door making with wool and a chair. The group must help the classmate again, but now they know how to do it in an effective way.
The session finishes capturing all the empathy emotions that they have felt doing the activity. The teacher can put in proper words all these emotions. All the productions, the characters can be exposed in the classroom walls.
Session 3: Creating different finals
The teacher reads again the story. Then the students start working in their individual space. The main goal of the session it´s the production of different finals to the story.
They can draw, they can sing, the can dance, whatever they want. After 20 minutes of preparation one by one, they expose their own alternative finale to the story.
There is no one better than others, and it´s impossible to do a bad final. It´s a win-win activity. The class vote their favorite alternative final and then, all together, draw it in one or two bullets.
A projector is used to visualize the story in an audiovisual format. The audiovisual format brings students with special educational needs to history, allowing greater understanding and participation in the activity.
Speakers and music player are also used for the relaxing introduction to the third session. Relaxing music favors the control of emotions in students with special educational needs and improves their communication.
Book: Jérome Ruillier (2004). Quatre petits coins de rien du tout.
Continuous paper, papers, pencils, crayons, and scissors. Wool for the door.
Description of the final product
The final products are the characters of the story of session two. They can be exposed on the classroom’s walls.
Also, the alternative final that they have drawn altogether.
The inclusion of students with special educational needs is favored by the storytelling methodology. The identification of difficulties in an external character is the first step.
In addition, this process is done in a group way. The subsequent personal identification of difficulties is easier.
Understanding how the empathy emotion works it´s the main strength of the activity and can be used over time to solve inclusion problems in the group. The identifications of the keys of a good support process and put them on practice it´s another strength of the activity.
INCLUDED – Digital Storytelling for Inclusion