Reading in schools can often become very focused on text-level strategies, leading to expectations of students that result in monological responses, very little beyond-the-text interaction, and an absence of personal student growth. The purpose of this study was to determine how using the Book Head Heart approach created and shared by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst to interact with a text changed intermediate students on a social-emotional level, specifically how it affected their empathy skills. Student journal responses were coded before and after students learned the Book Head Heart method; in addition, students completed two surveys measuring empathy. Also, student behaviors were observed before beginning the study and again several weeks after applying the Book Head Heart method to reading. Results show that students using the Book Head Heart approach while reading shared their own feelings and connections to characters 126% more than they did before implementing this approach. While empathy levels only changed slightly over the course of the short, 8-week period, this study shows that students can change and grow as humans as a result of having authentic interactions with texts at the book, head, and heart levels.

Author Bio

Heidi Gibbons is an Acceleration & Enrichment teacher in Geneva, Illinois, in Geneva Community Unit School District 304. She is interested in middle grade literature, gifted education, and social-emotional growth through text experiences. She can be reached at mgibbons@geneva304.org.



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