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Lessons plan-Mastering listening, empathy and trust

The following sheet presents the one-day training program for teachers, designed to provide them with the tools (theoretical content, materials, activities and exercises) to work subsequently, in the same way, with their students.

Activity / lesson title

Express, communicate and recognize emotions. The value of empathy

Relevant link

Target group

Teachers/High-school students


One-day workshop: 7h and 30 minutes (20 minutes break during the morning, 1h break for lunch, 20 minutes break during the afternoon)

Learning Environment

Gym (or an open space) and classroom (or a space with tables)

Expected learning outcomes

This learning activity supports students in developing competences and skills in expressing, communicating and recognizing emotions and feelings with empathy and in a “non-violent” way, respecting other people's minds. This will be possible by teaching them the differences between verbal and non-verbal communication and how they work in relation with feelings and emotion. By the end of the lesson trainees/students will be able to:

  • identify characteristics and differences between verbal and non-verbal communication;

  • describe and give voice to their emotions and feelings;

  • recognize another person's emotions;

  • use empathy and non-verbal communication.

Answer the following essential questions:

  • how can I express/communicate my emotions and my feelings?

  • how can I recognize other people’s emotions and feelings?

Subjects and topics covered

Mother tongue, foreign language, art, civics

Method description

Mixed methodology (theatrical and movement games, frontal lesson, art activities... )

Tools / Materials / Resources

Glossy sheets, tempera colours, nails, paper scroll, newspapers and magazines, scissors, glue

Detailed description of the step-by-step activity / sequences of the units

Introduction The European Union highlights the importance of developing civic competencies. Among the civic competences the EU lists there are:

  • communicate: being able to communicate feelings, minds and ideas;

  • collaboration and participation: being able to collaborate with other people and peers and to manage the conflict;

  • act independently and in a responsible way: respecting my mind and others.

Those competencies highlight a tight link between “word”, “self-expression” and “relation” with other people/ peers. Those skills are important to be and become an EU citizen and to stimulate an active citizenship, as they enable people to meet each other, to communicate and to meet others in a valuable and respectful way. Moreover, to be aware about “the right way” to communicate helps people to counter hate speech and discriminations and prevent the misuse of verbal communication, non-verbal communication and related symbolism and media products (such as photos and videos). Following activities help students to reflect more on the importance of the communicative act related to emotional experiences and in finding the right way to express themselves, respecting others' minds and feelings. Morning “NOT JUST WORDS First step: NOT JUST ICEBREAKING THE SQUARE. A game about funny ways to say hello without words. (10 minutes to play). The participants walk free in the space waiting for the trainer to communicate to them the way in which they will have to greet each other (f.i. by touching the right shoulder or fixing each other's feet); every 30 seconds, the trainer changes indications. ONE IDEA, ONE MOVEMENT. A theatrical game to express yourself without words. (10 min) All the participants arrange themselves in a circle; in turn, each participant reaches the centre of the circle and, after looking everyone in the eye, performs a movement (for example, he raises his arms to the sky and stands on tiptoe). The movement should express an idea that, at that moment, passes through the participant's head. ONE FEELING, ONE WORD. A theatrical game to express yourself with one single word. (10 min) All the participants arrange themselves in a circle; one at a time, each participant reaches the centre of the circle and, after looking everyone in the eye, pronounces the following sentence: "my name is .... and today I feel ....." INTRODUCE YOURSELF. A Speed Meeting game to talk with the others. (10 min) The participants arrange themselves in two groups forming two concentric circles. Participants of one circle look at those of the other. At the start, each participant must converse with the one in front of him. The topic underlying the dialogue is always proposed by the trainer (f.i. "tell about your holidays"). Every minute, the two concentric circles rotate one position in the opposite direction; the trainer proposes a new topic for dialogue. DEBRIEFING with the participants (20 min). Second step: THEORY Theory of COMMUNICATION, verbal and non verbal. (45 min) DEBRIEFING questions and reflections from the participants (25 min). Third step: PLAY ON WORDS (60 minutes) Each language features specific puns that are difficult to explain. Even the games and exercises that can be done with words, using them in a free and creative way, vary from language to language. This activity is based on exercises and games with the written words. DEBRIEFING: questions and reflections from the participants (25 min). Afternoon “THE FEELINGS: EXPRESS YOURSELF” Fourth step: BODY LANGUAGE Some exercises based on the Theatre of the Oppressed method by Augusto Boal In group WALK IN THE SQUARE. An exercise about different ways to walk, numbered from 0 to 10 (5 min). THE MACHINE. A theatrical exercise from the Theatre of the Oppressed by AUGUSTO BOAL (10 min) In pairs THE MIRROR. A theatrical exercise from the Theatre of the Oppressed by AUGUSTO BOAL (5 min) THE SCULPTOR AND THE CLAY. A theatrical exercise from the Theatre of the Oppressed by AUGUSTO BOAL (5 min) DEBRIEFING: questions and reflections from the participants (10 min). Fifth step: THE VALUE OF EMPATHY What is empathy? How does it work? What is the value of empathy in communication? What role does empathy play in digital communication? (45 min) Sixth step: WORKING ON THE EMOTIONS FROM THE BAD TO THE BEST. (15 min) An activity around feelings and words to express them. In an open space, without words, participants have to find a place in a line, handing a card with the name of a single emotion. The line has to start with a “negative” emotion (f.i. SADNESS) and end with a “positive” one (f.i. HAPPINESS) DEBRIEFING: questions and reflections from the participants (10 min). MY FEELINGS (30 min). Graffiti paintings: using tempera colours, cover completely a glossy sheet, then make a free drawing (inspired by one of the EMOTIONS of the previous activity) using the top of the nail as a tip for engraving PRESENTATION OF THE WORKS (15 min) I GIVE YOU ONE WORD (30 min) Group activity to give a word as a present to another group: with papers and magazines, using the collage technique, realise a collage poster inspired by a single WORD related with emotions and feelings (f.i. JOY) DEBRIEFING about the day: HOW DID YOU FEEL? (20 min)

  1. Sources

The theory of communication:

Play On Words

Theatre of the oppressed

The Value of Empathy

Feedback & assessment

The evaluation is made at the end of each activity during the “debriefing time”

Evaluation (for purposes of grading)

No evaluation activities are foreseen in this activity

Intellectual property rights (IPR) / Origin of the activity

This activity can be copied, distributed, modified and used non-commercially.

Tips for the teachers

It would be useful to ask participants to prepare a mind map with two topics - EMOTIONS and WORDS - before the activity. At the end of the day, the teacher asks participants to edit this map according to the activities made.

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