Tag Archives: ShortStory

Four Complementary Ways to Build Empathy on Day 9/67, with Diverse Learning Tools

Walking, study, and story, in themselves, are each powerful ways of learning, and can each be used to build empathy, while tying that learning all together so that it sticks. Walking facilitates thinking, or reflection, often generating both empathy, especially if walking with others, and new ideas for further study. Study can also build empathy, of course, if directed down the pathway of thinking of others. Story, it is well-known, has long been used as a teaching and empathy-building tool in many societies throughout human history.

Today is day 9 of my traditional 67 lesson plan set for teaching in Adult High School Equivalency diploma and GED preparation night school classrooms. This particular lesson is meant to cover, mostly, some starter questions about the salt trade, with the related mathematics, reading, grammar, and history, but… What if we put them all together, as part of our Learning Toolbox?

1.) One example of walking to learn is found on page 46 of my book Stayed on Freedom’s Call, via some of the walking Black-Jewish Cooperation DC history tours I created. That page, as part of the entire book, is freely available on The Internet Archive in various formats.

2.) A second example is my favorite lesson, Day 17, of my holistic GED set of lesson plans for a five month semester. For many students, it should be possible to complete preparation for the HiSET or GED in that time. These lesson plans tie together the mathematics related to the lesson of that day with a history reading, often also a science reading, grammar, and a writing assignment, all designed to connect to a central theme, often using a mind-map or a chart to generate and reinforce the new ideas in connection with already learned material. The use of realia (objects or activities used to relate classroom teaching to real life materials) and kinesthetic (movement or hands-on building related methods, like making models with string or clay…) methods is also encouraged to aide in problem solving and recall, across the set of lessons.

3.) Then, third, is learning through story. By reading historical fiction, many adults have expressed the fact that they can learn more about historical or even current topics, like slavery as it contributed to the modern trafficking problem. Stories that explore difficult topics have long held the power to teach, and to change hearts and minds, like my serial story Ann & Anna.

And, 4.) which I forgot initially, is language learning, as a fourth tool for empathy building.

Using methods like these three broad techniques, we can make learning easier, more effective, and fun. This is crucial to building a more empathetic society.

We can Do Better.

Shira

*****************

Click here to read, if you like:

Babylon 5Hakan:Muhafiz (The Protector)Lupin, & La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) Reviews…

Holistic High School Lessons,

           or My Long Term Nonfiction Writing and Historical Fiction prose

Thoughtful Readers, if you are on Twitter, please consider following   #Project Do Better  on Twitter.

 Shira Destinie Jones’ work  is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Ann and Anna, (serial short story): Prequel Concluded

        Ann & Anna, Part  21 (River), posted last Sunday. apple_tree_flowers_and_rance_river_estuary  I have reluctantly decided that this will be the last part of our publicly published story.  I’ve been urged to finish this story as a novel, which cannot be queried if it has been published on a blog, so I must apologize, dear Readers.  I never imagined that the dream (nightmare) that started this story would lead to all of this, but now I would like to take it and develop it into a book.  I hope, once completed and published, that you will all read the remainder of this story.  While these past twenty one parts will make up the prequel to the story, I doubt that a publisher will allow them to be part of a novel, so I am closing this now, upon strong advice from several friends, to start working on the novel.  I plan to post an excerpt, each Sunday, to keep in touch with our dear Willow and Anna.

  And then…

whobyfireiwilltmpcover

Then, finally, I will get back to Who By Fire!

       This is the continuation scene in my historical fiction series  Ann&Anna.  I  hope that this series will move you to learn more ways to help use our history to build new tools.

  Parts 21 (River)Part 20 (Into The Night) ,   19 (Peculiar Gifts)18 (Mouth of Babes)17 (Testing)16 (Power)15 (Knowledge)14 (Words)13 (Interruptions)12 (Gifts)11 (Punishment),  10 (Warmth),   9 (Found)8 (Lost)7 (Rock)6 (Believe), 5 (Naming), 4 (Home), 3 (Trust), 2 (Hope), and 1 (Nightmares) have posted on previous Sundays.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Shira

Action Prompts:

1.) Share your thoughts on how this story may encourage empathy-building cooperation, and might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking.  It is my personal contribution to Project Do Better.

2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.

***************** 

Click here to read, if you like:

Creative Commons License
Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

   Comment: You can see how her C-PTSD is healing, in the love of this chosen/found family…

Ann and Anna, (serial short story, Part 21): River

        Part  20 (Into The Night), was last Sunday…

       Our ride in the carriage, that night, seated back to back as Anna and I were, was at least sure against the winter chill.  I’d laid an extra blanket over little Tilly, then snuggled back up against Anna.  At some point during our ride, she had turned to cradle me in her arms as we slept.  I awoke nuzzling the inside of her neck, and rose with a start, as I saw our Tilly observing me.  My cheeks began to burn as I wondered how long she might have been awake.

 

“It’s ok, Miss Willow.  Your servant Joe Wright is here to keep us safe, Missus.”

 

I was so relieved, I hardly knew what to say.  “Oh, Tilly, you don’t need to play our game here.  We are alone.”

 

She shook her head most insistently:  “Joe told me that we are never to end this game, Miss Willow, until we are free up North.  All the way north.”  She looked at the window, covered against the cold, and against prying eyes, and inched closer, whispering, “we never know what ears may be up against this door.”

 

“That is right.”  How long had Anna been awake?  I’d not felt her move a muscle, but she was surely listening.  How did she do that?  Just then, I recalled the question which had been burning within me as we went to sleep.

 

“Miss, sorry, Joe, you said something last night about seeing Old Mary soon.  What on this Good Lord’s earth were you talking about, pray tell?”

 

Anna flashed her most devilish grin.  It was the one that promised shocking things to come.

 

“What say both of you,” she had managed to lower her voice another octave, to sound like a young boy, if not a man, “to a spot of breakfast, before I answer that question?”

 

“I am starving!”

 

I was amazed at how quietly this child could shout.

 

“Tilly,” I teased in my finest soprano whisper, which is not an easy thing to do, “you are always starving, HoneyChild!”

 

We all fell to giggling as quietly as we had whispered, as we shared out the cornbread Mrs. H. had given us to breakfast upon.  Even cold, that aroma was enticing.  It had been all she’d had to hand, so we knew we must make do on that one meal for most of this day.

 

When we had each had three chews and a swallow of our meal, I looked up again at Anna, my head tilted insistently at her, as I waited for my reply.

 

She finally rewarded me:  “Do you remember the white men who met us where we stopped with the wagon?”

 

I nodded.

 

“They were expecting to see four of us, of course.”

Of course.  I still recalled the despair of that parting.

 

“Old Mary was meant to carry you and Little Sally, while Captain here,” she lifted her head up toward the front of the carriage, “is sturdy enough for both Miss Mary and myself.  Since it was just you, they almost took Old Mary back with them, but I told them that two horses were better than one.  That is why she is here again, tied up back as the spare.“

 

Old Mary was here!  It was a pity that I had no apples or carrots for her.  That thought brought to mind the memory of my Miss Mary, for some odd reason, singing one of our favorite songs.  I wished I could go now, down to some peaceful river, thinking about a good way, a better way than this world’s way, to pray.

 

There came a knock at the carriage door, and I realized that we had not been moving for some moments.  I wondered how I had managed not to notice.  All was silent.  Another knock came, this time in three sharp raps, followed by two light knocks.  Anna nodded, and Little Tilly cracked the door open just enough to see the pair of blue eyes looking back at us, and opened it wide enough for the doctor see in.

 

“Joe, it is here that I must leave you all.  I bid you god speed.”

 

 

I saw the barest lift of his hat just as the doctor stepped back out of view, allowing our Joe to exit the carriage.  The door had clicked shut, and we’d started up again with nary a sound.  Now, we were on our own, and our safety depended upon me.

 

I decided that this was a good time to pray.

       This is the continuation scene in my historical fiction series  Ann&Anna.  I  hope that this series will move you to learn more ways to help use our history to build new tools.

  Parts   20 (Into The Night)19 (Peculiar Gifts)18 (Mouth of Babes)17 (Testing)16 (Power)15 (Knowledge)14 (Words)13 (Interruptions)12 (Gifts)11 (Punishment),  10 (Warmth),   9 (Found)8 (Lost)7 (Rock)6 (Believe), 5 (Naming), 4 (Home), 3 (Trust), 2 (Hope), and 1 (Nightmares) have posted on previous Sundays.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Shira

Action Prompts:

1.) Share your thoughts on how this story may encourage empathy-building cooperation, and might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking.  It is my personal contribution to Project Do Better.

2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.

***************** 

Click here to read, if you like:

Creative Commons License
Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

   Comment: You can see how her C-PTSD is healing, in the love of this chosen/found family…

Ann and Anna, (serial short story, Part 20): Into The Night

        Part  19 (Peculiar Gifts), was last Sunday…

     We had tiptoed down the back stairs as quickly as we dared.  While Mrs. H. was pinning me inside of her best dress, still smelling of lavender, Anna and Tilly had packed our precious documents.  That I had passed Anna’s test seemed nothing short of a miracle, now that we must speed away so suddenly.  I cursed my capricious memory, as capable of holding me in an iron grip while the smell of blood washed over me as it was of delivering those words which would safeguard our freedom.

 

The carriage stood waiting in the courtyard, the door open and barely visible in the darkness.  The doctor himself held the reins of the two horses while little Tilly hid nearly under my skirts as our Joe ushered us in and closed the door behind us.  She handed me the sheaf of documents, neatly bound in a leather pouch.  My heart raced as I began to taste bile.  Now I became grateful for that lavender, perfuming our cramped space.  All had passed so quickly and in such silence that I’d not had time to consider the consequences, should I fail.  I felt my gloved fingers begin to sweat where they made contact with the leather.  Wonderful little Tilly came to my rescue yet again, holding up my satchel to store away our papers.

 

Still lost in my thoughts, Anna leaned into my shoulder, whispering in my ear.

 

“We have saddle bags, if you wish to keep your old sewing basket.”

 

I nearly dropped the satchel.  I clutched it to my bosom after catching it just as my hands let it slip.

 

“I thought that might bring you back to us.  I saved it, after you left it in the wagon, in case you should need anything, except those scissors, of course.”

 

Her smile, even in the darkness of that carriage, carried to me.  I could barely see her, but I could hear that devilish grin in her voice, and the lifted brow.  I began to relax, breathing as deeply as my bodice would allow while the lavender worked its soothing balm upon me.  I was glad that Mrs. H.’s dress was too large for me, as it gave me more room to breathe.  How fortunate we were to have sheltered in the home of gentry, accustomed to changing various times even on a normal day.  No working family, colored or white, would have had the means to accomplish this ruse.  Then a problem occurred to me.  I turned to whisper:

 

“But Anna, I’m sorry, Joe.  How is it that you found my basket?  I thought I had dropped it along the way when I fell from Old Mary.”

 

“Oh, no.  I put it in my saddle bag when you first mounted her.”

 

“But then…”

 

“The bulge in your saddle bag?  Only an extra blanket.”

 

Her voice had risen an octave at those last words.  What a marvelous singing voice she must have, if I ever got a chance to hear it.  We were not allowed to sing whilst in the doctor’s home, lest the neighbors hear.  Thinking of Doctor H., I wondered how he would explain this outing.  He must have invented a patient to see as a pretext.  I could only suppose, as we were not to know any more than strictly essential for our flight.  Which reminded me:

 

“I hope Old Mary is happy, where ever she is.  I was truly sorry to have put her, and all of you, in danger.”

 

“Hush, now.  We have spoken about this.  Besides, you’ll see her again, soon.”

 

I turned to look at her, but she had turned her back to mine, as if to go to sleep.  Little Tilly took that moment to stretch out on the opposite seat, and all was silence.  The rest of my questions would just have to wait.

       This is the continuation scene in my historical fiction series  Ann&Anna.  I  hope that this series will move you to learn more ways to help use our history to build new tools.

  Parts  19 (Peculiar Gifts)18 (Mouth of Babes)17 (Testing)16 (Power)15 (Knowledge)14 (Words)13 (Interruptions)12 (Gifts)11 (Punishment),  10 (Warmth),   9 (Found)8 (Lost)7 (Rock)6 (Believe), 5 (Naming), 4 (Home), 3 (Trust), 2 (Hope), and 1 (Nightmares) have posted on previous Sundays, 

and Part 21 will post next Sunday.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Shira

Action Prompts:

1.) Share your thoughts on how this story may encourage empathy-building cooperation, and might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking.  It is my personal contribution to Project Do Better.

2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.

***************** 

Click here to read, if you like:

Creative Commons License
Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Ann and Anna, (serial short story, Part 19): Peculiar Gifts

      …  Parts 18 (Mouth of Babes)17 (Testing)16 (Power)15 (Knowledge)14 (Words)13 (Interruptions)12 (Gifts)11 (Punishment),  10 (Warmth),   9 (Found)8 (Lost)7 (Rock)6 (Believe), 5 (Naming), 4 (Home), 3 (Trust), 2 (Hope), and 1 (Nightmares) have posted on previous Sundays…

     As I marveled at the wisdom of this young child, I just caught a movement out of the corner of my eye.  Anna had given Tilly the slightest of nods.  I turned to her, little Tilly still in my arms, and raised an eyebrow.

 

She rewarded me with her most mischievous smile.  So, then.  Not only from the mouths of babes.  My tears ended, I couldn’t help but return her smile.  My breast filled with hope, until stayed by my bodice.

 

“You see, my dear Miss Willow, we can indeed accomplish this task which is set before us.”

 

Anna’s confidence was as bracing as a cup of tea on a cold day.  Tilly seconded that thought, nodding her head so vigorously that I had to put her down.  Anna drew near, pulling us both into an embrace that no family had ever bested.

 

“Well, my dears.”

 

I looked up with a start.  It was Mrs. H.  She stood in the doorway holding a bundle of clothing.  The doctor, however, was no longer in the room.  Just how long, exactly, had I been unawares?  Had I fainted?

 

“While the doctor is seeing to the carriage, I have brought you such apparel as our Joe  Wright here has requested.”  She nodded to Anna, then turned to me.  “We always have diverse disguises on hand that will do for young Joe and Tilly, but nothing for this Peculiar ruse of yours.  I only keep one change of fine dress and stays, Willow, for special occasions.”

 

That word.  Does she disapprove?  Tilly ran over to take the bundle from her.  Mrs. H. continued across the room, stopping before a large chest.  When she opened it, a scent of lavender escaped, perfuming the room.  She pulled out a dress such as the mistress of a plantation would wear.  I gasped, finally understanding the extent of her hospitality.  Just then, a familiar sound caught my ear, somewhere outside.  I looked to the window, but all was darkness, and quiet.

 

“Did you hear me, Willow?”

 

I looked back, embarrassed to have missed what she was saying.  Little Tilly, already beginning to play her role, responded for me:

 

“If you please, Missus, my mistress is very devout, and was saying a prayer just as you spoke.”

 

She bowed her head and dropped into that perfect curtsy as she finished, drawing a scowl from Mrs. H.  I almost thought I heard the child let escape half of a giggle.

 

“Willow, I fear that this dress will go a little long on you, but we’ve no time to alter it.”

 

That dress, I knew, would not suffice on special occasions in Virginia.  But for travel, it would do.

 

“Mrs. H. this is the loveli-”

 

“You need not flatter me, young Willow.  I am no Virginia Lady.  Now, let us be about our task quickly, for I hear them in the courtyard now.”

       This is the continuation scene in my historical fiction series  Ann&Anna.  I  hope that this series will move you to learn more ways to help use our history to build new tools.

  Part 18 (Mouth of Babes) was last Sunday, and then, Part 20 (Into The Night)  posted.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Shira

Action Prompts:

1.) Share your thoughts on how this story may encourage empathy-building cooperation, and might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking.  It is my personal contribution to Project Do Better.

2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.

***************** 

Click here to read, if you like:

Narrative and Prose Nonfiction,     

or Holistic High School Lessons,

Creative Commons License
Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Ann and Anna, (serial short story, Part 18): Mouth of Babes

      …  Parts 17 (Testing)16 (Power)15 (Knowledge)14 (Words)13 (Interruptions)12 (Gifts)11 (Punishment),  10 (Warmth),   9 (Found)8 (Lost)7 (Rock)6 (Believe), 5 (Naming), 4 (Home), 3 (Trust), 2 (Hope), and 1 (Nightmares) have posted on previous Sundays…

 

Part 18: From The Mouths of Babes

 

     I began to tremble, that old stench returning.  As I looked about the room, I saw not the faces of my sweet Anna, nor the doctor and his wife, but that of little Tilly: in chains.

 

     We were back in the Slave Gaol where my friends had been punished.  The odors of sweat mingled with blood, dirt, and fear, as the Senator ordered me held and made to watch.  Each slice of that leather whistling through the air brought fresh emissions of noxious gasses, the air befouled with the contents of their bowels, and mine.

     The blood of both friends, whipped one after the other, smeared my face so thickly that my tears ran puddles of blood to the slop covered floor.  My shrieks for mercy joined those of Little Sal, bound beside me, to watch, and to learn.

 

     No mercy came, only more blood.  The smell of iron rose up so sharply that I could taste the rust.  Then, the Senator drew near with a smile that turned my stomach.

 

“You shall have a double length bath, now, before I come to see you, My Ann.”

 

     He’d nodded to his head overseer, turning on his heel to leave as I began to wretch.

 

     A touch upon my cheek, tender as that of a Grandmother, brought me back to the room.  The velvet hand of Little Tilly was warm as she stretched up to hold my face, like dear Anna had done so many times before.

 

“Miss Willow.”

 

     That whisper broke through the tears racing down my face.  I bent down to pick her up, and she touched her tiny face to my ear.

 

“Be strong, and of good courage, for the Lord is with us.”

 

       This is the continuation scene in my historical fiction series  Ann&Anna.  I  hope that this series will move you to learn more ways to help use our history to build new tools.

  Part 17 (Testing) was last Sunday, and Part 19 (Peculiar Gifts) will be next Sunday.

I look forward to your thoughts.

Shira

Action Prompts:

1.) Share your thoughts on how this story may encourage empathy-building cooperation, and might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking.  It is my personal contribution to Project Do Better.

2.) Write a story, post or tweet that uses those thoughts.

***************** 

Click here to read, if you like:

Narrative and Prose Nonfiction,     

or Holistic High School Lessons,

Creative Commons License
Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.