On this day, seventy-three years ago, the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, on August 9, 1945, a second bomb destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki.
Empathy and sympathy are not mentioned in the CC standards, but I took as many opportunities as I could to teach students the difference between the two. Sympathy comes from understanding another's plight or suffering; empathy is when we share in their feelings because those feelings are rooted in our own experiences of the same.
As I've mentioned before, students today have very few experiences with war on a national, or world-wide, scale. I used this picture book to teach CC Standards in Social Studies for 8th grade, 1SS.C8.PO6, and helping students understand what happened to Japan's population after the US dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Then, they watched an awesome book reading and interview with survivor, illustrator and author Junko Morimoto, by the Australian Red Cross. I bought class copies of the books, and students followed along.
Students then paired reading documents and discussion with a lesson in which students considered both viewpoints - US and Japanese - through graphic organizers and supplemental readings. A Google search will reveal many such lessons available online, so choose the one that works best for your students and classroom.
The music set the tone, and Morimoto's book helped students to build vital background knowledge to be able to read and understand other, short, selected passages about the bombing of Hiroshima.
Students also read a selection from another of my favorite authors to teach, Steve Sheinkin. The publisher, Roaring Book Press, offers a teaching guide, as well. There is an awesome Language Arts / Theater assignment that would be fantastic to implement and a great way to get students involved.