ALEX Learning Activity


C.A.R.E. to Solve a Real-World Problem and Develop Empathy!

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Brigitte McCawley
System:Alexander City
School:Alexander City Board Of Education
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2342
C.A.R.E. to Solve a Real-World Problem and Develop Empathy!
Digital Tool/Resource:
C.A.R.E. Experience Student Interactive
Web Address – URL:

This experience was designed to support its title, the acronym C.A.R.E., which stands for Come together, Assess a need, Relate to a need, Empathize!


This interactive, Google Doc will guide students through the problem-solving process as they practice active listening and creativity during the interview (empathy) and design (iteration) stages of Design Thinking to solve a problem being experienced by a peer.


This experience will provide students with the opportunity to practice the use of the 4 C's (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity), which are highly demanded, 21st Century skills in the career world.


The student(s) can use the interactive guide to document information gathered during a personal interview with a peer, analyze that information and generate a problem statement prior to listing ideas and designing a prototype as a potential solution. 


The active engagement in this experience will expose the student(s) to the Alabama Course of Study standards that focus on identifying alternative solutions to problems, designing prototypes, collaborative communication, showing compassion and respect for others, and expressing creativity.

This activity is a result of the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Character Education
CE (1995)
Grade: K-12
6 ) Respect for others

Character Education
CE (1995)
Grade: K-12
12 ) Compassion

Character Education
CE (1995)
Grade: K-12
22 ) Creativity

Counseling and Guidance
CG (2003)
Grade: K-12
100 ) PS:B1.3 - identify alternative solutions to a problem

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 5
32 ) Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on Grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly. [SL.5.1]

a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion. [SL.5.1a]

b. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles. [SL.5.1b]

c. Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others. [SL.5.1c]

d. Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions. [SL.5.1d]

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 5
28) Develop, test, and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process to solve a complex problem.

Examples: Design backpack for a specific user's needs; design a method to collect and transport water without the benefit of faucets; design boats that need to hold as much payload as possible before sinking; design models of chairs based on specific user needs.

Unpacked Content
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students will:
  • develop prototypes as part of a cyclical design process to solve a complex problem.
  • test prototypes as part of a cyclical design process to solve a complex problem.
  • refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process to solve a complex problem.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • develop
  • test
  • refine
  • prototypes
  • cyclical design process
Students know:
  • how to use the design process to solve a complex problem.
  • strategies for creating a prototype as part of a cyclical design to solve a problem.
  • strategies for testing and refining prototypes as part of a cyclical design process to solve a complex problem.
  • characteristics of a cyclical design process.
Students are able to:
  • develop, test, and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process to solve a complex problem.
Students understand that:
  • developing, testing, and refining are necessary steps in creating an effective prototype.
Learning Objectives:

The student(s) will practice active listening skills while conducting a peer interview using a Google Doc guide during the empathy stage of Design Thinking for the purpose of identifying one of five possible problems being experienced by a peer.

The student(s) will document information gathered during a personal interview with a peer to practice collaborative discussion, critical thinking, and the development of compassion (empathy) and respect for others.

The student(s) will practice creativity by listing alternative solutions and designing a prototype as a potential solution to a problem being experienced by a peer.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

The student(s) will use the interactive Google Doc as a guide and practice active listening while interviewing a peer who will identify one of the five problems listed within the doc as applicable to him/her. 


As prompted within the Google Doc and during the interview, the student(s) will note important information, such as likes, dislikes, and specific issues that are part of the problem being experienced by the peer. 


When prompted within the Google Doc, the student(s) will generate a two-sentence problem statement and list ideas to serve as potential solutions to the identified problem.


When prompted within the Google Doc, the student(s) will analyze all information gathered and design a pencil/paper prototype as a potential solution to the identified problem.


This learning activity will conclude with a prompt within the guide for the student to verbally engage in a follow-up interview and present his/her prototype design to their partner.


Assessment Strategies:

A formal, cumulative assessment is not intended for this practice activity; however, formative processes to assure students are understanding and progressing accordingly do need to occur and can involve the following:

  • A digital, collaborative Q/A Wall can be copied via the link below. This will enable students to post their questions during the activity for formative assessment purposes in which the teacher can provide immediate feedback: 


  • Use of interactive Google Docs will allow collaboration and immediate feedback via the comments feature, which can also stand as a form of formative assessment. To utilize this tool, do the following:

    • Highlight the text you wish to make a comment on.
    • Click "insert" in the horizontal toolbar for Google Docs.
    • Choose "comment" from the drop-down menu.
    • Type and post your comment.


Advanced Preparation:

  • Students will need access to pencils, erasers, paper, and crayons or colored pencils for designing their prototype.


  • Students should have access to and general knowledge of using Google Docs for interactive tasks, as students will be prompted within the document to click and enter (type) information if not using a paper copy. 


  • Use of Google Classroom can allow each student to be provided with online access to an individual copy of the interactive Google Doc for completion.


  • A force copy link to the interactive Google Doc can be emailed to students by doing the following:


    • Click to open the interactive Google Doc.
    • Click the "Share" icon located in the upper, right-hand area on the screen.
    • Click the provided link (URL) to highlight and copy it.
    • Paste the link into the body of the email, but be sure to replace the word "edit" with the word "copy" before sending the email. (Do not replace or omit any other characters or words within the link.)
    • Send the newly worded link to students, and it will require them to make an individual copy before opening the document.


  • For classrooms with limited technology, the facilitator may wish to provide paper copies to be completed by hand if necessary.


Variation Tips (optional):

At the discretion of the teacher, the following may need to be considered for students with specific exceptionalities:


  • Extra time can be provided.
  • A "Study Buddy" can be provided as a partner throughout the activity.
  • Students can be allowed to witness others' interviews prior to practicing their own.

Click the Creative Commons link below for information on sharing and revision permission:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

Activities Available to Build Background Knowledge and Precede This Learning Experience:

I designed two "before" activities, including rubrics for assessment, that can precede this experience and aid students in building background knowledge of Design Thinking and active listening skills. Those standards-aligned activities can be accessed by searching for the following in ALEX if you wish for students to do them ahead of time:

"Paraphrase Design Thinking With Thinglink and Google!"

"Summarize Active Listening With Digital Sources!"


This activity, along with the two referenced above, in sequential order and reasonable increments, can provide students with a comprehensive lesson experience.

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: active listening, alternative solutions, communication, compassion, creativity, critical thinking, Design Thinking, designing, empathy, prototype, respect