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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Integrating SEL into Content Curriculum

Integrating SEL into Content Curriculum

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Are there ways you integrate SEL into your curriculum? This week, for example, my students are exploring the question 'which is more powerful -- the tactics of military forces or the tactics of cooperation?' Through the context of the China v. Tibet conflict, we're considering themes of power and justification. Also, students have to write back and forth to each other about this question. I tend to think there are many, many ways to integrate SEL into curriculum, and students really respond to it. It ups engagement and relevance, and higher level thinking. Any thoughts? ideas?

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Jeanne Osgood's picture
Jeanne Osgood
Communications Outreach Coordinator at CASEL

Rachel, You are doing a wonderful job of engaging your students with current events and weaving SEL into the mix. This leverages learning and makes meaning of it. I like to say that every good story has a really good problem at its core and so do current conflicts. Discussing solutions (such as those of China and Tibet) exposes students to a range of options that can and do occur. What a great way to learn about problem-solving!

Rachel Pickett's picture
Rachel Pickett
10th grade Social Studies

Thank you both for your encouragement! I feel as though I'm an infant teacher in exploring ways to integrate problem-solving and SEL, into content curriculum.

One analytical assignment I've given my students recently, I'm calling '5 Whys.' So, they answered the question 'what would a resolution to the China v. Tibet conflict look like?' and then asked 'why' five times about their answer.

An example of one student's 5 whys in answer to the above question:

The resolution to the China v. Tibet conflict will mean that the Tibetan people won't have to change their religion and they will be free to do what they used to do. They will have their land back.

Why 1? (why would this lead to resolution? -- this becomes a repeating question)

because both sides will have the freedom to believe what they want

why 2? (why would having the freedom to believe as you want, lead to resolution?)

because mind control ends

why 3? (why would ending mind control lead to resolution?)

because you can follow your own way instead of doing what people say

why 4? (why would does following your own way lead to resolution?)

because peace comes when you're trying to develop yourself instead of others

why 5? (why would does developing yourself lead to resolution?)

because you can do what you want and believe what you want without having others tell you anything.

This is a TOUGH assignment. What do you think of it? Suggestions or critiques?

Many students went pretty deep into their thinking with this, yet it took time and a lot of individual support for them to question like this, and I don't think I structured it in a way where they understand the purpose of it (yet). Also, it's not yet alive in the sense of flowing into a classroom conversation.

How might you/we bring this alive, integrating it with SEL?

Rachel Pickett's picture
Rachel Pickett
10th grade Social Studies

I tried Kati's idea today in class. As my students were researching I wrote them random, completely unexpected little notes naming how focused they were on their research, and then saying 'nice work!'

They all read the notes. None of them said anything, yet it felt like it added to the positive vibe in the room... and to our relationships. They kept the notes, too (i.e. I saw none in the trash, or left on a desk).

It's a neat, real-time way to build relationships... integrated into the content part of class. Thanks Kati :)

Paula Prentis's picture
Paula Prentis
Author of SEL, self skills, PBL program for teens.

Hi Rachel,
What you've done here is quite impressive. They are learning that it matters who you are in a given situation and until you've spent time to self-reflect, choose your responses that show your character you will feel internally conflicted. Any type of conflict will lead to unrest. Furthermore, those notes were brilliant because they triggered a dopamine release rather than a cortisol release. Dopamine will aid in learning and memory. Cortisol will impede it.
Asking the self to go deeper into understanding (the 'why' questions) often unleash the fears inherent in some situations. I like your ideas!

Mary Kate Land's picture
Mary Kate Land
Montessori 4-6th grade teacher
Blogger

I just hit your website briefly (accessible through Paula's profile)and it looks like you are developing some interesting online tools for teens. How long have you been working on this site?

Mary Kate

Paula Prentis's picture
Paula Prentis
Author of SEL, self skills, PBL program for teens.

Hello Mary Kate,
Thank you for the welcome. We have been working on this site single-handedly for a couple years now, though we wish we had more time to devote to it. We have a lot on our plate with the book series and a new product launch next month. The whole idea was to create a way for all students, regardless of background, and all teachers, regardless of how incredibly busy they are, to have access to free interactive content with the sole purpose of developing self-awareness among the teen population. Feedback is always welcome so we can make it as user-friendly as possible.
Thank you for your interest! I am enjoying learning from the Edutopia members.
Paula

Mary Kate Land's picture
Mary Kate Land
Montessori 4-6th grade teacher
Blogger

Paula,
I'm glad to know that you are continuing to develop the site. Interactive online tools seem like especially attractive vehicles to promote self-guided learning on the part of teens. It's wonderful to see this information packaged in such a way as to make it more accessible.
Mary Kate

Rachel Pickett's picture
Rachel Pickett
10th grade Social Studies

I just glanced at your site Paula. Wow! What cooooool graphics! :) And, one thing I've learned is that cool aesthetics (like graphics) is a way in to connecting with teens. They can be a welcome into engaging with resources (I look forward to exploring yours) at a deeper level.

Are you, or is anyone, familiar with Discovery Training?

http://www.thediscoveryinstitute.com/

I, along with other teachers from my school and district, are going through this training. It's one of the most valuable trainings I've been to. I'm learning explicit concepts and structures and activities to implement what you're talking about, Paula: consciously choosing your responses that show your character, finding ways to effectively respond to anger when you don't get your way, and that it matters who you are in a given situation (and the power of that, the self-value that's in that). Will probably post about them soon :)

Thanks.

Mary Kate Land's picture
Mary Kate Land
Montessori 4-6th grade teacher
Blogger

Thanks for posting the website, Rachel. I'm interested to know how much emphasis is being placed on Transactional Analysis. I'm finding a few other programs online which use TA to address SEL issues.

Mary Kate

Rachel Pickett's picture
Rachel Pickett
10th grade Social Studies

I will write all about how Discovery frames transactional analysis soon, Mary Kate.

Shifting topics... this Newark Peace Education Summit looks SO cool! Check it out :)

http://www.newarkpeace.org/

I'd love to play a role in building something along these lines, someday.

Rachel

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