Focusing on social and emotional learning (SEL) skills is essential for all educators. Many educators know about CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) and the five core competencies of SEL: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. As teachers try to find ways to help students develop SEL, here are some strategies and digital tools that can help in each of these areas.
Innovative tools to support SEL competencies
Self-awareness: Developing self-awareness is critical for students’ being aware of their skills and interests and for understanding where they are in the learning process. Being able to identify where they are in the learning process, the progress made, and areas where they need to focus is essential for now and in the future.
Technology can help students be more comfortable sharing their experiences. For example, students can create a video diary to document their daily activities and reflect on their emotions and reactions to different situations. Using tools such as Flip to record a reflection, or capturing ideas using Canva or Adobe Creative Cloud Express to create visual representations of their emotions or design a timeline of their progress and set goals, can help. Digital tools such as Kahoot, Quizizz, and Google Forms are helpful for creating self-assessment quizzes for students. With these tools, students can self-assess their knowledge, skills, and attitudes and receive authentic, meaningful, and timely feedback on their performance.
Creating digital portfolios with tools like Spaces EDU, Book Creator, and other similar tools allows students to explore the evidence of the work they have done. This shifts their focus to the process of learning itself. Finally, personalized learning plans through choice boards, class playlists, or HyperDocs lead to increased student engagement, improved self-awareness, and greater metacognition, and give students more control over their learning.
Self-management: Self-management helps students work through challenges and set goals. As students work through assignments and assessments, they need to develop skills necessary to deal with any frustration or stress they may feel during the learning process. Online goal setting promotes self-management by encouraging students to take ownership of their learning. Students can also use digital tools to create to-do lists, set deadlines, and make reminders using tools like Padlet or a Trello board. These tools can help students to visualize tasks they need to complete, set goals, and learn how to manage their time more effectively. Students will build time management skills and hold themselves accountable.
Brain breaks help with dealing with stress and managing emotions; for example, Flocabulary offers short brain break videos and activities that include music and movement that can be used in a Nearpod lesson. Meditation is also a great tool for self-management; teachers can explore JabuMind, and students can use Calm or Headspace.
Students can also create vision boards, which are helpful for setting and visualizing goals. Tools such as Buncee provide templates to design a vision board, which is a collage of words, quotes, or images that represent goals that have been set. Incorporating activities like online time management tools, digital goal-setting exercises, online self-reflection activities, and virtual mindfulness exercises, students can learn how to manage their time, emotions, and behavior more effectively and develop self-management skills in ways that meet their personal interests.
Social awareness: Learning about others and developing an awareness of our similarities and differences helps us to develop better relationships. In my STEAM and Spanish classes, students use tools like Nearpod that have virtual reality field trips. Using the VR trips, students can be taken to different places around the world and explore closely. It can lead to a deeper understanding of diverse cultures and backgrounds and promote social awareness by exposing students to different cultures, traditions, and ways of life. Students can then use digital platforms like Padlet or Wakelet to share resources and include video reflections about the experiences.
Digital storytelling tools like StoryJumper, Storyboard That, and BookCreator can help students create stories that promote social awareness. Students can use tools like Adobe Spark and iMovie to create short films and presentations that highlight social issues and topics related to social justice and promote social awareness by encouraging students to think critically about social issues and consider their role in creating positive change.
Empatico is a resource that helps educators promote more cultural understanding for all students through the activities they provide and the opportunities for connecting classrooms. It is a free platform that educators can use to connect their classrooms with others from around the world, enabling students to develop social awareness.
Relationship skills: Students and educators alike need a space where they are comfortable asking for help, offering support, and working as part of a team. Educators can help by encouraging students to collaborate on digital projects using tools like Google Docs, Slides, and Google Jamboard. Online collaboration platforms, such as Google Docs and Trello, can be used to promote relationship skills and teamwork.
As students collaborate in a digital space, it helps them to also build skills in the physical classroom. As they work together on a project, for example, they learn from each other and become more comfortable interacting in the digital space, which transfers to the classroom space as well. Any of these ideas can help students feel more comfortable with each other and build stronger relationships, which fosters a strong classroom learning community.
Responsible decision-making: Understanding the consequences of actions, focusing on well-being, and being able to process information and find solutions are vital for student success. Teachers can use digital tools to teach ethics and responsible decision-making skills directly. There are many online resources available, such as Common Sense Education, that offer lessons and activities on topics such as cyberbullying, digital citizenship, and plagiarism.
By incorporating these lessons into the curriculum, teachers can help students learn how to make responsible decisions both online and offline. Using some tools such as Gimkit and Quizizz, or lessons with Nearpod and Pear Deck, with a variety of questions and prompts, students can learn how to weigh the pros and cons of different choices, practice empathy and collaboration, and develop responsible decision-making skills.
By utilizing digital tools that facilitate the development of essential SEL skills, we will help students to build the skills they need to be successful now and in the future.