Tag: SEL

Build Empathy Among Students

It used to surprise me that it became the school’s job to teach empathy. Shouldn’t parents do that? The truth is it doesn’t always happen in homes. Since children spend much of their daylight hours in school, it is a logical place to reinforce empathy as a life skill.

Edsurge has an interesting article, How to build empathy among students, that shares one teacher’s experiences:

Lessons in empathy often are taught with a focus on the individual, rather than the collective community, writes Ka’ua Adams, a ninth-grade English teacher at Kealakehe High School in Kona, Hawaii. In this commentary, Adams suggests strengthening these lessons by shifting individual activities to collective ones and focusing on care instead of skills.

Read on… (may require a free membership)

Ask a Tech Teacher has covered this topic often in the past. Here are some articles you might like:

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4 ways to use Tract in the classroom

If you haven’t heard of Tract, it’s a new way to inspire students to become lifelong learners. The platform focuses on student growth and learning rather than state or international standards (it does meet them–just don’t look for that in the detail). The purpose of its videos, hands-on projects, and more is to spark student creativity, empower them to explore their own passions at their own pace. Lessons are given by high school and college-age peers who clearly show their love of the subject. Students engage through tasks, projects, and peer interaction. Content is vetted, curated, and reviewed by teachers to ensure its educational rigor.

Click for a more detailed review of Tract or visit Tract’s website here.

When I dug into Tract, one (of many) pieces that appealed to me was how well it fit into so many parts of a student’s education journey. Here are a few of my favorites:

Afterschool program

It’s challenging to persuade students to think deeply, especially after a long day of learning. Using Tract as an afterschool program changes that. This can be a one-day activity or longer.

Here’s how it works:

  • Students pick a subject from the many offered by Tract, watch a peer-presented video on the subject (like how to make mac and cheese or what are some careers with animals), and complete a project which is shared with classmates.
  • If students are inspired to dig deeper than what is shown in the Tract learning path, you can have them research in the ways used in your school–online, classroom books, or something else.
  • When the project is finished, students present it to classmates, maybe parents, as an evening event, a virtual event, or during the program time.

Summer program

I often use student-choice activities in summer programs. They are student-directed, student-driven, and provide a plethora of differentiation for varied student interests. The problem is, too often, they become complicated to administer and confusing to follow. That won’t be the case with Tract. It offers plenty of choices to students, presented as an easy-to-understand step-by-step process that is intuitive and clear, and fulfills the platform’s promise to be inspiring and engaging.

Here’s what you do:

  • After students sign up for your summer class, ask them to pick either among Tract’s many learning paths or from a group suggest by you that fits the summer school theme.
  • Students can work individually or in groups as they dig into the topic and complete the project(s).
  • If students require it, offer training in video production for youngers or those not comfortable creating their own learning path.
  • Students present their completed missions to the group or parents.

Depending upon the length of the summer program, you can offer one or more learning path opportunities. This option is easily adapted to remote or hybrid learning because everything can be done online, including the presentations (using a platform like Google Meet or Zoom).

Enrichment program for high achievers

Enriched learning for high-achieving students, like GATE (Gifted and Talented), Honors, AP (Advanced Placement), and IB (International Baccalaureate), often requires teachers augment daily class activities with additional lesson plans and resources. Tract simplifies that process to where it barely takes any additional teacher time. Students who finish regular work select and pursue topics offered through the Tract platform that build student creativity, critical thinking, and independence.  Because these learning paths are intuitive and peer-to-peer, they require minimal adult guidance and give students considerable independence in their work.

Here’s how it works:

  • Students finish the regular curriculum requirements and then access the Tract Learning Paths to select one that appeals to them or one from a group suggested by the teacher.
  • Because these projects are designed to be student-driven, teachers can expect students to work independently at their own pace.

Tract is available online which means inside and outside the classroom, anywhere the student is. High-achieving students appreciate that learning isn’t confined to the four walls of the school building.

A nice side benefit: These projects are enticing enough that other students will want to try them. Of course they can, once they, too, finish the assigned work.

Develop SEL 

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. The importance of SEL has made it a sought-after add-on to a school’s curriculum. Unfortunately, too often when I talk to colleagues, SEL has become another layer on top of an already bursting education day. There are SEL curricula, rubrics, toolkits, videos, parent guidelines, and more. You’ll be happy to know if you’re enrolled in Tract, you don’t need any of those:

“Using Tract can help to promote the development of social-emotional learning skills as students become self-aware as they design their own project and track growth, build social awareness as they learn from their peers, and build relationships during the learning process.” – Rachelle Denè Poth, Getting Smart

The most effective way to develop social-emotional learning in students is to make it integral to their education. That’s what Tract does.

***

If you want to put project-based, peer-to-peer learning into practice, you’ve found the right platform with Tract. Be one of the first 1,000 to request access at teach.tract.app. Use the access code ASKATECHTEACHER to get your free Tract teacher account.

–This post is sponsored by Tract. All opinions are my own.

#tractapp


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Comics–an underused tool to boost SEL skills

Comics have long been considered not just to gamify education but to teach writing skills that are challenging for some students. SmartBrief Education tells Dan Ryder’s story,

How comics curriculum boosts SEL

Dan Ryder, a learning facilitator at Community Regional Charter School in Skowhegan, Maine, says he uses comics to support students’ social and emotional learning. In this blog post, Ryder shares several ways he will use comics in the classroom during the first weeks of school, including to help foster discussion about choices and different perspectives on social issues.

Read on…

You can create comics in dedicated webtools or with tools you probably already have, like Google Drawings:

comic strip in google draw

For excellent online comic creator tools, check this list:

  1. Book Creator–(iOS/Android) templates to create digital comic books and graphic novels.
  2. Canva–excellent comic templates you can use from an individual or education account
  3. Friendstrip–use their library of pieces; create/publish/share
  4. MakeBeliefsComix–simple comic creation
  5. Marvel– create comic strips and books with Marvel characters.
  6. Pixton.com–offers a comic builder to simplify the process
  7. PlayComic–English or Spanish
  8. PowToon–try free, then fee
  9. Storyboard That!–the gold standard for comics; free or fee

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SEL in Your Classroom

SmartBrief, news on technology in education, recently published an article, Uniting technology and SEL to teach the whole child, on the importance of SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) in an educational landscape shaped by COVID-19. In part, they shared:

Social-emotional learning is seeing a surge in mentions in the educational landscape. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic clearly illuminated the fact that academic growth and social and emotional wellness are interdependent and that educators must take into account the social and emotional aspects of a student’s reality as they consider academic development.

I know firsthand the power of SEL, both as a teacher and as a former student. I was born and raised in the rural mountains of North Carolina and was greatly influenced by a teacher who led with compassion. This educator forever changed my life because she saw “the whole child” — she recognized me as more than my abilities in reading and math. She saw me as a hurt child from a broken home, although it was the only home I knew, and knew she could help me reach my potential by engaging me on a social and emotional level.

Read on…

For more background on SEL, check out our article discussing “The Importance of SEL to Education Success“:

 

Life is much simpler when you — as a parent or teacher — can point to one solution for a problem, solve it, and everything is golden. Success in school was like that when grades were the barometer and studying harder was the tool. Now, we know academic achievement is much more complicated.

“Students are telling us there’s a big missing piece in their education” –John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic

Today’s educators realize learning has as much to do with academics as how students get along with themselves and others. This is called “Social Emotional Learning” or SEL. It’s akin to the importance of play in teaching preschool kids to socialize with others, develop tenacity, and learn respect for those around them. If you’re not convinced of the importance of SEL, here’s what students say:

“Students and young adults believe SEL schools would create a more positive social and learning environment” — report by the Collaboration for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

A positive attitude about themselves and others is linked to not only academic success but correlated to lessening the negative impact of future-ending problems such as drug use. It should surprise no one that as of mid-2018, two states have passed SEL measures, sixteen SEL-related bills and resolutions have been introduced, and twenty-three states are working on SEL standards.

    • What is SEL
    • Why teach SEL in schools
    • SEL exercises
    • SEL resources
    • Vocabulary
    • More

Read on…

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5 Ways Ed-tech Can Enhance Social Studies Lessons

As is my habit, I spend a lot of time exploring new ways to teach old subjects. Lately, I’ve concentrated on social studies. I chatted with my PLN, browsed forums where I knew efriends hung out, and taught a slew of online grad school classes to teachers who always are willing the discuss their newest favorite social studies tech tool. I picked everyone’s brains and came up with a list of five webtools you definitely must look at:

Classcraft

Some call Classcraft a classroom management tool but really, it’s more about injecting excitement in your teaching and touching on the important social-emotional learning that sometimes gets forgotten. Here’s a great quote I heard in a sponsored video:

“It might sound crazy to you and me but the kids love it.” — Sarah Murphy

The more I dug into Classcraft, the more I understood why Sarah Murphy said what she did. It’s pretty simple. Kids have a passion for learning and playing games. You incorporate that into your passion for teaching by gamifying your middle- or high school classroom. When students and teachers work together, toward the same goals, everyone wins.

The free (fee for Premium) Classcraft doesn’t teach standards or curricula for academic subjects. Instead, it focuses on core SEL (social-emotional learning) skills fundamental to the fullness of the education journey. That means it’s easy to apply to your social studies class. It uses tools already popular in your school — Google Classroom or MS Office 365, a browser, and an app (iOS or Android). You set up different tasks and customize rules to fit class needs.  Students work individually or in teams, becoming accountable for their behavior to themselves and their teams. When they achieve goals and/or abide by rules, they earn stuff they want (that you’ve organized beforehand). You can blend Classcraft activities into your existing lesson plans or use those available on the website. Robust analytics (included in the Premium package) allow you to track student behavior over time and compare it with the class average.

Also available: a timer, a class volume meter, and parent features — great basic tools for every class.

ClassroomScreen

ClassroomScreen is probably one of the most robust, versatile, and useful classroom tools to cross education’s “free” landscape in a long time. It will make your social studies lessons run smoother, make them more responsive to needs, and keep students focused on the lesson. When you click on ClassroomScreen.com, it opens a blank screen that is a digital board ready to be displayed on your class smart screen. You personalize it with the most popular tools desired in classroom, all lined up at the bottom of the screen. These include preferred language (you pick from about a hundred languages), customized background, sound level, QR code (for the classroom screen; students scan it in and it displays on any mobile device — isn’t that cool?), a whiteboard, a text tool, a start-stop traffic light, a timer, a clock, a random name picker (for teams), an exit poll, Work Symbols (four options for collaborative student work — work together, ask a neighbor, whisper, and silence), and more.  There’s no download, no login, no registration. Simply click the link and get started.

Commonsense Media calls it:

“…the Swiss Army Knife of the classroom…”

I agree. Here’s a video that decodes this already-simple class tool.

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Random Acts of Kindness Day. How Will You Celebrate?

I’ll never forget the day years ago when I stood in a donut shop, half asleep, bed head, with a monster sugar deficit. As I got to the front of the line, the man before me said, “I’ll pay for hers, too.” I didn’t know him. We hadn’t commiserated over how Krispy Kreme was always crowded. I’d just slogged onward, waiting my turn, eager to taste my apple fritter. His simple act of paying for my donut made me feel special, brought a smile to my face all day, and lightened the load of whatever happened after that.

That was one of my first Random Acts of Kindness, the feel-good event started in 1995. Now, February 17th in America is called the Random Acts of Kindness Day (September 1st in New Zealand) and is when everyone encourages acts of kindness without any expectation of consideration in return.

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” — Mark Twain

What is Random Acts of Kindness Day?

February 17th — Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Day — is twenty-four hours when anyone who chooses to participate agrees to perform unexpected acts of kindness to pay it forward for that time they need a little bit of unexpected care.  We flaunt our altruistic side by doing something nice for another without a thought for the consequences.

Why is Kindness important?

Why kindness is important seems obvious but really, it isn’t. I can name a whole lot of people who have succeeded despite being, well, jerks so why should we think there’s merit in a gentler approach?

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random act of kindness

How to Put Kindness in Your Classes

[caption id="attachment_59874" align="alignright" width="300"] Image credit: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/[/caption]

World Kindness Day 11/13

Kindness isn’t a natural instinct. In the continuum of nature vs. nurture, it’s well on the side of nurture. Kids aren’t born knowing the part community and friendship play in their lives. They learn this from family, friends, schoolmates, and life in general.

That means, among the topics that must be covered in school, kindness may be the most important.

What is kindness?

Kindness is exactly what it sounds like — being friendly, generous, and considerate to others whether or not you think they deserve it. It’s not a payoff to someone who treated you well; it’s an attitude that seeps into every action in a person’s life.

It’s interesting that some variation of “kindness” is included in most non-academic measures of what students should learn in school, including Habits of Mind, a Growth Mindset, and Mindfulness (click links for further discussion).

Why is it important?

Kids learn by example. It’s unfortunate to note that some don’t see kindness in their homes. What they experience instead, they may think is the norm until you — their trusted teacher — shows them otherwise. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. You must always have your antenna up, noticing when you need to intervene to tweak actions. This could be gossip, mean words, (cyber)bullying, or even speech that is accepted by most because “doesn’t everyone think this way”.  Your job isn’t to stop whatever is going on but redirect and explain so students learn why what they’re doing isn’t kind.

Why teach this in school, you ask? The quick answer is that students spend half their waking hours in or around school. It has a huge impact on how they view their world and their lives. But it’s more than that. Establishing a kind school culture resonates in all parts of a child’s life:

“Positive school climate has been empirically linked to a number of favorable outcomes, notably, the promotion of feelings of safety; establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, reductions in misbehavior, increases in students’ academic, emotional, and behavioral success at school; teaching that is engaging and promotes learning, and improvements in the overall quality of schools.” (Measuring Kindness in School, John Tyler Binfet, 2015)

In short, if students see kindness modeled in school, they are more likely to duplicate that in their own lives and activities.

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Random Acts of Kindness Day is Coming. How Will You Celebrate?

I’ll never forget the day years ago when I stood in a donut shop, half asleep, bed head, with a monster sugar deficit. As I got to the front of the line, the man before me said, “I’ll pay for hers, too.” I didn’t know him. We hadn’t commiserated over how Krispy Kreme was always crowded. I’d just slogged onward, waiting my turn, eager to taste my apple fritter. His simple act of paying for my donut made me feel special, brought a smile to my face all day, and lightened the load of whatever happened after that.

That was one of my first Random Acts of Kindness, the feel-good event started in 1995. Now, February 17th in America is called the Random Acts of Kindness Day (September 1st in New Zealand) and is when everyone encourages acts of kindness without any expectation of consideration in return.

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” — Mark Twain

What is Random Acts of Kindness Day?

February 17th — Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Day — is twenty-four hours when anyone who chooses to participate agrees to perform unexpected acts of kindness to pay it forward for that time they need a little bit of unexpected care.  We flaunt our altruistic side by doing something nice for another without a thought for the consequences.

Why is Kindness important?

Why kindness is important seems obvious but really, it isn’t. I can name a whole lot of people who have succeeded despite being, well, jerks so why should we think there’s merit in a gentler approach?

(more…)

Integrate OUR Curricula into Your Kiddom Digital Platform

I’m a big believer in online web-based curricula that can be accessed from any browser, any digital device, any location. It makes learning organic, part of life rather than something that must happen from a certain book or room. To me, the growing popularity of web-based curricula is no surprise. The problem is trying to blend them effortlessly into a class LMS or learning platform without lots of extra clicks and logins.

Kiddom’s partnership with highly-rated Open Up Resources changes that. It is now possible to deliver curricula lessons and materials directly through the Kiddom platform. This includes:

  • grades 6–8 Math curriculum
  • EL Education K–5 Language Arts
  • Reading with Relevance

Before I get into the details of this new relationship is, let me introduce the two partners–Kiddom and Open Up Resources.

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9 Ways to Teach Tolerance

teach toleranceIf you watch the news, tolerance seems to be a lost art. College kids shout down speakers. Mobs throw chairs through windows. Hordes of hooligans loot stores. It’s not that we don’t try. The Kindness Movement is more popular than ever. TeachingTolerance.org even uses Black Lives Matter as a model for tolerance education. Martin Luther King Day is always chockful of admonitions against prejudice and intolerance.

But how do you teach it in the confines of a classroom? Another lesson plan? A movie about Mahatma Gandhi? Quotes like this from Helen Keller:

The highest result of education is tolerance.

These have all been done and by many measures, America and the world are more intolerant than ever. So what do you do in your classroom to get this important attitude across? Here are some fresh ideas that you may not have tried:

Model tolerant behavior

Words don’t stem the tide of intolerance. No matter how many times we say, “See the other’s perspective,” or “Be kind,” these words are meaningless to a dedicated zealot who feels the end justifies the means. Sometimes, the best way is simply to model tolerance. In writing, this is a powerful storytelling device called “show don’t tell”. It means instead of talking about tolerance, be tolerant. When a student gets angry over a grade, explain where they fell short or how to improve a grade.

Admittedly, in the current social media world, words are today’s doing. People join hashtag campaigns like #Nevergiveup or #Bringhomeourgirls. While these may raise public awareness, they don’t deliver the tolerance necessary to change the outcome. Don’t hashtag a sentiment; find an action for the words.

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