It’s no secret that kids today love their technology. In many ways, technology hinders a child’s communication abilities. Kids in the same room often prefer to text each other than to talk face-to-face or get lost on social media. However, some technological tools can help students develop their social and emotional skills. Here are a few ideas inspired by eSchool News:
These range from mic systems that are built into the walls or ceiling of a classroom and synced with other technology to a simple karaoke machine. Most kids fear public speaking, yet it is a skill kids need to be comfortable with. It’s important to expose students to as many opportunities to speak in front of their peers as possible. When their peers talk, the other students learn to listen. A microphone and speaker have many benefits:
• It allows the other students to hear the speaker clearly, helping them be more attentive.
• The student holding the microphone is a visual cue to the other students, so they know it is the speaker’s turn.
• The student gets used to hearing their own voice and being heard by others, increasing their confidence.
Robots? No, it’s not the Jetson’s, it’s a reality. While robots cannot replace a teacher in the classroom (what we do would never be replicated by a piece of technology), some schools are finding success incorporating robots into their SEL curriculum with the help of Robots 4 Autism.
Robots 4 Autism sells a robot that helps teach kids on the Autism spectrum social skills. Most kids love working with the robot, which they call Milo.
The robot is less threatening than a human and usually holds the child’s attention far more than a teacher or therapist can. Some of the other benefits are that the robot is infinitely patient, consistent, and it won’t react in ways that are unhelpful. This robotic friend helps bridge the gap for kids from technology to real-life interaction.
This app is a very useful tool for teachers to teach students about their relationships and social boundaries. The Circles Social Skills Utility is based on the best-selling, proven effective by Harvard, Circles® Curriculum. Circles is an interactive program that makes the abstract concept of social boundaries concrete with the use of color to help students differentiate the types of relationships they have with people, and what levels of touch, talk, and trust are appropriate with each.
Apps like the Circles Social Skills Utility™ have been found to be especially useful for students in special education. You can learn more about how and why here.
There are some pretty amazing apps available for teachers and students to use in the classroom. These apps are designed to help with communication and classroom management.
• Class Dojo: An app where students can earn points in areas designated by the teacher. Kids can view their progress and so can parents. The app also helps teachers and parents communicate with each other.
• Bloomz: Students can receive reward points in this app as well. They try to get their flower to ‘bloom.’ Parents and teachers can communicate with each other through the app and teachers can share what is going on in their classroom.
The real power in these apps for social and emotional learning comes when student use them to reflect on their behavior. Teachers and students accomplish a lot in a school day, and it is easy to forget all but the highest highs and lowest lows. Having a simple way to track a student’s choices throughout a school day gives the student the ability to reflect at the end of the day.
Teachers can also look at trends in the class overall, so they can set goals for improvement and discuss solutions to problems within the classroom. This regular reflection builds classroom community and empowers students to improve themselves. The parent communication component is particularly helpful. Parents can reinforce skills learned at home and can help their child in the self-reflection process.
One of the best things about google classroom is that students can be working on one project all at the same time. They can chat with each other while working on the project. It gives students a platform for collaborating digitally, a skill that is of increasing importance in a digital age. Of course, your students likely have experience communicating digitally (even a 3-year-old can send garbled text messages or emojis), but that doesn’t mean they can communicate well. Google classroom gives you an opportunity to teach students to communicate digitally and do it well while in the classroom. Plus, it offers you the opportunity to bring up the concept of internet etiquette.
Although there are many ways to teach SEL skills in the classroom, using current technology can be more engaging for students and help them work on several skills at once. Not to mention, any way to make screentime more constructive and educational is always encouraged.
By: Amy Curletto
Amy has been teaching for 12 years in grades K-2. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and also has endorsements in reading and ESL. Besides education, her other passion is writing and she has always dreamed of being a writer. She lives in Utah with her husband, her 3 daughters, and her miniature schnauzer. She enjoys reading, knitting, and camping.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.