This past week at ISTE, we teamed up with Classcraft to host a District Leaders’ reception and panel discussion on social-emotional learning (SEL) and technology. It was a great evening full of discussion and insight. We would also like to thank everyone who attended, and a special thank you to our panelists Greg Wolcott, Michael Salvatore, Mary Jane Warden, and Christine Lion-Bailey. Here are some of the key highlights from the event.
SEL Helps Students Better Understand How to Navigate Their Emotions
Greg Wolcott, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for Woodridge School District 68, shared a method he implements for SEL. Wolcott explained how his district breaks SEL down into three steps: notice, name, and navigate our feelings. “Peekapak has check-ins for primary grades that help us notice and name our feelings,” said Wolcott. “We are trying to get kids to notice and savor the positive.” We tend to overlook the difficulty young children might have with understanding and identifying their emotions and Wolcott expressed the importance of teaching students how to do this.
Finding the Time for SEL is Difficult, but Necessary
Mary Jane Warden, Director of Innovation and Instructional Technology at Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, stressed the impact and value of social-emotional learning. Warden also shed light on the difficulty teachers have fitting everything into the schedule, including the difficulty to incorporate SEL into the curriculum. She said “[We] have to make that space and time for SEL,” and it is necessary to provide teachers with the resources to implement SEL.
Empower Students by Giving them Freedom of Choice
Christine Lion-Bailey, Director of Technology and Innovation for the Morris Plains School District, highlighted the benefits she has seen from building collaborative environments for students, including STEAM labs and VR spaces, where they can choose what they learn. She also spoke about giving students the choice during lunchtime to visit the STEAM lab or visit with a teacher, and that “this choice empowers [students] to take their own steps in learning.”
Programs that Use Technology, Teach Empathy Effectively are Incredibly Valuable
Dr.Michael Salvatore, Superintendent of Schools at Long Branch Public Schools, spoke about the benefits of educational technology he has seen, including technology being used as a means to increase student access to information outside of school. This has led to initiatives like setting up wifi on school buses so students can work on coding and other edtech programs while on their way to a sports practice. As well, Salvatore expressed “anything that builds empathy is worth it,” when discussing the significance of SEL.
The District Leaders’ Reception was an overall success. Thank you to Classcraft for being excellent co-sponsors, and thank you to all of our lovely panelists and attendees.
Looking for a technology-based platform to teach empathy and other social-emotional skills for elementary aged children? Look no further than Peekapak. Peekapak is an award-winning, social & emotional learning (SEL) platform that leverages engaging lessons, stories and digital games in the classroom and the home. Developed by education experts, Peekapak’s innovative curriculum teaching skills like gratitude, empathy, and self-regulation within literacy, reading, and writing based learning curriculum.
More about Classcraft: Classcraft is a platform offering a game-based approach to teaching that encourages good behavior and class participation. Their mission is to make school more relevant and meaningful by creating playful and collaborative learning experiences that teach the whole child. Visit their website to learn more.