How Social and Emotional Learning Contributes to Student Equity
Social and emotional learning (SEL) Is the means by which students learn to understand and manage emotions as well as set and achieve goals. Research suggests that SEL attributes, such as perseverance, empathy, and mindfulness, contribute to students’ success in school and beyond. With upheavals caused by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly the uncertainties of what school will look like this year, SEL is more important now than ever.
BrainPOP supports this need with its collection of SEL resources—aligned to CASEL’s core competencies—that encourage students to connect their stories to the stories of others and learn life skills essential to overcome and cope with the realities they are facing.
BrainPOP offers SEL topics including Mindfulness and Conflict Resolution, as well as biographies of people who embody SEL competencies, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malala, and Helen Keller. Our themed collections on the SEL resource page help teachers integrate SEL into lessons by providing opportunities for students to engage in activities such as coding an anti-bullying campaign, producing a movie chronicling daily emotions, and making a self-image concept map.
A recent white paper, Equity in Learning with BrainPOP: Fostering Access and Impact for All, provides research that illustrates connections between BrainPOP, SEL, and learning equity through an Access for All (“AfA”) framework. The SEL component identifies how teachers can engage a wide range of learners through each of the framework’s three tiers; SEL lesson planning and implementation benefit from being universally-designed with opportunities for differentiation.
SEL instruction is also central to supporting many Specifically Designed Instruction (SDI) and Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) intervention goals.
The AfA framework articulates key guidelines at each “tier” for both academic and social and emotional learning necessary for the complex task of creating meaningful and equitable access for a diverse range of learners.
Tier 1: Universally Designed Learning (UDL)
An approach to teaching that meets the needs of every student in a class by providing a clear instructional goal that students meet in a variety of ways. UDL supports student agency and provides flexible paths for learning.
Tier 2: Differentiated Instruction (DI)
DI guides teachers to use what they know about their students to target the needs of small groups.
Tier 3: Specifically Designed Instruction (SDI)
Outlines goals set for students with special needs and provides explicit instruction for ongoing progress monitoring.
How BrainPOP Delivers SEL at Each Tier of AfA
Tier 1: UDL Whole Classroom
With BrainPOP, teachers can establish and communicate a clear instructional goal, such as, “What lessons about perseverance can we take from Malala’s story and apply to the writing process?” Then design and implement instruction that offers students options for expressing understanding, such as assigning a Make-a-Movie or a Make-a-Map connecting perseverance to achievement or social activism.
BrainPOP offers a collection of topics and related activities teachers can assign that address social and emotional learning, such as Setting Goals, Mindfulness, Conflict Resolution, and more. BrainPOP’s biographies are also effective ways to model SEL competencies like courage, perseverance, and problem solving.
BrainPOP’s creativity tools—Make-a-Movie Make-a-Map, and Creative Coding—provide students with choice and agency to express understanding and optimize their own strengths and is meaningful to them.
Tier 2: Differentiation in Small Groups
BrainPOP also supports targeted instruction for the unique learning profiles of smaller student groups. Using Assignment Builder, for example, teachers can differentiate content, learning process, and student product, directing how students take in, make meaning of, and express new ideas.
With the Assignment Builder, teachers can use what they know about their students to target specific needs. For example, they may provide a partially completed Make-a-Map to students who are challenged by multi-day projects. For ELLs, this scaffolding could include nodes in students’ home language.
This differentiation allows students to engage with teacher-designed instruction targeted to their individual learning strengths and needs. By providing a range of creative tools with every BrainPOP topic, including those in the SEL collection, students can demonstrate understanding using the tool that best meets their strengths, interests, and learning needs.
Tier 3: Specifically Designed Instruction
BrainPOP is particularly effective in supporting explicit SEL instruction for students with SDIs. For example, an SDI goal might state that when a young student becomes upset, frustrated, or angry, they learn a self-regulation or coping strategy. To support the student, the teacher may first model the skill with clear expression and a think-aloud, then assign a movie, such as Anger on BrainPOP Jr.
In this movie, children gain specific knowledge about the feeling of anger, what they can do when feeling angry, and how they can help others who feel angry. To reinforce understanding, a teacher can assign a range of activities to meet the student’s learning needs, such as a quiz for self-assessment, or an open-ended opportunity, like BrainPOP Jr.’s Talk About It feature, which prompts the student to brainstorm ways to cope with anger.
BrainPOP’s commitment to SEL provides teachers with a wide range of topics and year-round opportunities to address the social and emotional issues students are confronting today.
The Equity in Learning with BrainPOP: Fostering Access and Impact for All white paper was authored by Yigal Rosen, Ph.D., Senior Director of Learning Solutions at ACT, Learning Division, and by BrainPOP’s own Director of Professional Learning, Barbara Hubert, Ph.D. You can view the paper in full below, or download it here.