New digital platform to help facilitate citizenship, SEL skills

Dive Brief:

  • Composer — a free digital resource from High Resolves, Facing History and Ourselves, iCivics, Generation Citizen and Peace First — enables educators to access a variety of citizenship education materials to produce cross-disciplinary instructional “strings,” with guides and suggestions on how students can practice what they’ve learned through real-world experiences.
  • The tool, produced with funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Imaginable Futures, currently contains a library of approximately 1,000 learning experiences that touch on civics, social justice, social-emotional learning and global competence.
  • Composer was tested over the past six months with 455 users in 113 schools in North America and Australia, but is now available nationwide.

Dive Insight:

School closures resulting from the novel coronavirus pandemic have moved the traditional classroom online, requiring administrators and educators to assess how much of the learning day can be translated to that format in terms of both time and content. Educators are being asked to shift to a completely different style of teaching, and schools are thoughtfully weighing how much of a student’s daily life should now be spent online in classes and on homework, so as not to overwhelm children and their families during this unprecedented time.

Core classes, like math and literacy, may be getting more attention in some cases than other subjects, as a result of schools trying to find the right balance of time and academics. But educators can still emphasize other areas, like social-emotional learning skills — the so-called soft skills that students can take with them beyond the classroom and into careers.

SEL traditionally leans on an interpersonal approach when being taught. But educators can use digital collaboration and project-based assignments that take online learning into account.

Additionally, emphasizing SEL skills in today’s digital space may have an immediate real-world learning impact, helping students know how to navigate online interactions. For educators looking for online resources to guide them in building digital SEL lessons, Common Sense Education offers a 35-page online guide, “Digital Citizenship & Social and Emotional Learning.” Inside, the organization points to online resources including Teaching Tolerance and Story Corps, which can help educators continue to support students in building crucial life skills even through a distance learning model.

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