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November 24, 2020

Social Emotional Learning Activities for the Online Classroom

Using Zoom (or other video conferencing platforms) for synchronous learning has become the norm…albeit the new norm with fresh dilemmas. It can be a struggle for educators to make time for Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in online classrooms when there is so much academic content to cover in a short time. Teachers have limited planning periods available to weed through activities and curate ideas that will work for their classroom. Even when SEL can be taught, students are not spending as much time together practicing social emotional skills. Additionally, transitioning busy, energetic students from one subject or topic to another can be tough, in person and online.  

Learners Edge wants to help you make SEL a priority in your online classroom, so we’ve curated short list of simple SEL focused transition activities. Check them out, share them with colleagues, give one a try! As a bonus, we’ve included a downloadable list for you to share with families for screen time breaks.

Peer Chats: Use video platform break out rooms to have students get to know each other with preselected prompts. Keep these sessions short and use them often so your entire classroom of students eventually has 1:1 time with each peer. 

Problem Solving: Assign small groups quick challenges to be solved. Use break out rooms to allow each group to discuss possible solutions and decide on one. The small group can choose a speaker to share their solution with the larger whole class group. 

Positive Self Talk: Provide students with a list of positive affirmations. As you transition from one activity or topic to another, ask students to mute themselves, stop sharing video and repeat one or two positive affirmations to themselves. Be sure to let them know when they should “return to class”. 

Read Aloud: Choose a picture book or novel to transition your class from subject to subject. Students of all ages enjoy being read to (even though teens won’t admit it). Use a book from the Teaching Tolerance Staff Pick List for a focus on diversity. 

Movement: Students need to move to release energy and be physically healthy especially with the increased screen time they are experiencing. Try using some of the activities on the Active for Life website as a transition from one online lesson to another. The Bear Walk is a favorite! 

Breathing: These simple breathing exercises from Headspace Kids can be modeled for your students and then practiced as well. Learning how to breathe through stress and into calm is a great life-long strategy we all need. 

Yoga: Teaching students methods for regulating their bodies is important. Yoga is one physical activity that can help. Try using these Cosmic Kids Yoga videos during your transition to encourage movement AND focus as you move into your next online classroom activity. 

Journaling: Have students jot down their thoughts about a prompt or provide them with a reflection question after a lesson. Better yet, use the great prompts in this downloadable Make Kindness the Norm challenge! 

Play: Press pause on screen time and ask your learners to complete one of the play based activities in The Play at Home Playbook. Take a look at the game “Seven”! You can do this one on Zoom with your whole class. Giggles might ensue, but that’s the point of play! 

Videos: Use any short video as a transition (or even a starter)! Take a look at Go Noodle’s Take on the Day video for a great morning transition to school or Bring It Down for when you need to calm the energy of your excited, energetic learners. 

Stress Snowballs: Students write their stressors down on paper, share out to the class as they feel comfortable and then crumple their paper into a “snowball”. Of course, they then must throw their stress snowball away! Take a look at how one teacher does this in person: 60 Second Strategy: Snowball Toss. How could you modify his activity for the online classroom?


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