Friday, April 1, 2016

Where does technology come in from a social/emotional learning perspective?

by Tracy Allen

Technology has brought wonderful and exciting new things to learning in our district. Last week's DLD day was an opportunity for teachers to share what they're doing with each other. It truly is amazing to see technology's impact from a student perspective. 

Where does technology come in from a social/emotional learning perspective? This question was addressed as part of a larger discussion about technology and schools with a panel moderated by Blake principal Nat Vaughn and made up of  IT Directors from other school districts as well as our own Superintendent Jeff Marsden. The S/E component can not be separated from the educational component, according to one of the panelists. Digital Citizenship and ethics around device use are part of that conversation. One place that we, as a department, will start exploring more are the programs, apps, and digital resources that guidance counselors, particularly at the middle school level, can be used in the guidance classes. 

One great presentation on DLD day was about an app called Social Stories. Students for whom previewing social situations helps could read and reread a story created by a teacher or counselor before actually encountering potentially scary events like the first day of school or when a teacher takes a maternity leave. This app was originally developed to help people with autism preview new situations. However, I think the app could appropriately used for a number of our students.

In my 6th grade guidance classes, I am asking kids to think back to things that made them nervous about entering Blake. They are using the app to create stories, all in the first person so the reader can imagine himself/herself in that situation, that would help answer questions and preview experiences that might be "scary" when entering the middle school. I hope to have a variety of scenarios available on the guidance website this summer to help quell pre-Blake jitters.

As the direction of technology in the classroom has been so exciting to watch, I think the journey of technology in S/E learning will be equally exciting.

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