In collaboration with Peekapak
Everyone in the country is talking about social-emotional learning (SEL), and rightly so. Kids, teachers and parents alike have been challenged to their furthest extent throughout this pandemic and regardless of whether students are in-person, remote or hybrid, we need to find ways to focus on SEL and bring it to life to build resiliency. Doing this in a remote environment can be a challenge, as students are more limited in teacher and classmate interactions, and therefore, experience fewer opportunities to socialize in the ways they were used to. Social interactions are such an essential part of their learning process. Choosing the right methods and tools can help create spaces where our students feel more connected to us and to each other. Therefore, we must help students build academic skills, as well as essential SEL skills as the two go hand in hand.
As an individual involved in EdTech and as a teacher myself, I believe that we need to leverage technology to maximize student engagement and provide teachers with flexible, easy to use resources. I recently came across an SEL curriculum called Peekapak that offers an online game called myPeekaville as a complement to its teacher-led curriculum. This online game allows kids to practice SEL skills in real-life scenarios, which engages them further in the learning and embedding of SEL competencies. Games like these are fun of course, but more importantly, they can provide students with opportunities to learn and master strategies while building problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration.
For example, in the first activity in myPeekaville, students help Leo the Hedgehog identify his nervous ‘first day of school’ emotions. This scenario is highly relatable to their own feelings about the first day of school and how to manage through this anxiety. This type of game-based learning also promotes more interactive learning experiences in class or at home. In Peekapak, the use of myPeekaville provides teachers with another way to understand students’ specific interests and gives parents an idea of the learning that is happening in our classrooms.
Another key benefit I appreciate in this digital resource, is that teachers can monitor and assess student progress and student moods, so they can identify which students may need additional support – particularly if they’re not seeing the student in person or if the student is not directly asking for help. The mood tracking lets students share their feelings and become more aware of the feelings of others which helps in the development of empathy.
When I see kids using the game, building their personal avatar, collecting berries and reading the SEL themed books, I can see how this technology can engage them in a variety of ways to build SEL along with the core skills of reading and writing. It reinforces academic areas that we are primarily focused on with young students.
Ultimately, it is important for children to be able to build SEL skills of self-awareness and self-management, especially in dealing with some of the changes experienced throughout this past year. As we work through what has been a challenging year and plan for the future, we need to make sure that we are focusing on the mental health and wellness of our students. To do so, we must be intentional about creating opportunities for students to build their social-emotional learning (SEL) skills in our classrooms.
Overall, Peekapak offers a robust platform and space for students to learn about themselves and to better understand one another, creating increased opportunities for social-emotional development. Explore Peekapak today!
About the Author:
Rachelle Dene is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.
She is the author of five books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World and her newest book “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” is now available.
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