Teaching SEL in the classroom with free online technology


Kasey Bradley

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and

Jordan Tatom

show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions, said school counselors Kasey Bradley and Jordan Tatom of Bedford County, TN, in a recent edWeb.net webinar. Bradley and Tatom presented practical classroom strategies for integrating SEL into the class day, as well as easy-to-use online resources.

Originally a math teacher, Bradley at first considered teaching SEL an unnecessary luxury, considering the many academic standards she had to meet. But she eventually discovered that SEL was crucial in helping students feel safety and belonging, which in turn greatly impacted their learning.

Here are some basic SEL concepts, taken from the website Casel.org/core-competencies, along with some teaching practices.

Self awareness

  • Identifying emotions
  • Accurate self-perception
  • Recognizing strengths
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-efficacy


  • Impulse control
  • Stress management
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-motivation
  • Goal setting
  • Organizational skills

Social awareness

  • Perspective taking
  • Empathy
  • Appreciating diversity
  • Respect for others

Relationship skills

  • Communication
  • Social engagement
  • Relationship building
  • Teamwork

Responsible decision-making

  • Identifying problems
  • Analyzing situations
  • Solving problems
  • Evaluating
  • Reflecting
  • Ethical responsibility

From https://team-tn.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/SELToolkit_6_3_15.pdf


Teachers are often the one adult that students see most, so what teachers do affects students greatly. Modeling positive behavior, such as speaking calmly, slowly, and kindly, is a must.

You can integrate SEL concepts while discussing other concepts, said Tatom. For example, when teaching world history or current events, you can show what happens when countries talk to and respect each other as opposed to ignoring each other’s needs or fighting. Or you can discuss the feelings that young people had in historic times, such as those of Anne Frank during WW II. In math you can create story problems which include SEL concepts. In science, you can tie in SEL through the way that students work together, such as working in groups, taking turns, and respecting one another’s viewpoints even when disagreeing.

Tatom and Bradley were most excited to present the free resources for direct SEL instruction, which are short videos available online, appropriate for use a circle time, homeroom, during brain breaks, or when students are having a moment. Bradley advised using them when students are frustrated, angry, aggressive. unmotivated, lacking in self-confidence, argumentative, or disruptive. Students love them because they are so engaging. Here they are:


BrainPop is a subscription-based service but offers free videos on conflict resolution, setting goals, and personal hygiene. Along with the videos there are quizzes, classroom challenges/talking points, and many other activities. See these URLS:

BrainPop Jr.

BrainPop Jr., for K to 2nd grade, is subscription-based but offers a variety of free videos, including one on bullying, at https://jr.brainpop.com/free-stuff/.


Flocabulary.com is a subscription-based service but offers a 30-day free trial. The videos are for grades K through 5 but the videos can be used for all ages. Older kids think the videos for younger kids are very funny. A favorite video is the one on Bullying, for grades 4-8.

Flocabulary videos have a Discussion option which will pause the video at key moments for classroom discussion. It offers classroom activities such as vocabulary lists, quizzes, handouts, lesson plans, and state standards alignment.

Flocabulary video

Rocketkids on YouTube

Rocketkids videos on YouTube.com show real students talking about SEL issues. To find the videos, go to YouTube.com and search for “RocketKids” (all one word). Topics include “5 Things You Can Control,” “How To Set Goals,” “How To Change Your Mood,” and “What is Bullying (the basics)”.


GoNoodle offers movement videos which students love. A favorite one is “Take a Breath” which teaches how to relax before test-taking.

Class Dojo

ClassDojo is a classroom communication app which allows you to award points for good behavior, among other things. Read more about it at the SpecialEdTech.net article “Apps, websites and ideas for classroom management.”

You can follow Bradley on Twitter at @kcbradley12 and Tatom at
@CounselorTatom. See also the webinar, Revamping Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in the Classroom with Technology.


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