Thursday / April 25

15 Social Emotional Learning Tasks, For Students and For the Classroom

It may not come as a surprise that when I interviewed over twenty industry experts, almost all said that social-emotional learning (SEL) skills are important. CASEL’s 5 social emotional learning competencies are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. For students to be effective communicators, we have to thread these social competencies throughout our curriculum. 

Many times, there is a difference and a disconnect between these five competencies and what they actually look like in the classroom. In writing Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary StudentsI tried to address these gaps in bringing these competencies into the classroom. I strived to blend SEL with college and career readiness standards in an intentional and authentic way that was easy to share with students and integrate into the curriculum. My book also includes an SEL index to easily locate all of the activities woven into the book. 

While not an exhaustive list, the fifteen exercises listed below provide an overview of some of the targeted activities that students can utilize to tackle and traverse these competencies. An infographic of this list can also be found below. All of these activities are addressed in greater detail within the book and have been designed to be easily integrated into the core curriculum in fun, purposeful, and creative ways. 


  1. EVALUATE an individual or group project using a model like Glows and Grows or Keep/Change/Delete. 
  2. REFLECT on a model like Flow or Uffe Elbaek to get a feel for how you make decisions and what your strengths and weaknesses are. 
  3. DISCUSS the results of an independent or group rubric with a peer. 


  1. ROLE PLAY a variety of scenarios that might impact a group (e.g. one person absent too often or one person not speaking up) and how to handle them. 
  2. COMPOSE an email to your Future Self using a tool like with goals for the semester or year. 
  3. DESIGN a resume for the job you want (not the job you are currently qualified for). 


  1. EMAIL a peer that was absent in class with the resources and a few kind words. 
  2. DESIGN a product for a particular audience (e.g. another class or grade level, a community group, etc…). 
  3. SWAP a project (you are currently working on) with another group and complete it. 


  1. ENACT a group quiz where each student is responsible for every other student in their group and their knowledge and comprehension of the content. 
  2. SET group-sourced norms for a project. 
  3. CREATE a collaborative agenda and timeline for a group project using tools like Google Docs and Trello. 


  1. DESIGN a decision tree to determine multiple avenues to solve a problem or complete a process. 
  2. ANALYZE your own social media feed. What would you delete? What is no longer relevant? 
  3. DISCUSS the masks you wear online (e.g. sister, peer, student, daughter) and how each mask impacts what you share and/or don’t share online. 

If you would like an infographic version of this list of activities, you can download it along with the “21 Communication Skills Every High Schooler Should Have Before College and Career” infographic by signing up at FREE DOC Locker. 

Written by

Lisa Johnson (better know as TechChef4u) has devoted over two decades to supporting students and teachers in a variety of capacities including teaching both Math and English in the classroom, developing technology integration curriculum, serving as an Educational Technologist for a 1:1 iPad district, and presenting keynotes and workshops around the world. She holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and has been honored as both an Apple Distinguished Educator and PBS Lead Digital Innovator for Texas.

Lisa is the author of two books (Cultivating Communication in the Classroom and Creatively Productive) and has contributed content to six other published books. People around the world utilize the resources she creates and curates daily. She is a respected voice in education and passionate about college and career readiness skills, social emotional learning, executive functioning, instructional design, visual literacy, and professional development for students.

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