Why not blend Social Emotional Learning activities with grammar to strengthen both skills? | Mentoring in the Middle

Why not blend Social Emotional Learning activities with grammar to strengthen both skills?

It's hard to get students to pay attention to spelling and grammar when there's so much else going on in their lives, isn't it?  If you're like me, you've tried some of the online apps.  I struggled to be consistent with them, though.

That left me feeling like I needed to find another way.  For a while, I used Classroom Cereal, which my students and I enjoyed.  (Not an affiliate link, it's just a good product made by someone in the classroom.)

What I saw in my students socially:

Along with a lack of attention to detail, I began to notice kids struggling with social skills.  I have some pretty strong feelings about this, some of which you may or may not agree with.  Let's just say that a perfect storm of technology combined with pressure for schools to compete with who-knows-or-cares, and our youngest learners aren't getting the time they need to learn how to talk and play with each other.

I can't just blame schools, though.  The responsibility for social skills lies as much at home as it does in the classroom, if not more.  But, this isn't a post about our societal systems, it's about what I decided to do.

How do we help students grow?

If kids are struggling emotionally these days, what can you do to help them grow?

In a world that is constantly changing, it is becoming increasingly important for students to develop not only academic skills but also positive character traits, traits that will serve them well throughout their lives. 

From resilience and empathy to creativity and leadership, these qualities are essential for personal growth and success in the classroom and ultimately, in adulthood. This is not an easy fix for educators, in fact, to be successful, our entire culture needs it to be important.  And we are not there.

Include SEL activities in the classroom:

When I held class meetings, I became painfully aware that some kids struggled to express their emotions, some couldn't manage their frustration, and others didn't pick up on cues well.  Sixth graders are wonderfully welcoming!  But, as the year goes on, they become less so, and often that continues into middle school, where everyone is judging themselves against others.

So, I decided to combine two areas that my students needed to work on:  grammar and social-emotional skills.

I thought about the circumstances that caused challenges for social-emotional learning in my classroom and came up with this list:

  • calling out in class
  • working with a substitute
  • feeling pressure to be different
  • cutting
  • sharing grades
  • parents divorcing
  • losing control
  • mean kids
  • best friends who change over time
There are tons more - and if you have ideas for some you'd like to see, please share them!

Activities for social-emotional learning:

What do the lessons look like?  Students read a letter to "Raymond" about one of these particular issues.
 They need to find all the grammatical errors in the letter.  You can have them circle them or build writing stamina by recopying the letter free of mistakes.

But the best part comes next.  Students pretend to be "Raymond" and respond to the letter writer with what they would do.  Students love to help out!  And with a classroom set of responses, you can discuss them together or have students share their letters in small groups and come up with common ideas.  

There are lots of ways to use this!

Do you want to try one grammar activity for free?  

Would you like to take a look at the bundle?  Separately, it would sell for $12.00 but bundled, it's $9.50.  And the best part is that any new stories I add are yours for free!

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