The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom

Eleanor Kennedy Blog, Special Ed

A student may know her 12 times tables, be perfect at reciting the alphabet of a second language, or have full knowledge of a river’s features, but one of the most important lessons a student can benefit from in the classroom is her social-emotional learning (SEL). Social and emotional learning is the process of developing and using the skills, attitudes, and knowledge that help youth and adults to identify and regulate emotions. In turn, the knowledge gained from SEL could help young people to develop positive relationships and make responsible decisions. This message was presented recently at the annual MassCUE conference at Gillette Stadium. Research clearly shows that integrating SEL into school life is good for both students and teachers. In fact, it is estimated that SEL improves student achievement by an average of 11 percentile points, while also increasing prosocial behaviors (such as kindness, sharing, and empathy), improving student attitudes toward school, and reducing depression and stress among students. This is something that is key to many educators’ teaching, including Dr Ruha Benjamin of Princeton University. Dr Benjamin, who is  professor of African American studies and author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier, delivered the key note at the 2017 MassCUE Fall Conference which was attended by the 30hands team. She spoke passionately about the importance of social and emotional awareness among students, in particular with regard to people’s cultural backgrounds. One particular point Dr Benjamin regularly pushes is the idea that race is socially constructed while asking how …

Practice makes perfect! Or at least it makes for more effective presenting…

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

Most people agree that presentation skills are important, but effective presentation skills are even more important. But how does one improve their presentation skills? The first time I ever gave a presentation was my first week of university. It was in my college’s biggest lecture hall and in front of about 100 people. It was terrifying. There is no better way to describe it than that. My voice shook, my words stumbled and the palms of my hands greased. It was a short, five minute presentation, though I have no idea how long I spoke for. It could have been a mere two minutes, or ten. I was just glad to get it over with and honestly didn’t care if I spoke well or not – as long as it was over. It was times like then, and this is something I even still think about, that I wish I had the chance to practice my presentation skills at a younger age. Confidence My first presentation was when I was 17 years old and my issues ultimately came down to a lack of experience which resulted in nerves and no confidence. Now, I see teachers from across the United States tweeting their students’ wonderful 30hands presentations, and these students are as young as kindergarteners. I firmly believe that there is a direct correlation between effective presentation skills and confidence. How do you build confidence in a task? And how do you implement effective techniques to engage your audience longer? Through …

Sharing Your Lesson Plans as Videos, The Newest Trend in Education?

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

Sharing lesson plans as videos with your colleagues can be a great way of both comparing ideas and obtaining new ones. Education is an incredibly time consuming gig and with much of a teacher’s time dedicated to the classroom and grading papers, it’s difficult to find the time to create new teaching materials. That’s why sharing materials is not only convenient, but educational. How do teachers benefit from this? Sharing your lessons online is a great way of expanding your knowledge and there are multiple websites which provide platforms for teachers to do so. Some of these (see Teachers Pay Teachers) have recently introduced the ability to do this through video. This is where 30hands shines in its ability to simplify, personalize and speed up the video creation process for teachers. Creating video can be a daunting task if one lacks experience in doing so, but with 30hands Storyteller, this fear quickly disappears as the app uses easy techniques which bring unique results. Unlike a lot of similar apps out there, 30hands Storyteller also makes it incredibly easy to edit your video, whether it’s to personalize it further or just to correct mistakes. There’s absolutely no need to alter your entire video just to fix one mistake! Creating 30hands videos from PowerPoints and Google Slides One of the best features of 30hands Storyteller is the ability to import your Google Slides or PowerPoint presentations and publish them as videos. This is done within a matter of seconds. If you have …

Inviting Stories into the Classroom

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

What happens when we invite students to share stories inside the classroom? It can be a nerve-wracking task and understandably so – the idea of sharing personal (or non-personal) experiences with teachers and friends. It can be a challenge as for some it opens up a form of communication that is entirely new. But it can also challenge – and by that I mean challenge the dimensions of traditional student/teacher relationships. In her 2014 TEDTalk, educator and after-school media arts teacher, Emily Bailin, talks about the power of digital storytelling. In it she says that inviting teachers and pupils to share stories challenges the notion that it is the adults who are the only people with knowledge outside the classroom. She said bringing stories into the classroom bridges stronger connections from lived experiences outside schools with the content being delivered in school. This type of exchange of information is just as important as learning from a textbook, and it creates a sense of empathy between the teachers and students. Research, both old and more recent, seems to suggest this is true for learners of all ages. Anne Dyson (1987) found in her study of children’s collaborative storytelling that the most elaborate stories were told through talk and not through text. She also found that this form of verbal learning took considerable time off the task, meaning children completed their tasks quicker. In a similar study of first-graders,it was discovered that stories told during storytelling time were often the same as what they wrote about …

Models of Experiential Learning: Entrepreneurship

Eric Braun Blog

When I decided to dive into the world of education several years ago, I spent a lot of time exploring models of great learning. My exploration came through reading articles on pedagogy and research, talking to educators and learners and thinking about my own experiences. Although I had been a very good student in the traditional sense, I realized that what had made the most impact on me was hands-on and experiential learning. Recently, I experienced a few events and activities that I found to be great models of experiential learning. Let’s take a look at one event on Entrepreneurship. The Entrepreneurial Journey Entrepreneurship is all the rage nowadays, but what does it mean at the core? What does it take to be an entrepreneur? What’s the impact if  you happen to be female? These are questions that Nora Poggi sought to uncover as she created her film “She Started It“. The film takes the viewer through the journey of 2 young women starting companies, with some side trips along the way to highlight a few others. In a little over an hour, the viewer gets a good sense of the joy of success and the agony of defeat. We see the hard work, the fear, outside influences, luck and constant change. Having been in this world myself for over 20 years, I am impressed at how much of the journey comes out in one short film. Kudos to Nora and her team! Why is this relevant to the future of education? It …

From Failure to Fantastic

Gaby Charmont Blog

Have you ever gotten a poor grade on an assignment when you think it truly deserved better? Did you take an honest look and were able to admit you did everything you could to make it great? I bet there is reasoning behind those grades received, and often a quick read through of a student’s work can confirm the amount of revisions that were done before submitting, that number usually being none. Here’s the thing, we’re not perfect and neither is anything we do on the first try. This is why iterative creativity is so important, especially in the classroom, and far beyond. This iterative process works as a cycle where you design your project, build it, test it, and then repeat. You can get an idea for a project, build the presentation, have your peers make edits and suggestions on your work, and then repeat with consideration given to creatively improving the parts others pointed out. While this cycle might need to be repeated a few times, I promise your project will be much closer to perfect than it was on your first attempt. Although it was a hard lesson to learn, I eventually discovered the power a do-over has to add value to a project. I was discouraged throughout grade school when I would turn in my work, thinking it was comparable to that of a creative genius, and would receive suggestions for improvement. This made me feel like I would never be as creative as my peers. In reality though, …

45.5 Percent: Impoverished Without Education

Student Guest Blog 0 Comments

I was born in Mexico City and lived there until I was seven years old before moving to the United States. My house in Mexico was located in a decently nice area. I went to a Jewish Day School during the day and played soccer in a Jewish Community Center during the afternoons. Despite living in a country that had an astonishing poverty rate of 45.5 percent, my daily routine shielded me from noticing it. The only exposure I had to the devastating poverty were the disheveled homes on the side of the road – homes that were built from almost nothing. Despite my limited exposure to poverty as a child, a recent visit to Mexico opened my eyes. This past year, I was in Mexico visiting my extended family. As we were driving to my grandma’s house, we stopped at a light. I turned to my right and saw a boy that was selling candy bars to cars that were halted by the light. From his stature and clearly malnourished body, he seemed to be eight years old. His deep brown eyes, scarred face, and pre-pubescent moustache suggested he was more like twelve. The child had a look in his brown eyes that suggested a stunted childhood, dwarfed by the need to work to support his family and himself. It weren’t his physical characteristics that really struck me, but rather the object he was carrying on his back. It was noon, on a Wednesday, and this little boy was …