In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit students, parents, and educators hard. Without the ability to form connections, socialize with others, and learn key concepts through hands-on experiences and immersive discussions, it was extremely difficult to incorporate social-emotional learning (SEL) questions into lesson plans.
When SEL should have been at the forefront of educators' minds, group activities, small projects, and even one-on-one interactions were often put on the backburner as we all learned how to adjust to a new way of living and learning.
While some social-emotional learning could still be done through traditional methods like read-alouds, discussions, videos, and worksheets, there's no doubt that the pandemic has made it more difficult to teach social and emotional skills.
Enter virtual reality.
While there is no silver bullet for implementing social and emotional learning in the classroom, there are a few potential solutions that can make the process easier. One option is to use virtual reality (VR) technology to create immersive experiences that foster empathy and understanding.
For example, VR can be used to put students in the shoes of someone from a different culture or with a different perspective. Additionally, VR can be used to simulate real-world scenarios, such as diffusing a conflict or responding to an emergency. Because children can use VR from anywhere, it is an excellent way to teach 21st-century learning skills even in remote environments.
By putting students in these situations, they can learn how to handle complex emotions and navigate difficult situations. Other solutions include using SEL-based curriculum, incorporating mindfulness into the classroom, and providing opportunities for students to practice communication and collaboration skills.
By using a combination of these methods, educators can create a supportive environment where all students can thrive.
In this blog post, we'll check out some social-emotional learning questions to ask students and share how educators can apply them to their lesson plans.
The Social-Emotional Learning Framework
The social-emotional learning framework is a way of thinking about and approaching social and emotional development. It is based on the belief that all people have the ability to develop social and emotional skills, and that these skills are essential for success in life.
The framework provides a comprehensive approach to social and emotional learning, and it can be used by educators, parents, and other adults who work with children.
The SEL framework has five key components:
- Self-awareness: the ability to understand one's own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
- Self-management: the ability to regulate one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
- Social awareness: the ability to understand the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors of others.
- Relationship skills: the ability to communicate effectively with others and build positive relationships.
- Responsible decision-making: the ability to make choices that are based on ethical, social, and emotional considerations.
Each of these components is essential for social and emotional development, and they all work together to promote a positive sense of self-worth and a healthy sense of connection to others.
They each play a critical role for social and emotional development, and they all work together to promote a positive sense of self-worth and a healthy sense of connection to others.
The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning In the Classroom
However, there is a growing recognition of the importance of social and emotional learning in the classroom. In fact, a recent study found that social and emotional learning can have a positive impact on academic achievement, mental health, and social behaviors.
Here are the key benefits of social-emotional learning:
SEL improves students' emotional health
Throughout childhood and adolescence, children and teens face a variety of social and emotional challenges. They experience a wide range of emotions, and they often struggle to manage their emotions effectively.
Research has shown that SEL can help reduce stress levels and improve mental health in students. This is because social and emotional skills give students the ability to manage their emotions, set boundaries, and communicate effectively.
Thus, students who possess strong social and emotional skills are more likely to get through these challenges without long-term damage to their emotional health.
Social-emotional learning promotes teamwork and leadership
Through teamwork, students learn how to work together to achieve a common goal. They learn how to communicate effectively, compromise, and resolve conflicts. Team-oriented activities make students more socially aware.
Through leadership, students learn how to take initiative, set goals, and motivate others. They learn how to make decisions, solve problems, and plan for the future. By taking on leadership roles, students learn responsible decision-making and self-awareness.
As a driving force behind teamwork and leadership, social-emotional learning activities allow students to develop the skills they need to be successful both in and outside of school.
SEL fosters more inclusive learning environments
When all students feel safe and included, they are more likely to succeed academically and socially. SEL can help create an inclusive school climate by promoting respect, empathy, and understanding for one another.
Through SEL activities and lesson plans, educators can foster an inclusive culture in their classrooms and schools. This type of environment is more likely to engage all students, regardless of their background or ability.
Students can achieve greater academic success with SEL
About 90% of elementary and secondary teachers agree that social and emotional lessons are critical for academic success.
Of course, this comes as no surprise. Students need to be able to regulate their emotions in order to focus on their work. They need to be able to set boundaries in order to manage their time effectively. And they need to be able to communicate effectively in order to collaborate with their peers.
In other words, social and emotional skills are essential for academic success. When students possess these skills, they are more likely to achieve their academic goals.
SEL helps educators interact with students more intimately
When educators can understand their students deeply, they can give them better feedback and provide more targeted support.
This is because social and emotional learning gives educators the ability to see the world through their students' eyes. By asking social and emotional learning questions, they can understand their students' motivations, values, and perspectives.
As a result, social and emotional learning can help educators build stronger relationships with their students. These relationships are built on trust and mutual respect, and they are essential for student success.
Social and Emotional Learning Questions for Students
How can you, as a teacher, help your students with social-emotional learning? By asking the right social-emotional learning discussion questions.
Here are some social-emotional learning questions to integrate into your lesson plans:
Questions to Deepen Relationships
When it comes to creating a positive and productive classroom environment, you need your students to trust you and each other. Therefore, it is your responsibility as an educator to facilitate trust-building activities and discussions.
The following social-emotional learning questions can help you get to know your students on a deeper level and build trust within your classroom:
- What are your favorite things to do outside of school?
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
- Who is someone you look up to and why?
- What's a place you would love to visit?
- When do you feel proud of yourself??
- What is something you care a lot about?
These questions are best asked when you want your students to get to know each other better. By asking these social and emotional learning questions, you are letting your students know that you care about them as individuals.
When looking for these social emotional learning discussion questions and answers, make sure to focus on the importance of trust, respect, and empathy in your classroom.
As a result of these open discussions, your students will be more likely to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with you in the future.
Questions that Help with Perspective-Taking
Introduce social-emotional learning questions that help with perspective-taking.
- What are some things you're grateful for?
- How do you think other people see you?
- When was a time when you had to compromise?
- What is something you take for granted that someone else doesn't have?
- What is a situation where your opinion changed after hearing someone else's perspective?
It is best to work through these kinds of questions during both group activities and individual activities with students. For example, around the holidays, before students go on break, you could have a class discussion about things that they are thankful for and why.
For older students, questions about how other people see themselves are an excellent way to help students understand their self-worth. These discussions can be extremely valuable for maturing students as they become teenagers and take on more personal responsibility for their actions and lives.
Questions for Developing Self-Awareness
In order for students to develop social and emotional skills, they need to be aware of their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The following social-emotional learning questions can help older students with self-awareness:
- What are your strengths?
- What do you like about yourself?
- What makes you unique?
- When was a time you felt really proud of yourself?
- What are some things you're working on improving?
- What is something you would like to learn more about?
These questions are similar to relationship-deepening questions, but they are more focused on how students feel internally.
Since some self-awareness questions (such as,"what are some things you're working on improving?") can be very personal, they are best used in individual and small group activities with your students.
When asking questions based on self-awareness, the goal is to help your students understand and accept themselves. By doing so, they will be more likely to manage their emotions in a healthy way.
When educators ask the right SEL questions at the right time, they can inspire their students to be their best selves.
Questions to Manage Emotions
Learning to manage emotions is a vital skill for developing children. Those who can manage their emotions effectively are more likely to have positive social interactions, be successful in school, and overall lead happier lives.
The following social-emotional learning questions can help students to understand and manage their emotions:
- What are some things that make you happy?
- What are some things that make you sad?
- What are some things that make you angry?
- When was a time you felt really overwhelmed?
- What is something that calms you down?
- What is a healthy way to deal with your emotions?
These social-emotional learning questions should be asked when students are already comfortable discussing their feelings since they typically involve personal events.
The goal of these questions is to help students understand their emotions and how to cope with them in a healthy way. By encouraging students to be open about the way certain situations make them feel, you can create a safe and supportive environment in your classroom while teaching students responsibility for their actions.
Questions to Use Throughout the Year
Throughout the year, there are social-emotional learning questions that can be used to help students with different skills. These questions can also help students reflect on their past and see how far they have come.
Here are some questions to use throughout the year:
- When have you felt supported this year?
- What have been some of your biggest setbacks?
- What has been your favorite memory from this year?
- What are you looking forward to in the future?
- What are some things you're worried about?
At the beginning of the year, social-emotional learning questions can be used to get to know your students and build relationships.
As the year goes on, social-emotional learning questions can be used to help students with perspective-taking, self-awareness, and managing emotions.
By using social-emotional learning questions throughout the year, you can help your students develop important social and emotional skills that will last a lifetime.
Virtual Reality In the Classroom
The virtual reality market as a whole is growing exponentially and part of that has to do with its increasing adoption by educators nationwide.
Virtual reality can be a powerful tool for social-emotional learning. It can provide an immersive experience that helps students understand and empathize with others. In the VR classroom, students also learn social skills, such as how to manage emotions or resolve conflict.
VR in the classroom offers benefits like:
- Opportunities for visual learning
- Pathways to high classroom engagement
- Lessons to boost comprehension
- Field trips accessible from anywhere
With virtual reality, students can learn visually
Many students are visual learners, meaning that they learn best when they can see what they are learning. Virtual reality provides a visual experience that can help students understand concepts and retain information.
Not only is the metaverse a fantastic tool for social-emotional learning, but VR can make lesson plans for any subject more engaging for students. Especially in remote learning environments, virtual reality helps educators make their lesson plans more comprehensible.
VR engages students in ways we never thought possible
The average student has an attention span of less than 8 seconds. With educational VR, we can finally keep students' attention for much longer and show them things we never could in a traditional classroom setting.
For example, a class discussion about the solar system can be brought to life with a VR experience that takes students on a tour of the planets. Rather than reading from a textbook, students can explore the solar system and see the planets up close.
Educators can use VR to improve comprehension
Virtual reality for teaching opens several doors for all kinds of learning. While it's a great way to get students engaged, it can also be used to assess their understanding of concepts.
For example, let's say you're teaching a lesson on ancient Egypt. You can have students virtually explore the pyramids and then take a quiz on what they learned. This helps you gauge their understanding while also providing an immersive and fun experience.
Virtual reality is accessible from anywhere
The benefits of virtual field trips are many, but the biggest one is that they're accessible from anywhere. No matter where your students are, they can log into a VR headset and explore the world.
Not only are VR headsets safe for kids, but they also make social-emotional learning more inclusive. Students who may not be able to participate in a traditional field trip can still benefit from the experience.
Especially as an online or remote educator, this is a huge benefit. You can take your students on field trips without ever leaving your home.
Social-Emotional Lesson Plans With Kai XR
Some social-emotional learning questions can be answered with VR. You can use VR to help students understand different people and their emotions. Kai XR can help make this easier and more fun.
Below, we’ll share some awesome ways our 360º virtual field trips can lead to classroom discussions driven by social emotional learning questions.
Social Emotional Learning Questions for Elementary Students
Elementary school is a time where children develop social skills and learn to navigate their emotions. It's important for educators to help students during this time, and social-emotional learning questions are a great way to do that.
Through our Crow the Legend VR field trip, students can follow Crow and see how he views the world. This can help them understand how other people may see things differently than they do.
Here are some social-emotional learning questions you can ask after the virtual experience:
- How does Crow treat his friends?
- What does Crow do when he realizes he needs to help his friends?
- Why do you think he does this?
Social Emotional Learning Questions for Middle School Students
In middle school, students are going through a lot of changes. Their bodies are changing, they're dealing with hormones, and they're trying to figure out who they are. It's important for educators to help students during this time, and social-emotional learning questions are a great way to do that.
Through our Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monument virtual field trip, students can learn about what it means to find their identity. Since middle school students are often trying to figure out their place in the world, historical figures who carved their own path in society and paved the way for people to be accepted are excellent examples. Through Dr. King’s life and legacy, students can learn what it means to make a difference and how to be accepting of both others and themselves.
Here are some social emotional learning questions for students you can ask after this virtual adventure:
- What did you learn about social justice from the virtual field trip?
- How did Dr. King stand up for social justice?
- What can you do to stand up for social justice in your community?
- What is the value of treating others equally?
Social Emotional Learning Questions for High School Students
High school is a time when students are preparing for their future. They're figuring out what they want to do with their life and how they want to impact the world. It's important for educators to help students during this time, and social-emotional learning questions are a great way to do that.
Through our Dreaming in Za'atari field trip, students will be able to follow three Syrian refugees as they live in a refugee camp. Halfway around the world, students will be able to see how different people are living and what they're going through. From this VR field trip, students can learn a lot about social impact and how to empathize with others who have different backgrounds and life experiences.
Questions about social emotional learning you can ask in an in-class assignment include:
- How do you think the Syrian refugees feel about their current situation?
- Why is the situation in the Middle East happening in the first place?
- What can you do to help people who are in a difficult situation like this?
Get Started With Kai XR Today
Kai XR is the perfect tool to use for social-emotional learning activities because it offers a safe and inclusive space for students to explore and express themselves. It's a great way to get all students involved in social-emotional learning, regardless of their background or ability level.
Thanks to the power of the metaverse, SEL is more accessible than ever before!
Ready to get started? Book a demo here.
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Featured Photo by Marta Wave