The District

Three Ways to Center Whole-Child Instruction in ELA this Fall

The Newsela Team
Aug 3, 2022

Can you believe summer is already winding down? With only a few weeks until the 2022-23 school year, we want to make sure students are not only ready academically, but socially and emotionally as well. Infusing social-emotional learning (SEL) at the beginning of the year helps set intentions and puts students in the mindset for learning even amidst transitions. Students may be experiencing an array of emotions coming back to the classroom, ranging from excitement, to anxiety, to stress. Having SEL supports in place can create a classroom environment for all students to feel safe and included, a prerequisite for success.  

Here are 3 ways to bring SEL into your ELA instructional planning, right in time for the first day of school.

Set students up for success by prioritizing the most needed CASEL competencies

Educators have to juggle a lot at the beginning of the year, all while learning a whole new set of students' needs and personalities. Ensuring teachers have the right resources from the start can help them determine which areas of competence within SEL to prioritize as they get to know their students. 

The Newsela SEL Collection is published at 5 reading levels and organized by the 5 Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) competencies; self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. 

Especially at the beginning of the school year, students may need to enhance relationship building skills as they interact with new peers and learn to effectively communicate. Newsela’s Relationship-Building unit includes texts on active listening and friendship to support these skills during this critical time. Students might also benefit from setting goals and identifying stress-management strategies for upcoming tests. Embedding lessons from the Self-Management unit on focusing on goals or creating art to alleviate stress will teach kids important skills, while helping them progress. We've recently added new texts to our popular stress management topic that your teachers may want to explore here.  

Create flexible ELA lessons focused on SEL

Understanding the various needs in the classroom and having flexible supports for teachers to meet those needs, sets the school year off strong. Flexible ELA resources can allow you to set goals that are realistic while providing teachers with tools to help students meet their developmental and academic needs. 

Newsela’s ELA Back to School Units are designed with flexibility and SEL skills and themes in mind. Grades 2-10 each have 3-part units containing a variety of engaging texts with embedded activities, reflection, and discussion questions. Whether students need to build community with their fellow peers or resilience as they adjust to new transitions, these lessons are essential to help foster an environment where all students feel they belong and can learn. 

Build habits and routines that develop literacy and social-emotional skills with meaningful, relevant texts

At the beginning of the year, building habits and routines help keep students on track. But to keep that momentum going, teachers need meaningful and relevant texts that engage students as they develop literacy and SEL skills. Work with teachers to embed those skills and create space in the ELA lessons to  prioritize students’ developmental needs, also known as whole child education

The Social-Emotional Learning and Poetry unit is a fun way to get students writing and opening up at the beginning of the school year. It includes multi-day lessons by grade band that focus on how poetry and SEL can be used together. Students can strengthen their skills all while exploring engaging text sets ranging from poetry as self-expression to socially aware poets.

Lessons that are relevant, engaging and support the whole-child can make the back to school journey a little smoother. Newsela ELA can support your ELA plans all year long while supporting the full scope of a child's developmental needs.

As you embark on this upcoming school year, keep in mind the journey and feelings of addressing the whole child in instruction and continue to empower teachers and students with relevant, engaging content.

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