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Teaching Soft Skills in the Computer Lab using Digital Breakout Challenges


It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.
It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.

What is Social Emotional Learning?

When I say Social Emotional Learning, I'm talking about Soft Skills. Things like communication, collaboration, perseverance, and problem solving. 

There is a major trend in education now to bring Social Emotional Learning (SEL) back into the classroom. I'm not sure if it always was there and we were just calling it something else, but it is here in a big way now. 

Everywhere you turn, people are talking about Character Education. How this generation of kids don't know how to get along. How kids can't communicate anymore. How they give up easily and don't persevere. How they can't solve their own problems. 

Have you noticed this, too?
It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.

Bringing SEL into the Classroom

Soft Skills might seem like a task for the School Counselor. Let him/her come in and teach a lesson once a month, right? Wrong! 

SEL is something that we need to work on every day in order for it to stick. 

Luckily, it can be integrated into pretty much any subject area. There are even a few common core standards that have wording to encourage soft skills. 

BUT, when we put students on a "program" on the computer, they aren't working on any of these skills (maybe perseverance, but the program probably avoids frustrating students for logical reasons). 

Things are about to change, friends. 

Digital Breakouts

You may be asking what a Digital Breakout is, and what is has to do with computer lab time and soft skills. Keep reading. 

If you've use any interactive notebooking concepts, you can do a digital breakout. It is an easy transition of skills. 

Interactive notebook to Digital interactive notebook to Digital Breakout. Let me break it down for you. 

Interactive notebooks have pieces to cut and paste, things to write or draw, and it is all done in a notebook on paper. 
It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.

Digital interactive notebooks have these things in digital format. For example, cut and paste becomes click and drag. Write becomes Type. Draw becomes Use the Shape Tools to create a graphic. 
It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.


Digital Breakouts (the way I make them) are basically a Digital Interactive Notebook with one additional layer - the codes. 
It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.
The Hint for this one says "How many parts are included in the citation of an online article?" So, students complete the digital activity, but the code could be related or something completely different. It requires students to practice problem solving and perseverance. 

Each slide has a placeholder for the Code and when students are ready, they enter the codes into a locked Google Form. 
It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.
The form only allows correct answers, so it is self-checking. Once students input all correct answers, they can submit it and get their certificate. 
It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.

Soft Skills and Digital Breakouts

What do these things have in common? They require students to work together.

I almost never have students do a Digital Breakout independently. Groups of 2-3 students is ideal. 

This makes them collaborate, communicate, persevere, and problem solve together. 

Collaborate - small groups can divide up the puzzles and codes or choose to work through them together. 

Communicate - students have the opportunity to talk. I know, I know, how dare I let my students talk in class! haha I take this time as the teacher to facilitate their communication and work on skills with them if I need to step in. 

Persevere - these puzzles are going to challenge them. They have to keep at it even if the group is arguing or frustrated about something. 

Problem Solving - they can't complete the digital breakout until all of the answers are correct. Not all of the puzzles are straightforward. Some have multiple layers to solve, kind of like a word problem. There is extra info, missing info, they have to work across slides (pages) to find the answers.

My brother is a Computer Engineer. He spends his day staring at a computer screen. Yet, he has to work with others at almost every step of every project. 

When he was interviewing for the position, most of the questions they asked of him were about his ability to communicate and work with a team. It is unavoidable! 

So, it has become my mission to get students talking and working together in the computer lab. Gone are the days where they plug in their headphones and work independently the entire time. 
It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.

It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.

It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.

It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.

It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.


Are you ready to dive in and try a Digital Breakout?
I have tons of topics already. Click on a link to see the options.
Internet Safety
Online Research
Online Test Taking Tools
Coding Vocabulary
Keyboards
Computer Parts
Computer Lab Rules K-2
Computer Lab Rules 3-5

Or would you like to learn to build your own Digital Breakouts?
Make Your Own Digital Breakouts

As always, I want to hear from you! What are you doing to encourage students to work on SEL in the computer lab or any time they are using technology? Fill me in!

It might not come naturally to think about Social Emotional Learning and Tech Class together, but it is totally possible to integrate these two things. Digital Breakouts are the answer, and students are begging for more.

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Brittany Washburn
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How to Engage Introverts Using Technology


Technology is a great way to engage more introverted students in the classroom. No matter what you teach, differentiated learning with technology is a great way to get those more shy and introverted kids involved in classroom activities and responses. Technology can also give them the opportunity to showcase their talents and proficiency without putting them on the spot.
How To Use Technology In The Classroom To Engage Introverts

Technology is a great way to engage more introverted students in the classroom. No matter what you teach, differentiated learning with technology is a great way to get those more shy and introverted kids involved in classroom activities and responses. Technology can also give them the opportunity to showcase their talents and proficiency without putting them on the spot. 

So, what exactly is the difference between an introvert and an extrovert? Well, it depends on who you talk to, but there are a few different ways that you can define the difference. One definition of an introvert is that they are recharged when they are by themselves, while an extrovert prefers groups and can gain momentum and energy with groups. When I teach students the difference between the two, some kids will say that introverts hate people, but really, introverts just prefer a few close friends and small groups, while extroverts have a lot of friends and prefer large groups. At the same time, a person can be an outgoing introvert or a shy extrovert. The more out there with a lot of connections you have, the more successful you may be. So how do we as teachers support and engage more shy students and introverts in the classroom to help them be more successful? 

Technology is a great way to engage more introverted students in the classroom. No matter what you teach, differentiated learning with technology is a great way to get those more shy and introverted kids involved in classroom activities and responses. Technology can also give them the opportunity to showcase their talents and proficiency without putting them on the spot.

Using Polling Applications For Q&A 

There are so many applications that give teachers new ways to engage students in the classroom. Here is a link to a list of some of the best survey and polling technology for the classroom!  With this type of tech, the teachers and the students benefit. You can ask questions and get answers in real time to see how well students are understanding the lesson. 

Piazza is an application that allows students to ask questions anonymously so they may feel more free to express themselves and their questions without being put on the spot during class.  

PollEverywhere, in addition to allowing multiple choice questions, you can brainstorm ideas and see the most popular rise to the top. You can have students ask questions and then vote on which question is the most relevant or popular with the students. 

Sli.do Is one of the best sources out there for crowdsourcing questions. 
Differentiated Learning With Technology
Another thing to be aware of with introverted students is to give more varied options for participation in class as well as how they may present their projects. Here are some ideas different ways an introverted student could present

A presentation could be pre-recorded as a video or a voice-over. 

Students could use Glogster to create a poster. 

Build relationships and communities with students through technology. If a student is painfully shy or can’t work in a group, then make the group smaller, use different ways to communicate online. Make fun activities with technology like a meme-making-project. 

What kinds of ways do you try and engage introverted students? How do you build a better classroom community with technology?




Technology is a great way to engage more introverted students in the classroom. No matter what you teach, differentiated learning with technology is a great way to get those more shy and introverted kids involved in classroom activities and responses. Technology can also give them the opportunity to showcase their talents and proficiency without putting them on the spot.
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Brittany Washburn
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