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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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