Top Ten SOS for Social and Emotional Learning

Welcome to the SOS Top Ten series. In this edition, we highlight some ways to use Spotlight on Strategies (CDN Version) to encourage social and emotional learning.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which students develop an understanding of their emotions, social skills, and how these influence their own self-image and their interpersonal relationships.

Many schools are placing a focus on SEL as a way to support academic achievement, while also helping students understand how their perceptions of the world, emotional state, and actions/reactions are connected to the world around them.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a leader in SEL, has five competencies to help frame how students’ social and emotional well-being develops. The Spotlight on Strategies series provides many strategies that help teachers facilitate rich opportunities for students to explore and develop their self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Ten of our favorite strategies are listed below.

We hope you’ll try one or more strategy and share your experience with us in the DEN Online Community.


SOS Four Corners (CDN Version) asks students to determine how strongly they feel about an issue. They must be able to articulate their stance and share reasoning that supports it. This kinesthetic strategy encourages cooperative learning and helps students develop listening, critical thinking, and decision-making skills in the classroom.


SOS Who Are You (CDN Version) provides a scaffolded introduction to a topic by letting students identify their feelings and what they need to be successful. An image provides perspectives that students can identify with and use to explain their feelings.


SOS Get Your Thinking Hat On (CDN Version) provides students with a specific perspective from which to consider information and ideas. Students are assigned various thinking styles and use only that style to consider a resource or interpret information. Student “hats” can be a standard set for repeated classroom use, like those mentioned in the strategy, or they can be adapted to the instructional purpose of the content.


SOS Talking Sticks (CDN Version) teaches students the importance of “everyone has a voice” by structuring discussions that are respectful and equitable.  Students use a talking stick to designate the speaker, which guides students in self-monitoring participation and leads to more purposeful contributions and better listening.


SOS Multiple Perspectives (CDN Version) requires students to engage deeply with an image or video as they assume a perspective other than their own. Students create a narrative from inside a piece of media, from the perspective of an object or a person within it.


SOS They Said What? (CDN Version) is a teaching strategy that allows students to use their imagination to demonstrate knowledge. Students receive content-related images with embedded characters and create a logical dialogue, based on content knowledge. The process helps students develop varying perspectives about historic, fictional, or other moments.


SOS Fakebook (CDN Version) uses a well-known social media platform to encourage students to investigate and develop an understanding of another person, a place, or object. Students create a digital or offline profile page, requiring them to make connections to important events and individuals of a particular time and place. They determine friend requests and curate photo uploads with captions to demonstrate relationships and they write status updates, comments, and friend replies on the newsfeed to covey emotions, synthesize events, and demonstrate important connections they’ve made.


SOS Step Inside (CDN Version) is a teaching strategy that encourages students to consider content from multiple perspectives. Students are assigned roles that may be found within a piece of media and then answer questions from the point-of-view of their assigned person or object.


SOS Partner Time (CDN Version) provides a structure to pre-establish a variety of student partners. When students are given opportunities to discuss and compare ideas and opinions with their peers, they develop a broader understanding of the world and are more flexible and creative in their problem-solving. Partner Time can be used to effectively create partner and collaboration groups so that students are exposed to a variety of opinions and connections with their classmates.


SOS Gone Fishin’ (CDN Version) is a variation on a “fishbowl”, a strategy that helps students practice presenting their opinions in a respectful and productive manner and creates a safe environment for all students to express different perspectives on various topics.


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