The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed our country’s financial and educational institutions seemingly overnight. Its impact varies across the nation. Some people are losing their lives, while others are recovering from the virus; some are losing jobs, while the jobs of essential workers have increased in value; and while the stock market has dropped, stimulus checks from the government have been deposited electronically into bank accounts across the country. With these extremes in mind, we must balance the social and emotional learning (SEL) components that should be considered during the design of a lesson with factors to help engage students with online learning, the platform for the continuation of education for students around the world.
According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), “SEL is how children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” (See https://casel.org/.) Creating a lesson about the coronavirus may not seem appropriate considering the social and emotional impact COVID-19 is having on our society, but failure to help students understand the need for us to stay home may lead to misconceptions and irresponsible social behavior.
Daily briefings from the White House create opportunities to develop a student’s skill to defend an argument (argumentation) and/or analyze claims using the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning framework (see https://nise.institute/micro-certification.php). Focusing on enhancing these skills through discussions about COVID-19 may ease students’ concerns about the virus. Informative websites such as https://www.coronavirus.gov/ offer guidance to help reduce the spread of the virus, and hopefully comfort both students and their families.