This related resource is designed to help you see the PBL-SEL connection after you read the blog post!

Imagine being part of a design team to address a real-world challenge: Designing products to help humans based on animal characteristics, saving butterflies from extinction, developing school and classroom libraries that accurately reflect those reading the books, rethinking the brackets for March Madness, human trafficking, exploring outer space, and more. What would it look like if you were a student?

  • – You may be part of a design team where you meet to discuss the problem, brainstorm, divide up to learn the necessary content, come back together to discuss possible solutions, and collaboratively design a solution and advocacy plan.
  • – You will have to look at the problem through the lens of how it affects others in order to design a solution.
  • – You will have deadlines to meet as the project continues.
  • – You may find you’re interested in one aspect of the problem where you spend more time, at school or home, researching it.
  • – You have to be a responsible team member and carry your weight.
  • – You have to be able to handle conflict situations that arise with your team.

I could go on and on and on. I hope what you see in that list is a LOT of social and emotional learning! Consider how much SEL is fostered when a teacher offers up a whole-group lesson (some) or when a student is working on a worksheet (some) versus when you give a kid a problem (a lot!). SEL and its partner of executive function are embedded in a problem-based learning experience.

When you engage students in design process to solve a problem, you build many SEL competencies, among them, empathy and perspective-taking. When you have students collaboratively solve problems and teach consensus-building skills, that’s SEL! When you add the structures and strategies of a student-driven learning environment, like LATIC, you promote SEL even more. And when you build executive function, SEL, and real-world problem solving skills, you advance student efficacy, which is a path to instructional equity.

So if you’re thinking about PBL and you’re thinking about SEL … merge your goals!

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