Social-Emotional Learning

pp. 106-110

The SEL and Academic Purposes of Group Work

  • Group work requires careful planning.
  • It emphasizes the role of talk. The person who talks the most learns the most.
  • It is important for all students to get their voices in the room.
  • It provides chances for them to learn together, academically and socially.
  • Language is the main tool that promotes thinking, develops reasoning, and supports critical activities like reading and writing. (Vygotsky 1978)

Social-Emotional Skills Developed by Group Work

Skills are developed through group work.

  • Self-Management
  • Relationship Management
  • Responsible Decision-Making

Accountable Group Work

Group size can vary depending on the task.


Getting students to work together can be a problem at the beginning of the year.

Example of Group Work Used to Decrease Classroom Conflict

In this section, the author reflects back on days spent teaching a group of Sophomores. It was important to build the students' stamina. The author began by partnering students up in pairs. Giving students many opportunities to build relationships with partners helped to foster a culture where collaboration was possible.

Twosomes: Think-Pair-Share, Think-Pair-Square, and Snowballing

Think-Pair-Share - Much like a turn-and-talk, this activity asks that students think and then partner up with an individual to share the thinking and listen to a partner share thinking.


Think-Pair-Share-Square - The square is made of two pairs from the "think-pair-share". Here, the two pairs share their thinking.


Snowballing - Like the square, the groups become a group of eight where sharing unfolds.

Other Collaborative Structures that Promote Academic and SEL.

Jigsaw - This structure is used to parse a text so that students collaborate in reading and understanding the text.


Carousel (or Museum Walk) - This is an efficient and effective technique for brainstorming ideas or answers to questions. In addition, it can be used as an evaluation or feedback process. There are some nice variations described on page 108.


Take a Sip - A text is assigned, and students share something meaningful that spoke to them.


Scaffolded Socratic Seminar - This structure gradually releases responsibility to the students to discuss their reading independently


  • Literature in the Socratic Seminar - This is a small group seminar. This protocol fosters a deeper understanding of a text through a close reading and analysis of a piece of writing. Through questioning and discussion, participants analyze, interpret, and discuss the specific piece of text they have read.


  • The ultimate goal for the Socratic seminar is for students to lead academic discussions. However, students need to learn the protocol gradually.

Conclusion: Academics and SEL Working Hand-in-Hand

  • a safe, caring classroom climate that improves students' SEL skills.
  • students participate in collaborative and group learning that increases student achievement and student engagement providing students have adequate SEL skills to work with others.
  • a decrease in high-risk behaviors when students are working with teachers and with peers who have learned these social skills and their attitude toward school becomes more positive.

Successful group work provides both academic and social-emotional learning!

Summary compiled by Kristen Berthao, Marie Brigham, and Linda Cote