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Instruction & Curriculum

**Elias, M. J. (2014). Social-emotional skills can boost Common Core implementation. Phi Delta Kappan, 96(3), 58–62. Available at

This article recognizes the increased demand for social-emotional skills following implementation of the Common Core, and contends that the K-12 systems should emphasize these skills to support success in school and beyond. The author argues that skills like relationship-building, cooperation, problem-solving, and self-awareness are increasingly necessary for success. The analytical demands introduced through the Common Core require students to focus for longer periods of time; solve more difficult problems; and engage more empathetically with authors, characters, and classmates—all abilities bolstered by social-emotional skills. In fact, research suggests a link between successful implementation of social-emotional skills in the classroom and gains on standardized tests. The author’s discussion of emotional vocabulary furthers his argument that formal education should focus on social-emotional skills. Expanding beyond the overly simplistic emotional categories of “mad”, “sad”, and “glad”, advanced emotional vocabulary allows students to more intricately analyze complex issues and better deal with the stresses of school life. In fact, the author cites research suggesting that college dropouts are more negatively affected by the lack of social-emotional skills, and the subsequent inability to regulate challenging contexts, than by academic limitations. To help students under the Common Core, the author suggests suspending use of assessments so that schools may focus on social-emotional learning and the development of positive school climate as preconditions for academic progress. 

Oakland Unified School District (2016). District academic social emotional learning focus areas and instructional priorities for 2016–2017. In Academic social emotional learning guidance document 2016–17 (pp. 6, 8–9). Oakland, CA: Author. Available at Domain/3671/AcademicSocialEmotionalLearningGuidanceDocument2016-17.pdf

This set of materials from Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) outlines the district’s Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (A/SEL) mission and vision, how it operationalizes this work across the district, and key strategies it uses in the classroom to promote SEL. Helping to orient the district’s work is the graduate profile, which outlines the skills and knowledge OUSD graduates should develop before leaving high school. A key tenet in the OUSD vision of student success is the cultivation of positive values and skills that can reverse old paradigms predicated on hierarchy, violence, race and subordination. To support A/SEL implementation, the district’s multi-tiered systems of support offers a framework for how to leverage a set of complementary instructional approaches and interventions to harness the benefits of A/SEL for students. Finally, the instructional priorities for 2016-2017 provide a picture of how OUSD aims to support all students achieve mastery of the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards for California, and OUSD SEL Standards.

**Brown, D. (2015). Mills Teacher Scholars: Integrating social emotional learning and academic content learning in the classroom [Report submitted as part of Teacher Incentive Fund application]. San Francisco, CA: WestEd. Available for members at this link.

This reading shares findings from an evaluation of the partnership between OUSD and the Mills Teacher Scholars (MTS) program. On a monthly basis, the MTS program convenes OUSD teachers to develop the following SEL skills: 1) making student thinking visible, 2) sharing student work comfortably, 3) analyzing multiple forms of student learning data, and 4) supporting the development of their colleagues’ thinking with a focus on the intersection of SEL and academics. When surveyed, all 12 participating teachers agreed or strongly agreed that the program had strengthened their data collection, data analysis, and collaboration skills. Likewise, all reported that participating in the program had caused them to make changes to their instruction—changes that ranged from allowing greater student choice to using data in lesson planning. Teachers also reported increased collaboration, with most (92%) describing an increased knowledge of what their colleagues were teaching and an overall improvement of their practice. All teachers reported feeling more confident in supporting the learning of their colleagues. 

Oakland Unified School District. (2016). Academic, social, and emotional learning programs currently in OUSD. Oakland, CA: Office of Social and Emotional Learning.  Available for members at this link.

Oakland Unified School District. (n.d.). ES SEL curriculum rubric. Oakland, CA: Author. Available for members at this link.

The first document includes a table listing the programs and curricula OUSD is currently using to support their SEL and academic instruction. In an effort to move toward using evidence-based curricula to guide SEL efforts, the district also developed the second document, a rubric to assist educators in selecting high-quality materials. The components of the rubric align with other related OUSD initiatives and strategies, such as their multi-tiered systems of support, SEL standards, and equity initiatives (including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and Restorative Justice). The rubric can help educators select materials that are not part of the programs currently in use when supplemental materials are needed.

**This document is considered a priority reading.