SmartBrief: You Can’t Teach Robotics without SEL

Two of our KIBO Ambassadors, Megan Bounit and Barbara Tennyson, feature KIBO in this SmartBrief article about how students can learn social-emotional skills and STEAM concepts at the same time. Educators can teach every one of Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning’s, or CASEL’s, five core principles through robotics, because SEL and robotics complement each other well.

The article reads in part:
“Robotics is such a natural vehicle for social-emotional learning that, if you plan it out right, your students will practice skills in all five domains of CASEL’s framework before they even start coding. The robot that we use, KIBO, comes in ready-to-go kits — which include many different parts, such as wooden programming blocks, sensors and modules, wheels, motors and more — that allow students to grab everything they need quickly. If time is a concern, or if you want to get right to the project, this is a great way to start.

If, on the other hand, you have a bit more time to let some social-emotional learning unfold, you might want to put different pieces in different baskets, such as all the motors in one spot. By asking the students to get their own parts, teachers inspire all kinds of deliberate conversations about sharing pieces. Students need to think about their own needs to finish the project and the needs of their peers who are trying to gather the same resources. This leads them to communicate with one another, advocate for themselves, think about the consequences of these decisions for their project and communicate all this information with their peers.

This interaction involves five important SEL areas:

Relationship skills
Social awareness
Responsible decision-making

The truth is, you just can’t teach robotics unless you start with SEL. It would result in total chaos and a lot of tears. Using this SEL-embedded approach doesn’t just avoid the tears, it allows students to learn collaboration and coding concurrently.”

Read the full article.