Today’s classrooms are full of immersive high-tech tools—but at the same time, schools and districts are being pushed to promote social-emotional learning (SEL) and improve school climate. Since spending too much time looking at various screens can hinder the direct connection between people, here are four real-world examples of tech helping students connect on a human level with their peers, their teachers, and the world around them.

Howard Vogel: Confronting students’ fear of public speaking

When teaching the 21st-century skill of communication, many schools focus on reading and writing, but spoken communication is just as important to students’ success in school and in life. At J.M. Grasse Elementary School in Perkasie, Penn., where I am the principal, we use technology to make students more comfortable with public speaking.

The fear of public speaking affects 75 percent of our population. To help curb students’ fear of talking in front of an audience, teachers at my school use handheld microphones and the Lightspeed Redcat audio system multiple times a day to give each student the opportunity to speak and be heard by the entire class. Students use these microphones during morning meetings, when reading out loud, and when doing mini-presentations. Not only do they love speaking into the microphone, but teachers enjoy having students that are attentive and engaged.

(Next page: More ways to promote SEL skills)

About the Author:

Howard Vogel is the principal of J.M. Grasse Elementary School in the Pennridge School District in Perkasie, PA. Follow the district on twitter @PennridgeSD.

Dr. Shelley Margow is the owner and clinical director of Children’s Therapy Works, a pediatric private practice in Roswell, Georgia. She is the author of the book Is This My Child? Sensory Integration Simplified, and serves as a consultant to RoboKind. Dr. Margow also recently completed Sargent College’s doctoral program for occupational therapy.

Jude Miqueli teaches 1st- through 3rd-graders at West Seattle Montessori School and Academy. She is also a writer for the Bloomz blog and plays drums for the band Moon Palace. Follow her on twitter @judemiqueli.

Andy Plemmons is the media specialist at David C. Barrow Elementary in Athens, Georgia. He is also the 2017 American Association of School Librarians Social Media Superstar for Sensational Student Voice, a 2016 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, a Google Innovator, and an NSBA “20 to Watch” honoree. Find him the Barrow Media Center blog, or on twitter at @plemmonsa.