Weaving SEL activities into instruction and afterschool programs can make lessons more engaging and help students find deeper meaning in core subject areas

10 SEL activities for high school students


Weaving SEL activities into instruction and afterschool programs can make lessons more engaging and help students find deeper meaning in core subject areas

Grades 9–12: Stuck Strategies: A Math Lesson About Grit (& Data)

For many, learning math requires patience, perseverance, and grit. Students need to have confidence that they can work through the concepts and solve the problems. Use this lesson to help students identify proactive strategies before they get stuck, and build a culture of grit and resilience.

Language Arts

Grade 9–12: Developing Social-Emotional Skills Through Literature

Literature is a natural fit for exploring and developing social and emotional competence. Novels and short stories are filled with emotions. As we read along, we also experience emotions — both about the characters and the story and about ourselves. Use these guiding questions, tips, and prompts to make the connection between SEL and analyzing literature.

Grades 9–12: Writing Prompts for Teen SEL

Daily writing prompts can be a fun and effective way to practice SEL. This site provides free writing activities to address self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Grades 9–12: What Goes Around Comes Around

If students exhibit a pattern of negative language and actions, this can be a great activity to help them understand the consequences of their negative and positive thoughts. You can teach this as a standalone lesson, or it can easily be integrated into Language Arts, i.e. as a character analysis or writing prompt.

Social Studies, History, and Global Learning

Grades 9–12: SEL Activities That Promote Global Learning

Teaching SEL alongside global learning can deepen students’ interpersonal skills while increasing their knowledge and awareness of world issues. Global learning (sometimes referred to as global citizenship instruction) and SEL both help students develop respect, collaboration, and responsible decision-making while helping learners become responsible and active global citizens. Use these activities with your high school students to improve their global learning.

Physical Education and The Arts

Grades 9–12: 4 Ways to Use Athletics to Promote SEL and Character Development

Healthy athletic competition is a natural vehicle for building students’ social and emotional competencies. Here are four ways you can help students learn teamwork, cooperation, goal-setting, and confidence in Physical Education classes and school athletic programs.

Grades 9–12: Smithsonian Folk Ways Recordings

Music can be a fun way for students to explore other cultures and customs. By learning about different musical traditions, students learn to accept differences in others and celebrate diversity. Have fun exploring music from around the world with this wonderful resource that includes lesson plans for a range of age groups.

Grades 9–12: High School Art Lessons

Giving students the ability to express themselves and explore their emotions through artistic expression is an excellent way to build social and emotional competence. This site has many art lessons for high school students, and many can be adapted around SEL. Try “Life Documentation Through Design,” “Your Eye From a Mirror,” “Where is Your Refuge?,” and more!

Incorporating SEL activities into high school core instruction and afterschool programs can make lessons more engaging and help students find deeper meaning in core subject areas. It also reduces behavior incidents and gets students ready to learn. SEL also promotes college and career readiness and equips students with the soft skills employers are seeking in candidates.

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