Committee for Children Blogs

Welcome to our own little corner of the blogosphere! This is the place to read about all things social-emotional learning related from the points of view of parents, teachers, and school psychologists. Happy reading!

Published on Thursday, June 15, 2017

Meet the Makers of Our New Middle School Program

Brian Smith, Senior Research Scientist

Middle School Program

Creating social-emotional learning (SEL) programs that deliver positive outcomes for large numbers of students requires (1) user-friendly lessons that teachers can easily fit into their schedule and deliver without extensive training, and (2) content that is engaging for students and based on the latest research.

If we are going to create positive impacts for students, our programs have to be both widely used and effective.

For programs to be adopted and used at scale they have to be school-friendly. That means programs that are designed with a deep understanding of the realities of schools and classrooms and the challenges that teachers face. As a result, we at Committee for Children are constantly evolving our delivery methods and lesson design. The latest result of that process is the new digitally delivered Second Step Middle School Program.

But digital delivery that makes the curriculum easy to teach at scale is only part of the challenge. Even when another part of the challenge is making sure those lessons also successfully engage student interest the job is not done. The final key piece to achieving student impact at scale is effective content.

How do we figure out what content will positively impact students and achieve the social and emotional aims of the program? Simply put, the most reliable guide is science.

The first edition of the Second Step Middle School Program was released in 1990. In the 26 years since then, research on adolescent development, social-emotional learning, and school-based interventions has grown immensely. Studies have shown that the content in older and current versions of the Second Step Program improves student outcomes. But our goal in revising the Second Step Program is always to improve the program, not just give it a face-lift.

Creating an effective new version of the Second Step Program requires surveying, translating, and synthesizing new research, then boiling that knowledge down into simple strategies and content that can be delivered through engaging lessons.

What is that process like? Scientific research papers are typically written for other researchers and often conclude by suggesting what the next research project should be. Sometimes the process seems like searching for actionable needle in haystacks of basic science. But search we do, and the new Second Step Middle School Program incorporates cutting-edge research across a range of topics.

Want to know more? Keep an eye out for the next blog on the making of the new Second Step Middle School Program.


«July 2017»

Meet the Makers of Our New Middle School Program

Curious. Active. Egocentric. Argumentative. Inconsistent. Restless. Moody. Optimistic. Rebellious. Hopeful. Introspective. At-risk. Idealistic.

Sound like someone you know?

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What SEL and Academics Look Like Together: The New Second Step Middle School Curriculum

Social-emotional skills are essential for academic success. For example, there are many connections between social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies and mathematics. To solve mathematical problems, students need skills such as perseverance and determination. They need to self-evaluate, communicate arguments, stay calm when facing challenging problems, recognize when they lack knowledge to solve a problem, and seek help from others in tough situations. Useful skills for any subject!
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Summer Sanity Series - Part 2 Keeping Your Summer Fun On Track

Summer is in full swing now and everyone is embracing the sunshine and the warm weather. With all the fun summer activities, parents tend to get a little more relaxed in their parenting. Being a bit more flexible and going with the flow can be wonderful and liberating, unless you are undoing the habits you worked so hard to maintain the rest of the year.
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Meet the Makers of Our New Middle School Program

Committee for Children takes great pride in how we develop our Second Step program. We not only take the most current research in the field and translate it into lessons that use best practices in pedagogy, but we take pains in designing those lessons to be user-friendly. The melding of these components results in a program that is effective, well received, and reaches millions of children each year.
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ISTE 2017 Conference & Expo Recap

A few members of the Committee for Children (CFC) team had the privilege of attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference and Expo in San Antonio, Texas June 25-28. Rachel Kamb, a Product Manager here at CFC, also presented a session with Gary Goldberger and Leigh Hallisey of FableVision Studios titled ‘Empathy Empowers: Digital Learning Strategies’.

Read Kamb’s review of ISTE 2017 as well as a summary of the session, below.  

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The Bully Pulpit

Fifteen years ago, few states had explicit legislation aimed to reduce bullying. Today every state in the country has adopted policies to minimize bullying. Overall, 28% of students reported victimization in 2005 (when statistics were first collected) while 22% reported being victimized in 2015 (U.S. Department of Education).
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Teacher Health and Wellness: Fostering Student Achievement by Supporting Teachers’ Mental and Physical Well-being

On June 14, 2017, Committee for Children and the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) held a briefing on teacher health and wellness that was attended by over 30 people from congressional offices, national nonprofits, and academia.
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Middle School Students and Teachers Reveal How the Second Step Middle School Program Fosters Academic Success

Students and teachers from diverse classrooms across the country reported connections between social and emotional learning (SEL) and academics during their interviews about the new Second Step Middle School curriculum after piloting it in their classrooms. They shared many different examples of how the social skills learned in the new Second Step Middle School curriculum contributed to academic success.
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Meet the Makers of Our New Middle School Program

An exciting part of the early design work we did on our new Second Step Middle School Program was traveling around the country speaking to educators about what they needed from us. One thing we learned is there is tremendous diversity in the students we’re reaching, tremendous diversity in how the program is delivered, and that whatever we create needs to be flexible enough to work in many different situations.
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