Our goal at Britannica Education is to support districts and schools as you implement your SEL initiatives by providing guidance to seamlessly integrate SEL into everyday academic instruction. Together, we will work with you to develop a customized crosswalk between academic and SEL goals that will help you achieve a true integrative approach to Social-Emotional Learning.

Why Is Integrating SEL important?

Integrating SEL skills and competencies throughout a variety of student learning experiences is much more effective than teaching them in isolation. Teaching in this way gives students multiple opportunities to practice the skills in different settings, increasing their ability to make connections and apply the skills in their everyday lives. 

In our previous post in this series, we shared a plan for integrating the Self-Awareness competency into a Social Studies lesson. Continuing the series, let’s take a look at how to plan an ELA lesson that integrates the CASEL skill of Self-Awareness. 

Identify and explain the SEL competency: Self-Management 

When introducing the lesson to your class, explain that you’ll be focusing on Self-Management in this lesson and explain why this is important. 

Self-management is the ability to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve one’s goals and aspirations. It also includes learning to delay gratification, manage stress, and feel motivation and agency to accomplish personal and collective goals (CASEL, 2021).  

When you explain the SEL competency and why it’s important, students can focus on practicing those skills throughout the lesson. It also sets them up to reflect on how they connect the skills to other concepts and helps them understand how they might use the competency in other areas of their lives.

Introduce lesson topic: The Power of Resilience Through Social Activism

Studying biographies of social activists integrates well with teaching self-management skills. Through the exploration of real-life stories, struggles and successes, students can see the importance of understanding their own stories, struggles, and successes. They can also practice examining how they currently manage their own emotions, feelings, and behaviors. Students can learn how to effectively manage their feelings and emotions when faced with difficult life challenges — an important aspect of developing healthy self-management skills.

Image Credit: Malala Yousafzai, 2014. Andrew Gombert—EPA/Alamy

Identify lesson objectives

Identifying and explaining SEL-related lesson objectives helps students understand expectations. For this lesson, these objectives might include: 

  1. Identify one’s own strengths and limitations
  2. Strengthen self-identity and self-management to improve self-efficacy
  3. Demonstrate the ability to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and how they influence behavior across contexts
  4. Draw evidence from articles, and refer to details and real-life examples to support analysis, reflection, and opinions
  5. Identify strategies to effectively manage emotions, thoughts, and behaviors when overcoming life challenges

While your lesson will have academic objectives, integrating clearly stated SEL objectives leads to better outcomes for students. 

Create fun and engaging activities

For this sample lesson on analyzing the life of a social activist, we’ve chosen Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. However, this general format could work with nearly any notable figure. The idea is to guide students through the highlights of a biography, asking questions that encourage them to think deeply about the social and cultural landscape the subject lived in, the challenges they faced, and what they did to overcome those struggles.  

Sample activity: Helping students make connections to text and self

  1. Introduce students to Malala Yousafzai‘s life and advocacy for children’s rights with this article from Britannica Digital Learning. Then use the questions below to guide discussion. 
  1. Connect to text: The following questions encourage students to make connections with the text.
  • What issue was Malala advocating for? Did she succeed? Explain.
  • How did Malala manage the hardships she faced? 
  • Watch these videos (video 1 and video 2) of Malala. Explain her accomplishments. Do you think she achieved these easily? Explain.
  • What qualities or traits do you think she possesses (e.g., resilience)? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
  1. Connect to self: The following questions encourage students to make connections between the text and their own personal experiences.
  • What challenges have you faced in life? How did you feel? How did you deal with these challenges? 
  • What qualities or traits do you possess that make you you?
  • How can you use both Malala’s story and the qualities/traits you identified earlier to help you manage future struggles you may encounter in life? List a few action steps you can take to help equip you when faced with life challenges.
  1. Self-Management Tips: Have students create a short presentation (digital presentation or video) to share with their peers using the following as a guide: 
  • Share Malala’s strengths, struggles, and successes. Explain how she effectively managed her emotions, thoughts, and behaviors to overcome the challenges she faced.  
  • Be sure to include 3-4 tips both you and your peers can use to effectively manage emotions, thoughts, and feelings when facing struggles or challenges in life.
  1. Take Action: Challenge students to take action on an issue that’s meaningful to them. Present them with the following:
  • Identify an issue you care about (e.g., the environment; education; homelessness). Use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals resource to help you explore global issues and choose one you’d like to support.
  • Identify 2-3 action steps you can take to help advocate for this issue
  • Work individually or with a partner to create a short video presentation that highlights action steps you can take to advocate for your selected issue.

Student takeaways

Because Social Emotional Learning is a key element of academic success, lessons like these that integrate both types of objectives are particularly effective. Integrating objectives related to self-management helps students successfully interact with each other while developing positive strategies to manage their emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Other outcomes include:

  • Connects students to others’ stories and perspectives through text, images, and media
  • Encourages student voice: provides a platform for students to share their ideas, perspectives and stories with their peers and the world around them 
  • Encourages inquiry, analysis, research, and critical thinking skills (cross-disciplinary)
  • Establishes and maintains positive relationships 
  • Helps students to feel and show empathy
  • Helps students understand and manage their emotions
  • Encourages students to set and achieve positive goals

How Britannica Integrates SEL into Our Products

Integrating SEL into academics is extremely impactful for students and considers the whole child during instruction. At Britannica, we ensure our products and services integrate the needs of educators as well as the students they serve. Our team of curriculum experts is always updating our resources. For more information on our products as well as access to free resources, please visit our SEL support page

Continue our SEL competencies series by learning about Social Awareness.

For these activities and more, download our FREE SEL Activities Guide


About The Author

Jaime Perris

Curriculum Project Manager/Education Consultant
Jaime is an Education Consultant and Curriculum Project Manager at Encyclopaedia Britannica. She is Australian and has lived and worked in 8 countries. She was a teacher for 15 years in Australia (Psychology, Law, Social Studies, Business and Chinese Mandarin), South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Myanmar, the Bahamas, and the USA. Jaime has worked on government contracts for the U.S Navy, the Malaysian Ministry of Education, Taiwanese public prison in the fields of Curriculum Development and Teacher Training. She has also coached teachers and leaders across Malaysia, New York and New Orleans.

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