Faculty Trio Presents Panel at SXSW EDU®

A trio of Parker’s fabulous faculty members—Integrated Learning and Information Science Department members Sarah Beebe and Mary Catherine Coleman, along with 5th grade teacher Mike McPharlin—recently presented a panel at SXSW EDU® Conference & Festival, a component of the South by Southwest® (SXSW®) family of conferences and festivals. Their panel delivered its topic—SEL: Construct Understanding with Gaming & Design—in a workshop format interacting with their peers from across the educational landscape: teachers, administrators, educational program designers, makerspace coordinators, librarians and educational technology facilitators, to name a few.
Their panel asked and discussed three main questions: “Can students make deeper connections with social emotional learning (SEL) when it is gamified? How does the design thinking process offer structure to the SEL curriculum? Can SEL be effectively taught through a constructivist approach?” To answer these questions, the trio explained the ways they have used the design thinking process, gamification and soft and hard maker materials to have students dive deeper into their own social emotional learning and think about their own thinking. Participants at the panel learned more about the process, saw student work and heard, firsthand, about some learning outcomes the process achieved.
In discussing their curriculum, the trio shared, “Many of the social emotional learning curriculums that exist are drag and drop plugin lessons. We set out to allow our students to construct their own social emotional learning curriculum using design thinking and gaming. By giving students ownership of their learning about social emotional competencies they were able to dive deeper into their own thinking and learning to create games designed to make the user think about their thinking. Focusing on one of the CASEL SEL competencies, students engaged in the design thinking process. Working in a collaborative setting, students determined the questions to conduct empathy interviews with different age groups at our school. They took the information from the interviews to define themes about the specific competencies and ideated and prototyped games, using both soft and hard maker materials, which encouraged the user to think more deeply about the specific competency. Students tested their games with a focus group and received feedback, then implemented changes based on that feedback.”
All in all, it was a very successful, informative and thought-provoking panel discussion. They hope that, after working through and understanding some of the work they have been doing at Parker, those who attended the panel will walk away with a structure they can apply to their own social emotional work with their students.
Parker is very proud of Beebe, Coleman and McPharlin. This kind of learning happens throughout the building, and we are especially glad when others outside of our Model Home have the chance to experience the ways Parker’s faculty continuously push the educational envelope.

Click here for more photos from this panel.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.