Flocabulary And SEL

What the Research Shows: Social & Emotional Learning and Student Achievement

Breaking news: The education space is constantly shifting. (Kidding, we know you don’t need us to tell you that.) Whether it’s ed tech, policy, or financing, Flocabulary strives to keep on top of issues and trends that matter to educators.

We’ve kept a close pulse on social and emotional learning (SEL) over the past few years, and what we’ve learned is teaching students skills beyond what they can derive from a textbook is key to a student’s success in school and in life. Educators must now prepare students for careers in a soft skills economy with rapidly changing technology, likely for jobs that don’t even exist yet.

Recent Findings in SEL

Recent research studies back up this claim. A seminal 2011 study in the journal Child Development found that students who participate in social and emotional learning see an 11% boost in overall achievement. Another recent report from The Aspen Institute found that “hard” skills—which are often evaluated based on IQ, GPA and academic achievement—only predict “about 7% to 17% of future earnings.” So what comprises the remaining 84% to 93%? Skills that are rooted in SEL: work ethic, humility, communication, leadership and empathy, to name a few.

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Investing in SEL now is crucial to support our students for academic and career success later on, but many districts continue to invest in resources that only develop hard skills. While investing in resources that teach core skills and align to a district’s curriculum is unarguably essential, districts must strike a balance between the two.

Flocabulary is a perfect tool to implement SEL in your school or district. Here’s why:

How Flocabulary Supports the Tenets of SEL

Flocabulary has developed explicit SEL instruction through our Life Skills units. We have over a dozen SEL-focused units, on topics ranging from building empathy and managing worry, to public speaking, goal setting and conflict resolution.

Building Empathy
Grades K-3

Building Empathy

Time Management
Grades 4-12

In addition to our educational videos, we also include tools to administer a quick check for understanding, informational texts and examples to support the concepts taught in the video, printable activities, and more.

Explore all of our Social & Emotional Learning units
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SEL and the Flocabulary Instructional Sequence

Social and emotional learning is often grouped under a larger umbrella of the sometimes ambiguous “21st century skills.” We like how the World Economic Forum’s industry agenda, New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning Through Technology, breaks down this nebulous term into three sections:

Fostering Social and Emotional Learning through Technology - Flocabulary

Source: World Economic Forum. New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning Through Technology. Publication. World Economic Forum, 2016. Web.

The third column, “Character Qualities,” clearly aligns with the majority of skills that has a bigger impact on future earnings (as mentioned in the Aspen Institute report). Beyond that, the essence of learning with Flocabulary is rooted in developing these three tiers of 21st Century Skills. We explicitly tackle the first two tiers with our varied content and practical instructional tools, and implicitly teach character qualities by modeling behavior in our videos. Here’s how:

Foundational Literacies

Our 800+ units cover all content areas and grade levels. We have units supporting literacy, numeracy, scientific literacy, ICT literacy, financial literacy, and cultural and civic literacy.


The Flocabulary Instructional Process supports building the “4 Cs.” Read & Respond supports critical thinking, Pause & Play supports communication, and leveraging Lyric Lab touches upon all four.

Character Qualities

Our videos model these character qualities. We have units that show initiative, persistence, adaptability, social/cultural awareness. In addition, tools like Lyric Lab can further support qualities like curiosity, initiative, and grit.

Making the case for deeper SEL instruction in your school or district? These additional articles can help.

Additional Reading
  1. Bock, Laszlo. “The Skills Our Workforce Needs.” K-12 Education. The Aspen Institute, 10 Apr. 2017. Web.
  2. Durlak, Joseph A., Roger P. Weissberg, Allison B. Dymnicki, Rebecca D. Taylor, and Kriston B. Schellinger. “The Impact of Enhancing Students’ Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-Analysis of School-Based Universal Interventions.” Child Development 82.1 (2011): 405-32. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
  3. Gray, Peter. “Inverse Relationship Between GPA and Innovative Orientation.” Freedom to Learn. Psychology Today, 30 Apr. 2016. Web.
  4. Mayhew, Matthew J., and Benjamin S. Selznick. “Straight A Students May Not Be the Best Innovators.” The Conversation. The Conversation US, Inc., 19 Feb. 2016. Web.
  5. New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning through Technology. Rep. World Economic Forum, Mar. 2016. Web.
  6. Paul, Annie Murphy. “School of Hard Knocks: ‘How Children Succeed,’ by Paul Tough.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Aug. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
  7. Stafford-Brizard, K. Brooke, Ph.D. Building Blocks for Learning: A Framework for Comprehensive Student Development. Rep. Turnaround for Children, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

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