Find out some of the best free apps educators can use to support social-emotional learning for their students, including gamified SEL concepts.
Social-emotional learning (SEL) has become one of schools’ top priorities. In an increasingly digital world, educators are turning to edtech to achieve this goal. Interactive displays like the ActivPanel, for example, to poll students on how they’re feeling, how they like a particular activity, and what areas of difficulty they’d like to address. Or the annotation feature can help unpack a piece of text and how it can communicate emotion.
There are also apps educators can use that are geared towards students’ SEL needs—and many of them are free. Here are the best apps for social-emotional learning:
With ClassDojo, students can create portfolios to showcase their work, demonstrate their extracurricular development, or present a topic. By sharing these portfolios with the class, students learn awareness and empathy for their peers while picking up tips on how to offer constructive feedback. This helps foster a positive classroom community.
The free app also offers a function for corresponding with parents, so educators are aware of students’ wellbeing and development outside the classroom. This gives educators a more nuanced understanding of each student’s social-emotional needs and how they interact best with others. About 95% of U.S. schools are using its diverse features to bring their school community together.
2. Smiling Mind
The free Smiling Mind app is dedicated to the social-emotional skill of mindfulness. It’s been developed by psychologists and educators, with modes for sleep, focus, and relaxation. It also offers professional development for educators to teach mindfulness techniques and mental health strategies to help their students.
The app contains age-segmented features for reducing anxiety and distress, regulating emotions, and improving empathy and concentration. It can be used by students within the classroom and outside of school to provide help and support on an ongoing basis.
Classcraft compiles student data so educators can monitor their development and target interventions. Students receive awards, badges, and points, motivating them with a gamification element to achieve goals like maintaining a positive attitude. Students can design their own avatar, giving a sense of personalization and self-expression as they undergo “Quests”—a lesson plan in a rich, gamified format.
The tool supports teamwork by nurturing social-emotional learning benefits around collaboration, relationships, and connection. Classcraft also produces content to guide educators, such as creating a safe space in the classroom. The free option also includes parent messaging.
This app from Peekapak also takes a gamified approach to guiding students through SEL concepts. A library within the game world is full of SEL stories that share coping strategies and address the emotional experiences of scenarios like the first day of school. There’s also a journal that prompts students to diarize, contextualize, and monitor their feelings on a daily basis.
myPeekaville builds these social-emotional learning skills through problem-solving. And the diverse scope of avatar personalization frees users’ creativity while promoting the concept of community working together harmoniously.
Many of these social-emotional learning apps can run through a central front-of-class display designed to unify and engage the whole class.