SEL in the Curriculum

I have been working on writing curriculum for our district and after attending a couple trainings for SEL, I realized it would be the perfect fit to incorporate some intentional SEL practices. So, I wanted to give an update of the work I’ve been doing and partnership with my district’s Student Leadership and Well-Being Department. I am excited for this to “go live” for my district’s teachers in July and to see it used in classes.

We are using the Algebra II curriculum I am overseeing to pilot this initiative for our district, and then build from there. If you are reading this and not familiar with SEL competencies or practices, read my first SEL post here. As we began to write, we thought it was important to help teachers understand that this isn’t one more thing to add to their already very full plates. Instead, this is something many already do, and for those that are not familiar with SEL practices, we wanted to provide quick, low-prep ways to ensure our students are seen and heard in the process of their learning. So, we decided to write our SEL component in Stage 3 (the Learning Plan) of our Understanding by Design curriculum framework. After writing a learning target, success criteria, and a formative assessment idea, we created a way for teachers to use an SEL competency that would fit best with the unit of study.

Since Algebra II has 10 units of study, we started detailing Welcoming Inclusion Activities coupled with the signature practice of self-awareness in the first two units. The next two units incorporated Optimistic Closures that used self-management. We discussed that if students are self-aware in their behavior and growth mindset, they can then manage those in schools and in life settings. In the next few units, we focused on Engaging Strategies with social-awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Therefore, as a student progresses through Algebra II, they will build their SEL abilities within each of the three practices in a seamless way that connects to the content.

An example of the Absolute Value unit using TEKS 2A.6E Solve absolute value linear equations is below:

Learning Target Success Criteria
I can solve absolute value linear equations.
  • Isolate the absolute value by doing the inverse operation.
  • Set the quantity inside the absolute value equal to the positive and negative quantity on the other side of the equal sign.
  • Solve for the variable in both equations.
  • Check your solution graphically and algebraically.
SEL Competency Definition Indicators 3 Signature Practice Example

Below are examples for you to use and adapt for your own classroom

Self Management The ability to demonstrate self-management skills to regulate emotions & behaviors related to school and life success.
  • Demonstrate the ability to manage emotions
  • Demonstrate the ability to organize and manage productivity, time and resources
  • Set, monitor, adapt, and evaluate goals to achieve success in school and life
  • Demonstrate honesty and integrity
  • Demonstrate the ability to show perseverance in the face of frustration and challenges
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify and manage stress
Optimist Closure:

One Word Whip Around (pg 46):

Since absolute value is a new function for Algebra II students, this quick activity can provide formative feedback for students and teachers.

*2 min activity, can be repeated daily

Link to Playbook 


The Playbook, which will be linked later this summer, will detail more specifics about the examples we are providing to teachers. The activities in it will be from CASEL as well as personal teacher entries that have been used with success in classrooms. I look forward to seeing and hearing how this goes with teachers and students as we bring this important focus of SEL to light with our curriculum.

If you have any ideas that you think should be included as we work on this, please reach out to me!