This is the year you add Social Emotional Learning (SEL) goals to your students’ IEPs! Unsure of where to start? Here are five goals, each scaffolded upon the next, for you to use and modify for your students. For each goal, I will provide you with an explanation of what the goal is assessing, prerequisite skills (if any), examples of activities and how I would collect the data.
Let’s jump in!
Goal #1: Student will be able to match facial expressions to corresponding emotions.
This goal is targeting a receptive language skill. This means, you are not asking your student to have any verbal output. This goal assesses the student’s understanding of language.
Prerequisites include identity match to sample, symbolic match to sample, and the ability to attend to stimuli.
An activity that could be used to assess this skill would be a file folder game. You would tell the student to “find” or “match” along with the name of the emotion you want them to identify. Start by having the student matching identical pictures of people’s faces portraying an emotion. Once the student is able to do this, have them match different pictures of the same emotion to your original faces. Finally, you can have the student match the emotion word to the picture of the facial expressions. If you need objectives towards your goals, the above can be broken down into three scaffolded objectives.
Data can be collected in a simple table. List all of the emotions you are assessing in one column and mark whether or not the student knew each emotion. Do this each day or add an additional column daily. Be sure to date your data so that it is valid and reliable! I like to include the staff member on the data sheet so that we can assess for generalization across staff members at a quick glance. You will notice this on all sample data sheets.
Staff member: AS
Staff member: AS
Goal #2: Student will be able to identify someone’s emotion when shown a picture.
This goal is assessing an expressive language skill. You are asking your student to tact (or label) someone’s emotion when shown a picture. Remember, just because a skill is expressive doesn’t mean that there needs to be verbal output. A student who utilizes AAC can still work on this goal.
The remainder of the goals in this article will be written for expressive language skills. Need help to modify for a receptive skill? Leave a comment or join the Simply Special Community on Facebook!
Prerequisites include mastery of goal #1.
To teach and assess this goal, I would use emotion tacting cards. If you don’t have tacting cards, there are plenty on TeachersPayTeachers or you can use any clear photo of people’s faces that you have. Present one card at a time and ask “How are they feeling?” Be sure to provide adequate wait time to allow for student processing and word retrieval speed. You can also do this with a picture book such as The Feelings Book by Todd Parr or any other book that identifies an emotion and shows a picture of a person feeling that emotion.
In terms of the data collection, I would use the same data sheet as Goal #1.
Goal #3: Student will be able to identify how a character may be feeling based on information in a text.
Based on student skills, determine if the text should be read aloud to the student or if the student should read a text independently. Different than in Goal #2, we want the book we select to NOT explicitly name the emotion that the character is feeling. Instead, we want to see characters describe what they are feeling and show us with their facial expressions and body language.
Prerequisites include mastery of Goals #1 and #2 as well as an understanding of cause and effect. Inferencing skills will be developed through this goal, so while it is not critical as a prerequisite skill, your student should have the ability to engage with implicit or implied information.
You can use almost any picture book to target this goal. Some of my favorites are listed below.
Ruby Finds a Worry (and the others in the series)
The Day You Begin
After The Fall
To take data on this goal, preread your book and decide what questions you want to ask. Write down student responses so you can have a permanent product of growth over time.
Goal #4: Student will be able to identify how members of the community are feeling based on their actions.
A common mistake I see is having Goal #4 and Goal #5 lumped together in one. Even though you will teach them similarly, they are very different skills. Identifying emotions in others requires the student to notice and observe the actions, body language, facial expressions and expression of others. Identifying emotions in yourself requires self-awareness and opportunities for practice outside of emotional episodes.
An activity I would use to teach these goals is role playing/modeling. Review traits and characteristics of various emotions, provide visual supports (such as a 5 point scale or Zones of Regulation matrix) and act it out! Have your student guess what emotion you are acting and then switch. Once the student can identify contrived emotional situations, observe people within the school building or on video and ask the student “How do you think they are feeling?” (to address Goal #4).
Goal #5: Student will be able to identify emotions in themselves.
To address Goal #5, point out the visible behaviors associated with an emotion that the student is exhibiting and ask them “How are you feeling?” An example would be, “I notice that you are jumping up and down, clapping your hands and smiling. How are you feeling?”. Another example “I hear you yelling and see you hitting the table with your fists. How are you feeling?” The more you practice this in contrived/role playing environments, the more likely it may generalize to naturalistic settings.
Note: Just because a student may be able to identify positive and negative emotions in a contrived setting, does not mean that they will be guaranteed to be able to do it when they are in crisis. But the more familiar they are with the language, the more likely they are to make the connection once deescalated.
Do you include SEL goals on your students’ IEPs?