Middle School Social Emotional Learning Lesson Plans and Resources

Multimedia Lesson Plans and Resources: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Responsible Decision-Making, Relationship Skills

Middle School Social Emotional Learning Lesson Plans and Resources
Credit: MY HERO

Self Awareness: The ability to understand one's emotions, thoughts and values, and how they influence behavior.

Discuss how each of these films and stories demonstrate an understanding of personal and social identity, linking feelings, values and thoughts while examining prejudices and biases.

How do these individuals show a growth mindset and sense of purpose? 

Coach West helps youth navigate through the emotional fallout of COVID-19 with helpful tips

Staying Well with Coach West

Produced by:Jessica Ordaz, Emma Garcia, Nicole Petrovsky, Jennifer Bose, Felicia...

Vivienne was 8 years old when she learned about child slavery in different parts of the world. She then started a lemonade stand to raise funds to fight child slavery.

Vivienne Harr

By: Sue Glader
Vivienne Harr founded Make a Stand Lemon-aid to raise fund for organizations that fight child slavery.


Produced by:Diane Namm
When 8-year old Vivienne Harr heard about children suffering from human trafficking, she founded Make a Stand Lemon-aid to raise funds to fight child slavery.

These two films, Made in Madras and Perseverance highlight individuals who overcame obstacles and demonstrated perseverance as they achieved their goals.

Made in Madras

Mohit Arora, Aishwarya Ashok, Shikha Kumari
Made in Madras is the story of an 18-year-old soccer player, Sangeetha, who lives on the streets of Madras (aka Chennai).


Produced by:Anson Schloat and John G. Young
Liz Murray overcomes her difficult childhood to win a scholarship to go to college.


Students read the story to learn more about climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 16. She exemplifies the heroic traits of courage and perseverance. Greta started out protesting alone and ignited a global youth climate movement. The story includes a link to Greta's Ted talk.

Greta Thunberg

By: MY HERO Staff
On the first day, Greta Thunberg, a climate activist with Asperger's, protested outside of Swedish Parliament alone. Now, she's leading 1.5 million students globally.

Students watch filmmaker and spoken word artist Trey Carlise performance of "History Will Be Repeated" his spoken word poem, a poem promoting tolerance.

History will be Repeated

Produced by:Trey Carlisle
Watch filmmaker/spoken word artistTrey Carlisle's performance of "History Will Be Repeated," a poem promoting tolerance.

Social Awareness: The ability to understand perspectives of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures which includes feeling compassion for others. 

How do these films and stories demonstrate the effect of behaviors on others as well as the understanding, compassion and empathy for those who are from different backgrounds or cultures? 

When the Somali government collapsed, Dr. Hawa Abdi's one-room clinic on her family farm began treating and housing local people fleeing the fighting. Dr. Abdi worked with international NGOs and her own resources to feed and house all who came to her. No one could bring clan fighting into the camp no man could beat his wife. 

Vital Voices: Hawa Abdi

Produced by:Aaron Kisner
Dr. Hawa Abdi is Somalia's first female gynecologist. When the central government collapsed in 1989, Dr. Abdi's one-room clinic on her family farm began treating and housing local people fleeing the fighting.

Dr. Hawa Abdi - The Mother of Hope Village

By: Nicole
Dr. Hawa Abdi, Somalia's first female gynecologist, turned her family's land into a hospital, school and nutrition center focused on women and children.

After the murder of his son Azim Khamisa founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation to encourage forgiveness. He and the grandfather of the 14 year old boy who killed Azim's son work together to encourage forgiveness by sharing their story.  

Azim Khamisa

By: Monica Olson
Azim Khamisa founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation to encourage forgiveness.

Azim Khamisa: The Tool of Forgiveness

Produced by:The Institute for Advancing Unity/The Working Group
A grieving father overcomes tragedy by creating something beautiful in his son's name - Tariq Khamisa.

The Buddy Club is an after-school program started by Katie McMahon and pairs students with disabilities with other students whom they normally would not have class. The program promotes the building of a community within High School that can stand against attempts at bullying and other anti-social behavior. 

The Buddy Club

Produced by:Jackie McMahon
Finding friends for friends in need.

From the first day at a new school, to entering the work force, we’ve all been new once. New Together is a PSA that asks us to have empathy for what it may be like to be a refugee. 

New Together

Produced by:Max Landwirth

Discuss why it is important for all children, particularly girls, to have the opportunity to continue their education and the obstacles that some girls face such as girls in a rural part of India and how a bicycle allows them to continue their education.


Armene Modi

By: Amanda Molinaro

Armene Modi provides bicycles to girls in rural Indian villages so they can continue their education.


Produced by:Jacob & Isaac Seigel-Boettner
An Indian girl gains a bicycle, and the will to achieve.

The following three films are all examples of compassion and empathy for others, those from different backgrounds or cultures as well as those who need assistance. 

What if...

Produced by:Terry Campbell, Paul Leon, Noah Berlow, Rose Wolfrum, Amelia Iacobel...
This short documentary film shatters the preconceptions of homelessness, explores the ramifications of unstable housing for children, and provides a solution.

Abdul Satter Edhi

By: Hasan Tariq
Abdul Satter Edhi was a Pakistani humanitarian and philanthropist who founded the Edhi Foundation, a social welfare program that crosses religious barriers.

A Moment of Compassion

Brenda Goodman

On the border of Mexico and the USA, Dr. Patricia Gonzalez-Zuniga and her team of American and Mexican interns and residents provide care and compassion for anyone in need.

Self Management: The ability to manage one's emotions, thoughts and behavior in different situations to achieve goals and aspirations. 

How does this story demonstrate the the importance of recognizing and managing stress?

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the pediatrician appointed as California's first Surgeon General, is a champion for children who bear the invisible scars of tough childhoods. It was thought until the 1990's that children "outgrew" abusive beginnings.  Doctors later discovered instead that children internalized them. It's called toxic stress and Dr. Burke Harris believes toxic stress is both "treatable and beatable," but it must be acknowledged first.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

By: Jane Wallace
Burke Harris believes toxic stress in children is both "treatable and beatable," but it must be acknowledged first.

Dr. Kataria developed a new technique of Laughter Therapy based on yoga called laughter yoga which is a combination of self-induced laughter, yoga exercises, yoga breathing and stretching exercises. The film I Luv Laughing Yoga explores  how Dot discovered that Laughing Yoga was a great way to heal from the pain of her husband's death and re-connect to a child-like sense of play again! 

Dr. Madan Kataria

By: Wendy Jewell
Dr. Madan Kataria has started a revolution of joy and laughter that is spreading around the world.

i Luv Laughing Yoga

Produced by:Wendy Milette & Jeanne Meyers
Dorothy finds healing and joy with the Laguna Laughter Yoga club!

Responsible Decision Making: The ability to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations.

How do these films and stories demonstrate making a reasoned judgment after analyzing information, data, and facts; identifying solutions for personal and social problems; anticipating and evaluating the consequences of one’s action and reflecting on one’s role to promote personal, family, and community well-being?

What would you do if you saw a wildfire destroy 95% of a town? How would you help the survivors whose homes burned to the ground? For Woody Faircloth in Denver, the answer seemed simple: provide them with an RV. And upon witnessing the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California, he and his six-year- old daughter Luna did just that. Without hesitation, they drove across the country to donate an RV to a family who lost everything to the inferno. But when they arrived, the two quickly realized they couldn't stop there.

Down the Road [excerpt]

By: Care Dorghalli
Woody and Luna generously help people in need after the Paradise fire.

Upstanders: The Kids Who Killed an Incinerator and My Toxic Reality are films that demonstrate that individuals can work together to create a solution to a problem in their community.  


Upstanders: The Kids Who Killed an Incinerator

Produced by:Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran [Starbucks]
The high school students who battled a giant incinerator — and won.

My Toxic Reality

Produced by:Tom Dusenbery
Hilton Kelley is tired of seeing his community ravaged by pollution from oil refineries. He and his fellow citizens demand change.

 At age 8, Milo noticed that whenever he ordered a drink in a restaurant, it would come with a straw. This seemed like a huge waste because he did not usually need a straw. He was concerned about the millions of straws that pollute waterways and harm ocean creatures. So Milo went on a campaign in his hometown to have restaurants ask if someone wanted a straw. He has convinced restaurants to go "straw-free" and has addressed Congress on the matter. 

The Last Straw

Lynne Cherry

Nine-year-old Milo Cress is concerned about the millions of straws that pollute waterways, waste fossil-fuel resource and harm ocean creatures. He convinces restaurants to “go straw-free”. 

MY HERO International Film Festival Winner Words Have Power is about a 10-year-old girl who rallied her community to protest the health effects that a local power plant had on their community and succeeded in having the plant close. 

Words Have Power

Produced by:Lynne Cherry

10-year-old Jaysa rallies the community with speeches about how the power plant causes asthma. When they succeed in shutting down the plant, Jaysa concludes that “words have power.”

The film A Mile in Our Shoes tells the stories of young people who have members of their family with illnesses and disabilities and what it is like to have to care for them. They are called young carers, and each have to take on great responsibilities despite their age.

A Mile in Our Shoes

Produced by:Daniel Walker - UK

Young people relate what it is like to have to care for others with illnesses and disabilities. They are called young carers, and each have to take on great responsibilities.

The film Citizenship features John Lewis as relates his experience growing up in the segregated south and his involvement in the civil rights movement. How talks about how if you see a problem one needs to confront the problem. The need to speak up and speak out. And that young people can make a positive difference in the world.

This film is appropriate for middle school and high school students. 


Produced by:Anson Schloat and John G. Young

A film about John Lewis on citizenship and character: "To be a good citizen is to obey the rules...the laws. Unless those laws conflict with your conscience.

The film Defending the Deep highlights the efforts of tireless defender of the oceans and marine life. Claire Nouvian led a focused, data-driven advocacy campaign against the destructive fishing practice of deep-sea bottom trawling, successfully pressuring French supermarket giant and fleet owner Intermarché to change its fishing practices. Her coalition of advocates ultimately secured French support for a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling that led to an EU-wide ban. 

Defending The Deep

Will Parrinello
A tireless defender of the oceans and marine life, Claire Nouvian was the 2018 European recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

The film Alex Epstein: The Power of Volunteering, as well as the stories Kids Helping Kids is Run by Kids for Kids and Trash Heroes are examples of young people who have made a difference by identifying problems and coming up with solutions that supports the well being of those in their community and beyond.  


Alex Epstein: The Power of Volunteering

Produced by:The Institute for Advancing Unity/The Working Group
A young man becomes an activist when his fellow citizens suffer from a national disaster.

Kids Helping Kids is run by kids - and for kids

By: Cathryn J. Prince <br> Contributor of The Christian Science Monitor<br> <h5>...

Kids Helping Kids, the Connecticut-based nonprofit youth group of middle schoolers and teens, plans and carries out projects that make a positive difference in their community and beyond.

Trash Heroes

By: Elias Amador

Trash Heroes is an international, volunteer-led organization that mobilizes youth in over 12 countries to clean and prevent plastic waste in their communities.

Relationship Skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy, supportive relationships with diverse individuals and groups.

How do these films and stories demonstrate the capacity to communicate clearly, listen actively, cooperate, work collaboratively to problem solve and negotiate conflict constructively, navigate settings with differing social and cultural demands and opportunities, provide leadership, and seek or offer help when needed?

Learn how the members of a mosque and a church became a community. Initially when building the mosque across the street from a church, the director didn't expect to be welcome but that was not the case. When the mosque wasn't finished being built, they used the church for service during Ramadan which gave the member of both places of worship an opportunity to get to know each other on a personal level. Thus a community was built.

Upstanders: The Mosque Across the Street

Produced by:Howard Schultz and Rajiv Chandrasekaran

What happens when a mosque moves across the street from a church in the Bible Belt? (5:09 minutes)

Janet Miller, a teacher at Hoover Middle School, was blown away by district-wide statistics that revealed the risk of violence that transgender youth experience. Moved by the statistics, Miller stated to her colleagues that it was their responsibility to create a safe learning environment for all students and helped start a Gay Straight Alliance chapter at the school.

Janet Miller

Produced by:The Working Group
Janet Miller leads her students to stand up for their LGBT peers.

The reality is that most Jewish and Arab Israelis have only superficial relationships with one another. They interact casually in public and commercial spaces, but they have little to no social interaction. Jewish Israelis are even less likely to know Palestinians who live in the West Bank. Read the story of how an Orthodox Jew and a Palestinian Muslim living in the West Bank became close friends in Israel. 

An Israeli-Palestinian Sisterhood

By: Ruth Ebenstein

American-Israeli Orthodox Jew Ruth Ebenstein and Palestinian Muslim Ibtisam became best friends after meeting at a support group for women with breast cancer.

Marcus was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD, thus had trouble with social interactions. Lovey, a lovebird, calms him down and provides a type of therapy Marcus. As he became incredibly close to Lovey, Marcus the connection gave him some basic understanding of social interactions that he hadn't been aware of beforehand. 

Lovey the Lovebird

By: Marcus Fennema

Lovey the Lovebird helped Marcus develop social skills to manage his ADHD and autism.

Learn about autism through the eyes of someone with autism. This is a beautiful film shining a light on how someone with autism navigates social interactions and the world.

Do You See Rainbow?

Kitty Richardson

Additional Resources

Children's Health Council Mindfulness Resources for Dealing with COVID-19
Credit: CHC
Massachusetts General Hospital Guide to Mental Health Resources During Covid for Families and Children
Credit: Mass General

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL).

Credit: CASEL
What is SEL? Film by casel.org
Credit: Casel

Organizer created on 8/20/2021 10:44:22 AM by Laura Nietzer

Last edited 12/11/2023 4:18:59 PM by Laura Nietzer