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Teaching Social and Emotional Learning Through the Headlines

Is Pokémon Go Going Back to School?

Back in the classroom, many students (and teachers) might be talking about Pokémon Go, this summer’s AR (authentic reality) e-craze. Here’s a perfect chance to transition your conversation to the realities – and responsibilities – of digital learning and life.

In a recent Education Week feature, Jessica Torres, an assistant principal at Brook Avenue Elementary School in Waco, Texas, says kids are going to be talking about Pokémon Go. "If teachers are familiar with it and can talk about it, that's going to be an easy way to build a relationship," she adds.

There are important digital citizenship lessons to learn, as well. According to news reports, gamers have been injured because of not paying attention to their surroundings, and in some cases, they've even been lured into armed robberies.

To drugs, we respond “Just Say No,” Brittany Copala wrote in her blog Why Pokémon Has to Go. She writes that to go to inherently social places, like a local ice cream shop, a movie theater or a restaurant, and find that the majority of people present have their heads bowed down and are allowing virtual, fictional characters dominate their actions "blows me away." Maybe we simply need to decide not to play. 

SEL Connections:
A Pokémon Go discussion can hit upon every social and emotional learning competency. Consider these SEL connections and conversation starters:

Responsible Decision-Making: Have you thought about the kinds of personal data collected by apps like Pokémon Go?

Relationship Skills: Is it easier to play an online game than pay attention to your family and friends? What are you sacrificing?

Self-Management: Like texting and walking and driving, gamers can ignore their surroundings. Are you physically safe?

Social Awareness: Do you have the power to follow your own lead, or will you just follow the craze and the crowd? 

CASEL Social and Emotional Learning Core Competencies

•  Self-Awareness
•  Self-Management
•  Social Awareness
•  Relationship Skills
•  Responsible
•  Decision-Making

What’s Pokémon Go?
Users roam to parks, landmarks, and buildings in their communities to gather resources. Every once in a while the gamer's phone will vibrate and shift the display from a GPS-maps-like view of the gamer's avatar, to a view activated by the gamer's camera. At this point, the game jumps from a third- to first-person view, and the gamers see a direct feed of the grass or sidewalk in front of them, with a digital overlay of whichever Pokémon was randomly generated. When the illusion is conjured properly, the users feel as though they have "discovered" a magical creature hiding in plain sight.

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