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Unpacking the CASEL Framework in SEL & Leadership Pilot Program

The NYC DOE Supportive Environment Framework for Great Schools shares a common vision of fostering students’ social and emotional development to create more equitable learning environments and outcomes. Our SEL & Leadership Pilot Program is closely aligned with CASEL’s integrated framework. This blog post unpacks how the pilot program’s curriculum framework and activities respond to each competency in the CASEL’s framework. 


The CASEL framework has five competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.

1. Self-awareness

Activities we used to develop this competency in students this Fall:


2. Self-management


Activities we have used to develop this competency in students this Fall:


3. Responsible Decision-making

Activities we used to develop this competency in students this Fall:


4. Relationship Skills

Activities we used to develop this competency in students this Fall:


5. Social Awareness

Activities we have used to develop this competency in students:


As shown, we have built in more activities in the first three competencies (Self-Awareness, Self-Management and Responsible Decision-Making) so far because "Know Yourself As a Leader" and "Choose Yourself To Be a Leader" are two core themes of our curriculum in this Fall. By knowing yourself better, you understand your emotional patterns and strengths. You are aware of the insights given by your emotions and strengths and you learn how to make wise choices based on them.

We will be designing more activities aligned with the last two competencies in the Spring as we dive deeper into "Choose Yourself To Be a Leader" and march into our last but not least theme - "Give Yourself As a Leader". Stay tuned for new updates from our upcoming blog posts or follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

 - 11/26/2019 - Fiona Zheng
happy ball

SEL & Leadership Club HAPPY Music List

MS 223 students from the SEL & Leadership Club created a music play list based on different emotions. We would like to share their HAPPY music play list with you below:

  1. High Hopes by Panic at the Disco
  2. Hall of Fame by The Script feat. Will.i.am
  3. Kronos Dance by Primitivio
  4. Happy by Pharrell Williams
  5. Baby Shark by Pinkfong
  6. A Million Dreams by Ziv Zaifman, Hugh Jackman, and Michelle Williams
  7. La Vaca by Mala Fe
  8. Cliche by MXMTOON
  9. Happier by Marshmello & Bastille
  10. Lost in Japan by Shawn Mendes
  11. We Found Love by Rihanna
  12. Mine (clean version) by Bazzi
  13. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys


  1. High Hopes by Panic at the Disco

Finding Your Talents

Research shows that when people identify their talents and develop those talents into strengths, they can optimize their potential and find their path to live a thriving and engaged life. Recognizing strengths is also a key element of achieving "Self-Awareness," one of the core competencies in the CASEL Framework. Our Social Emotional Learning and Leadership Pilot Program chose the Brain Talent Cards from 6 Seconds to help MS 223 students find their talents and strengths

So how does the brain combine logic and emotion to process information and create effective action? It is simply a formula of brain/heart(mind) + body(actions) working together. By using the Brain Talent Cards, we help students identify, understand their talents and strengths and encourage them to leverage their unique capabilities.

There are three color sets of cards in the Brain Talent Cards: Blue cards are about FOCUS – getting rational and emotional data. Red cards are about DECISIONS – assessing options by careful evaluation and making innovative decisions. Green Cards are about DRIVE – moving forward, both for practical action and for long-term motivation. Students learn their brain talents through playing the cards.

By learning more about their brain preferences and talents, students can improve planning, effectiveness, and problem-solving at school and home. The talent cards can be further combined with the Brain Profile Inventory. In the coming weeks, we will dive deeper together with students into this topic and help them increase their self-awareness and further understand and utilize their strengths.


Learn more about other SEL & Leadership Curriculum pilot activities focused on developing Self-Awareness in middle school students: SEL & Leadership Program Binder Excerpt Self Awareness.

 - 11/16/2019 - Fiona Zheng

De-stress through Stress Balls


We often feel tired at the end of a long day. Sometimes all we want to do is to go home and relax at the end of the day. This is simply because we forgot to relax during the day! So what about relax at the BEGINNING of the day and get well prepared for the rest of the day? MS 223 students de-stress their day by making stress balls before the school starts in their Social Emotional Learning and Leadership Club!

By making the stress balls, we squeeze the stress out of our body! Bye-bye stress, we are all ready to learn through the day!


 - 11/13/2019 - Fiona Zheng

HS 223 Book Club

The 223 high school book club was founded by high school students for high school students. This club creates a community around positive academic hobbies such as reading books.


Often books are looked down on in this technological savvy era but growing up we discovered that books have so much to offer and would like to share this knowledge with other high school students looking to expand their interests. We are kicking this year off with "Dread Nation" By Justina Ireland, a woman of color, who creates a unique perspective on the hardships faced during the civil war era. The book naturally deals with topics of racism, sexism and the apocalypse as the book is about a young woman of color fighting the undead in order to protect the richer whiter nobles of society, and her realization to the injustices occurring to people that look like her.

Book club takes place every Thursday after school and it's always a welcoming environment for anyone who would like to join. Books will always hold a special place in our hearts and we hope that it holds a special place in yours.

Written by Chanel DLS & Leslie R (HS 223 Senior Class)


 - 11/06/2019 - Fiona Zheng

SEL & Leadership Club Launched the UnMASK Arts Project


Starting this Fall, Areté Education begun a Social Emotional Learning and Leadership Club pilot program in the mornings before school where middle school students learn emotional literacy, self-regulation, and stress management through dynamic mindfulness practices and reflection opportunities, peer and adult mentoring, and strengths-based leadership coaching and development. 

This week, the Club launched its first UnMASK Arts Project. The idea of this project was sparked by the book Be the Hero You've Been Waiting For, “Many of us live our lives as if we are icebergs, floating aimlessly in the sea of life and largely submerged. We hide most of ourselves, especially our most vulnerable places, below 'the waterline'. Like a typical iceberg, we show only about 10% of ourselves, the part above the water. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s call this 10% our 'image'" (p.53-54).



In this project, students will release their arts creativity and design a mask to present “what they show to the outside world” versus “what they keep hidden inside". They will use the mask to unmask their emotions and demonstrate that emotions are an integrated part of human beings. Whether we like it or not, emotions exist in our body. Instead of ignoring them, we can learn to be aware of them, listen to the messages they bring to us and make wise decisions based upon the messages. Students will present the complexity and rich perspectives of humanities through their art work. 



Dr. Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg, the new executive director at Areté Education who also has experience in teaching arts, led students through the first day of the project. The first week of this project is about choosing a base color for the mask.



Most importantly, the color students choose should represent some part of their identities and characters. For example, "I chose warm colors because of the warmth and energy I usually bring into spaces" Dr. Sarah Benis Scheier-Dolberg showed her mask as an example and explained why she chose the warm colors. She also talked about how she chose red to represent her "anger", how emotions  and that emotion is part of us. 



Students will start to add layers and put on decorations to their masks next week. They will also divide their masks in half - one half for what they show the outside world, one half for what they keep hidden inside.


                                                                    (Ms. Waring, the instructor of the Club, helps dry students' masks.)

 - 11/05/2019 - Fiona Zheng

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