Changemakers: A Social Emotional Learning Curriculum

Elementary SELect Program

Program Description

Changemakers utilizes free-standing lessons and teaching practices to promote social emotional learning in students. The Momentous Institute, whose mission is ‘working side by side with children, families, and communities to build and repair social emotional health,’ created Changemakers. The program offers differentiated curricula for grade Prek-5. Each grade level curricula contains 35-52 lessons (depending on the grade) organized into sub-units relating to five overarching themes: Safe Relationships, Self-regulation, Awareness of Self, Understanding Others, and Changemaker. Each lesson is designed to last 20-30 minutes and the program recommends doing at least one lesson per week. The curriculum’s overall aim is teaching kids the connection between their brains and their emotions, drawing from neuroscience, and utilizing a trauma-informed lens.

Each unit contains 2-3 lessons. Each unit is prefaced with a Teacher Practices section, providing a deep dive into the topics covered and instructional strategies to employ. This section gives the teacher essential knowledge relating to the theory and purpose of a given unit. Additionally, each unit provides an ‘Equity Lens’ or ‘Trauma Lens,’ giving teachers insight into how to customize/adjust lessons (and their general instruction) to be responsive to students’ past experiences and unique identities. Each lesson divides itself into three sections: Present, Practice, and Process (wrapping up). Each lesson provides teacher scripts, activities for each section, and a list of needed materials.

Training and Implementation Support

The Momentous Institute requires all schools/districts implementing Changemakers to participate in an initial training and offers three ‘booster’ sessions throughout the school year. The initial full-day training occurs onsite at the school/district. The initial training dedicates the first half of the day to the concept of SEL and why it is essential. The second half of the day is a deep dive into the Changemakers curriculum. Activities include an overview of materials, walking through lesson plans, and collaboratively planning sample lessons to model to the group and receive feedback on. For districts looking to Changemakers, the initial training can accommodate as many as 300 people representing multiple grade levels. The three ‘booster’ sessions also occur onsite and are timed/customized according to the needs of the school/district. Activities could include touching base on progress, trouble-shooting parts of the curriculum, or coaching conversations. In addition to the described training, the Momentous Institute offers specialized professional learning sessions at the request of schools/districts. Topics for these specialized sessions include trauma-informed practice, self-care for administrators and educators, behavior management with an SEL lens, and self-regulation & the brain. Other implementation supports included with the curriculum include implementation surveys for each unit, observation protocol for assessing SEL in students, and a pacing guide.

Evidence of Effectiveness

Results from a quasi-experimental study conducted in 2019 supported the effectiveness of Changemakers (formerly titled Settle Your Glitter) for elementary school students. This evaluation included 400 students who were in kindergarten to 2nd grade (treatment – 66% African American, 20% Latinx; control – 84% African American, 11% Latinx; both groups had populations that were at least 95% eligible for free/reduced lunch). This evaluation found that students who participated in the program demonstrated significantly higher emotional recognition and social problem-solving skill scores compared to students in the control group (outcomes reported approximately 8 months after baseline), while controlling for outcome pre-test. Findings also showed that the control group outperformed the intervention group on one outcome (i.e., social perspective-taking), which may have been due to control students participating in a “business as usual” literacy initiative authorized by that school’s leadership.

Thierry, K., (2019). Efficacy of Settle Your Glitter Curriculum: Impact on kindergarten, first, and second grade students. Unpublished manuscript. Momentous Institute, Dallas, TX.