Social-Emotional Learning for Middle and High School Students

Expressing emotions through writing programs from The Diatribe and the Michigan Learning Channel

Empowering Middle and High School Students through Social-Emotional Learning

Social-emotional learning has become a major component of today’s classroom. By incorporating SEL in existing curricula, teachers can help students become more confident, improve their attitudes and life outlook, perform better in school, and connect with others more easily. With so many resources available for SEL, narrowing them down can be tricky.

The Michigan Learning Channel and The Diatribe are here to help!

The Diatribe

The Diatribe is a non-profit organization based in West Michigan that uses performing arts to empower young people to share their stories, raise awareness of social issues, and create change in their communities. They have created free virtual courses that are excellent resources for fostering social-emotional learning in the classroom through expression of the written word. The Diatribe’s programs are available statewide and easily incorporated in both in-person and virtual classrooms.

Each course is 10 sessions long and includes everything teachers need to implement the SEL curriculum, including alignment to standards and assessment. Learn more about each program below.


Mental Health and Wellness engages middle school students in exploration of mental health and how they can cope with mental illness and stress. Explore these topics through writing prompts, poetry videos, and interactive journals. The program meets SEL and ELA standards.


Created for high school students, Our Identities is a poetry unit designed to give students a safe space to speak about issues that impact their lives and help shape their unique identities through powerful spoken word poems. This program meets SEL, Social Justice, and ELA standards.

You can learn more about The Diatribe on their website and on social media @TheDiatribe.

Michigan Learning Channel’s SEL Resources

Explore the Michigan Learning Channel for more ready-to-use resources that you can bring into your classroom as a way to support students as they navigate their unique lived experiences. We will refer to several aspects of the SEL Framework developed by CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) and endorsed by PBS Learning Media as a foundation for high-quality classroom instruction.

  • Teach self-awareness for 4th-6th graders by helping students recognize their own emotions, thoughts, and values, as well as their overall sense of purpose. Help students grow these skills by watching Extra Credit: Our Stories Part 1 together. In this episode, you and your students will join The Diatribe as they explore expressing feelings as a way to encourage connection.
  • Teach self-management for preschool-3rd grade by developing students’ strategies for managing their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations as a way to more successfully accomplish their goals. Incorporate episodes of Pop Check to teach and revisit mindfulness strategies and tools.
  • Teach social awareness for 4th-6th grade by promoting understanding of all perspectives and teaching students to have empathy for those from all backgrounds, cultures, and contexts. Extra Credit: Our Stories Part 2 is a perfect resource for helping students grow their empathy for others. Join The Diatribe as they share self-portraits and encourage students to create and share their own.

For more SEL, take a look at our Social Emotional Learning Subject Page.

Want to learn more about what the Michigan Learning Channel can offer? Get in touch! We have a local Engagement Coordinator for every region of Michigan who loves to answer questions. Find your local contact on the Engagement Coordinators’ about page.

Ellen Doan

Ellen Doan

Engagement Coordinator
Upper Peninsula, WNMU Public Media