Post by:

Deiera Bennett

Created on:

October 17, 2023

How Ava Leverages CASEL Standards

Social Cipher's online game, Ava, is designed based on the five CASEL competencies that are used as the foundation for SEL programs throughout the world. As students play the game, they take on the role of an autistic star mapper named Ava who uses SEL skills to overcome challenges and obstacles.

CASEL Competency 1: Self-Awareness

CASEL Explanation: “The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts.”

Correlation with Ava: As students play Ava, they will face challenges that cause Ava to feel anxiety, nervousness, excitement, and a host of other emotions. Ava’s body language also reflects the emotion she is feeling.

Example: In the Needs module, Ava is upset because her friend Redbraid changed her plans. Redbraid and Ava have a discussion about Ava’s feelings, and the student is able to select how they feel when plans change. 

CASEL Competency 2: Self-Management

CASEL Explanation: “The abilities to manage one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations and to achieve goals and aspirations.”

Correlation with Ava: Throughout the game, students can choose how Ava responds to her thoughts and emotions. The situations within the game mimic real life situations such as meeting new people, being given vague instructions, and having a long list of things to do. There are different storylines depending on the students’ choices, but the story always leads to explaining healthy ways to manage negative emotions. This gives facilitators the opportunity to discuss student choices and assess their progress towards self-management while learning more about what coping strategies are the most effective for their student(s).

Example: Throughout the game, there are bubbles called quiet spaces where Ava can read, write, or engage in other special interests. In the Trying New Things module, Ava uses her quiet space to practice her coping skills when she felt overwhelmed. 

CASEL Competency 3: Social Awareness

CASEL Explanation: “The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures, & contexts.”

Correlation with Ava: Each Ava module introduces new characters for students to get to know. Many of the characters are neurodivergent, which means students can relate to them and their challenges. However, no two characters look alike, speak alike, or act alike, so students are constantly exposed to different perspectives as they play the game. Sometimes there are misunderstandings between the characters, which teaches the students important lessons about context and empathy. 

Example: In the Needs module, one of the characters is rude to Ava’s friend Lior. Ava notices that her friend is sad from their body language. The student is given four different ways that Ava can respond. 


CASEL Competency 4: Relationship Skills

CASEL Explanation: “The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups.”

Correlation with Ava: Throughout the game, Ava gets to know her crewmates by asking questions and completing tasks with them. Sometimes new characters come into the game who are not-so-nice. Students learn how to navigate these interactions and advocate for themselves and others.

Example: In the Trust module, Ava is on a mission to form an exploration crew. Students learn the importance of trust in relationships and how to be trustworthy. As students talk to new characters and observe their behaviors, they are able to decide whether or not they want to trust them. 

CASEL Competency 5: Decision-making Skills

CASEL Explanation: “The abilities to make caring and constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions across diverse situations.”

Correlation with Ava: With 160+ dialogue choices, Ava is full of decision-making! Each module is made up of tasks, called quests, that students must complete to progress in the game. Some of these tasks must be completed in collaboration with other characters, and some are more personal.

Example: In the Trying New Things module, Ava is navigating through a maze and feels overwhelmed. Ava (played by the student) uses decision-making skills to decide which coping strategy to use in that situation.

Ava and its supplemental curriculum has already impacted students in 150+ schools and therapy centers throughout the world. Want to learn how Ava can enhance your SEL program? Schedule a chat with us!


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