Review by Ericka D, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2018

Ripple Effects

Robust content lifts dated, cluttered SEL platform

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
2–12
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Pros: Content is sure to last for months, and students can easily reflect and generalize with personalized journal prompts.

Cons: Dated visuals, information overload, and two platforms rather than one make it tough to navigate.

Bottom Line: Thoughtful educators can promote personal growth and reflection if they can overcome some antiquated visuals and an overwhelming layout.

Ripple Effects programs could be incorporated into a social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum. For high school staff, consider adding this program to a civics or social studies course, as the content is sure not to run out. It's used best as an individual activity, so students could complete the program tutorials independently at station work, or as an incentive once work is completed. Teachers could also consider using this as part of their welcoming activity, responsive classroom routines, or social learning instruction. 

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Ripple Effects offers several programs aimed at increasing student social and emotional understanding. The student programs begin by asking students to log in and choose a male or female guide, and then choose tabs of content. Content centers around social topics students may encounter in their daily lives, such as bullying, picking up trash in the hallway, and comforting a sad acquaintance. Students can then journal, view videos and peer modeling tutorials, take quizzes, or play games all related to the learned concepts. Finally, students can check their own progress on each of the core competencies.

In addition to the student programs, there are two programs meant for planning, assessment, and data tracking for staff use. The Data Viewer allows you to track the students' use of the Teens, Kids, or Screen for Strengths programs. This dashboard shows progress by individual student, classroom, or grade level, or school-wide data. The Planning and Assessment dashboard allows staff to create individual or school-wide intervention plans using the RTI Multi-Tiered Model, run a screening assessment for elementary or secondary students, use an observation app, or take a diversity survey. This dashboard also lets staff or administrators create school improvement or positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) plans.

Ripple Effects programs claim to reduce negative behavioral activity in schools and instead increase pro-social behaviors. Because Ripple Effects offers a personalized reflection section and activities for generalizing and practice, students may be able to apply the content better than with other programs. Peer and video modeling clips help students learn from other children their age. Since the content is so robust, it's hard not to be learning about pro-social skills the entire time a student is logged on.

However, sometimes the visuals of the program appear outdated, unappealing, and unengaging. The information presented is almost too much; students might feel overwhelmed by the amount of content and words on their screen. Additionally, since it's tough to click back to a previous screen once a student is several clicks into additional topics, it appears easy to lose one's train of thought in the program. Finally, the two-platform system (one platform for the student program and one for teachers) can be a bit clunky for staff to navigate.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Dated content and cluttered lessons may make it hard for tech-savvy students to relate. Many different types of activities (e.g., games, videos, journals) can make it hard to follow along or figure out what activity to do next.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

This program offers tons of content related to many social learning targets. The overall experience is designed to encourage reflection on pro-social behaviors.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Several tutorials and videos are linked into the program. Content is also delivered in several modes, such as visual pictures and audio. However, without the use of the avatar guide, it can be tough to get started with the program.


Common Sense Reviewer
Ericka D Counselor, psychologist, or social worker

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