We could all be better listeners.
The beginning of the school year finds teachers utilizing all kinds of community building and getting-to-know-you activities in their classrooms. While teaching the rules, procedures, and classroom jobs this year, don't forget to provide activities that teach students to listen. Becoming a good listener is a very important skill that can benefit any age group. Once you use these activities that teach students to listen, you'll use them every year.
Don't assume students already know how to listen.
Many of us mistakenly assume that students come to school already knowing how to listen to the teacher and classmates. On the contrary, many students have not learned this skill in the home. There are adults out there as well who could use some training, right? Students need to learn the importance of being a good listener, and teachers need to include these activities in their beginning of the year plans.
Model good listening and make a chart.
Begin by allowing students to watch you while you model listening to a student telling a story. Ask students to watch for different things you are doing that they think good listeners might do. After modeling, begin a chart entitled, "Good Listeners...", and add the behaviors students suggest to the list. Make sure to include the following: Look at the speaker, Keep hands and feet still, Let the speaker finish before you respond, and Ask good questions to expand ideas. Read the chart together, and allow students to model good listening behaviors while you speak.
Great activities for independent practice
- Prepare ahead of time some good questions on index cards that students can ask each other. Make sure they are questions that require more than a one word answer. The Learning Curve has a nice list of questions that would work great. Place students in groups of four and allow each student to ask their question. Each student in the group needs to provide an answer. Remind students to use the skills they learned earlier while listening. When finished, call students back into large group and have each student tell something they learned about a person in their group.
- Divide students into pairs, reminding them to use their listening techniques as discussed earlier. Give pairs three or four cards and have them take turns asking and answering each one. At the end of an answer, the listening student must ask two response questions that expand upon their partner's original answer. Return to large group and have each student tell one thing they learned about their partner, while everybody uses their listening skills.
- Have students write a "How to be a Good Listener" paragraph, using transition words, and including each skill on the class chart.
- Have students pick a question card, write the question on their paper, and write a paragraph answering the question. Allow them to share their writing.
I don't have time to teach this.
Activities like these that teach kids to listen and respect each other take up valuable teaching time. In the long run, though, time will be saved. How? You will avoid having to stop frequently to remind students to listen. When students are having difficulty, refer to the chart that should be displayed clearly in the classroom. You will be amazed at the skilled group of listeners in your class, and you will not waste time constantly repeating directions...Imagine that!!