Often in the classroom we put a great deal of emphasis on speaking well, clearly, and even often. Not so often do we pay much attention to developing good listeners who actually hear their peers, in particular–as well as their teachers. Below are some good ideas contributed by generous people in the online workshop on Literature; I’m grateful for these and hope they’ll help you as well.

  1. I use the “Popsicle Sticks of Destiny.” Each semester I write each student’s name on a popsicle stick and put it upside-down in a cup. When I have questions or want discussion, I will often draw names and those I draw need to respond. If I’m looking for some depth, I often give students a minute to discuss with an elbow partner first. This method requires everyone to stay on their toes because they never know when or how frequently they will be called on.
    -Rebekah Symons

2.In my IB class, the following activities help with listening skills:
Every presentation students complete has a peer assessment component – students must offer comments on the content as well as the presentation skill of their peers.
Students read their creative writing aloud to the class and then we have a discussion. Students are graded for their participation.
Students are regularly quizzed on the content of recordings of interviews, video clips of documentaries, and video recording of past student presentations.
Right before the IOP, students choose a partner and lead a class lesson on an assigned chapter of House of the Spirits. Students receive a grade when they teach the class, but they also receive a grade based upon their engagement and speaking when they are their classmates’ “students.” The class is later quizzed on the content of these presentations.
These ideas are not overly original, but when used consistently throughout the year, they seem to work.
-Michelle Crimmel

-I discovered that sometimes students would immediately put their heads on their desks when a student started a presentation. They seemed to be used to very boring, powerpoint presentations that were just read. So, I needed to start from scratch and teach them how to do a presentation (and a powerpoint) and how to listen. To”encourage” listening in those circumstances, I required students to be able to come up with a question related to the presentation. Sometimes I would call on a student to ask a question. Sometimes I would ask a student to repeat, in their own words, some part of the content. Sometimes I would have students write questions to hand in. The reflection portion that connects with the IO would be good to use in other parts of the course to encourage listening.
-Ann Marie Wasilewski

-Some methods I have used:
ABC questioning: I ask a question, a student Answers, I pick another student to Build the point, then a third Challenges the point.

Learning Spy: One student is chosen to monitor learning in lesson, I give them a clipboard to make notes, at the end of the lesson that student will discuss their observations with the class.

Peer monitoring: Each student is given the name of another student in the class (it’s important to emphasis the anonymity of the person who is doing the feedback), they watch them during the lesson and make notes of their performance, as they leave they give me their notes. I type them up and give them back to the students for reflection time and goal setting.
-Emma Gregory