#2ndaryELA Chat Summary: Speaking & Listening Skills

September 24, 2015

Middle and High School English Language Arts discuss ways to incorporate speaking & listening skills, effective discussion strategies, popular date topics, assessing speaking, and encouraging reluctant speakers. Join secondary English Language Arts teachers Tuesday evenings at 8 pm EST on Twitter.

This week's #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about speaking and listening skills in the ELA classroom. Middle and High School English Language Arts discussed ways to incorporate speaking & listening skills, effective discussion strategies, popular date topics, assessing speaking, and encouraging reluctant speakers. The highlights are below.

Ideas for Incorporating Speaking & Listening Skills:
*Book talks
*Argument speeches
*Book clubs
*TED talks
*Public Services Announcements (PSAs)
*Fish bowl
*Research clubs
*Socratic Seminars
* 4 Corners
* Think-pair-share
* Students sharing writing and getting feedback from peers
* News reporter - one student is in charge of sharing a hot news story of the week
* Do presentations regularly about topics that interest students
* Pop-up debate/discussion: every student speaks 1-2 times, the first person to stand up and speak has the floor.
* Book trailers - students try to sell their book and get others to read it, similar to movie trailers but students do narration
* In literature circle discussions, students take notes (active listening) & must advance the discussion with comments that extend the conversation
* Speed Dating style writing conferences - Set a timer. At 1-1 desks, students rotate around the room meeting each other to confer on writing

Effective Discussion Strategies:
* Use sentence starters and discussion prompts
* Give students a background reading before a discussion
* Model what a good discussion looks/sounds like
* Have students prepare questions, responses, & follow up questions keep conversation flowing
* Prepare students with strategies they can use to keep a conversation moving if it starts to flounder
* Teach a mini-lesson on speaking, organization, or delivery before each discussion.
* Use "First Turn Last Turn" ("Save the Last Word for Me") discussions – one students speaks to topic; rest of group comments on or questions the first student’s statement, who has the final say as to how his/her thinking changed. This process is repeated for all students get a turn being the “first student.”
* Use a speaking stick/object to help students learn to speak one at a time and need to see how important listening is.
* In a book club discussion, allow the group to pick the focus for the discussion.  Choose their own discussion goals helps students come prepared with ideas they are confident speaking about.

Debate Topics:
* The class reads Inherit the Wind and then does their own debate based on the topic.
* Hot topics like gun laws, punishment for juveniles, money & ethics, sexting & ethics
* Let students choose
* Governmental control - Which is more important safety or freedom? (tie in to The Giver)
* Current events
* Do virtual debates with other local schools or other classes via Google Hangout
* Use topic from the local newspaper to get students to form their own opinions not just take mom's or dad's
* Encourage students to watch the presidential debates. Who won the debate? Who would they choose to get the nomination?

Assessing Students:
* In small group discussions, use group writing and personal reflection for assessment and accountability.
*  Use a discussion survey to see what students’ initial comfort levels are. 
* Rubrics made with Rubistar
* Assessment for clearly taught skills, one at a time. Three grades: Nailed it, tried it, didn't try it.
* In Socratic Seminar, set minimum participation requirement.
* When using a fishbowl set up, have students in the outer circle, help track the inner circle’s conversation
* Use the Confer app to transcribe discussion to listen to later
* Give students a choice on which speaking/listening standard they want to concentrate on mastering. This allows for student buy in & focused feedback.
* A fun idea for assessing listening is BINGO during presentations. Ask students to listen for specific qualities.

Encouraging Reluctant Speakers:
* Preparing for discussion gives them something to say.
* Minimum participation requirement encourages them as well as classmates asking them direct questions.
* Start small. Let them film their speech instead of doing it live first.
* Give reluctant speakers a heads-up: "You're going to give your opinion in 3 minutes."
* Start in small groups
* Let reluctant speakers pick ahead when they would like to join in
* In book clubs, remind students that they have something to share and that it is valued. Get other students to urge them.
* Lots of Think-Pair-Share during initial weeks of class.
* Random/cold calling teaches all kids that they don't die when they talk.
* Begin with simple scaffolding: "Can you paraphrase what _____just said?"
* Give choices: "do you think_____or ______"
* Use Today's Meet (online tool) to allow students to share ideas in written format
* Giving students a chance to interact in written word first often times empowers students’ spoken voice later

For more speaking and listening ideas and resources:

Hope you'll join us next Tuesday September 29th at 8pm EST to discuss standards and curriculum in the ELA classroom. The questions for next week's chat will be posted here on Sunday. If you missed Tuesday night's chat, scroll down and read the whole thing below.

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