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and composing texts in different contexts and using different technologies. “Everyone has the vast capacity for being more understanding, respectful, warm, genuine, open, direct and concrete in relationships.” George Gazda, Human Relations Development: A Manual for Educators (Boston. Allyn & Bacon, 1973), p34. Good communication skills help to resolve issues and build healthy relationships. People can feel very isolated when they are not communicating effectively with other human beings. The following activities are designed to help teach students how to communicate more effectively with their peers and adults. The skills to talk and listen effectively need to be taught and used until they become a comfortable, integral part of every human being.
Whatever? Learning Outcome: Ø Analysing and understanding the meaning of communication “Communication is a bridge from one person to another.” Draw this image and discuss its meaning. What happens when someone asks a question and the speaker responds with ‘whatever’? How is this like a bridge with a broken pylon blocking the traffic from moving across to the other side? As a class brainstorm the meaning of the word communication. Ask students to draw two images to show the difference between effective and poor communication. Display these images and talk about any common features amongst them. What happens in a conversation if one person is not listening? In small groups list as many good listening skills as you can. Rank these skills from 1 to 5, with most important being 5. Compare your rankings with students in another group and explain why you ranked them in this way. Compose and record a telephone conversation between two people in which one person tries to convince the other to attend a social function. The other person needs to demonstrate poor listening skills. Listen to the conversation and make
suggestions about how it could have been different if the other person had modelled good listening skills. 1 2 3 Judging Giving Solutions Avoiding the other’s concerns Copy the following examples onto individual sheets of paper. Use the features of the electronic media to compose an imaginative text in which two people exchange a heated conversation about a topic that is featured in the media. There are also communication humps. Working in teams. Criticising – making negative evaluation of the other person Name-calling – putting the other person down Analysing – being a know it all Patronising praise – giving unnecessary praise . These humps slow down and sometimes stop people from really listening to one another. analyse the text to see if both people are hearing and responding appropriately to one another. which people use in conversations. Teenagers spend a lot of time communicating via email or the telephone. They diminish a speaker’s self esteem which can stop him / her from talking and expressing feelings. Working in teams. Ø explore how effective communication can build positive relationships and reduce feelings of isolation Speed humps are put on busy streets to slow down or reduce traffic. Sometimes messages are not always clearly conveyed and confusion sets in. For example when a friend speaks. while he / she is talking. Discuss how he / she would plan this meeting using modern technology. The following three communication humps are commonly used in conversations. sort them into three groups. Role-play a situation in which one teenager is arranging a meeting amongst six friends. Communication Humps Learning Outcome Ø Identify and understand communication barriers commonly used in day-to-day conversations. They quickly develop skills in sending text messages at an amazing pace. Details of meeting times and places are sometimes unclear. giving solutions or avoiding the other’s concerns. we are sometimes too busy thinking about what we are going to say. judging.
Focus Questions: How is this an example of judging? What were some of the negative things about this conversation? Why has Jamie been late for school? Why did Jamie stop talking? . family and people you work or study with. By identifying and understanding how these communication humps can discourage good listening and talking. and so she can’t take his sister to child-care in the mornings. friends and teachers. They say Jamie is always living in a dream world and that’s why he can’t get his act together and get to school on time. rather than help to keep it going. Do you agree that they are conversation stoppers? Discuss. and that others don’t seem to communicate very well. you are well on the way to making some positive changes in your conversations with friends. Jamie starts to explain that he has to take his little sister to child-care each morning before school.Ordering –bossing the other person Threatening – trying to control someone with negative consequences Moralising – telling the other person what to do Too Many Questions –asking closed-ended questions so eventually the person just keeps saying yep. Jamie becomes embarrassed and doesn’t explain that his mother is working longer hours. nup. moves away from his friends and goes to detention for being late to school.giving solutions rather than letting the person work it out Diverting –changing the subject Logical argument – trying to convince the person your idea is best Reassuring – making light or disregarding the depth of someone’s feelings Write a dialogue between two people to show how one of these communication humps can stop a conversation. or nothing in response Advising. Jamie has been late for school every morning. Look through the list of communication humps and work out which ones you use in conversations with your parents. as they are short of money. His friends start teasing and calling him names. His teacher is annoyed that he is not arriving on time and his friends want to know why he is always late. He stops talking. Perhaps you have been using these communication humps without realising it? It’s time to cut out these bad habits and remove the humps from the road so you can have a clear path to effective talking and listening. Judging Others Learning Outcome Ø to identify how judging others can block a meaningful conversation. Bad Habits You may believe you are a good listener.
Change it to show how Jamie’s friends could h ave listened without making judgements. and then helped him think of some solutions. Their parents are separated and they visit their father occasionally. Peter. Finish the following sentences as a threat: (a) (b) (c) (d) If you don’t clean your room … I won’t help you if … I’m not going to …. Emily and their dad. or I will … Now rewrite the sentences as a positive statement. misses them and when Tristan and Emily came to visit him on Saturday afternoon he angrily said. their dad. Stop that. I’ll eat all the ice-cream. in which he allows them to share their feelings and come to an arrangement in which they spend more time together.” Focus Questions What was Peter trying to say to Tristan and Emily? How do you think Tristan and Emily would have reacted to their dad’s comments? Why? What could Peter have said to explain that he loves Tristan and Emily and wants to spend more time with them? Why do people sometimes sound angry when they are upset? Try to think of some examples in which you or someone you know has said one thing and meant something different. Giving Orders Learning Outcome Ø to explore and identify the effects of moralising. Tristan and Emily live with their mother. . Moralising. ordering or threatening people can often make a situation worse.What could Jamie’s friends have said instead? What were the consequences of Jamie’s peers being judgemental? Activity Role-play the scenario above. Activity Write a dialogue between Tristan. For example: If you don’t clean your room. “You don’t visit me enough. by using an aggressive order. Making threats Threats produce negative results. If you don’t come more often you won’t be able to get your pocket money. ordering or threatening a person in a conversation. could be rewritten as: When you have cleaned your room you can come and get some ice-cream. Read the following scenario and talk about how Peter tries to express his feelings.
They like to talk to their kids and understand or feel involved in what they’re doing. and what you did. or give one-word answers. teenagers can stop talking. If I were you… Learning Outcome Ø exploring alternative ways of communicating. In the following dialogue Suzanne feels really annoyed with herself because she has left her homework book at school. Activity Imagine you have just come home from a party. Avoid asking closed questions that encourage one-word responses. “no”. Ø “Where did you go?” Ø “Who was there?” Ø “How was your day?” Ø “Did you have good time?” When parents or teachers ask constant questions like these. The questions act as communication humps – drying up any further conversation.Too many questions – without any answers Learning Outcome Ø to explore and identify the effects of asking too many closed questions when trying to communicate with another person. Write a conversation between you and your parents. Her mother and brother give her advice about how to be more organised.” huh”. which makes her feel even worse! Activity . rather than giving advice which can lead to the other person feeling inadequate and less able to find a solution to his / her problem. Advice is a commonly used communication hump. “yep”. But often teenagers get fed up with their parents asking constant questions. Not more questions! Some questions are good conversations starters. It can make the person receiving the advice feel even more negative about their own ability to solve problems. Parents often ask questions because they just want to share what’s happening in their children’s lives. Your parents would like to know if you have had a good time. Giving and receiving advice.
Mum: Ringing Christine sounds like a good idea.” Brother: “I hate it when that happens.” . I can’t do my homework.” 2nd Conversation Suzanne: “Mum. Mum: You should be more organised. Ist Conversation Suzanne: Mum. it’s not Simon who is disorganised and left his books at school.” Mum: “You’ve left your books at school. Suzanne: : And you’re so perfect. aren’t you! Mum: Cut that out. I suppose. Brother: So what? You hate doing homework anyway? Mum: I wish you could be more organised. and never forget anything. Suzanne: But I …” Mum: “I wish you could be more organised like your brother.” Mum: Is there any other way you could get what you need to do your homework? Suzanne: I guess. Mum: So you’re saying there is something you could do to find out what you need to do for your homework tonight!” Suzanne: I could ring Christine and ask her to read out the questions to me. now I can’t do my homework.Read the following two conversations and working in teams think of some questions that allow you to compare them. I can’t do my homework.” Suzanne: “Yeah. I left my book at school. Brother: I always put my homework books in my bag before the last lesson – you should do that. I left my book at school. when he’s got heaps of homework due tomorrow.
divorce. anger. Keep your checklist handy and record how often people use these techniques during one week. She can’t even drink fizzy drinks. Ignoring the other person Have you ever been in a conversation in which you are trying to explain how you feel to others and they keep changing the topic or switching it to themselves? Sometimes it’s because they feel uncomfortable or embarrassed for the other person and don’t know how to react.Ignore me … but I may not go away! Learning Outcome Ø recognising and understanding that if you ignore a person in a conversation it can lead to the other person feeling isolated. she reckons it sucks. Person A: I went to the dentist this morning and I have to get braces on my top teeth. Oh look. I wonder if he can see me from there? Person A: I’m worried that the boys will laugh at me. Person C: Yeah my cousin’s got them on his top and bottom teeth and he gets called metal mouth all the time. death. Focus Questions What was Person A trying to say? What happened to Person A’s concerns? Why do you think Person B and Person C changed the conversation? What could Person B or Person C have done in this conversation to help Person A to express her feelings? Make a checklist of techniques that people use to ignore the other person’s concerns. Collate your findings and discuss how these techniques can make the other person feel their concerns are not being addressed. illness. Many people feel uncomfortable talking about sensitive issues concerning affection. . or what to say. I reckon I’m going to look so ugly and I … Person B: Sophia’s got braces. Read the following exchange between three friends. there’s Garry. For example: Ø Ø Ø Ø Look in another direction Start doodling Change the conversation back to themselves Cough or pretend to sneeze. sickness etc as it creates tension within them. Person B: I’m glad I don’t wear braces.
Afterwards use the following checklist to evaluate how attentive they were. Once we reach adolescence we spend a lot more time listening than reading. Ask students to write and present a two.” Dr Elton Mayo. (1957) p 49. . who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider our problems. please! “One friend. How are they alike. how are they different? Is there ever a time when it’s OK to listen and not hear? “He had them on the edge of his seat. can change our whole outlook on the world. The quality of listening can transform people’s lives! Students need to be taught to become effective listeners. Kids might say it’s because the teacher is boring. So what about listening? Some experts say most people only listen effectively about one-third to two-thirds of the time. When you speak to someone you can quickly tell if they are listening. Up to the age of nine or ten the brain is twice as active as an adult’s and the majority of children master the skill of reading during these years. What do you think about this statement? As a class brainstorm what the words listening and hearing mean. Pre-schoolers spend a lot of energy learning to talk.” James reckons his friends listen to what he has to say. Videotape a two-minute conversation between two people. but his parents only hear him.minute talk about a subject that fascinates them. one person who is truly understanding. ‘Listening is more than hearing.Listen to me.” What does this mean? Discuss techniques that help to keep someone interested when you are talking to them. or not! (a) Working in small teams list what you can see when you are talking to someone and they are listening attentively. Are You Listening? New York: McGraw-Hill. On the other side of the paper. Learning Outcome: Ø define and understand attentive and reflective listening skills. At the age of four the most common sentence starts with ‘why’. recognising that one needs to hear what another person says and become involved with the speaker. They will need to incorporate the techniques you have identified to keep the audience ‘on the edge of their seats’. Give the speakers a rating out of ten and justify your evaluation. list what you can see when you talk to someone who is miles away in their thoughts and not listening! (b) But what happens if you are having a conversation with someone who is on the telephone? List what you can hear if you know the other person is being attentive.
Do they often feel like they are under the spotlight and being interrogated? Often people ask a question. such as on their first date. I’m paying all this money for you to go to boarding school and you do nothing all day? . television script or computer presentation. Adults. skit. adolescents have been reported to spend close to one third of their time talking with peers.ØFace your body towards the speaker ØTry at speak at the same eye level ØSit with legs and arms uncrossed ØKeep an appropriate distance between the speakers ØAvoid distracting gestures ØKeep eye contact –in some cultures this may not be acceptable ØMinimise other distractions. Use the Internet and books to research cultures like this. Dad: How was your day? Son: OK Dad: What did you get up to? Son: Nothing Dad: So you did nothing all day? Son: Mmm Dad: Great. eg. Larson and Prescott. Conversation starters get people talking. As a class brainstorm as many different encouragers as you can. Encouraging conversations to keep going is another skill that young people need to learn. radio. Present your findings in a suitable form to show that you appreciate and understand their customs in relation to communication. Their peers don’t plague them with questions – and it often becomes a source of frustration in families when adolescents utter grunts and one-word responses! Ask your students about how they interact with their parents. 1977) The ecology o adolescent activity f and experience. Consider the following scenario and then rewrite or role-play the same situation but rephrase the opening questions as statements. compared to their peers. written report. often fall into the trap of asking far too many questions when they talk to adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. These are comments that can be dropped into a conversation to keep it flowing. joining a club. that would have been better as a statement which gives the speaker the opportunity to explore thoughts and feelings in her / his own way. Adolescents are very capable of exploring areas they are personally interested in.” (Csikszentimihalyi. but only 8 percent talking with adults. This may be in a form of a role-play. For example: Oh? Go on Yes You betcha Not another question! “During an average week. TV ØRemove desks or barriers between speakers Eye contact during a conversation is not desirable or acceptable in all cultures. You can have lots of fun with the students making up their own conversations starters in different situations. Think of a creative word to identify these words and make posters to display them around the room. turn off games. particularly parents. and making a new friend.
Let’s pretend we are in a library and overhear the following conversation. The other students in the group listen to the talk and then rephrase what was said in one or two sentences. cause I’m sick of being teased all the time. but a lot of kids at this school are really into studying and want to go to uni. Write a sentence below the following conversation to show that the listener has heard and understood the speaker’s feelings: Speaker: “I am so tired. Joel: I want to go to a different high school. Joel. and a physics and chem. even though the Queensland Government has banned them to reduce the effects of rabbit destruction on farms. Identify the closed questions that could have been rephrased as comments for a more engaging response. I’ve got an English assignment due tomorrow. It’s important for the rephrase to be short and to the point – otherwise you can take over the conversation. Analyse it to see how many open and closed questions are asked. one by Wednesday. Tarkin: You think you’re teased a lot here. Joel: Yeah right! D’you reckon I could ask my folks if I could change schools? Tarkin: How do you think they’ll react? Focus Questions How does Tarkin show that he is listening to Joel? What was Joel most worried about? Do you think Joel could have said anything else? What would have happened if Tarkin had said: ‘Don’t be an idiot. just because I don’t get good grades and I like mucking around with cars and stuff instead of trying to learn stuff to go to uni.Son: No reply Ask the students to record a conversation they have had with an adult. Tarkin: You’re really good at mechanics. I also really want to try out for the state hockey trials tonight. You’re not dumb?” Why does Tarkin feel that he doesn’t fit in? Will moving schools help Tarkin? Explain with examples. Last night I had to stay up and baby-sit my kid brother and he played those dumb computer games for so long and they were so loud that I couldn’t get any of my homework done. hey! Joel: Yeah. Rephrase that! Sometimes listening and repeating what you think the other person is saying is a useful way to show that you have heard and understood what is being said. But I don’t know how I’m gonna get it all done?” Students can prepare and present a short talk about a topic in the newspaper to a small group of students. I don’t know how to tell my parents though. . For example the speaker could talk about why he / she thinks banning pet rabbits is wrong.
Working in teams. Imitating segments in their favourite TV shows and altering some of the lines to model positive communication skills can be lots of fun and a valuable learning experience. Compare the two forms of communicating. • Someone close to me has died or moved away. For example: • What did they do well? • What could they have said or done to communicate better? This activity can be adapted or extended so that the students hold an email conversation. . It may help to give them some topics such as: • My boyfriend doesn’t want to go out with me anymore. Adolescent’s brains show more activity in the emotional part of the brain. Setting up learning opportunities to develop communication skills in which they can explore and express these emotions makes good sense. • I have to move to the city to go to boarding school. Set up a role-play in which two students are talking to one another about an emotional issue. • My parents are getting a divorce. FINALLY It’s a proven fact that most adolescent brains aren’t ready to wake up before 8 or 9 in the morning. Home and Away. They easily recall stuff that is important to their own lives. Such as: • Is it easier to express yourself in person or in writing? Why? • Which method is best? Why? • What happens if one person finds written communication easier than speaking in person? Tape record a series of conversations in their favourite television shows – Neighbours. ask the students to analyse these conversations and identify whether the speakers are: Ø using communication humps Ø modelling good listening skills. So avoid engaging them in too many meaningful conversations over the breakfast table or before 9 am.Expressing feelings Some people find it easier than others to express their feelings. Ask two students to observe the role-play and evaluate it. Friends.