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Listening Literacy

Creating Environments Conducive to

Effective Listening

Kassidy MacPherson
It is too often the case that we are too wrapped up in our
own opinions to respectfully and critically listen to others

HOW OFTEN do you find yourself…

• rehearsing your response to something someone said before

they’ve finished speaking

• missing what someone has said because you tuned them out?

• reading nasty comment battles in a Moms Facebook group

As a whole, we are not good
• Unfortunately, respectful, critical, and active listening is not a quickly or

easily taught skill

• It is my argument that by creating an environment that reinforces

effective listening we enable students to grow in their listening skills

Educators spend a majority of their time speaking &
teaching students to speak

And very little time teaching listening skills

Despite the fact that the average person spends

more time listening than speaking in their lives
Fun Fact

• In the 1970’s Alverno College (Wisconsin) added listening as

an integral part of their communication coursework/

• Students attend mandatory “listening labs” throughout the

course of their studies
Habits for the Classroom
While these strategies are more abstract than concrete, they can aid
tremendously in fostering listening literacy

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Lead By Example: demonstrate Demonstrate Active Listening by
respectful “listen before responding” asking questions when talking with
strategies students

Make class discussions Avoiding “Hot Words” (Gordon, 2003)

commonplace. Get students - which are words that typically cause
comfortable speaking concisely and harsh reflexive reactions
listening effectively.

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Scribe Exercise

• practice understanding differing perspectives

• choose a hot/controversial topic to discuss in class (relevant and appropriate to

course content)

• have the class split in a debate style

• have them critically reflect and come up with points to defend their opinions

• instead of having them debate, pair them up and have them scribe/explain their
partner’s opinion

• at least 10 points that explain why your partner’s opinion is valid

Relevance to Social Studies

These strategies are applicable to all classrooms, and are

just good habits in general

But social studies classes often involve hot topics, current

event discussions, political opinions, and controversial
historical topics

Group discussions, class presentations, and debates are

very common in social classes
Brookfield, S. (2006). Discussion as a Way of Teaching.

Imhof, M. (2010). What is Going on in the Mind of a Listener? The Cognitive Psychology
of Listening. Listening and Human Communication in the 21st Century.

Janusik, L. A. (2010). Listening Pedagogy: Where do we go from here? Listening and

Human Communication in the 21st Century.

Gordon, T (2003) Teacher effectiveness training.

Thompson, K., Leintz, P., Nevers, B., & Witkowski, S. (2010). The Integrative Listening
Model: An Approach to Teaching and Learning Listening. Listening and Human
Communication in the 21st Century

Wolvin, D. A. (Ed.). (2010). Listening and Human Communication in the 21st Century. West
Sussex: Blackwell Publishing.