Purpose: Students identify characteristics of active listening by observing role plays and discussing their observations.
1. Students observe a demonstration of poor listening habits.
Note: Before beginning this activity, select a student volunteer. In order to prevent hurt feelings, explain the activity to them privately before you begin.
Ask the student to tell you about a favorite movie, plans for the weekend, or a special sport or hobby. Once the student begins speaking, act as though you are not paying attention by looking for your grade book, doodling, slouching, snoring, asking unrelated questions, or repeating what the student says imprecisely.
2. Students identify poor listening habits.
Stop and ask students if they think that you were a good listener. Have them critique your listening. List the poor behaviors they observed where everyone can see.
Suggest that another poor listening habit is thinking about a response instead of listening to the speaker.
3. Students identify good listening techniques.
Have students suggest ways in which you could have been a better listener. Refer students to the list of poor listening habits to stimulate their thinking. (Student responses should include the following: making eye contact, attentive posture, nodding or performing other gestures that acknowledge understanding, asking questions, and repeating ideas in your own words.)
Write student suggestions next to the list of poor listening habits to make a list of dos and don’ts for listening.
4. Students observe a demonstration of good listening techniques.
Repeat the conversation with the volunteer, this time using good listening skills. If time allows, let other students take over your role.
5. Students discuss listening skills.
Explain that people know when someone is not listening. It is frustrating to a speaker when others are not being good, active listeners.
Explain to students that as listeners, they can use the techniques just discussed to show the speaker that they are listening actively. These techniques can be summarized as focus on the speaker, confirm what they are saying, and respond with your own thoughts.
Refer to each suggestion on the listening dos list and ask students to classify them as techniques for focusing, confirming, or responding. Write the appropriate word next to each suggestion on the list.