Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Four Ways to Improve the Way Students Listen

As the mother of three teens, I see the death of the listening culture everytime my kids get in a car with me. It is not that they're not listening. It's just that they are only listening to their own ipod!!! HELLO!!!

And not that I am not a music lover. I enjoy listening to my own ipod, that I have named, EdVenture Girl... but the chance to be together as family presents great opportunity to listen to each other, and that's not happening much in our media-soaked world!
So when I think of my kids in a classroom, not a can their teachers hope to get them to listen when I can't?

Maybe my educator side will win. At any rate, here's some thinking on getting kids to listen in the classroom..

1.Use Music

Now that may seem contradictory to what I just wrote...but really, it's not. In a classroom, music played for the entire community, can help kids get ready to learn. Playing music while learners write or while they problem solve in small groups really helps connect students' thinking. There is much research about the metacognitive benefit of music in the classroom, not too much on the ipod research for learning as yet! All I know is choosing the right music, by sound, lyric or theme takes the kids to a high interest level.

2. Paraphrase
Punctuate your lessons with short connective moments in pairs where kids paraphrase to each other what they have heard. Doing this in a team ,orally or with writing, can spark entry into discussion as one team presents its paraphrase to the group and then asks for another team to share theirs.

3. Sketching
When I read aloud or am presenting a concept in a lecture, I have taught kids to do sketches of what they hear and understand. It is a variety of Mind Mapping that helps students to access their thinking in the moment. They save the thinking...then return to it for further study. And ,yes,..Keep this in a notebook!

4.Eye Contact
Just valuing eye contact and stating this regularly helps students to attend. Every lesson I teach features several messages to that regard. Eye contact is central to processing information for some learners. Kids like it and they work hard to give you their eyes to signal listening!

These are but a few quick ways to counteract the slide into pasivity in a classroom...use a few and you will see the listening factor'll be music to your ears!!!

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