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Back to School: listening required.

We’re back to school with new teachers, new classmates, crispy mornings, and much to learn, with lots of listening required. Sometimes it’s not so easy to focus on class work and listening when the sun is shining and the last perfect days of summer-into-fall are calling. That’s why I have another little freebie for parents, teachers, and students. It’s just a half dozen short tips on staying focused with good listening.  Download, share, and use it where appropriate:

freebiew for wbl sept 2017

I recently wrote a chapter in a resource book authored by my colleague Peggy Morehouse, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathogist in Albany City Schools, in Albany NY.  Thanks to Peggy, I’m sharing part of my chapter with you in this post:

Excerpted from:

Reaching High With Language

A Collaborative Language Curriculum Pre-K – Grade

Peggy Morehouse, CCC-SLP

 

Whole Body Listening

Susanne Truesdale Poulette, CCC-SLP;  author of Whole Body Listening (1990).

Since we listen to learn, it is essential that we learn to listen. As babies, we begin learning language by actively listening; by attending to what we hear and acting on it. Perhaps we search for the source of a sound, and in time we may give it some sort of meaning or purpose. Through this process and with adequate hearing acuity, we learn and begin to use language. Clearly, listening to learn is not the passive activity of simply hearing sounds, as we might while enjoying a symphony concert. Listening to learn requires active effort to process, reflect upon, assign meaning, relate to prior learning, and store incoming information. As Jalongo (1995) describes listening and its connection to learning, “listening…is hearing and then making and shaping what you heard – along with your own ideas – into usable pieces of knowledge.”

Therefore, in teaching listening skills, it is important to understand that the listening process is much more than the automatic receiving of verbal information. Teaching active listening strategies requires more than simply following directions or repeating facts. There are numerous commercial resources available for practicing listening skills, for example, worksheets to complete following verbal cues, or sequenced multiple-step oral instruction tasks to carry out.  What appears to be missing from these activities is basic instruction in the active behaviors necessary for the fundamentals of effective listening.

Whole Body Listening (WBL) suggests that we provide students with direct instruction in listening strategies before carrying out practice activities. WBL is a tool for teaching listening skills by helping young children to discover for themselves how they can best listen using “doing” behaviors.  WBL was developed through a discovery activity using task analysis of listening behavior necessary for first-grade students. These strategies involve listening with specific parts of the body, in contrast to passively “hearing” auditory information with the ears alone. The strategies focus on behaviors for increasing awareness of self-regulation and attending, emphasizing “thinking about what is being heard,” that is, making an effort to understand, formulate questions, identify main ideas, form opinions, and personally respond to the message. These WBL strategies can be used to help students take responsibility for their listening behaviors by becoming aware of and reflecting on their own listening behaviors. Strategies are used to encourage students to take charge by self-questioning: “What do I need to listen for? Did I think about what the speaker was saying, or about what was happening outside the window? How well did I do? Do I understand it? Do I need to ask a question?”

 Another critical aspect of teaching any listening skills or strategies to children is to follow the adage, “Show, don’t tell.”  We know that children learn by watching, listening, and imitating. In fact, we may know all too well how fast a child can learn an unwelcome word or behavior. The same holds true for listening.

When adults are good listeners, we demonstrate how we want our children to listen. Without interrupting or rushing and by maintaining attention, we listen well and model the same courtesy to children as we do to adults. In the school setting, “…students’ attentive, involved listening depends considerably upon teacher behavior: modeling good listening habits, having developmentally appropriate expectations, managing the classroom well and communicating effectively.” (Jalongo, 1995.)

It cannot be overstated: as the adults in children’s lives, we need to teach and model good listening before we can expect the same of children.

 Components of  Whole Body Listening  

WBL is described with corresponding parts of the body: listening with the brain, eyes, mouth, hands, feet and seat.

 BRAIN:  Listening with the brain means thinking about what we are hearing, as we try to select and isolate a given message from competing sounds. This is the most critical element of WBL because when we think about what a speaker is saying, we are actively attending by connecting our mind with that speaker’s mind.

In listening with the brain, we are asking children to think about, and keep thinking about what a speaker is saying. While this focuses a listener’s attention, it can help develop an internal schema while thinking about what is being said and forming mental images. In this way, thinking about what is being said can encourage visualization and perhaps facilitate comprehension and retention.

“Thinking about what is being said,” is not as abstract as it may sound.  If we hear the words, “pink elephant,” some image of that will probably come to mind. Cues such as, “Try to get a picture in your mind about what you are hearing,” may help to focus listeners on attending and listening mindfully, while inhibiting distracting thoughts. Another cue to encourage a listener to think about and internalize what is being heard, is, for example: “As you listen, think about how you feel about what you hear–the characters and their events.

Another application of listening with the brain relates to how listeners’ expectations and prior knowledge affect comprehension. Wallach (2011) explains that language and background knowledge create expectancies of what we think is coming and what we think we hear. As these expectancies influence what is attended to, perceived, and remembered, we can apply listening with the brain strategies to alert children prior to a listening task. Having some familiarity with the vocabulary, structure, and the purpose of the message provides positive listening practice and opportunity for skill development. Pre-tutoring of vocabulary and concepts, and providing the main ideas before a task can be followed by a cue such as, “As you listen with your brain, think about____ and what it means to you.” 

EYES:   Listening with the eyes refers to looking at or toward the speaker, or to visual props used in a presentation. This does not suggest that children be expected to make or maintain steady eye contact with a speaker. Some children are naturally or culturally uncomfortable with reciprocal eye gaze, and for others, it may be contraindicated due to their individual needs. Rather than fixed eye contact, listening with the eyes suggests taking in as much visual information as possible in a listening situation, by attending to facial expressions, body language, situational cues, illustrations, photographs, charts, maps, videos, and other visual aids. While listeners are watching for visual signals, they may be more engaged and less likely to be distracted from the listening task.

MOUTH:   Listening with the mouth suggests remaining quiet and not talking while listening to a speaker. Perhaps it is fair to say that we cannot listen effectively and speak at the same time. Focusing on maintaining a quiet, listening mindset can contribute to self-awareness and behavior management necessary for listening actively, thinking about, and acting on incoming verbal information.

We can also use the idea of listening with the mouth to identify and reduce distracting or noisy behaviors such as snapping gum or chewing on items like pens, pencils, neck chains, or collars. This can be another step in helping a child to reflect upon and self-manage good listening behaviors.  

 HANDS:   Listening with the hands suggests that hands are still and quiet, unless required to write or follow directions. Some individuals say they can listen more effectively when doodling, tapping or fidgeting with their hands. However, for others, busy hands can be distracting or noisy, and interfere with hearing and attending to

listening. As with listening with the mouth, this strategy can help in self-reflection and self-management of listening behaviors.

 FEET and SEAT:   Listening with the feet and seat suggests postures that can facilitate active listening. Whether seated in chairs, or crisscrossed on the floor, this strategy focuses on reducing disruptive movements and noises associated with foot tapping or kicking. It also suggests that sitting up “tall” encourages alertness and readiness to listen. Children are encouraged to signal the speaker in this way to show that they are working on listening. These suggestions refer to typical instructional times, not informal, relaxed listening activities, such as when a teacher or parent may read to young children as they rest while reclining.

CAVEAT:   WBL is a tool, not a rule, for active listening. The critical word is “tool.”  WBL should be flexible and modified as needed for students who have special needs, difficulty with self-regulation, or discomfort with eye contact. It should always be used with sensitivity for a child’s developmental readiness and attention span level, and with particular flexibility in areas of the eyes, posture, and expectations of time on task.

WBL lessons are therefore, suggestions for teaching and practicing listening strategies. WBL is a tool that can also be used as a key phrase to pre-set, or as a reminder for good listening, but not for lengthy performance expectations.

References

Jalongo, Mary Renick, (1995) Promoting active listening in the classroom, Childhood Education, Volume: 72, Issue: 1.

Truesdale, Susanne P. (Poulette) (1990). Whole-Body Listening: Developing Active Auditory Skills.  Language, Speech, And Hearing Services In Schools, Vol. 21, No. 3, 183-184.

Wallach, Geraldine P., (2011) Peeling the Onion of Auditory Processing Disorder: A Language/ Curricular-Based Perspective, Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools Vol. 42, 273–285.

HAVE A HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE SCHOOL YEAR!

easel 053

 

 

 

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Springing Into Listening Activities

Spring is in the air, school breaks are coming up soon, and attention wanders from class work to thoughts of getting outside and having fun. To help keep those listening skills sharp, I have varied offerings for teachers today: three for elementary students, and one freebie for upper grades to high school.  Parents are encouraged to modify and use any of these activities at home. 

For elementary students, here are listening activities that incorporate academics. In order of estimated difficulty:

 

WHO’S MY PARTNER?          apples png

This listening activity focuses on counting and numeral recognition.

  • Split the students into two teams (for to 20 players).
  • Give one team secret papers that have from one to ten dots.
  • Give the other team secret papers that have the numerals from one to ten.
  • One at a time, have the students with the dots each knock that number of times on a table and ask, “Who is my partner?”
  • The student with the matching numeral responds, “I am number____.”

 

 

SPARKLE!    spelling

This focuses on critical listening and serves as practice for the week’s (or previous weeks’) spelling words.  

  • The teacher arranges students in a line. (This can be done with students standing beside their desks, if they are in rows; or standing in a circle.) Then the teacher calls out the first spelling word.
  • The first student in line calls out the first letter in that word.
  • The second person calls out the second letter.
  • The third person calls out the third letter and so on.
  • The person who says the last letter in the word must turn to the next person in the sequence and say “SPARKLE.”
  • The person who is “sparkled” must sit down.
  • If a word is misspelled, the person to say the first wrong letter must sit down and the spelling of that word continues.
  • After a student is sparkled, the leader calls out a new word.
  • The game continues until only one student remains standing, then all students stand back up and the teacher calls out the next word.

Adapted from Source: Gary Hopkins, Education World; http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/field_day_games.shtml#sthash.eSt5XI7u.dpuf.   

 

ONE, TWO, THREE, BUZZ!         bee-1296273_960_720

This listening activity focuses on math multiplication facts.         

  • Start in a circle by counting aloud, each student taking a turn, going around the circle to get familiar with the counting movement.
  • The teacher then calls out a change–a number that represent its multiplication table. Numbers of that multiplication table will be replaced with the word BUZZ.
  • For example, replacing numbers in the 5 times table with BUZZ instead of the actual number: 1, 2, 3, 4, BUZZ, 6, 7, 8, 9, BUZZ, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, BUZZ.

Source: The Drama Toolkit. (2015). Drama Games: Listening. http://www.dramatoolkit.co.uk.

 

For UPPER GRADES to HIGH SCHOOL, here’s a listening strategy for teaching listening and attending skills. Click to download the freebie: FOCUS

Happy Springtime!                                                                      © 2017 Susanne Marie Poulette

 

 

 

 

Freebie: Liam’s Listening Poster

Here’s a January gift for you and your students!  Download Liam Labradoodle’s Whole Body Listening diagram poster for your classroom. Feel free to reduce the size and print copies for each students’ desk. These can be good reminders for active listening and paying attention. 

Whether you’re new to this site or a returning reader, please check us out for other free downloadables as well as lots of listening resources for Pre K to Middle Grades. I hope you’ll follow this site! 

Click the image for Liam’s poster:

liam-map-in-pub

Enjoy!

From: Liam Labradoodle Learns Whole Body Listening, Maminet Press, 2015

© SM Poulette 1/2017

Talking with Kids about Listening Filters

by Susanne M. Poulette, MS, CCC-SLP

Let’s talk about listening filters. We all know the signs, and no doubt we’ve been there. We may be in a public place and hear an announcement, and as soon as we identify that the message doesn’t pertain to us, we tune it right out. It could happen during a conversation or when listening to a speaker. We may drift off, not because we’re  tired or distracted, but because we’ve actively decided to block the message, for any number of reasons. We might be opposed to the speaker or the topic, we may think it doesn’t apply, or maybe we just don’t want to hear what we know is coming. 

What about our students? When we get exasperated with continually asking for attention, and redirecting them to listening…it might be worth exploring why they’re not listening and if they are filtering you out. 

Here’s my simple chart to help you get started in talking with your students about listening filters; what they are, and how to recognize and resolve them. I hope this is a good jumping off point for discussion and lots of problem solving with your students.

 Go ahead- click, download and print, it’s a freebie!

listening-filters-sm-poulette

© S M Poulette 2017

Classroom listening before the holidays- herding cats?

December 17, 2016

By Susanne Marie Poulette, CCC-SLP

It’s the last week before the holidays, and I’ve been hearing from teachers. This is one of the toughest times to keep students listening and focused on learning. I don’t have a magic incantation, but I have some ideas to try.

clipart-light-bulb-lit-clipartbold    The first is an explicit instruction on using HEAR, Training the Brain to Listen: A Practical Strategy for Student Learning and Classroom Management, by Donna Wilson, Ph.D. This strategy “offers concrete steps to focus on and improve listening — and emphasizes why and how developing this skill is so important.”

There are four steps that teachers can implement in a lesson. Depending on grade level, I suggest the following: teach one step at a time, and then practice; or combine the first two steps and practice, or all at once depending on students’ ability levels.  When all steps are taught, the acronym HEAR can be used as a preset, a reminder, or to get students back on track.

HALT: Stop whatever else you are doing, end your internal dialogue or other thoughts, and free your mind to pay attention to the person speaking.

ENGAGE: Focus on the speaker. We suggest a physical component, such as turning your head slightly so that your right ear is toward the speaker as a reminder to be engaged solely in listening.

ANTICIPATE: By looking forward to what the speaker has to say, you are acknowledging that you will likely learn something new and interesting, which will enhance your attention.

REPLAY: Think about what the speaker is saying. Analyze and paraphrase it in your mind or in discussion with the speaker and other classmates. Replaying the information will aid in understanding and remembering what you have learned.

 

Reference: Wilson, Donna; Conyers, Marcus. (2014). Training the Brain to Listen: A Practical Strategy for Student Learning and Classroom Management. Edutopiahttp://www.edutopia.org/blog/training-the-brain-to-listen-donna-wilson.

 

clipart-light-bulb-lit-clipartboldVary the voices heard in the classroom and decrease teacher talk.                                   You know, this sort of thing: wah

How?

 Designate students to speak or read. This gives the class another voice to listen to, and might help to increase focus on the message as students listen to their classmates.              

Announce that you will give instructions one time only* and invite questions. The questions allow students to interact with the message. When students know it will be said one time only, they will learn that they need to listen more carefully, and/or problem solve and use repair strategies. *It is not recommended that one-time-only directions be used with hearing impaired or other students with special needs. 

When a repeat of instructions is requested, there are options:ask another student to repeat it for the class, monitor and help to insure accuracy when needed, and reinforce the good listening.

Modify; plan fun, no-risk short practice sessions as needed.

 

clipart-light-bulb-lit-clipartbold How about some LISTENING GAMES for some practice and a little fun?

young boy listening something

 

SHIP AHOY!  A classic game – develop listening skills, spatial awareness, nautical vocabulary

The teacher first explains that we are about to go on a ship and as the crew.  Tell that there are lots of jobs to be done, and explain how to follow the commands.

Students start by forming a line (one behind the other) directly in front of the teacher to enter ship.

The teacher then gives a command and the children have to perform the activity associated with that command and go to various areas of the ‘ship’. Commands include:

Captain is coming – salute and stand still for inspection

Boom crossing – students duck

Scrub the deck – students all scrub the floor

Climb the rigging – all pretend to climb up sail

Port – go left and look out

Starboard – go right and look out

Bow – go to the front and all walk the plank

Stern – go to the back and all pull in the anchor

To remember where you’re going – “port” has four letters as has “left.”

Variations: This game could be adapted to a different setting – plane, car, beach.

 

LISTENING DETECTIVE:   This is a fun way to encourage careful listening for elementary students!

Instead of a detective’s magnifying glass to LOOK for clues, the children make paper “ear trumpets” as props to LISTEN for clues and use in listening activities. Each student makes an ear trumpet for listening activities. 

Directions:

Download, print, and cut out the form shown below, or cut a similar wedge from a large paper plate

Roll the paper into a cone, overlap the edges and tape it closed. See the illustration and link below.

Cut about an inch from the pointed edge of the tip, so no one pokes it too far into their ear.

Voilà, you have an ear trumpet!

If not too distracting, students can be asked to use their ear trumpets when an important direction or instruction is coming.

cone

To download the pattern:   http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Funnel-or-Cone-from-Paper

 

 

Listen Carefully: SOUND BOTTLES

Fill 8 small, matching containers with food or other items such as rice, dried beans, pennies, etc. (make two cans of each). Seal cans and have children try to find the matching sounds.

Listen Carefully: MARBLE DROP   Combining listening, counting, and numeral recognition

Provide ten paper cups, each labeled a numeral from one to ten. Put a corresponding number of marbles into each cup. Also provide a metal pie tin.

Two children play this game. One child turns her back on the second child (or an adult). The second child randomly selects a cup, takes the  marbles out, and slowly drops them into the pie tin one at a time so that they can be easily heard.

The first child listens carefully, counting to him/herself the number of marbles that were dropped. She then identifies which cup the marbles were from by recognizing the numeral.

The marbles then go back into the cup. The children can take turns dropping the marbles and guessing. 

Variation: Have one child slowly drop a given number of marbles into a tin. The class counts each sound and raise their hands to give the correct number.

                                           My best wishes to all…

 

 

LISTENING AND SUGAR HIGHS

Susanne Marie Poulette, M.S., CCC-SLP

It’s been a few days since Halloween, how’s all that candy working for us?  Are the sugar java-pup-in-pubhighs waning?  I hear from parents and teachers that it might be a good time for more strategies to help our kids listen and focus.   

For any age student, it’s helpful to review the reasons WHY listening is PERSONALLY important to each of us. We all want to know, “What am I going to get out of this? Why do I need to listen?”

You might like to try these ideas:

CSMP-2012-multi-art-4-ear Have a chat about why it’s important to listen mindfully – in school, in the community, and with family and friends. Some examples that you might find helpful:

We listen to be SUCCESSFUL IN SCHOOL

To learn, to understand, and to follow directions.

To get instructions so we know what we’re supposed to do.

To listen and understand teachers’ instructions and lessons.

To gain meaning and understanding from new information and stories read aloud.

We listen to be a GOOD FAMILY MEMBER AND FRIEND

To listen and be polite even if we really don’t care or if we’re bored.

To respect others by listening to them the same way we want to be listened to.

To show that we care about the speaker.

To make friends, and learn and remember their names.

To understand and participate in games, sports, and other social activities.

We listen to be aware of the world around us, for OUR SAFETY AND WELL-BEING

To get important news and know what’s going on around us.

To follow directions to avoid dangerous situations or activities, such as: 

school bus safety, playground safety, fire drills, sports safety rules, water safety/lifeguard   rules, warnings about risks or dangers by parents, teachers, coaches, crossing guards, etc.

                                                                      

CSMP-2012-multi-art-4-earWhat are good listening skills? “Discuss among yourselves.”

Brainstorm some examples of good vs. poor listening, and make lists of each. Younger children can draw pictures of good listening scenes.  

Look for pictures in magazines that depict good and poor listening; make collages of each.

For young children: 

poor-vs-good-liam-for-web

Who looks like they are listening and paying attention?

Who looks like they are NOT listening and paying attention?

CSMP-2012-multi-art-4-earEncourage reflection on the effort involved in listening: Is it easy, just okay, or difficult?

What makes it easy or difficult?  When, where?  

What are some solutions to make listening easier for you?

CSMP-2012-multi-art-4-earAsk “Listening is a skill, so how do you get better at a skill?                                          practice

 Example discussion:    

“Skills improve with practice, like catching a ball, tying shoe laces, playing a musical instrument…”

Encourage them to make this connection and understand that we CAN improve our listening skills.

© 2016 S M Poulette