Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Teaching Purposeful Listening

Amy Williams regularly uses pair-share activities to encourage listening in her classroom. I’ve always found that to be a more effective way of increasing student engagement; it was hard for me to keep everyone involved in a large group discussion. By asking students to pair up and share their responses, you can increase participation and craft a strong listening opportunity at the same time. I use a variation of pair-share. After students talk with their partner, I lead a whole group discussion during which students can share answers. But rather than sharing their own answers, I ask them to share what their partner said. That sounds quite simple, but it raises the level of expectation for listening. As one teacher told me in a recent workshop, “If I had known you wanted me to share the other person’s answer, I would have listened better!” That was exactly my point with my students. I wanted them to focus on truly listening. Asking them to share their partner’s answer rather than their own encourages them to do so.

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