Monday, January 2, 2012
This is what I do when "drastic" measures are required.
I'm sure you've all participated in or at least heard of this activity before, but just in case you haven't, here is a description:
Put the students in pairs and give each a number 1 or 2. (Or any other labels you want to use.) I try to sneakily put the students who need the lesson most in the same group*. Tell one group to think of a story they will tell their partner and while they are thinking, tell the other group what their job is going to be. Their job is to be the worst listeners they can be. Tell them to do things that are problems in your classroom when people should be listening. I told them to play with supplies, avoid eye contact, get out of their seats, interrupt, and anything else I could think of. Send the group back to their partners and allow about 2 minutes for the storytelling to take place. You may need even less than 2 minutes. The first time I did this with a class, I had to stop early because students were getting so upset that they weren't being listened to that they started yelling at their partner. Not quite what I had in mind.
After students are sufficiently frustrated, stop them and ask how the storytelling went. Talk about the things that were happening and how it made them feel. I make sure to tell the students that the activity is not a punishment, I just realized that maybe they didn't know what it is like to try to convey information and not have a good listener. Call it forced empathy. Then I have a short, but candid conversation, where I tell them how it makes me feel when I work really hard to plan lessons that I think are important and will be fun for them and have students being disrespectful and not listening. I may play up the hurt feelings just a bit with my younger classes.
What have you done to address listening issues in your classroom?