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CCSS Speaking and Listening

Page history last edited by Bill 5 years, 9 months ago

Quick and Easy CCSS Speaking and Listening Strategies


In a world where acrimonious debate has nearly replaced reasoned dialogue between individuals with conflicting viewpoints, the Speaking and Listening standards defined by the Common Core are some of the most important standards for history and science teachers -- subjects often driven by controversy -- to integrate into their practice.  Recognizing that literacy depends on the willingness and ability of individuals to engage in an intellectual give-and-take with others, the Common Core expects that students will be able to build new understandings together through respectful academic discussions where positions are supported by evidence and argued persuasively.  


In this portion of the workshop, we will (1). discuss what "effective participation in respectful academic discussions" looks like in action, (2). develop a shared rubric that can be used to score student participation in academic conversations and (3). examine two tools that can be used to support student development of effective conversation behaviors.




Collaborative Versus Competitive Dialogue


One skill that students must learn to be more efficient and effective learners in today's world is the difference between collaborative and competitive dialogue.  While competitive dialogue -- debates, advertisements, arguments -- have a place in our world, collaborative dialogue is far more productive for learning.  People engaged in collaborative dialogue see one another as learning partners -- members of the same team who can build new understandings together even when they disagree.  


In this activity, we'll look at the differences between collaborative and competitive dialogue by studying an interaction between presidential candidates in a 2011 debate.  We will also look at clips from popular shows like The View, Hell's Kitchen, Bar Rescue and ESPN's Around the Horn


Click here to download the handout for this activity





Defining Effective Participation

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF


The Common Core State Standards place an increased emphasis on the role that participation in academic discussions conducted in one-on-one, small group and whole class settings should play in the development of learners.  The expectation is that students will build new understandings with one another as they collaborate to answer questions and solve problems in formal and informal discussions.  In this activity, participants will work together to brainstorm the kinds of skills that students need to master in order to make academic discussions meaningful and then develop a shared rubric that can be used to evaluate student participation in academic discussions.





Rating Activities that Encourage Effective Participation in Academic Discussions


Session presenter Bill Ferriter uses the following lessons to teach his students about the characteristics of respectful discourse.  How effective do you think they would be at encouraging the kinds of behaviors that you decided were important in the Defining Effective Participation activity above?


Teaching Students to Engage in Thoughtful Conversations

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF



In Teaching Students to Think Like Scientists, Maria Grant, Douglas Fisher and Diane Lapp argue that to become productive contributors to meaningful conversations on controversial topics, students must learn to participate in nonjudgmental conversations designed to examine the arguments and evidence on both sides of the issue.  Teachers can best support these conversations by providing a structured discussion protocol that encourages partners to systematically reflect on the entirety of the topic that they are studying.  Grant, Fisher and Lapp's arguments are reflected clearly in the Common Core State Standards, which require students to come to conversations prepared to refer to evidence and ready to build on one another's ideas.


Session presenter Bill Ferriter used a discussion protocol and graphic organizer suggested by Grant, Fisher and Lapp in the lesson linked above-- which served as a culminating activity for a classroom study on the values of space exploration.  


Questions to Consider:  


  • Do classroom conversations on controversial topics play a regular role in your classroom practice?  How productive are those conversations?  Why? 
  • Do you think students are motivated by conversations on controversial topics?  Are they prepared to participate effectively in conversations on controversial topics?
  • What impact does being surrounded by acrimonious debate have on the ability of students to grow up to be effective participants in reasoned dialogue?  Does the disconnect between what we want students to be and what students see modeled by the adults in their lives concern you at all?  
  • Rate Bill's lesson on a scale of 1-5.  How doable do you think it is?  Is it something that you would consider using "as-is" in your classroom, or would this lesson need modifications?  How would you change the handout to make it more approachable for your students?  



More on Teaching Students to Engage in Thoughtful Conversations

Handouts - Word Doc

Handouts - PDF


Perhaps the most important thing to remember about teaching students to engage in thoughtful conversations about controversial issues is that thoughtful conversations depend on participants with experience building knowledge together.  Students have to recognize that the best positions are supported by evidence.  They also have to ask challenging questions, find sources for agreement and disagreement, and be ready to build on the thinking of others.  All of those skills are emphasized in the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards-- and all of those skills are emphasized in the conversation guide created by session presenter Bill Ferriter linked above.


Questions to Consider:  


  • One of the criticisms that session presenter Bill Ferriter gets about this handout is that it is too long.  "Students would never work through all of these questions!" participants argue.  Does that criticism resonate with you?  Is this handout too long for use with your students?  If so, how would you modify it?  What questions would you keep?  What questions would you leave out?
  • In Teaching Students to Think Like Scientists, Grant, Fisher and Lapp argue that "to support students in communicating or arguing like scientists, teachers must eliminate turn-taking talk."  Do you think this handout could help students conduct their own free-flowing conversations without having to raise their hands?  Why? 


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