Listening Skills During Presentations
by Frank Holes,
Middle School Teacher
Presentations are becoming
ever more common as teachers change to student-centered classes.
These may be students or possibly guest speakers addressing the
class. Regardless of who is speaking, the remainder of the
students are comprising an audience that must be informed of its
expectations during a presentation.
We've developed a short, simple set of
rules we call 'Expected Behaviors of a Good Listener'. All of our
classrooms (each subject area) have posted these rules, and review them
and utilize them whenever a presentation is given. They are easy to
teach, remember, and monitor.
Look At The
Speaker. This is a no-brainer. The audience is there to watch
and listen to the speaker, and attention is mandatory.
Keep Your Hands
Still. Free hands are unable to tap pencils, rustle paper, or
drop spare change on a tile floor (one of my all-time greatest
Never Talk When The
Speaker Is Talking. This one again seems obvious. The audience
is there to listen to the speaker, not to listen to another
member of the audience.
Never Distract The
Speaker. This is supported by the previous rules, but will also
cover other situations. The audience should not make faces or
body gestures that detract from the speaker's ability to
Comments, And Laughter To Appropriate Times And Levels. Students
will often have questions and comments about the presentations,
and these are best posed at the end of the presentation. There
will also be instances where funny things will happen or humor
is used by the speaker. It is ok for the kids to laugh at these
times (it's ok for the teacher to laugh too). We've had
instances where puppet show stages and scenery props have fallen
over. We've had tongue-twisters gone awry. We've even had
hilarious costumes and actions by characters. These and many
others will happen as you present more often. That's ok, because
these funny moments will help students remember the information
better. Just remind students that laughter needs to be kept to
an appropriate level, and not to carry on with it. Questions and
comments can also be carried on too far. Don't let this time
become an attack on the speaker (unless you're in a debate
Ok, so what do we do about a student
who chooses to not follow the expectations? We never give warnings,
first of all. Once we've covered the rules, we expect immediate
compliance. Many students have difficulty getting up in front of class
without someone 'stealing their show' or causing them embarrassment.
Basically we take points away from
that interrupter's presentation grade. The amount of the deduction is
generally up to the individual teacher and weighted for the assignment.
The first time it happens, we take off approximately 10% of the possible
points. The second time is decreased up to 25% (we have little tolerance
for disrupting a speaker). If it happens again, the student loses all
credit and is removed from class for the remainder of the presentations.
Presentations are important for
students, both as speaker and listener. Check out our website for a free
printable copy of these rules that you can put on an overhead sheet or
hand out to your students.
Using these simple rules (or adapting
them to your class), you can teach your students to be respectful and
pay close attention during
A prosperous spring to you all from
the staff at StarTeaching.
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Get It Out Of Your Head And Into a Mind Map
By Gina J Hiatt, Ph.D.
|Do you ever feel like you have some great ideas, but when you sit down to write them, they’re not so great? Or even worse, you can’t really get a sense of what the ideas were?
In one of my graduate student coaching groups we have been discussing the difficulty of translating partly formed ideas into words on paper. One technique that makes use of a normally underutilized part of our brain is called “Mind Mapping.”
What is a Mind Map?
Tony Buzan, who created the word “Mind Map” and has written extensively on it, describes it as a powerful graphic technique that makes use of the way our brains naturally work. He says it has four characteristics.
|| The main subject is crystallized in a central image
|| The main themes radiate from the central image as branches
|| Branches comprise a key image or key word printed on an associated
|| The branches form a connected nodal structure
How Do You Mind Map?
Mind mapping is best done in color. If you have some markers or colored pencils, and a sheet of white paper, you’re ready. If you don’t, just use what you have.
Start with the central idea that you are trying to wrap your mind around. It could be the big picture (e.g. your next chapter) or a smaller idea (e.g. the next few paragraphs.) Write it down in one or two words at the center of the paper, and draw a circle around it. If there is a symbol or picture that you can put with the words, sketch that in. The idea is that you are activating the non-verbal side of your brain. The quality of what you draw is not important, since you will be the only one seeing it. The same is true for the ideas you come up with. Don’t edit, just put in what comes to mind.
There are no rules for the way to proceed from here. I tend to break rules, anyway. The way my mind works, I start thinking of related ideas, categories, and ideas, which I write in little circles surrounding the circle in the middle. I then use lines to connect them.
Tony Buzan likes to draw curved lines emanating from the center, and write the related or associated ideas on the lines. The result looks like a tree emanating from a central spot.
My technique looks more like a bunch of lollipops.
As you continue to add associated ideas to your outer circles or branches, you continue to draw the connections. You will notice as you fill them in that there are cross connections that appear. I find it helpful to draw lines between those interconnecting ideas.
How Does a Mind Map Help?
The brain is an associative network, and the right hemisphere (in most people) is responsible for non-verbal, visual, associative and much creative thinking. Normally when writing, we are mostly making use of our left hemisphere, which tends towards the analytical, one-thought-at-a-time approach. Our internal thoughts, however, are not shaped like that. Thus we have a roadblock as we try to get our brilliant thoughts on paper.
By using a Mind Map as a starting point for thinking, you can bypass the blockage and feeling of overwhelm caused by overly analytical thinking. The Mind Map allows you to see more than one thought at a glance, and in doing so helps clarify your thinking. It shows the way ideas are interrelated (or less related than you thought.) It allows more access to creative, non-linear parts of your brain.
How Can Grad Students and Professors Use Mind Maps?
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “How is it that Gina writes so brilliantly and clearly? How does she keep all her creative thoughts straight?” The secret is that I use Mind Maps to write my articles. So it’s not a high IQ but my Mind Mapping skills that got me where I am today.
Here are some helpful ways to make use of Mind Mapping:
|| Use it for brainstorming ideas for your proposal or new research project.
|| Make a Mind Map of your next chapter or the one you’re currently stuck on.
|| When planning your career, make a Mind Map to show the pros and cons of your available options.
|| Use a Mind Map to take notes.
|| Mind Mapping can help keep you awake and interested in your subject.
|| Prepare for an upcoming meeting with a Mind Map and use it to explain your ideas.
|| Use it in teaching, both to prepare classes and for handouts.
Play around with Mind Mapping. You’ll find it’s a refreshing break from the
one-foot-in-front-of-the-other way that we approach many things in life.
Gina J Hiatt, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, tenure and dissertation coach who helps faculty and graduate students realize their dreams. Check out her site at
and get the free and unique “Academic Writer’s Block Wizard.”
PedagoNet is a website of resources mainly for
elementary teachers and students, but it also includes many features
for teachers of all levels.
Among many other features, the website includes a terrific
selection of physical education games and activities. Each activity
includes a list of all materials needed, the rules to the game, and how to
Pedagonet also includes customizable mazes and word
puzzles. There are also many brain teasers, riddles, and brain
boosters. Each has its answer on a separate link. These make
great sponge activities for your students, and can be fun to use in class.
One aspect of the site is the customizable math
worksheets. You can use and print out the pre-made sheets, or
make your own . For students, there is a section on study guides for
various tests, including state-required tests. And for teachers,
there is a flashcard section which asks questions on various
teacher-education tests and the GRE.
Yet another neat feature of this site is the link to the
Musiclopedia, a research resource for all things musical. Included
are a searchable list of instruments, orchestras, musicians, composers,
recording artists and bands. There is also virtual sheet music and
many other great resources.
Check this site out, you'll be glad you did. Simply click the
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"When You Thought I
LITTLE EYES SEE A LOT. Each of us, parent or friend, influence the life of a child. How will you touch the life of someone
today? This is a message every adult should
read, because children are watching you and doing as you do, not as you say.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.
When you thought I wasn't looking I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, "Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking."
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|A new 'freebie'
available on the website is the Expected
Behaviors of a Good Listener printable rules
sheet. Check out our website or simply click the quick link below:
Expected Behaviors of a Good Listener
5 Important Rules
Whether your students are focusing in class
discussions, listening for directions, or following a
presentation, listening skills are very important for them to
practice and master. Listening has become a lost art, and
we as teachers must continually emphasize these vital skills.
You can find the 5 Expected Behaviors
(illustrated in the article above) in a printable form on our
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Listening Skills During Presentations
It Out Of Your Head And Into A Mind Map
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