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Active Listening Group Activities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Active listening is an important skill to function in a variety of life and educational situations. This lesson offers a series of activities for teachers to use with students to help groups develop their active listening skills.

Being an Active Listener

As teachers, we understand how important listening is. Yet it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking of listening as a passive skill, something we do without too much effort. The truth is that students who listen successfully know how to engage in active listening, or engaging in listening with their whole minds and sometimes even their bodies. Active listeners usually have the following attributes.

  • They think constantly about what they are hearing.
  • They use body language and eye contact to enhance their listening.
  • They ask clarifying questions when something does not make sense.
  • They synthesize what they hear with information they know from different sources.

One way to help students become better listeners is to engage them in activities that teach active listening.

Active Listening Group Activities

The following five active listening activities can be modified to meet the needs, ages and abilities of a variety of students.

Listen to a Story

One way to get a group of students engaged in listening actively is by building on your read aloud. Choose a picture book, short story or poem that you think your students will love, but that they are unlikely to be familiar with. Read it out loud to them, but every once in a while, change something about what you are reading so that it doesn't make sense. Feel free to get absurd with your mistakes! Students who are listening actively will notice what you are doing and start to call you out on it, and other students will soon grow more engaged. Use the activity as a lead-in to a discussion about what makes for active listening.

What Does It Look Like

Some students, especially those who are visual or kinesthetic learners, will become more active listeners if they understand what active listening looks like. Over the course of a week, try to 'catch' students doing active listening, and take as many photos as you can. At the end of the week, share these photos with your class and ask students to come up with a list of body and facial attributes they might associate with active listening. Then, have the class create a labeled diagram of a person who is listening actively. Hang this prominently in your classroom to reference as needed.

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