Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
Helping Teens Communicate
Teenagers sometimes get a bad reputation. They can be thought of as surly and moody, or only interested in what's popular. So many of these stereotypes, however, are based on false assumptions. One thing that can make a big difference in how teenagers present themselves and feel about themselves is helping them develop strong communication skills.
Learning to communicate means learning to say what's going on for you in any given situation, and it also means doing a good job listening to what's going on for other people. The activities in this lesson are designed to appeal to teenagers with different strengths and learning styles, all while giving them practice with strong communication skills.
Of course, much of communication is verbal in nature, having to do with talking, listening, and sometimes reading and writing. This section offers activities that give teens practice with different facets of verbal communication.
This activity gives students practice communicating as efficiently and effectively as possible. Compile a list of topics teens might be interested in or have strong feelings about, like family, friendship, music, or politics. Choose one student to begin. He or she has exactly one minute to say as much as he or she can about the topic you name. Then, others in the class should try to echo back what they heard him or her say. Talk about what was fun and challenging about this round before giving another student a turn.
I Feel Messages
Communication can be particularly challenging in times of conflict, uncertainty, or when difficult emotions prevail. Teach your students to use ''I feel'' messages. Students should practice saying, ''I feel... when... because... .'' This gives them practice speaking from their own points of view and articulating their feelings. After teaching the basic framework, break students into small groups and assign scenarios to think about, or ask them to talk through times when using ''I feel'' messages might come in handy. For instance, if students are talking about the scene in the lunchroom at school, they might practice saying, ''I feel frustrated when I can't find a seat because I worry that everyone is staring at me.''
Visual & Kinesthetic Activities
Some teens will be better communicators if they're given the opportunity to practice using diverse modalities. The activities in this section teach communication skills by appealing to visual and tactile ways of learning.
This is a fun activity for students who are practicing communicating more about themselves and their identities. Each student should practice writing a letter to an imaginary person who has never met them before, but who's about to meet them at the airport. The trick is, students should introduce themselves with as few physical descriptors as possible. They'll have to get creative! For instance, a student who's into baseball might point out that she or he is likely to be holding a mitt, and a student who loves animals might mention that he or she will bring a puppy along. Give students a chance to share their letters with classmates.
Paint Your Feelings
Many students will communicate their feelings most effectively when permitted to use an artistic medium. Turn on some music and give each student paints, a brush, and paper to work with. Ask them to paint quietly; they should paint anything that they feel effectively communicates the emotions evoked by the music. At the end of the period, give students a chance to look at one another's work and discuss what it felt like to communicate in this artistic way. Help them think through opportunities they have to use what they learned in their daily lives.
Body Language Journals
Explain to your group that part of good communication is noticing your own and other's body language, rather than simply verbal language. Ask students to spend a week or so being observers of the ways they move their bodies or see others do so to communicate particular messages, making note of their observations in journals. At the end of the week, have students share what they noticed and demonstrate particular body language observations that stood out to them.
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