Aimee has a Master's degree in Special Education from Arizona State University and currently teaches at the Secondary level.
After this lesson, students will be able to:
- Ask and answer conversational questions.
- Maintain appropriate eye contact with others while speaking.
- Establish similar interests.
This lesson should take between 30-60 minutes, depending on the needs and number of students. The optional extension activities can add an additional 30-45 minutes.
Common Core Curriculum Standards
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6-8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
- Conversation starter cards
- Prepare at least one card for each student in the class, plus a few extras for variation. Each card should contain a visual aid and a starter question. For example, a card may have a picture of animals and contain the question 'What kind of animals do you think make the best pet?'
- Brown bag
- Blank index cards
- Crayons, colored pencils, markers
Discussion and Model
- Ask this question: What are important parts of a conversation?
- Generate a list on the board using the ideas that students provide. If students struggle to come up with examples, skip to the model and revisit this question.
- With a paraprofessional or classroom aide, model an appropriate dialogue. Be sure to use eye contact, stay on topic, and use a topic that highlights a mutual interest and matches your students age and ability level.
- Ask students to provide feedback after watching the model. Add their comments to the list you started previously.
- If students don't mention it, be certain to add eye-contact, appropriate topic, and shared interests to the list of conversation qualities. Discuss what these qualities look like and provide additional examples as needed.
- Instruct students that good eye-contact is not constant as that can be overwhelming, but should be made frequently throughout conversation. Provide a direct example with each student, if needed.
- Explain to students what makes a topic appropriate based on how well you know the person you are talking to and/or their interest in the topic.
- Allow students to provide feedback about times when they have been bored during a conversation or topics that they do not like to talk about.
- Seat the class in a circle.
- Show students the conversation starter cards, and give an example dialogue using one of the cards.
- Have a student pull out a conversation starter card from the brown bag and ask his/her neighbor. Encourage the students to carry on a 2-3 response exchange.
- When the conversation is over, have the next student pick a new card and engage in dialogue with their neighbor.
- This process continues until all students have engaged in discussion with a peer.
- Next, debrief with students about how it felt to converse with peers. Give positive feedback to students who demonstrated appropriate social skills.
- Provide students with a blank index card. Instruct students to make their own conversation starter card that includes a visual and a starter question. Compile the student created cards and use them the next time your practice this activity.
- Have students gather in the center of the room.
- On opposite sides of the classroom, label the wall 'yes' and 'no.'
- Instruct students that you will be asking a question, and they are to move the side of the room that matches their answer.
- Proceed to ask questions such as 'Do you like basketball?' and 'Do you enjoy swimming?'
- Give students 1-2 minutes when they move to discuss this mutual interest (or disinterest) with a peer using the previous conversation starter activity as a framework for asking questions.
- Teacher and paraprofessional rotate and monitor conversation as needed.
- Allow students to plan and perform a small skit or dialogue for the class.
- Create comic book strips for students to fill in with conversation bubbles.
- Use social stories to highlight both appropriate and inappropriate examples of social skills.
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