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Ten Steps to Effective Listening

1. Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.

2. Be attentive.
3. Keep an open mind to what you are hearing.
4. Try to picture what the speaker is saying.
5. Don't interrupt or impose your "solutions" on the speaker.
6. Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions.
7. Ask clarifying questions, not challenging questions. Wait until discussion
time to raise your point of view.
8. Try to feel and understand what the speaker is feeling.
9. Demonstrate you are paying attention to what is being said by providing
feedback through nodding your head or saying "Uh huh."
10. Pay attention to what isn't said—to feelings, facial expressions,
gestures, posture and other nonverbal cues.

How Can I Teach Listening?

Listening skills can be taught explicitly, through direct instruction and in

multiple formats. Some skills can be taught explicitly. Below are links to specific
examples to activities where the following skills are taught:

• Relating to similar experiences

• Predicting what will happen next
• Retelling a story in order
• Asking relevant questions (KWL activity referenced below)
• Taking notes
• Analyzing and synthesizing what is read
• Figurative language
• Also, distinguishing fact from opinion

Some informal classroom opportunities to teach listening include:

• Play mime games to demonstrate body language through physical and

facial expressions.
• Before an assembly, discuss the who, what and why of the presentation.
• Discuss what listening “looks like.” How do their bodies look when they
are listening?
• Play games involving listening for following directions (drawing an unseen
object), understanding what is said (you mean?), remembering what is
said (telephone operator game), etc.
• Listen to, write and share a poem a day.
• Sequence the events of the day or week and have students draw a
timeline to post on their desks.


Here are some specific activities, lesson plans and strategies to help teach
listening skills:

• POWER Listening Strategy

• Analyzing text with POWER Listening
Listening While Reading

It is common knowledge that students have individual strengths and

weaknesses. Teachers use this knowledge to provide instruction and content
through a variety of modalities. Despite our very best efforts to differentiate
instruction and provide diverse learning opportunities, students still frequently
need to acquire information from print. For students who struggle with reading,
this is a daunting task that is often met with failure. Often, these students are
often seen as “lazy” or “slow” because they cannot read like their peers who do
not struggle with reading. In fact, these students work harder than their peers at
reading. Decoding does not come automatically but rather is laborious and
protracted. Because these students must decode every word, one at a time,
they often lose the gist of what they are reading. It’s not that they can’t
understand the content; they just have a barrier in their way — the printed
word. With this barrier, learning is blocked. Remove the barrier and learning is

Providing Supported Reading

All educators want their students to learn. Statewide standards and “high-
stakes” tests compel teachers to find a way to make the curriculum accessible
to all students. With so many standards focusing on reading comprehension,
reading and responding in writing and research, finding a way to provide access
to the printed word is imperative. This is where supported reading becomes

Supported reading is reading with the support of recorded materials. Individuals

read along with the novels or textbooks while they listen to the verbatim
recording of the same material. When students are engaged in supported
reading, they no longer have to labor over every word. Instead, they can read at
a comfortable pace that allows them to acquire the information contained in the
text. Because the printed material is recorded, students can not only read the
assigned text, they can re-read it — something struggling readers generally do
not do.

Who benefits from supported reading?

Any individual who struggles to read the printed word can benefit from
supported reading. This includes individuals who:

• Have learning disabilities related to reading

• Are blind or have visual impairments
• Are speech and language delayed
• Have physical disabilities or medical conditions that prevent them from
manipulating text, such as cerebral palsy
• Are auditory learners

Some educators have expressed concerns that supported reading provides an

unfair advantage over individuals who are reading printed text without support.
By providing access to the written word, supported reading makes learning
possible, but not easier. Students still have to go through the same processes to
learn the material as their peers who don’t struggle with print. Essentially,
supported reading levels the playing field for students who cannot read print.
Overall Benefits of Supported Listening

When the barrier to print is removed, individuals who use supported reading
experience many benefits. Quantitative and anecdotal evidence suggests that
supported reading can:

• Improve listening skills

• Increase vocabulary
• Improve word recognition skills
• Improve comprehension skills
• Teach the proper pronunciation of words.

Furthermore, supported reading provides a model of fluent reading, something

that individuals who struggle with reading lack in their own repertoire of skills.
Finally, supported reading enables students to read the same grade-level
material as their peers. There is no “watering down” of the curriculum or the
information students are expected to know.

Benefits of supported listening to fiction

Supported listening allows individuals who cannot read print to truly enjoy a
work of fiction. Supported reading allows individuals to experience reading as
pleasurable rather than something that must be endured. As they no longer
struggle with every word, individuals who cannot read print are able to
appreciate all of the elements of a novel. With supported reading, individuals

• Experience the author’s style by hearing their word choice, sentence

phrasing, and character and setting descriptions as originally written
• Develop a sense of narrative structure
• Learn to "see" a story by visualizing the narrative rather than relying on
• Deepen their understanding of the diverse ways in which language
conveys meaning
• Experience a variety of genres and build an understanding of their specific
• Develop personal reading preferences through exposure to different
• Gain independence because they can listen to a novel straight through,
from beginning to end without the help of parent, teacher or other reader

Benefits of supported listening to non-fiction

Supported listening makes it possible for individuals who cannot read standard
print to access content at the same time as their peers. It takes the focus off of
struggling to read the words and allows student to simply focus on learning new
information. Students can use supported listening for non-fiction content by:

• Previewing a textbook: Generally, individuals who struggle with print

approach reading a textbook the same way they read novels. They begin
at page 1 and attempt to read the textbook all the way through.
Classroom instruction rarely tackles textbooks in this manner. Teachers
jump around, assigning chapters as they correspond to the curriculum.
Teachers also spend time instructing students how to preview the
assigned material, in order to give them a framework for reading.
Students are instructed to look at chapter headings and sub-headings,
examine illustrations and preview the questions at the end of the chapter.
Some supported listening materials allow students to navigate the
recording like a printed book, jumping to specific pages and skipping
through chapter headings and sub-headings. Students who use these
supported listening materials are able to have the same framework for
reading as their peers who don’t struggle with reading print.
• Acquiring content: Perhaps the biggest benefit of supported listening to
nonfiction is the ability to acquire the information from the printed page.
Quantitative evidence has shown that specific supported reading tools
increase a students’ ability to learn print-related material by 38 percent.
The ability to acquire content from written material is particularly
important in upper elementary, middle and high school classrooms where
the focus shifts from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Supported
listening tools enable students to demonstrate their intellectual ability to
comprehend grade-level curriculum.
• Reviewing materials: In addition to previewing their reading, students
who use supported reading for non-fiction are also able to review what
they have read. Individuals who struggle with reading generally do not go
back and re-read material before a test or quiz—it was difficult enough to
read the material the first time! Because supported listening removes the
barrier posed by the printed word, students can efficiently and effectively
review and re-listen to assignments.
• Conducting research from multiple sources: Statewide research
standards specify that students must be able to gather information from
multiple sources. For students who cannot read standard print, gathering
information from just one source is a daunting task. Supported listening
tools can facilitate research from multiple sources by providing access to
the information on the printed page.