4. Listen

"When we [listen], we show those around us that we are interested in their words and therefore their feelings.  We let them know that we value not only the message, but also the messenger."  --Dr. Forni



  1. Play Mother May I to demonstrate "listening seriously" to directions.
  2. Find a partner. Try having both people talk at the same time. Then take turns listening and talking. Which method was most effective for communicating?
  3. In a group, divide into pairs. Pairs should spend a few minutes talking and listening. After the conversation, each person should tell the group three things he learned about his partner.
  4. Athletes for Achievement "– teaming high school athletes with elementary school students to discuss and work on projects related to character building and civility.  Souces: PLES and HHS
    1. Goal setting activity – HS student lead ES students
    2.  Identify and discuss goal
    3.  Outline a ladder of succes
    4. Create a goal poster – pictures from magazines, etc.
  5. In a group of students, give each person a playing card.  Each person is allowed to look at their own card, but not to share it with anyone else.  Once everyone has seen their card, instruct students to close their eyes and group themselves by suit.  (This can be a very noisy activity, as students call out for their group members.)  When students feel they have completed the task, allow them to open their eyes and see if they've grouped themselves correctly.  Redistribute the cards and repeat.  (This time students can sort themselves by odds and evens, blacks and reds, etc.)  Repeat this process until students do more listening than talking.  (Often a leader will emerge.  While everyone has their eyes closed, this leader will ask for quiet, and arrange the groups while others listen to directions.)  Discuss which way was easiest to get into groups.
  6. Play Telephone.  (Line up your students.  The first student whispers a message in the next student's ear.  The second student repeats the message to the third student.  The message keeps going down the line.  When the final student receives the message, he should announce it to the group.  Compare the orginal message to the final message.)  How well did your students listen?


Discussion questions:

  1. Dr. Forni states that listening has three basic components: (1) plan your listening; (2) show that you are listening; (3) be a cooperative listener.  What does each one of these components mean and how do they help us to be good listeners?
  2. How does listening help us to be civil?