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Overview For Teachers

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION: The ability to display appropriate listening, nonverbal, verbal, interpersonal, and written skills; send a consistent, clear, concise, and courteous message that is easily understood by the receiving party; ask questions, clarify or summarize, and provide feedback to ensure the message has been understood; the ability to read and interpret documents and instructions clearly and correctly; the ability to give and receive information and convey ideas and opinions with others.

PURPOSE: Upon completion of this module, the student will understand the importance of effective communication in the classroom as well as the workplace. In addition, the objectives listed below should be met.


 The ability to demonstrate appropriate verbal and non-verbal communication skills

 The ability to ask relevant questions as well as answer questions thoughtfully

 The ability to communicate effectively through writing

 The ability to read and follow directions correctly and in a timely manner


This module focuses on teaching students the importance of being an effective communicator in all types of settings . Students will work to improve both their verbal and non-verbal communication skills . This module will discuss different types of communication and how each one plays an important role in being successful at school and at work.


What does effective communication look like in the classroom or in school in general? A great way to answer this and get things going is through engagement with the students. Ask your students these questions:

1. What does effective communication look like in class?

2. How does your ability to communicate affect others? Example: teachers, classmates, group projects, etc.

3. What does effective communication look like within your learning?


Employers have expressed that the ability to effectively communicate is crucial to an employee’s long -term success.


Building What You Hear
Time Allocation: 20  minutes
Materials/Resources: 20 multi-colored mini marshmallows, 20 multi-colored toothpicks , a snack-sized bag for every group, computers/ tablets/ smartphones ( students - optional), whiteboard, markers, computer/ projector (teacher – optional)


 Ask students to rai se their hand if they’ve ever played the game “Telephone” before.

 Out of the students who raised their hand, find a volunteer to explain what the game is like to the class.

 Then, ask the students:

     o What usually happens to the phrase that gets passed around the circle in the game of “ Telephone ?”

 Talk about how the phrase rarely comes out right and how it ends up getting changed.

 Then ask students why that usually happens.



 Tell students: when information is passed from person to person, things can become confused and distorted. This is especially true when we are in a hurry or we don’t know the whole story. If we are in a hurry, we leave out important facts. If we don’t know the whole story, we may fill in the blanks with information that may or may not be true. Either way, the story becomes farther and farther from the truth. If someone wants to know the truth, they need to go to the original source and find out what they want to know. We should never completely believe anyone who is relating information to us second or third hand unless we can verify the information in some manner.


 Divide the class into teams with three students on each team . The teams should spread out around the room.

 Have each team create a design using up to ten various colored toothpicks and up to ten various colored marshmallows. The designs must lay flat on the table or floor and should be two -dimensional.

 As the teams are creating their design, they need to set aside the same number and color of marshmallows and toothpicks they used to build their design. Have them put these into a small snack-sized bag. This will be given to the builder on the team who must recreate the group’s design so that he will have the correct materials.

 Once all the teams have created their design, explain that each team must designate an explainer, a messenger, and a builder. Then, have the explainers go and sit by a different team’s design. Send the builders to the other end of the room and give them the bag of marshmallows and toothpicks that correspond to the design where the explainer is now sitting. Have each builder sit across the room, facing away from the explainer, so they cannot see the design that they will have to build. Also, have the messenger positioned where they cannot see the design either.

 Now, begin the activity. The messenger goes to the explainer and the explainer will describe what the structure looks like. The messenger will return back to the builder and will relay what the explainer said.

 The messenger can make as many trips as necessary to get instructions or ask questions.

 At no time can the messenger see the actual design the explainer has in front of him or the design the builder is building.

 When each team has recreated the design they have been assigned, have the entire team get together to compare the designs.

     o To make the activity go faster, you can use more than one messenger for each team.


 Technology Use: You could create a Kahoot ( which is an interactive game that students can log into from their computers or smart phones and it will give you instant feedback.

 Non-Technology: “Take and Pass” – Students will get in groups and will have one piece of paper per group. Pose the statement to be answered: “ List one way that being an effective listener affects your life .” One student will start and will write their response on the piece of paper. When they finish, they will pass it to the person on their right and they will then write down their response. Students will continue to write down their responses and pass the piece of paper until time is up. When time is up, students will debrief and will then share their responses with the class.

ETHICAL SCENARIO--Optional (if not using, skip  to "review and closing")

The Ethical Choice Scenarios have been developed to provide teachers with the ability to make the material applicable to real-life and relevant to the students. Within this guide, directions and prompts for the teacher will be in BLUE for ease of facilitation.




You finally got up the nerve to ask your crush out on a date – and you can’t believe they said yes! You find yourself feeling extremely nervous, but excited at the same time. You meet them at the local sushi restaurant and are seated at a table. You try to start a conversation with your date, talking about things you know they are interested in, but you find it hard to communicate with them. They are constantly looking around the restaurant, shifting in their chair, and looking at their phone – they basically try to do anything possible to avoid making eye contact with you. You aren’t really sure what’s going on but think maybe they are just nervous too. You finally order your food and then attempt once again to start a conversation but the same thing happens and this time, they even try to ignore you. Their body language and facial expressions are sending the message that they don’t want to be on this date with you and all of a sudden, you become infuriated. If they didn’t want to go on a date, then why did they say yes? Part of you wants to yell and scream at them to vent your feelings and part of you wants to ask them casually what’s going on and why they are acting th is way. You are torn between the two different options you have to respond to their behavior – what do you do?

ASK THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS: (display them to the class if necessary)

1. How many of you have already been faced with this scenario in real life?

2. What types of body language and facial expressions do you think they are displaying on the date?

3. What are possible negative consequences for lashing out in anger in response to their behavior?

4. What are possible positive consequences for you, depending on your decision of how to respond to their behavior?


NOTE 1 : To help facilitate discussion, share any personal experiences you may have encountered with this same sort of issue.

NOTE 2 : Another option to foster further critical thinking is to then ask students ,“ How can your nerves impact your ability to effectively communicate with others?”

NOTE 3 : Another option to foster further critical thinking is to then ask students , “ What values do you think are in tension here, why is it an ethical dilemma?”



 To end the lesson, ask the following questions for a group discussion:

     o What took place during this activity?

     o What made this activity difficult?

     o What were some problems that each person faced as the explainer, the messenger or the builder?

     o How can we relate this activity to communication?

     o What are some listening skills that will help keep information clear?

     o What are some of the behaviors that get in the way of us clearly understanding something that someone else is telling us?

     o How can these behaviors be corrected?

CORRELATION TO OBSERVATION TOOL: The Frequency Observation Tool (FOT) has a category where students will be observed and rated on their communication skills. This lesson will give students the opportunity to practice their verbal, non -verbal and listening skills.


-Visual: Visual learners will benefit from being the explainer so they can physically see the design and explain what it looks like to the messenger. They would also benefit from having the closing questions written on the whiteboard or projected on a screen.

-Auditory: Auditory learners will benefit from being the messenger or builder because they will be able to use their listening skills in this lesson.

-Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learners would benefit from being the messenger or builder because it requires a lot active movement with their body and hands.

-ESL: ESL students will benefit from working with a group in this activity.

-At-risk: At -risk students will benefit from the constant engagement in this lesson that will encourage them to stay on task.

-Advanced: Advanced learners could benefit from helping other students write down their schedules, or by assisting ESL or At -risk students who may need additional help .

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