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9 Big Ideas within the Speaking and Listening Standards

By Dave Stuart Jr.

Every day or so, someone finds this website through searching some variation of “big ideas in the Common Core Speaking and Listening standards.”

The problem is, an answer to that question isn't currently easy to find on Teaching the Core!

In order to try providing a better resource for that search, as well as for the sake of increasing my own understanding, here are 9 big ideas that I draw from the CCSS Speaking and Listening anchor standards.

CCSS Speaking and Listening Anchor StandardsFirst of all, I'd like to share my insanely complex methods for creating this post.

Intense, right?

Now to the big ideas.

1. A HUGE part of speaking is listening

I love that we're talking about the Speaking and Listening standards rather than just the speaking standards.

It is absolutely freaking certain that if you don't know how to listen, you don't really know how to speak, and you are not optimally prepared for college or career. (Click to Tweet a shorter version of this impressively emphatic statement.)

2. Students need to know how to talk

To you, this might be unforgivably obvious; but, alas, I have spent too many years enabling my shy students to remain in their shells and not insisting that they let me draw them way out.

This last year, I didn't coddle my shy freshmen, and rather than shrivel up and die, they actually flourished, and by the end of the year many of them expressed sincere appreciation.

3. Structured, regular opportunities to talk in pairs

If you've been doing think-pair-share in your classes, you've got this covered. Pair shares are so old school but so darn money. Having students talk in pairs is a great way to let your students process and to let you walk around and check for understanding.

4. Structured, regular opportunities to talk in small groups

The key for success here is “structured” — groups should know how effective group talking looks, and they should be given regular feedback on how they're doing.

5. Have students talk to the whole class

Hold debates. Assign speeches. Use the index card trick. Whatever you do, just make sure that every kid is getting regular chances to talk to the whole class. The safer you make the classroom and the more regular you make these opportunities, the more efficacious shy kids tend to become.

6. Students should contribute accurate, relevant info to conversations

A mega idea in the Speaking and Listening anchor standards is that college and career ready (CCR) people are productive members of conversations.

Keyword: productive.

Show them how to add accurate and relevant info when they converse. The last thing you want is for them to become like Judy Grimes:

Okay, that video might be irrelevant. I couldn't help it.

7. Students should respond to and develop what others have said

One major flaw of most class discussions I've led is this: students are all talking to me and ignoring each other. What the CCSS (and real life) call for is students actually talking with and responding to their peers.

8. Analyze and synthesize a multitude of ideas in various domains

Basically, the vision of the CCSS is that students can talk about ideas — at home, in school, in math, in science, in history, or wherever.

9. Use technology to increase speaking/listening opportunities

I'm not sure what, exactly, the CCSS are getting at here. Using Skype or some other kind of video chatting? Listening to people talk on YouTube and creating videos in response?

What do you think? Are these big ideas worth pursuing? Do the Speaking and Listening anchor standards make “sense” to you? Are they called for? Get into the conversation below.

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12 Responses to 9 Big Ideas within the Speaking and Listening Standards

  1. Vicky August 2, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Everything you said is “right on the money”.

  2. carol August 3, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    I love this standard because I tell my students all the time they HAVE to talk to othes effectively and intelligently! I tend to have my honors classes speak more in front of the class than other classes. I guess I need ideas on how to get other classes to hear and talk with each other and stay on task; not discuss what they will do over the weekend,.

    • davestuartjr August 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

      Hi Carol,
      Right on — don’t you love it when students use your class to stay updated on social life? 🙂 I think that asking our non-honors students to do more honors-type stuff — speaking in front of class, having structured debates, responding to the thoughts of others — is something that takes a lot of patience on our part, but, from my observations, is also something that they are hungry for.

  3. Mary Clark August 7, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    I’m thinking about VoiceThread and podcasting for the technology aspect. I run a middle school library, and this year my goal is to make the library catalog more social by having students add 30 second audio reviews for books they’ve read. That wouldn’t be a conversation, but it would allow the shy kids who read like crazy to have a voice-literally! VoiceThread is good for that, too, because students can record their comment, review and rerecord if necessary, and not be in front of the class.

    We used to have a program called Speech Masters in our school district. It was very formulaic (“Teachers, parents and fellow students, I have THREE things to share with you today…”) but after participating in at least 4th and 5th grades, even the shyest student could stand up and give a three minute speech. The program retired with some of our older teachers, and I can already see a difference in the ability of students to speak in front of a group.

    Thanks for the great summary, Dave! I’ll be sharing it with teachers when they return next week.

  4. davestuartjr August 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Mary, isn’t it amazing how old school, not-so-sexy activities like giving a Speech Masters speech can really benefit our students? Sometimes I think that things we innovate away from things that are simple yet effective.

    Obviously we want students to develop beyond the Speech Masters formula, but, to me, it seems like a necessary step. In my own writing journey, formulaic writing played a crucial “stepping stone” role; it might not have been a thrill ride, but it provided me with a template to part with when I felt confident.

    On another note, would you mind sharing a link to your library catalog once you start implementing the audio review idea? I’m interested to see it in action, and I’d love to shout it out on the blog.

  5. Gloria Askew June 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    How do you assess this standard in a multiple choice format?

    • davestuartjr July 9, 2013 at 8:43 am #

      Hi Gloria,
      Frankly, doing so would be a crime (which I’m guessing is what you’re implying). This is one major criticism that people have of the “Common Core aligned,” “next generation” tests that are being developed by SBAC and PARC. And yet, assessing how each student in our country can speak to peers… that would be some good data, in my book. It’s just not possible under the current high stakes paradigms.

  6. Werner Christensen February 17, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    FYI – your numbering is off. You do have 9 total Big Ideas, but 8 was missed. Good content, though it’s a shame my mind now questions it because of the mistake, but alas we move on!

    • davestuartjr February 18, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

      Dear Werner — thanks for the heads up! If it at all helps you with the way in which your mind now questions the content, consider this: my mistakes are an authentication of the fact that this site is owned and operated by a single full-time educator. That should either comfort you or frighten you — either way, cheers!

  7. Mari Williams August 1, 2016 at 7:40 pm #

    I think giving the students the answer to a problem and asking them to work together to create the problem will benefit them more. This strategy requires critical thinking skills that they can share with the other students.

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