SOS Top Ten for Building Student Communication Skills

Welcome to our special SOS Top Ten series. In this post, we’re highlighting some of the most popular ways to use Spotlight on Strategies (CDN Version) to build student communication skills.

Our ability to communicate impacts learning across all subject areas and grade levels, and communication skills are important for us all to practice throughout our entire lives.

These strategies are divided into four categories that directly tie to helping students hone these vital communication skills. They include strategies to help students learn how to give constructive feedback to another person, how to recognize and appreciate multiple perspectives, how to clearly articulate thoughts and ideas, and how to take turns in a conversation.

We hope you’ll try one or more of these strategies and share your experience with us, either in the comments below or in the DEN Online Community.

Strategies that help students give constructive feedback.

Two Stars and a Wish (CDN Version) engages students in providing constructive feedback to one another. After trading work samples with one another, students read and provide feedback in the form of two positive comments and one wish, which is a constructive way of making a suggestion for improvement.

IDEA Share (CDN Version) provides a structured process for students to participate in peer review. As they rotate, they review the work of other students and comment on four specific areas.

Strategies that help students learn to take turns.

XO Let’s Go (CDN Version) requires students to work in pairs and listen intently to what their partner shares. Partners take turns sharing what they have learned from from a digital media selection, taking care to not repeat any facts that have already been shared.

Talking Sticks (CDN Version) encourages an equitable structure for group discussion. In groups, students use a talking stick to designate a speaker. Other students who wish to share must wait until the talking stick is passed to them, signaling their turn to talk.

Strategies that help students learn to recognize and appreciate multiple perspectives.

Partner Time (CDN Version) can be used to effectively establish partner and collaboration groups ahead of time, ensuring that students can be exposed to a variety of their classmates’ opinions and perspectives without the disruption and time loss of matching partners on the fly.

Multiple Perspectives (CDN Version) requires students to engage deeply with an image or video as they assume a perspective other than their own. Students create a narrative from inside a piece of media, from the perspective of an object or person within.

Conga Line (CDN Version) requires students to work with each other and incorporates movement to stimulate thinking and participation. Students line up opposite one another and then move through the conga line, pairing up and discussing a teacher-generated prompt before separating and moving to the next person in line.

Strategies that help students learn to clearly articulate thoughts, ideas, or perspectives.

Think Aloud (CDN Version) helps teachers model thinking processes associated with a complex task. The strategy builds metacognitive awareness about the mental moves content experts make as they read, write, solve problems and think critically.

4 Corners (CDN Version) encourages students to communicate their thoughts by moving to one of four corners in the room. Each corner is predetermined to correspond to an opinion or perspective related to a thought-provoking statement. After considering the statement, students move to the corner that aligns with their perspective and discusses their thoughts with other students at that corner before justifying their stance to the whole group.

Telephone (CDN Version) , based on the long-standing children’s game by the same name, offers students an opportunity to evaluate how well they understand and communicate the main idea of a media selection. A specific structure for written response and discussion helps students hone their ability to communicate what they’ve learned about the topic.


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  1. Tammy Rose said:

    This is a very informative and helpful post, very honest and practical advice. It’s very helpful for all blogger. Specially this information will be helping to the newcomer. Thanks ! complete

  2. Roberto said:

    Congratulations for the initiative. Supporting and diversifying learning is very important for students. Very interesting this way, congratulations!

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