CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 18 . . . .May 12, 2006
Speak, Listen, and Learn: Building Speaking, Discussion, and Presentation Skills in Every Classroom.
Colleen Abbott & Sally Godinho.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2004.
96 pp., paper, $21.95.
Oral communication--Study and teaching (Elementary).
Listening--Study and teaching (Elementary).
Review by Valerie Nielsen.
In her foreword to Speak, Listen, and Learn, Cathy Miyata, author of Speaking Rules! writes:
In this book you will find passion, the skill to balance the passion, and most importantly, the means to impassion the students themselves. One flagstone after another is laid out neatly and precisely, leading us through the forest of student insecurities and fears into the clearing of insight and self-confidence.
A perusal of this 96 page soft-covered little book substantiates such claims. Authors Abbott and Godinho have put together a text that explores the nature of collaborative inquiry in a systematic way. The resulting resource is both teacher and student-friendly.
While teachers will find ways to "vacate the floor" and act as facilitators, moderators, supporters and role models, students are encouraged to respect and to rely on each other for ideas and insights. Opportunity for both teacher and student to reflect is built in at the end of each activity.
The authors believe that oral communication is central to all key learning areas, and, therefore, educators have a responsibility to provide opportunities for all students to develop and refine their listening and speaking skills. They have developed the four units in their text based on a constructivist approach which requires teachers to focus on teaching for understanding, rather than on transmitting specific knowledge. Speak, Listen, and Learn recognizes exploratory talk, metacognition and collaborative inquiry as essential principles in the development of effective discussion skills.
Based on the above-mentioned theories, the text has been organized into four units:
1. Tuning in concentrates on developing individual and small-group communication skills. (Discussing)
2. Tell Me the Story explores narrative frameworks and strategies for engaging the audience. (Story-telling)
3. So What's New? Develops performance and presentation skills. (Reporting)
4. Let Me Change Your Mind explores ways of developing and contesting points of view. (Debating)
Each unit is followed by activities, guidelines for implementation, ideas for extension and a prompt both for student and teacher to reflect on what has happened in class. As well, a template for recording individual student profiles is provided at the end of each unit to assist in student evaluation.
At the end of the book, a helpful "Resource Bank" contains an overview of each unit and reproducible resources for students and teachers which include a variety of checklists, assessments and criteria. Teachers will find these readily adaptable for different ages and levels of competence, as well as for further speaking or listening projects.
The authors provide a glossary, an excellent and extensive bibliography and an index, proving that they are well aware of the features most useful for busy teachers. Speak, Listen, and Learn is a valuable tool for teachers in middle school, with many of its ideas easily adapted for junior high and Grade 10. Librarians in elementary, middle and junior high schools would be well advised to add this to their professional development collection.
A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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