Bonnie Waltz, Deanna Mayers, Tracy Rains
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
9, 10, 11, 12
  • Active Speaking and Listening
  • Communication
  • English
  • Nonverbal Listening Skills
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, Interactive, Text/HTML, Video

    Listening With a Purpose

    Listening With a Purpose


    Active listening is more than just hearing someone speak. It requires you to be engaged in the moment, to receive the words and body language of someone else, meaningfully. Only then can you feel empathy for the speaker--that is, try to feel what they’re feeling. In this seminar, you will become familiar with nonverbal listening skills--those strategies that require you to say nothing, yet still be part of the conversation. As you learn more about these non-verbal listening skills, you will begin to classify them into particular situations, understanding when certain gestures might be preferred or not preferred.


    Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions on grades level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g. visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
    Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning; ensure that the presentation is appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.


    Introductory warm-up activity

    This video, that went viral across various social media platforms, shows a young boy trying desperately to get someone to listen to him. His words and body language don’t seem to be working, although the video is a fine source of entertainment. To get your feet wet with this seminar, watch the video clip and jot down notes about how the participants in the video, especially the young boy, could have listened a bit better.


    Read or watch the resources to learn about this concept, then do the practice activity.


    Though this article is geared toward a business-minded reader, it provides keen insight for anyone trying to improve listening skills. As you read the article, focus on key points, including terminology accentuated by the author. Jot down any notes, terms, or questions you have. It could be helpful to revisit the article and your notes later in the seminar.

    In this video, a speaker explains the nuts and bolts of listening and focuses on the necessary listening skills many people lack (or at least don’t practice enough). As you watch the video, make personal connections: Are you familiar with his tips? Do they remind you of daily interactions in your life? Jot notes to yourself and begin to think about how non-verbal listening skills play a part in your world.

    Complete this chart in order to gain more familiarity with the terminology for this seminar. Nonverbal listening strategies will help you in school, at work, and in your personal life, but only if you understand when and where to use them for a meaningful purpose.



    Discuss your ideas / opinions / understandings.


    Ironically, you will participate in a conversation about non-verbal listening skills. The purpose of the conversation is not necessarily to practice the listening skills (though you should), but instead to talk about the skills with confidence to reinforce your learning. Discuss the following questions and prompts with someone familiar with active listening:

    1. Why are facial expressions considered an effective listening skill?

    2. Explain how gestures could be preferred in one setting but not in another.

    3. Explain how eye contact means more than simply looking at someone.

    4. How could someone’s posture reveal how well they are listening?

    5. Why are proxemics and physiological changes considered listening skills?


    Now it is time to self-check how much you have learned about the this topic. If you do not know as much as you thought, go back to the “Explore” section of this seminar and reread, rewatch, or redo the activities listed.  See your facilitator if you have questions.

    Click here to take the quiz. You do not have to log into the quiz site in order to take this quiz. If a window pops up asking you to sign up for the quiz site, just close the sign-up window and start your quiz.


    This is a task or project where you can show what you know.


    Create a self-help or how-to tutorial that includes an explanation of each active listening term from this seminar. Please provide an example for each--either self-made or found online. Do your best to make the tutorial flow from one term to the next, as opposed to sounding more like a list of terms. In other words, plan a beginning, middle, and end. Keep in mind the thinking skill for this seminar is classifying, so try to organize your tutorial based on how you classify each term (social, academic, professional--or any other classification you wish to use). Follow this rubric.


    Complete this wrap-up activity where you reflect on your learning.  

    Reflect on your learning for this seminar. Which terms were more review than new knowledge? How did your prior knowledge help you understand new knowledge? Did the thinking skill “classifying” help you understand the information better? How will the skills in this seminar help you in various walks of life?