Speaking and Listening Skills
by Christina Miller, Head of School
According to Catherine Gewertz in an article in Education Week 9-2018, Employers say they have trouble finding new hires with good oral-communication skills. But relatively few schools explicitly teach those skills.
A new generation of people who are good communicators will be needed. And employers are saying that strong speaking skills are even more important than good reading or writing skills.
Because many children today speak to one another digitally, their face-to-face communication is not as developed as it used to be, and it needs to be addressed and integrated into the curriculum.
At Millhopper Montessori Reading and writing are strongly emphasized but also included is communication skills such as speaking and listening. The typical form that integrates this in the classroom dovetails nicely with debate coaching, respectful classroom discussions, or delivering a report in front of the class. Another important element is being able to synthesize, build on another's ideas, brainstorm, and elaborate and "work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions.
These are some of the cross-curricular activities happening at MMS now and also some that will come as the year progresses.
Currently the 1st through 8th grade students are learning communication skills, verbal and non-verbal, visual and formal and informal speaking. Their Speech and Debate teacher, Ms. Sylvia Aslanian, has coached them in various exercises demonstrating forms of communications with tone and body language. Additionally, they have determined the difference between formal and informal communication and both have rules to practice. Our formal public speaking lessons at MMS started with practice of how to be a "Star Speaker" and a "Star Audience".
The students have practiced skills such as: Standing Tall, Eye Contact, Using Emphasis, Being Enthusiastic, Being Prepared and Projecting. They look forward to their diction exercises as personalized sentences with their names have been created. Giving constructive feedback to their classmates is also incorporated.
Senior elementary students have also practiced how to organize a speech with an introduction, create transitions, develop a summary and draw a final conclusion. We will have a surprise to present at Parent Night on October 11th.
All students will be delivering their speeches next week. Even our lower elementary students recently delivered research projects with the use of the podium and it gave the students another opportunity to practice their presentation skills. They have a lot to show their parents on the October Parent nights!