Ground Rules for Listening - Can We Talk? Style
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Ground Rules for Listening - Can We Talk? Style

To help student acquire a deeper understanding of the ground rules: why they are necessary, why they are useful, and how to use them.

Time to complete

40 minutes

What principles, ground rules, or concepts are at work here?

All of them! 

How to do the exercise

If this you’ve already done the E Pluribus Unum lesson/activities it might be helpful to do a short, 5 minute review of that. You could do that several ways:

  • Put students into small groups (3-4 people or so) and ask them to identify 3-4 learnings (or things they remember) from that session.
  • You might create several sentence starters (we can provide these when the session is ready) and have students complete them
  • You could take some key thoughts from the slide deck and use those as prompts for small group discussion

Divide students into 9 small groups, giving each group one of the ground rules (or you could do 8 groups, giving one group ground rules 1 and 9).

Task 1 (5 minutes) – Ask them to discuss that ground rule, focusing on:

  • What problem does it address and why is that important?
  • What do they think this ground rule means? What does it advocate/require/want participants to do?

Task 2 (5 minutes) - Thinking about negative examples:

  • Together discuss times when you were in a conversation (in class, with family, with a friend) and people didn’t follow this ground rule.
  • What was the impact/result of that behavior?

Task 3 (5 minutes) – Thinking about positive examples:

  • Together discuss times when you were in a conversation (in class, with family, with a friend) and people followed this ground rule. (could be a different part of the negative example)
  • What was the impact/result of that behavior?

Task 4 (2 minuites) Summarize key points to share

  • Each small groups creates a flip chart of key points for each part of the conversation.

PLENARY WORK (10-15 minutes)

  • Each group of students posts the results of their work on their ground rule.
  • Students do gallery walk (which will likely have to be explained to them)
  • Teacher leads conversation focusing on:
    • Do you have any questions for any of the groups.
    • Do you see any commonalities or differences across the flip charts
    • What are your key take aways?

Follow-up ideas

Students use the ground rules to guide their own behavior in conversation with family, friends, or at work.  They can do this with or without telling others what they are doing. 

  • They can do this on their own, or you can give them assignment to do it and report back whether it had any impact on them or the conversation with others.

Students can share this class experience on the ground rules with family, friends or co-workers and see what their response is.

  • They might ask if people would be willing to try using them the next time they get together for a holiday meal, a meeting, etc.

PA State Standards

  • CC.1.5.11–12.B - Evaluate how the speaker’s perspective, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric affect the credibility of an argument through the author’s stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone.
  • CC.1.2.8.I - Analyze two or more texts that provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation. (E08.B-C.3.1.2)
  • 5.2.C.B. - Analyze strategies used to resolve conflicts in society and government
  • 5.2.9.D. - Analyze citizens' roles in the political process toward the attainment of goals for individual and public good.
  • 5.2.C.D. - Evaluate and demonstrate what makes competent and responsible citizens.