Communication skills are increasingly important for the 21st century
Communication skills have always been valuable – The art of listening well, expressing your thoughts clearly, offering coherent instructions, and inspiring others with your words are powerful tools. As our economy changes, students need opportunities to develop strong communication skills more than ever. Careers that require complex communication skills are on the rise. Today, service industries comprise more than 80% of jobs in the United States. In contrast, careers that don’t require skills for complex human interaction are increasingly automated. Despite their importance, businesses report a decline in effective communication skills among recent graduates. In the report Are they Ready to Work?, employers voiced that graduates are overwhelming lacking in oral and written communication skills.
Educators today seek new ways to encourage vital communication skills for the workforce of tomorrow. There are many strategies that we can use across content areas to improve written and oral communication skills.
Agree, Disagree Why? – Students read (or listen) to learn information. The teacher prepares several statements that are related to the content and are likely to yield differences of opinion. Pairs of students talk about the statements, decide if they agree or disagree with each and making notes about their reasons. When pairs have completed their discussion, the teacher may wish to convene the whole group to continue discussion of the topic.
Think-Pair-Share – In partners, students work together to communicate and comprehend new information. The teacher identifies stopping points for discussion either during reading or lecture. At each stopping point, the student pauses to think about the new information. They might consider such issues as what they found interesting or puzzling, making brief notes about their thoughts. After each partner has completed this thinking, the pairs talk with one another using their notes to remind them of the points they wish to make. The larger group shares, focusing on interesting issues that arose during the partner discussions. Repeat.
Current Events Class Discussions – Bring in a daily newspaper clipping directly related to current classroom content. The article will allow the teacher to show the relevance of learning to world events and real-world challenges. The ensuing discussion will offer students an opportunity to express their opinions.
Speeches – Allow students to pick a topic that interests them. They will be able to research the topic and reflect on what they found, or write on something that is personally interesting to them. Prepare a short speech to give to the class.
Historical Role-Play – Students are given assigned roles and are asked to act out specific historical scenarios. Students can even write their own script and either film it or perform it in front of the class.
Teach a lesson – Divide students into groups of 4 (or individuals or pairs) and assign a topic to each group for them to research. Have students prepare a lesson to teach the rest of the class about a topic. Students can create activities, videos, posters, or models in relation to add clarification. Get them to be creative!
These strategies and many more build communication skills for today’s students and tomorrow’s workforce. Encourage your students to communicate for future success and improved comprehension of content.