Are you searching for effective communication activities to empower your middle school kiddos? Check out these engaging classroom activities!
As a middle school teacher, I've thought deeply about how to empower my students to be effective communicators in class and in life.
Communication is a valuable life skill; however, middle school students often need additional support. These resources and strategies for teaching communication can create emotional resilience, assertive kindness, and deep respect.
1. Create a classroom agreement
Developing agreements and rules of etiquette as a class creates a respectful environment and a culture of empathy where students feel safe to speak in front of the entire class.
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2. Model Effective Communication
Modeling is a powerful teaching tool because it allows students to observe, learn, and imitate effective communication. This strategy can help students in class and in the schoolyard by drawing upon sentence starters in conversation to build effective communication skills. Place students in pairs and allow each person time to practice using the sentences. Give time for students to practice giving eye contact, speaking clearly, and listening actively.
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3. Role Play Conflict Resolution
Role Playing is a powerful way to cultivate empathy and model effective communication and interpersonal skills because it allows students to share feelings in a low-stakes situation. Have sample scenarios ready and place students in pairs. Debrief afterward to discuss what they learned about social norms and proper etiquette of effective communication.
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4. Use ClassDojo.com
Class Dojo is an interactive engagement tool to help students understand the basic principles of communication. It gives students options for responses and a platform for teachers to give constructive feedback. It's a great way to build communication skills in a real-life or social distance setting.
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5. Facilitate a Silent Discussion
A silent discussion can be a great way to elicit deep thinking. I place several questions around the class. Students walk around and respond to the prompts. Afterward, we discuss the similarities and differences in the responses.
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6. Play Scattegories
7. Use Questions and Quotes
Quotes and guiding questions can create a culture of deep thinking and effective communication. I like to pose essential questions related to the content we're learning or as a warm-up to activate prior knowledge. Students write, respond, and have a conversation in pairs to elicit deeper understanding.
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8. Use the Walls to Teach
9. Teach Students about Perspective
Helping students see that each person has a unique perspective can help them articulate their own personal communication style and perspective. Have students participate with a friend and use their active listening skills to cultivate mutual understanding.
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10. Active Listening Game
This game cultivates presence of mind which is a fundamental skill in communication. Place students into pairs and have them practice the components of communication like conversation skills, and building a strong relationship with a peer or family member.
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11. Telephone Game
12. Develop a Community Circle
Community Circles are a wonderful way to help students feel safe in the classroom in order to communicate effectively. I usually review the classroom agreements and pose a question on the board. Then, students share one at a time in the classroom setting. Students are asked to maintain mutual eye contact, positive nonverbal language, and proper etiquette.
13. Philosophical Chairs
This is a wonderful exercise to teach active listening and speaking skills. Students engage in deep conversation and practice understanding one another through practicing the skills in communication. Split the room into three parts: pro, con, and neutral. Pose a debatable question and have students go to the side of the room that represents their position. Then, students on the pro and con sides share ideas to help students on the neutral side make a decision. This is a democratic way to teach perspective and critical skills.
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14. Teach Conflict Resolution using Asserting "I" Statements
Conflict resolution can be a difficult field to navigate especially if the conflict is presently happening. Pre-emptively teaching students conflict resolution strategies can help create molds of action in your students' minds. Developing this intellectual character will help your student express themselves in a healthy and respectful way.
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15. Play the "What to Say" Game
This game places various real-life scenarios with images on a worksheet. Students can work in pairs or groups to think deeply about what good communication looks like. Teaching assertive styles of communication can impart collaborative skills in a natural setting.
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16. Play Classmate Bingo
This is a fun and interactive way for students to get to know one another. Students circulate the classroom and find a friend who fits the description of the box. This icebreaker helps students get to know each other and build healthy relationships in the classroom setting.
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17. Create a Classroom Newsletter
This is a fun and creative way to practice writing, researching, and design. Students can work collectively to create a physical or digital newsletter that shares information with others. It's also a wonderful communication tool for parents, teachers, and families to stay connected.
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18. Create Writer's Notebooks
Students decorate and personalize their notebooks and write in them daily. The sections they create are Warm-ups, Notes, and Homework. I use this as a tool to stay in communication with each person.
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19. TED Talks to develop effective communication skills
TED Ed has piloted a series where students create TED Talks in their classrooms or homes and send them to headquarters in New York. Every year, TED-Ed selects students from all over the world to deliver their talks on an international stage. This is a wonderful project to help students research and present something their passionate about.
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20. Nonverbal Communication Games
Attached are fun games to teach the importance of non-verbal communication. These activities help middle school kids develop the nonverbal skill of communication like the importance of active listening skills, eye contact, awareness of body language, and developing their own personal communication style. Nonverbal language is a powerful communication tool that helps students build personal relationships and life skills in the schoolyard, in the class, and beyond!
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