MyNotes: Learning to ListenWise, Part 1

Earlier this year, I had the chance to meet Monica Brady-Myerov, the author of ListenWise: Teach Students to Be Better Listeners. Wow, what an amazing experience. Of course, it was all through Zoom.

What captivated me about my chat with Monica? The reason why she wrote the book and came up with the National Public Radio (NPR) audio-based service, ListenWise. As a result, I decided to read her book (she gave out a few free copies at the session I was facilitating, and I was grateful to receive one).

Here are my takeaways or "my notes" from the book. This isn't intended to be a book review. I highly recommend you read this book. Why? It's not only about ListenWise paid service but a great book chock full of amazing suggestions and research for teaching listening to students.

My Notes

These notes include my takeaways from the book, as well as instructional strategies (wow!) included. I've split them up below.

Quotes To Remember

These are quotes from the book.
  1. Reading to someone is a gift of sharing, love, and intimacy. Hearing another human's voice...makes you feel closer.
  2. What captivates me about audio is the intimacy of the medium. Listeners can hear emotions first-hand. . .They all sound distinct in someone's voice.
  3. What I learned is that audio requires you to be close to the action. When you are listening to audio, you are in the scene like the reporter, and that makes audio storytelling powerful. And its power can be used in your classroom.
  4. Simple, direct sentences work best in audio storyteling. Good writing for audio is active and succinct.
  5. Most people listen to a story...only once and can't rewind to hear it again. It must be easy to understand the first time.
  6. When I ask teachers at all grade levels how they are teaching listening, most say they aren't explicitly teaching listening, and they wouldn't know where to begin.
  7. In Understanding and Developing the Skills of Oral Communication, the author says 80% of what we learn, we learn by listening.
  8. According to one study, "We listen to the equivalent of a book a day; talk the equivalent of a book a week, read the equivalent of a book a month, and write the equivalent of a book a year."
  9. The way we consume information has shifted to listening and viewing. You are more likely to watch a video or listen to a podcast than read a newspaper or magazine to get information. Both require good listening skills.
  10. In the workforce, students' understanding won't be scaffolded with graphic organizers and adapted texts. They will most likely learn their jobs through oral communication.
  11. The ability to listen, speak clearly, and write well are the attributes of successful employees. A hiring study by Google found that the seven top characteristics of successful employees at Google are all soft skills, including communicating and listening well. 
  12. Business leaders and academics listed listening as one of the most important skills for an effective professional, yet only 1.5% of articles in business journals dealt with listening effectiveness.
  13. According to Julian Treasure, "If you can engage children on the why of listening on a reasonably advanced level, they would understand it creates kindness, people are nice to each other."
  14. Good audio storytelling has the power to captivate and transport you to another place. It has the power to shape your brain and memory and make you feel more connected to the world.
  15. Benjamin Bergen writes in his book, Louder Than Words, "we understand language by simulating in our minds what it would be like to experience the things that the language describes."
  16. Language about action triggers motor simulation...your brain is hardwired to react to sound.
  17. Evidence that oral storytelling as pedagogy began in forager societies.
  18. Paul Zak, a neuroeconomist, found that subjects watching or listening to a dramatic narrative were found to have an increase in cortisol and oxytocin. Cortisol helps the body respond to stress, and oxytocin plays a role in social bonding. 
  19. Listening to good stories is an extremely powerful way to learn because it engages so many parts of the brain.
  20. Comprehension was better among those with background knowledge, even if they were lower level readers. "Without a conceptual framework in which to embed what they were learning, they were effectively amnesiacs...the more you know, the easier it is to know more."
  21. We mentally simulate objects and events from the perspective of someone actually experiencing the scene. Students listening to a story makes them feel like they are part of the story.
  22. Sound is visual. And as science shows, it requires more from your brain to create the picture that accompanies the sounds. It forces your students to draw on what they already know to create that mental image.
  23. Any communication is about first evoking an emotional response on the part of the listener.
  24. Listening can help students build social awareness, a core competency in the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)'s framework for social and emotional learning.
  25. Types of listening:
    1. Discriminative listening allows us to know how many people are talking, whether the pitch of a voice is high or low, and if they sound old or young. We are also intuitively listening to the tone, pace, and emotion in what we hear.
    2. Precise listening: You use this type of listening if you've ever asked for directions. You are listening for a precise set of details.
    3. Strategic Listening is used in learning. It allows the listener to identify the main idea, summarize what was said, and make inferences from what they heard.
    4. Critical Listening requires listening to and carefully evaluating a message before forming and sharing an opinion or responding with a fact.
    5. Appreciative Listening is done when listening to music, going to the theater, or watching a movie.
  26. Visualize what is happening was the top-ranked strategy of good listeners.
  27. According to the report Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation, children who are not reading proficiently by the fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
There's a lot more amazing content in the book, ListenWise, but these are some of the points that jumped out at me aside from instructional strategies featured below.

Instructional Strategies

Below is a list of some of the instructional strategies that caught my eye while reading the book. The book is great for its inclusion of research, but even better are all the strategies shown. Of course, I only included a few that I hadn't heard of below. There are many more.

Note: Since this blog entry has gotten quite long, I'm going to split the Instructional Strategies off as a Part 2. Stay tuned!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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