Tag Archives: MOOC

Measures of Effective Listening

Thirty-two years ago, Donald E. Powers wrote Considerations for Developing Measures of Speaking & Listening. It was published by the College Board, which expresses how important these measures are to a student’s academic success, particularly in their Advanced Placement programs, yet has not validated any standardized tests to measure these skills. This synthesis on some of the research on listening offers advice to teachers enrolled in our MOOC Teaching Speaking & Listening Skills

Research shows that students can listen 2-3 grade levels above what they can read. Listening while reading helps people have successful reading events, where they read with enjoyment and accuracy. Listening while reading has been shown to help with decoding, a fundamental part of reading. The average person talks at a rate of about 125 to 175 words per minute, while we listen and comprehend up to 450 words per minute (Carver, Johnson, & Friedman, 1970).

Listening has been identified as one of the top skills employers seek in entry-level employees as well as those being promoted. Even though most of us spend the majority of our day listening, it is the communication activity that receives the least instruction in school (Coakley & Wolvin, 1997). On average, viewers who just watched and listened to the evening news can only recall 17.2% of the content.

Listening is critical to academic success. Conaway (1982) examined an entire freshman class of over 400 students. They were given a listening test at the beginning of their first semester. After their first year of college, 49% of students scoring low on the listening test were on academic probation, while only 4.42% of those scoring high on the listening test were on academic probation. On the other hand, 68.5% of those scoring high on the listening test were considered Honors Students after the first year, while only 4.17% of those scoring low attained the same success.

Students do not have a clear concept of listening as an active process that they can control. Students find it easier to criticize the speaker as opposed to the speaker’s message (Imhof, 1998). Students report greater listening comprehension when they use the metacognitive strategies of asking pre-questions, interest management, and elaboration strategies (Imhof, 2001). Listening and nonverbal communication training significantly influences multicultural sensitivity (Timm & Schroeder, 2000).

Understanding is the goal of listening. Our friend Erik Palmer suggests before students engage in purposeful listening, their teachers should tell them what to attend to. We need to teach students what to respond to, how to respond, and when to respond. For example, today we are going to listen to five speeches. For each speech, we are only listening for LIFE. After each speaker finishes, clap, then take a minute to evaluate the level of passion they put into their speech. After that write down three suggestions on how they could improve the LIFE in their speech (i.e., instead of emphasizing: you stole my red hat, try stressing, you stole my red hat).

A classroom teacher who reads Powers (1984) College Board study will understand that speaking, listening, reading and writing are all tightly correlated. Empirically measuring oral communication skills requires many hours of assessment on small, controlled populations. It is the opposite of what we experience in public schools where it is not feasible for us to precisely measure each skill. The important takeaway here is that teachers need to prepare their students to actively listen, avoid distractions, and teach listening and speaking with core academic content by training students to evaluate how well various speaking functions are accomplished by their classmates. While there are reliability issues with classroom peer review models, the benefits of “learning by evaluation” far outweigh the negatives.






MOOC Launches in 3 Weeks


On June 22, Improving Historical Reading & Writing launches. So far, 750 teachers have enrolled. The course is organized into 15 online modules that will be open from June 22 – Sept. 7. Course participants will be able to choose which modules to dip into and will have flexible deadlines when completing course work. Course completers will receive a grade based on reading and video quizzes and can earn badges, certificates and even purchase graduate credit from Ashland University. You can wait until September before electing to take up to three credit hours for the work you complete.

Many teachers enjoyed the previous MOOC: Helping History Teachers Become Writing Teachers. In fact, you will see how their advice and input helped shape this iteration of the course. If you click HERE to enroll, be sure to add a photo and brief bio to your Canvas profile (it makes it more likely for people to comment on your posts in the discussion boards). Don’t let the summer slide prevent you from sharing what you accomplished in historical reading and writing this year. Get inspired to try some new tools and techniques next Fall.

Kudos 1

Kudos 2

Kudos 3

Kudos 4

Kudos 5

Kudos 6

Kudos 7

Kudos 8

Text Recommendations: These books are not necessary for completing the course. We referenced them heavily while curating the course content and developing activities.

Elementary/Middle Level:
Ogle, D., Klemp, R., & McBride, B. (2007). Building Literacy in Social Studies. ASCD. Alexandria, VA.

High School/College Level:
Nokes, J.D. (2013). Building Students’ Historical Literacies. Routledge. New York, NY.

Argumentative Writing Bonus Links

Hi MOOCers,

I have been worried that this week’s unit didn’t have enough how to and that many of you would not find it as useful as I would like. It’s amazing how when you are pondering something in your subconscious and then the universe responds and fills the vacuum. The links below were all sent to me from the Twitterverse. I hope they will fill any gaps in argumentative writing instruction.

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I am very pleased with the amount of sharing and connecting that is happening on the discussion boards. So far only ten of you have taken the quiz, which has an average of 6.56 questions right and takes ten minutes of time. Consider this a gentle nudge to finish up the module so you can enjoy Super Bowl Sunday.  The informative writing module opens on Monday morning. Have a great weekend. — Scott

Bonus Links

ACRE (Argument, Clarity, Repetition, Evidence)



Claims, Evidence, Reasoning


Erik Palmer video on Argumentation


Good Speaking & Listening

Eric Palmer’s quality work inspired me to give my students a speech project.



Free webinar on Deepening & Widening the Way we teach writing in K-5.


Reinventing Writing chat on Twitter this Saturday morning: The nine tools that are changing writing, teaching, and learning. Mark your calendars for a great #satchatwc 1/30 at 7:30 am PST w/ guest host, Vicki Davis, aka @coolcatteacher

Making Sense of Evidence


MOOC Week Three

Hello Everyone, all 423 MOOC participants.

As we finish up Week Two and begin Week Three, I want to remind everyone that this is an ungraded class. The actual grades that you get on the quizzes do not count, all that matters is that you complete them and participate in all of the discussion forums in order to earn your completion certificate. Also, even though the courses are arranged into weekly modules, you do not need to complete everything during that week. All of the required elements need to be completed by February 22. Then on Monday, February 23, the last module containing the certificates will open. So if you started the course late, don’t panic, there is still plenty of time to get through everything.

Quiz Results: Many of you aren’t using the full 30 minutes to search for the reading to find the answers. That is the best way to increase your scores.

Quiz Results

No shout-outs, or brownie points this week, but I loved the discussions on the robo-graders. I thought that everyone was able to articulate his or her opinions professionally and courteously. Regardless of how passionate someone felt pro or con, there were no personal attacks and petty bickering. I guess that is the difference in teaching teachers versus teaching high school students. I am noticing a little participation fatigue between Week One and Week Two. Week One had an average of 47 participations per day and 798 page views per day. During Week Two this slipped to 29 participations per day and 522 page views per day. Both weeks have had the lowest activity on Saturdays. It’s almost like teachers think they deserve a day off.


As we venture into argumentative writing this week, I would like to share a current assignment that my 9th & 10th grade World History students have been assigned. This is a culminating essay for our unit on the Holocaust. Students must argue which humanitarian deserves an award for saving Jewish lives during the Holocaust. It relates to the essential question for this unit, Would you risk your life to save others? What would influence your decision? I am borrowing a format I saw used by @Pomme_Ed. I’ve seen it called a Video Based Question, or Digital Based Question and it can easily be shared with students via Google Drive. I welcome your comments and feedback. Feel free to make a copy of the assignment and modify it for use with your students.

This week we have four readings, a quiz on the featured reading, three resources, three pages of videos, and three discussions. Again, I’d like to discourage you from binge viewing. I think letting yourself reflect for a day results in better discussions. Also on Twitter, we have a small, but mighty group of 20 students of 423 students. . Use #HistRW to share resources with MOOC participants. Consider following your classmates on Twitter. A lot of great ideas are shared during #sschat, #TeachWriting, #WHAPchat, and #sstlap.

  1. Tips and resources that were shared last week were:
  2. Prewriting: Why Should Students Go It Alone? http://p.ost.im/LY2mUb via @Catlin_Tucker #HistRW
  3. Special Journal Issue on #MOOC Read all about it. http://ln.is/scholarworks.umb.edu/dDQCG … #edtechchat #edchat #HistRW
  4. Historical Thinking – Teaching with Primary Sources http://ln.is/www.loc.gov/teachers/uEiNM … #HistRW
  5. Three lessons from the science of how to teach writing | Education By The Numbers: http://ln.is/educationbythenumbers.org/SgtQG … #HistRW
  6. Three lessons from data on the best ways to give feedback to students http://ln.is/p.ost.im/DSVNo  #HistRW
  7. Peer Review: 5 Tips and a Bunch of Tools to Make It Work When It Doesn’t. http://ln.is/angelastockman.com/Jkk3c … #HistRW

Please consider following your classmates on Twitter. A lot of great ideas are shared during #sschat, #TeachWriting, #WHAPchat, and #sstlap.




















MOOC Launches Jan 12

Hello Course Participants, all 345 of you,

I have noticed that many of you have been signing up for blog updates before the course starts on Monday, January 12th. Yay! I am excited about the launch of the course. I am Dr. Scott Petri, your instructional co-host for Helping History Teachers Become Writing Teachers. I want to welcome you to the MOOC and describe the overall format of the course.

Canvas Network

As schools and districts implement the Common Core, we know that all teachers need to become writing teachers. Unfortunately many History & Social Studies teachers have not had sufficient instruction or practice in historical writing. Very few teacher professional development seminars focus on this topic. I hope this MOOC demystifies the writing process and encourages you to increase the amount of writing you assign in your classroom.

Each week, there will be an introductory lecture explaining the theme of the module. A featured reading, or series of readings on the topic. A quiz on the reading. Then outside video lectures and resources that will elaborate on the topic and assist you with implementation. Lastly, discussion board prompts will help you apply the content to your classroom practices.

Please understand, I am a classroom teacher, not a professional broadcaster. You are not going to get top-end production values in my video lectures. The resources in this MOOC were collected on the journey I have taken over the last five years as I have moved from fill in the bubble testing to assigning more authentic writing tasks as assessments. I do not consider myself “the expert” on this subject and the resources curated here are a mere fraction of what is available on the internet to help you introduce more writing into your classroom. A Japanese proverb states “one of us is not as smart as all of us” This sums up a key benefit of the MOOC format. It is participatory and collaborative. With several hundred participants contributing, you are bound to find something that moves your thought process and improves your practice.

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I encourage you to share your resources, techniques, and systems with our course participants. It has been my experience that teaching is all too often a solitary act. Connecting with a supportive community of educators that encourages experimentation and innovation is, quite frankly, what is missing from many school site or district professional development programs. I hope we can create that type of community within this course. Thanks for joining us. I look forward to meeting you on the discussion boards.