Say What? The Communication Process

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  • Lesson Identification and TEKS Addressed

    Cluster : Human Services

    Course : Interpersonal Studies

  • TEKS Student Expectations

    • (6) The student determines factors related to marital success. The student is
      expected to:
      • (C) examine communication skills and behaviors that strengthen marriage
    • (12) The student exhibits employability skills. The student is expected to:
      • (A) practice effective verbal, nonverbal, written and electronic communication skills
      • (B) analyze the influence of cultural background on patterns of communication
  • Basic Direct Teach Lesson

    Instructional Objectives

    Students will:

    • explain, demonstrate and evaluate the process of communication
    • distinguish the purpose of high-quality communication
    • be provided with various opportunities to demonstrate effective communication skills – verbal, non-verbal, written and electronic
  • Rationale


    Many people take the act of communicating for granted. When they speak or listen, they assume that the message given or received is being understood. In reality, most messages are distorted, incomplete or lost on their way from one person to another. One study at UCLA indicated that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. The students will identify types of verbal and written communication, nonverbal communication and communication filters which assist them in dealing with individuals at home, in relationships and at the workplace.

  • Duration of Lesson

    Four 45 minute class periods

  • Word Wall

    Active listening: Requires the listener to understand what the speaker actually means; an active listener repeats what the speaker says to make sure the content of the message is clearly understood

    Communication: The process by which ideas, feelings and information are shared; involves the skills of listening, speaking and writing

    Grammar: The syntactic (the way in which words are put together to form sentences) and inflectional rules of a language

    Interpersonal communication: Includes message sending and message reception between two or more individuals; includes all aspects of communication such as listening, persuading, asserting, nonverbal communication and more

    I-statements: Your expression of thoughts, feelings and ideas. The speaker takes responsibility for his or her own emotions and actions

    Joint communication: Talking and listening

    Listening: An important part of communication that occurs when the listener receives the message and then interprets it

    Non-Verbal communication: Body language, eye contact, appearance and facial expressions

    One-way communication: Occurs when the person conveying information cannot obtain feedback

    Passive listening: Occurs when an individual receiving information provides responses that invite the speaker to share opinions and ideas; hearing words without listening for meanings

    Perception: How one selects, organizes and interprets information

    Techniques: Methods of doing some task or performing something

    Telecommunications: Communication over a distance; the transmission of words, symbols, images and data over a distance through technology such as telephones, radio, televisions, cell phones and the Internet

    Two-way communication: Occurs when the speaker and the listener both provide feedback

    Verbal Communication: Voice and tone

    You-statements: Are negative statements and often place blame or attack the receiver

  • Materials/Specialized Equipment Needed


    • computer with projector for PowerPoint™ presentation
    • computers with Internet access (be sure to follow district guidelines)


    • basket
    • rotary phone


    • cardstock

    • copies of handouts (see All Lesson Attachments tab)
  • Anticipatory Set

    Prior to class:

    Teacher note: Become familiar with Wordle. It is a tool for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts and color schemes.

    You can either use Sample of Charade Topics or the handout in which you can provide your own charade topics on Charade Topics (see All Lesson Attachments tab). Print handout on cardstock and cut apart charade cards. Place cards in a bowl or basket.

    Print and cut apart the Communication Scenarios on cardstock (see All Lesson Attachments tab). The cards will be placed in a basket and used in an activity during Independent Practice.

    Become familiar with PowerPoints™, handouts and activities.

    Before class begins:

    Display as many of the lesson-related supplies (see Materials or Specialized Equipment Needed) as you have available on a table in front of the room.

    Remove chairs and tables/desks and ask the students to sit in a conversation circle on the floor when they enter (like they may have done in elementary school).

    What words come to mind when you think of the word “communication”? Assign a scribe to write the words on the board. Using Wordle, create a word cloud with the words provided by the students. You may opt to print the final Wordle and display it in the classroom for the duration of the lesson.

    You will be playing a verbal and nonverbal communication game with the students.

    • Verbal communication game – Pass the Telephone. Have students sit in a circle. Ask one student to think of a phrase or sentence. Direct them to whisper it in the ear of the person sitting next to them. You may pass the rotary telephone to each student to use as they are whispering to each other. Each student whispers what they think they heard to the next student next to them. The last student says the phrase or sentence out loud. Ask the first student if that was his or her phrase. Did anything change? Did the message get lost or changed in translation? This is an example of verbal communication.
    • Nonverbal communication game – Charades. Pass the basket around with the Charade cards and have each student draw one card. Have students get up one at a time to act out the topic on the card without using any words or sounds while the others guess the topic. Allow time for each student to play the game. This is an example of nonverbal communication.

    Explain that we all communicate all day long, whether or not we are using words. Explain that others pick up messages from our facial expressions, body language, gestures and general demeanor. Begin the discussion with the following questions and have students share their responses:

    • How do you communicate most often?
    • How would you get people to understand you if you could no longer use that form of communication?
    • Ask students to explain what they did to communicate their message when they were unable to use words (ex: facial expressions, body language, gestures).
    • Were others able to guess the phrase or sentence?
    • Was the message delivered effectively?
    • What would your day be like if you could not communicate by telephone or cell phone?
    • How has texting improved your means of communication?
    • What are the disadvantages of texting as a means of communication?

    Teacher note: You may opt to purchase or obtain a copy of What Was It Like Before the Telephone? by Paul Humphrey, Lynda Stevens (Illustrator). It is elementary reading, but it will give the students an opportunity to think about how life was before the invention of the telephone. How did people communicate?

    Lead students to share and discuss their responses.

  • Direct Instruction with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Introduce lessons, objectives, terms and definitions.

    Distribute graphic organizer Slide Presentation Notes (see All Lesson Attachments tab) so that students may take notes during the slide presentation.

    Introduce PowerPoint™ Say What? The Communication Process (see All Lesson Attachments tab). Allow time for questions and class discussion.

    Using the Slide Presentation Notes (see All Lesson Attachments tab), students will have an opportunity to reflect, review and respond to the information pertaining to the PowerPoint™. They will write a summary of questions, topics or statements which reflect the information from the lesson:

    • Discuss the topic
    • Write down your thoughts
    • Make a real-world connection to the lesson
    • How is this going to help you in the future?

    Allow for questions and answers to check for understanding.

    Distribute Self-Assessment Communication Survey (see All Lesson Attachments tab) handout. Allow students time to complete the survey. Discuss the results of the survey. Ask the following questions:

    • Are you an effective communicator? Why or why not?
    • How can you improve your communication skills?

    Announce to students that a quiz will be administered at the end of the lesson.

    Videos included in the PowerPoint™ presentation:

    • How to Improve Interpersonal Skills
      This VideoJug presentation shows you how to improve your interpersonal skills with the aid of some simple coaching techniques.
    • Interview Tips – The Most Important Interview Non-Verbal
      Do you know what the most important interview non-verbal is? Watch this video to find out.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • providing students with a copy of the notes or a fill-in-the-blank note sheet to follow along with instruction
    • pairing up students with elbow partners who can assist them with verbal and written responses to the lesson

  • Guided Practice with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Scenario: You have recently shared a personal and difficult problem with a friend. Imagine how you would feel if the following you-statements were told to you in response to your personal problem. Instruct the students to respond to each You-statement with an I-statement.

    Using You-Statements versus I-Statements (see All Lesson Attachments tab) handout, students will complete the activity by stating their responses (with descriptions) to each you-statement. Some possible responses can start with:

    • I see…
    • I feel …
    • I think …
    • I wonder …
    • I wish …
    • I plan …
    • I believe …
    • I can …
    • I want …

    Lead a discussion about their responses to the you-statements. Use You-Statements versus I-Statements (Key) (see All Lesson Attachments tab) handout to check students’ answers.

    Students will practice communication skills related to home and personal situations. Place the Communication Scenarios (see All Lesson Attachments tab) in a basket. Some cards have been left blank so that other scenarios may be added.

    Divide the class into groups of four and allow one person from each group to pick a card from the basket.

    Students should brainstorm possible solutions to the scenarios and document the ideas on the board. Assign a scribe to record the ideas on the board.

    As stated before, resolving conflicts effectively is a transferable skill that can be applied to home and personal situations, but the skills can also be applied to employability. Inform the students they will be practicing job-related communication scenarios during Independent Practice.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • working with a peer tutor
    • participating in a small group/classroom

  • Independent Practice/Laboratory Experience with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Distribute graphic organizer Five Steps for Effective Communication (see All Lesson Attachments tab) and discuss the importance of solving communication problems at home, school and in the workplace with your students.

    Place the Job-Related Communication Scenarios (see All Lesson Attachments tab) cards in a basket. Some cards have been left blank so that other scenarios may be added.

    Divide the class into groups of four and allow one person from each group to pick a card from the basket.

    Students should brainstorm possible solutions to the scenarios and document the ideas on the graphic organizer.

    Solutions to the communication problems will be presented in the Lesson Closure section.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • providing specific websites or articles from which students can obtain their research information
    • providing students with a checklist or rubric to help them organize and complete all steps of the process

  • Lesson Closure

    Review lesson plan objectives, terms and definitions.

    Each group can discuss the scenarios that they chose and how they solved the communication problem by following the steps to effective communication.

  • Summative/End of Lesson Assessment with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Administer and assess The Communication Process Quiz (see All Lesson Attachments tab). Refer to The Communication Process Quiz (Key) (see All Lesson Attachments tab) to check students’ answers.

    You may opt to give the students an opportunity to improve their quiz scores by conducting an “autopsy” on their quiz. They correct their mistakes and then write a half-page reflection on why they did poorly and what they should have done differently. They earn a half point for each corrected answer. For example, if a student got 15 out of 25 answers right and did an autopsy to correct the others, his or her new score would be 20. Test scores improve, and the students really take ownership of their work.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • assisting students with research for assignments
    • modifying assignments if IEP calls for modification
    • giving students copies of slide presentations for study

  • References/Resources


    • Microsoft Clip Art: Used with permission from Microsoft.


    • Sasse, C.R. (2004). Families today. New York: Glencoe/McGraw Hill.


    • Free Management Library
      Online integrated library for personal, professional and organizational development. This site is filled with information on interpersonal skills, listening, verbal and nonverbal communications.


    • How to Improve Interpersonal Skills
      This VideoJug presentation shows you how to improve your interpersonal skills with the aid of some simple coaching techniques.
    • Interview Tips – The Most Important Interview Non-Verbal
      Do you know what the most important interview non-verbal is? Watch this video to find out.
  • Additional Required Components

    English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Strategies

    • ask students to repeat your instructions back to you to be sure they know what is expected of them before each new phase of the lesson
    • discuss vocabulary in detail and make sure everyone has a firm grasp on it before moving forward with the lesson
    • use graphic organizers and visuals to explain the lesson in detail
    • print fill-in-the-blank handouts of the PowerPoint notes for students to follow along with the lesson
    • provide note-taking assistance using Article Stop and Jot
  • College and Career Readiness Connection

    AchieveTexas Career Cluster Crosswalks

    The Career Cluster Crosswalks housed on the AchieveTexas website provide Texas teachers with a direct connection between their CTE course TEKS and the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS). Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Cross-Disciplinary integration are the focus of the CCRS. These college and career readiness standards are essential in the planning and delivery of CTE lessons. The extent to which the integration occurs is determined by the methods and strategies utilized by each teacher.

    Career Cluster Crosswalks for Education and Training, Hospitality and Tourism, and Human Services Career Clusters can be found at:

  • Other Essential Lesson Components

    Enrichment activity

    • Have students find cartoons, relevant or humorous quotes, anecdotes and jokes relevant to communication skills.
    • Develop scenarios for using and learning communication skills.
    • As a class, allow students to brainstorm, list and demonstrate several types of nonverbal communication such as hand gestures, facial expressions and body positions, and have other students interpret the cues.
    • Have students pair up and sit back to back. One in the pair is given a design and must describe that design to the other student to duplicate. This an activity that demonstrates the challenges of listening and choosing words carefully.
    • Become familiar with Glogster EDU before assigning a poster to your students. Assign students methods of communicating, and have them create a virtual poster on ways to communicate effectively with the assigned method.

    TED Talks:

    TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). The video below is related to this lesson. Allow students to view the video and lead a discussion concerning the TED Talk.

    • TED Talk: How Body Language and Micro Expressions Predict Success – Patryk & Kasia Wezowski
      Knowing how to read “micro expressions” is probably the most effective way to connect more with people and the most crucial skill to prevent the increasing social autism caused by today’s technological innovations.
  • Family/Community Connection

    • Invite a communications specialist to speak to the class on the importance and impact of nonverbal communication.
    • Have students conduct a survey of family and friends over the topic “Digital Communication: Is it Personal or Nonpersonal?” Share their results with the class.
  • CTSO connection

    Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)

    • Chapter Service Project (Display and Manual): A team event – recognizes chapters that develop and implement an in-depth service project that makes a worthwhile contribution to families, schools and communities. Students must use Family and Consumer Sciences content and skills to address and take action on a community need.
    • Interpersonal Communication – An individual or team event – recognizes participants who use Family and Consumer Sciences and/or related occupations skills and apply communication techniques to develop a project designed to strengthen communication.
  • Service Learning Projects

    Successful service learning project ideas originate from student concerns and needs. Allow students to brainstorm about service projects pertaining to the lesson. For additional information on service learning see

    Upon completion of a service learning project, distribute Service Learning: Demonstrating Communication Skills (see All Lesson Attachments tab) handout. Students will describe and evaluate their service learning project and communication skills.

    The students decide to conduct a school-wide canned food drive. Collected cans will be donated to the local food bank. In addition, students want to spend one day volunteering at the food bank facility. Students will practice their communication and service learning skills by:

    • designating, assigning and accepting roles and responsibilities for the project
    • developing a list of needed materials and other resources
    • conducting research on the services provided by the local food bank
    • identifying whether their project idea will meet the needs of the community
    • contacting the general manager of the local food bank to discuss service learning project and opportunity to assist at the food bank facility
    • requesting campus and parental permission and making necessary arrangements with school officials regarding off campus service learning project
    • requesting approval from district officials to participate in project
    • determining a timeline for project
    • identifying costs involved
    • determine and implement marketing strategies (create posters, announcements, flyers)
    • developing a plan for collecting, storing and delivering of canned foods
    • research location/distance between food bank and school
    • transportation needs
    • schedule the delivery trip
    • deliver all the canned foods collected
  • All Attachments