Listening is Not Hearing

Online Lesson Plan
Listening is Not Hearing

lrGuyLesson Plan by , Assistant Professor in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education at UNL and a Co-Director of the Great Plains Institute for Reading and Writing. He is affiliated with the elementary education program as well as the UNL literacy group. He received his PhD in 2002 in Education from the University of California Riverside.

Subject Area:
Social Studies & Reading
Suggested Grade Level:
Grades 9-12
Learning Modality:
Visual Learners
Multiple Intelligence:
Intrapersonal Intelligence
Bloom’s Taxonomy:
What are these educational concepts?What are these educational concepts?



lrRead0301The student will:

  • Listen to obtain the gist (main idea)
  • Listen to obtain specific information (scanning)
  • Learn to understand intonation as a means to clarify intent and content
  • Learn to take selective and useful notes that can be applied to other work



This is a lesson built in four parts; each aspect will focus students on a different listening comprehension skill. The skills are: general comprehension (main idea), listening for specific content (scanning), listening for meaning beyond what is actually said, and learning what is important enough to write down.

standards02The teacher will divide the students into small groups (3-4 students) and will then play a segment of a filmed interview. Each group will be given a specific goal with a time limit to complete the task. This activity will highlight the need to set goals and focus attention. The fourth task will be performed individually to assess each student’s ability to successfully listen on multiple levels and take practical notes.


The Resources

Links from within the Wessels Living History Farm site. [Note that clicking on these links will open a new browser window. Just close it and you’ll be back to this page.] Direct the students to these pages.


film_holthus_Rfilm_schmidt_LThe Home Front
,  In particular, listen to
Kelly Holthus (left) remember what war was like for a 10-year-old.Irrigation Moves from Low Tech to High Tech, . Again, listen to
Gordan Schmidt (right) describe how irrigation can produce miracles.Internment in America,  Listen to
Kaz Tada (left, below) describe his experience being interned on the west coast.Farming in the 1940s,Handouts in PDF format There are three handouts available to help you accompolish this lesson. Note that these handouts are in the Adobe Acobat™ format. You can download the reader here.




The Process

Play the film clip “Kelly Holthus – War to a 10-year-old”. Ask the students what they heard. Try to get them to decide what the main idea was and get them to try and come up with three specific, supporting details.

In a whole class discussion, ask the students to generate reasons to take notes during interviews or lectures. The final list should approximate the list provided in the Note-Taking Quick Reference Page.

Divide the students into small (3-4 person) groups. Each group needs to come forward and take a slip of paper from a bowl (or hat). On each paper are a set of instructions from the Introductory Activity Assignment page.

Play clip “Schmidt & Steingard – Irrigation”. Instruct the students to watch and listen to the segment, carefully. Once the segment is over, the students are to take a clean sheet of paper and perform the task they have been given. They should have no more than 5 minutes to complete the task. [N.B. The same task will be performed by more than one group.]

In a whole class discussion each group should select one person to present their results. After each topic, students should explain how they identified and selected their information. In this discussion, highlight the difference between “fishing for details” and focusing on a main idea and useful supporting detail.

Play the clip “Kaz Tada – Internment of Japanese-Americans”. This time, each student will take individual notes. At the end of the section, students in each group will compare notes and discuss how they decided what was important and what difficulties they encountered in their note-taking.

At this point, the student should be presented with three different formats for note-taking, as presented in the Quick Reference Page. The groups should then re-organize their collective notes using one of the formats from the Quick Reference page.

As a whole class discussion, the groups should discuss how the reorganization was helpful to them.

As individuals, the students should take the Self-Assessment of Note-Taking Skills.

If time allows (and if not, as homework), have each student select a film clip from the 1940s page and listen, take notes, organize, and self-evaluate.


Learning Advice

Focus on the reasons for note-taking. Keep asking the students, “How did you know it was important?” “Why did you choose to write this down?” “How can you improve your note-taking?” Students should understand why and how listening comprehension is critical to good note-taking. Students should be reminded that note-taking is a skill and not a talent and will improve with practice.


Conclusion of the Lesson

As a closing activity, have the students summarize what they have learned about listening comprehension and how it affects note-taking. Allow multiple students to participate and ask for specific examples from their experiences in class; connect the conclusions to other classroom activities and assignments.


Assessment Activity

Assessment: Collect the students’ final individual work as well as their self-evaluations and examine for adherence to the following criteria:

  1. Identified main idea
  2. Included supporting detail
  3. Organized notes
  4. Original notes are in abbreviated structure (no, or very few, full sentences)
  5. In original notes, no time has been wasted correcting spelling or grammar
  6. Self-evaluation is reasonable and realistic


General Notes

This lesson can be easily stretched to encompass two or more periods and also can be repeated using different film clips from the main page. This activity will also help students get ready for collecting primary materials for projects such as History Day.


Get Published. You can also submit your own lesson plan based on this Web site to us by clicking the button at right. We will review the plan and publish it for you.



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