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EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION KIT
FOR PARENTS OF TEENAGERS


Learning Experience by Courtney Sanderl, Amherst Middle School, Amherst Central NY School District
Member of the New York State Academy for Teaching and Learning

Learning Context
Effective communication is one of the most important skills that families can develop. The purpose of this learning experience is for students to create a kit that promotes healthy, effective communication among family members. The skill of communicating effectively is essential not only in families, but in everyday relationships as well. The simple design of the kit allows for people of all ages to develop their communication skills. In the process of creating the kit, students uncover the roles and responsibilities of a parent in the development of effective communication within a family.

Guiding Questions:

  • How do family members support and affirm one another?
  • How do family members show respect for one another?
  • How do family members develop trust for one another?
  • What communication strategies support the well being of family members?
  • What resources outside of the family are available to support healthy family relationships and childcare?
  • How can my actions make my family a healthier place to love and live?

Connection and Rationale
The Effective Communication Kit for Parents of Teenagers is an assignment given to eighth grade students in health education class. The task is used as a summative assessment for the communication unit. The assignment requires students to develop and demonstrate advocacy, communication, decision-making, and self-management skills. These skills are necessary for students to become responsible, respectful, and productive adults. The emphasis of the task is to allow students the opportunity to view situations from the perspective of a parent.

The Effective Communication Kit task is versatile enough to be taught in several curricular disciplines. As aforementioned, the task is currently given to students in health education class. The health content is infused into the task through the problems students must solve at the conclusion of the assignment. Thus, other curricular content could be infused in the same manner.

The Effective Communication Kit reflects “best” classroom practices because it requires students to develop proficiencies in two of the New York State Standard areas: Parenting and Health, Physical Education, and Family and Consumer Science. Students must also demonstrate adequate development of advocacy, communication, decision-making, and self-management skills from the New York State Health Skills Matrix. The combination of these requirements fosters effective communication. Students can see their role in the dynamics of family communication. As a result, students equip themselves to communicate better, and to develop strategies when effective communication falls apart. The goal of the task is for students to develop realistic communication strategies that make them a better family member, a quality future-parent, and a model citizen.

Prior Knowledge and Tips for Success:

  • Create a good knowledge base in the areas of communication and conflict management.
  • Practice answering questions from the parents’ perspective.
  • Gather, and make available, many resources on communication and parenting.
  • Distribute health skills matrix to each student and highlight skills that will be assessed.
  • Have one example of an effective communication kit or similar kit.

Procedure
The Effective Communication Kit for Parents of Teenagers is an independent project to be done outside of class. Students use information from previous class activities about communication, conflict management, problem solving and decision-making. Class time is used to introduce the task, articulate expectations, brainstorm, receive teacher feedback, and gather information. Accomplishing the task with success requires students to demonstrate many of the skills necessary to enhance personal health. A student’s ability to create a product that can be used to solve realistic life situations in an appropriate, healthy manner illustrates that student’s development of necessary health skills.

The sequential planner included in the teacher packet outlines a procedural process that will result in success for the Effective Communication Kit learning experience. Below is an outline of this procedure.

Day 1

  • The teacher explains brainstorming activity used to introduce and define the five areas of investigation (words and actions that show care &/or respect, components of effective communication, roadblocks to effective communication, ways to develop trust, and resources outside of the family).
    * Brainstorming Activity- five sheets of newsprint are placed around the room; each headed with a different area of investigation. Students are divided into groups of three or four, depending on class size. Groups are given a marker and an area of investigation to start at. The activity begins when each group of students is at a different area of investigation. Groups are given four minutes to brainstorm as many answers as possible for that area of investigation. Groups rotate through each station
  • The teacher provides and explains Day 1 Student Packet, Task Sheet and Process Rubric.
  • Students are given time to think and write about day 1 reflection question.

Day 2

  • The teacher provides and explains Day 2 Student Packet, Problem Solving Packet(to be completed day 3) and Product Rubric.
  • The teacher provides examples of Effective Communication Kits for student viewing.
  • The teacher makes available several resource materials that students use for investigation purposes.
  • Students are given time to think and write about day 2 reflection question.

Day 3

  • Day three gives students the opportunity to use their kit, check for deficiencies, and to strengthen design.
    - Students are to bring in their finished Effective Communication Kit and complete the Problem Solving Packet. At the conclusion of this, students are required to take their kit home to make necessary improvements, and to have an adult complete a Problem Solving Packet.
    - Day 1 Packets, Day 2 Packets, Problem Solving Packets, and the Effective Communication Kit for Parents of Teenagers are due at the beginning of the next class.
    - Students are given time to think and write about day 3 reflection questions.
  • Throughout the project, the teacher conferences with students, students use computers to investigate and design.
  • Students are encouraged to use graphic organizers, checklists, and assessment rubrics (which have been provided to them) as a means to monitor their progress, and assess their product.

This learning experience incorporates technology in two specific areas. First, during the information gathering and investigation session students are requested to search the internet for pertinent, appropriate, and useful information. Secondly, students are encouraged to use computer graphics and word processing to make their kit look more professional.

Instructional/Environmental Modifications

This task can be easily modified by decreasing the number of elements required within each area of investigation. Students could also be permitted to work in small groups, which would require the instructor to articulate job descriptions and responsibilities for group members. In cases of more severe disabilities, extended time or teacher consultations would be appropriate.

Time Required
Planning and preparation for the teacher:

  • Lessons in previous classes on communication (180 min.).
  • Duplication of materials (30 min.)
    - Day 1 student packet
    - Day 2 student packet
    - task sheet
    - problem solving practice packet
    - rubrics

Compilation of resources (1 hour).

  • Explanation of activities (5 min.).
  • Explanation of tasks (15 min.).
  • Assessment of Effective Communication Kits (10 min each project).
  • Assessment of student packets (15 min each).

Time and preparation for the student:

  • Previous class information on communication (180min.)
  • Brainstorming Activity (20 min.).
  • Complete Day 1 student packet (15 min.).
  • Complete Day 2 student packet (1 hour).
  • Create, design, and complete kit (2 hours).
  • Complete problem solving practice packet (40 min.).

Resources

  • Elgin, Suzette Haden. The Gentle Art of Communicating with Kids. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996.
  • Fetro, Joyce V. Personal & Social Skills: Understanding and Integrating Competencies Across Health content. California: ETR Associates, 1992.
  • Materials provided by instructor or student include:
    - newsprint
    - markers
    - a variety of packages to be used for kit making
    - computer
    - resources on parenting and communication
    - folders to keep all packets together

Assessment Plan

Formative Assessment Strategies:
Formative evidence of meeting the performance indicators are achieved through the use of:

- observation of students during class time
- graphic organizers,
- checklists,
- responses to reflection questions.
- problem solving packet

Summative Assessment Strategies:
A summative assessment will be determined based on the following items:

-Day 1,2 & 3 Student Packets
-problem solving packet
-Effective Communication Kit for Parents of Teenagers
-kit rubric
-process rubric


STUDENT PACKET
Words and Actions that Show Care &/or Respect

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________


Components of Effective Communication

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________


Ways to Develop TRUST

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________


Roadblocks to Effective Communication

__________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________


Resources Outside of Family

__________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________

___________________________________


EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION KIT FOR PARENTS OF TEENAGERS
TASK DESCRIPTION SHEET

Role Title
You are a design engineer for a well-known communication company.

Situation
The company you work for specializes in the production of educational materials used to improve communication among people. Your company built its reputation by facilitating communication among large groups of people in workplaces, schools, and other institutions. They now want to expand their services to smaller groups. The company realizes the importance for a family to develop effective communication skills, and have decided to start their effort there.

Role Description
The company has asked you to design and create a kit that incorporates the knowledge of effective communication with the development of the skills necessary to promote effective communication among family members.

The Effective Communication Kit will be targeted, initially, to parents with teenage children. As a design specialist you must create a comprehensive, user-friendly kit geared to this group. The kit must promote relationship building in families via effective communication. The following components are required as pieces of the kit: showing respect, developing trust, community resources outside of the family, and strategies to overcome communication barriers and conflict. Each component must be packaged separately.

As a design specialist, the packaging of the kit is important. The kit should be easy to use, portable, appealing to the eye, titled and labeled correctly, and designed to develop effective communication skills.


BRAINSTORMING



KIT PACKAGE IDEAS


___________________________________________________________________



Thinking This Through Area: ______________________________





___________________________________________________________________


CHECKLIST
_____I have completed Day 1 Student Packet

_____I have completed Day 2 Student Packet

_____I have thoroughly investigated EACH of the five areas

_____Investigation of words & actions that show care & respect complete.

_____Investigation of effective communication complete

_____Investigation of roadblocks of effective communication and strategies to deal with them complete

_____Investigation of ways to develop trust complete

_____Investigation of resources outside of the family complete

_____I have brainstormed at least two different kit ideas

_____I have decided how to package the kit

_____I have decided how to package each of the five areas

_____I have listed all of the materials I will need to make my product

_____I have proofread EVERYTHING myself

_____I have asked an adult to proofread everything

_____I have completed the problem solving packet myself

_____An adult has completed the problem solving packet

_____I have used the process rubric to self-evaluate

_____I have used the product rubric to self-evaluate

_____I have made any necessary improvements, and believe this is my best work!


COMMUNICATION KIT
PROBLEM SOLVING & FEEDBACK SHEET

Prior to handing your final project in it is important to be certain that you have done your best. Once your Effective Communication Kit is completed it is time to check for its usability. The steps below will help you to do that. All work is to be turned in with your final packet.

Step 1: Select one or more problems to solve from the “Problem Solving” sheet. Record your solutions on the “Solving a Communication Problem Sheet”.

Step 2: Evaluate your communication kit using the “Feedback Form”.

Step 3: Make any necessary changes to your kit.

Step 4: Ask an adult to do steps 1 and 2. Make any required changes to your kit. It is acceptable, and suggested, that you ask a second adult for feedback.


PROBLEM SOLVING PRACTICE SHEET

Use an effective communication kit to solve one or more of the following problems in an appropriate, healthy way. Solve as if YOU are the parent. It is required you use three pieces from kit for each solution. Record solution on the “Solving a Communication Problem” worksheet.

  1. 1. Your thirteen-year-old son has informed you that he has been given detention because he did not do his homework. This is not the first time this has happened; in fact the problem has been chronic(long lasting). You have noticed that his behavior at home also could stand for some improvement. It is time for a talk with him. How would you solve this problem in the healthiest way?
  2. Your teenage daughter has been invited overnight to a friend’s house. Initially you agreed to the arrangement. Now, your daughter informs you that neither of her friend’s parents will be home until very late that evening. However, the friend’s older sister will be there. Your house rules have been consistent on this point- if there is not adult supervision; you may not go. Your daughter has approached you with the defense that the parents WILL be there eventually, and that she is getting older you HAVE to let her do things on her own. It is time to address the situation with her. How would you solve this problem in the healthiest way?
  3. The big homecoming dance is on Friday. Your daughter has purchased a ticket, and has decided to go with a bunch of friends. At the beginning of the week you told her that she must clean her room and finish her weekly household chores BEFORE she goes to the dance. You remind her of this condition again on Thursday. It is now Friday and her room has not been cleaned, and there are a few chores left to be done. She comes home from school and immediately begins getting ready for the dance. You have to speak to her about the ‘deal’ that was made earlier in the week. You know it is going to be a hostile conversation. How would you solve this problem in the healthiest way?

Solving a Communication Problem Worksheet

Record your solutions on this sheet. There is space at the bottom to include any other comments or suggestions you might have.

Problem # ___________ I am a(n) (circle one) adult/child

Main Issue (in one sentence write the problem) ____________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________

How I would handle this in the healthiest way…

  • First I would_______________________________________________________________


  • Then I would______________________________________________________________


  • I would also_______________________________________________________________


  • As follow up I suggest ______________________________________________________


  • From the kit I used_________________________________________________________

    Because __________________________________________________________________

  • I also used ________________________________________________________________

    Because __________________________________________________________________

  • I also used ________________________________________________________________

    Because __________________________________________________________________


Additional comments ___________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________


Communication Kit Feedback Form

After using an effective communication kit to solve a real-life problem, record your evaluation of the kit. Circle the number that best matches your evaluation of each category (5 equals a superior score).

I AM A(N) (circle one) Adult / Child
Superior
<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>> Poor
DIRECTIONS 5 4 3 2 1

Easy to read

5 4 3 2 1

Easy to understand

5 4 3 2 1

Apparent on each item

5 4 3 2 1
Made kit easier to use 5 4 3 2 1
DESIGN 5 4 3 2 1

Professional Look

5 4 3 2 1

Appeal to the eye

5 4 3 2 1

Color

5 4 3 2 1

Packaging idea

5 4 3 2 1
Each item separate 5 4 3 2 1
USE
5 4 3 2 1

Easy to use

5 4 3 2 1

Helped solve problem

5 4 3 2 1
OVERALL
5 4 3 2 1

POSITIVE COMMENTS: __________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________


SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT: ______________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________



Student Tools 1,2 & 3 & Reflection Rubric
Effective Communication Kit for Parents of Teenagers

PROCESS

4

3

2

1

COMMUNICATION
The extent to which students apply communication skills and strategies to enhance health.
PIII H
H 2B

Recognizes barriers to personal & social communication. Applies appropriate strategies to solve real-life situations in a way that enhances personal health and safety.

Recognizes barriers to personal & social communication. Applies an acceptable strategy to solve a real-life situation. Identifies only some of the barriers to personal & social communication and/or strategy selected would interfere with a solution to a real-life situation. Unable to identify barriers to personal & social communication and/or selected strategy would make real-life situation worse.

STUDENT PACKETS & ORGANIZERS
The extent to which students complete packets, demonstrate organization, and categorization of information.
CDOS 3a.2,.7
ELA 1.1A

  • Absolutely complete, sequential & organized.

  • Completion demonstrates competencies essential for workplace.
  • Complete

  • Completion demonstrates sufficient competencies essential for workplace.
  • A few missing answers

  • Completion demonstrates few competencies essential for workplace.
  • Missing several answers.

  • No apparent competencies present in completion.

INVESTIGATION
The extent to which students demonstrate information research in the area of parenting, communication, and relationship building.
PIII D,E,F,G
H 3A
CDOS 3a.7

Investigative strategies represent an exhaustive search for valid information and a variety of resources. Investigative strategies represent sufficient search for valid information and several resources. Investigative strategies provide for insufficient valid information gathering and/or few resources used. Investigation strategies are ineffective for valid information gathering and/or minimal resources used.

REFLECTION
The extent to which student expresses thoughts and feelings as a result of participating in the learning experience.
H 2B
ELA 1.2d

Response to question is clear, thoughtful and supported with strong, accurate evidence relating to skill development in decision making and communication. Response to question is supported with accurate evidence relating to skill development in decision making and communication. Response to question is not supported with accurate evidence relating to skill development in decision making and communication &/or response digresses from question. Response to question is not answered &/or inaccurate evidence relating to decision making and communication is given.


Kit Rubric: Effective Communication Kit for Parents of Teenagers

PRODUCT

4

3

2

1

APPLICATION OF STANDARDS
The extent to which student demonstrates an understanding of parenting learning standard and NYS performance indicators for health education.
P III
H 2B 3A

  • Clearly demonstrates an understanding of communication skills necessary for healthy families to maintain positive relationships.

  • Consistently identifies when use of valid community resources is necessary.
  • Demonstrates a surface understanding of skills necessary for healthy families to maintain positive relationships.

  • Accurately identifies when valid community resources are necessary.
  • Demonstrates some confusion in understanding of skills necessary for families to maintain positive relationships.

  • Occasionally misidentifies when valid community resources are necessary
  • Demonstrates little to no understanding of skills necessary for families to maintain positive relationships.

  • Frequently misidentifies when valid community resources are necessary
.

KIT USE
The extent to which product promotes skill and strategy development in the area of communication.
H 2B
CDOS 3a.2

Kit use clearly has the ability to use decision making skills and develop communication strategies to enhance personal health & safety. Kit use has the potential to use decision making skills and develop communication strategies to enhance personal health & safety. The use of decision making skills and the development of communication strategies that enhance personal health & safety would be difficult with kit. The use of kit would not help with decision making skills and the development of communication strategies that enhance personal health & safety would be impossible with kit.

MECHANICS
The extent which students present information using standard English.
ELA 1.2d

Consistently demonstrates use of mechanics of standard written English making product easy to use and understand. Demonstrates correct use of mechanics of standard written English making product usable and understandable.. Use of standard written English interferes with ability to use &/or understand product. Mechanics of standard written English causes confusion that prevents use or understanding of product.

DESIGN
The extent to which the product is appealing and effective
CDOS 3a.7

Design has professional appeal enhancing effectiveness of product. Design is appealing and aids in effectiveness of product. Design has little appeal &/or design distracts from effectiveness. Design is not appealing &/or causes the product to be ineffective.

PARENTING EDUCATION LEARNING EXPERIENCES SEQUENTIAL PLAN

Parenting Standard(s): III Support Systems and Services
Grade: 8
Discipline: Health
Essential Question(s): What are the traits of a healthy family & how are the traits sustained?


# of lessons: 3

________________

Length of periods: 40 Minutes

___________________________________


Lesson Components
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Guiding Question(s)

Parenting Standard III:
C. How do family members show respect for one another?
D. How do family members develop trust for one another?
F. What communication strategies support the wellbeing of family members?
H. What communication strategies support the emotional well being of family members?
I. What resources outside of the family are available to support healthy family relationships and childcare?

Parenting Standard III:
C. How do family members show respect for one another?
D. How do family members develop trust for one another?
F. What communication strategies support the wellbeing of family members?
H. What communication strategies support the emotional well being of family members?
I. What resources outside of the family are available to support healthy family relationships and childcare?

Parenting Standard III:
A.How can my actions make my family a healthier place to love and live?
F.-What communication strategies support the well being of family members?

Activities
  • Teacher describes brainstorm activity
  • Students conduct task; 3-5 per group
  • Day 1 Student Packet/graphic organizers distributed and explained by teacher
  • Students complete graphic organizers
  • Reflection question given
  • Class discussion for summary and closure
  • Package and Marketing for each piece
  • Day 2 Student Packet/graphic organizers
  • Articulate task expectations.
  • Kit usability check.
  • Solution Sheets and Feedback Forms
Skills Assessed

CM.I.2,.5,.6
DM.I.3

CM.I.2,.5,.6
DM.I.3

CM.I.2,.5,.6
DM.I.3

Learning Standards and Performance Indicators

NFCS –13.1.1, 13.3.1, 15.2.1,.2, 15.3.1,.2
H- 2 B, 3A
NH – 3.4, 5.4

NFCS –13.1.1, 13.3.1, 15.2.1,.2, 15.3.1,.2
H- 2 B, 3A
NH – 3.4, 5.4

NFCS –13.1.1, 13.3.1, 15.2.1,.2, 15.3.1,.2
H- 2 B, 3A
NH – 3.4, 5.4

Assessment Tool(s)

  • Oral response to reflection (formative)
  • Day 1 Student Packet/graphic organizer (diagnostic)
  • Class discussion (formative)
  • Teacher observation (formative)
  • Oral response to reflection (formative)
  • Day 2 Student Packet/graphic organizer (formative)
  • Teacher observation (formative)
  • Oral response to reflection (formative)
  • Kit Rubric (summative)
  • Student Tools & Reflection Rubric (summative)
Reflection question(s) How important is effective communication to a family? As a parent, what tools would you need or want in the kit?

1.What can you do to make the communication in your family better?

2. How can your communication kit apply to relationships outside of families?




Reflection

I have taught the communication unit to every secondary grade level. This learning experience exceeded my expectations for student learning. This is the first time that students have displayed outward enthusiasm for learning about communication. Bringing real life situations into classroom learning engaged each of the students. The learning experience encouraged students to apply their knowledge of health to situations that required them to develop life skills. The ‘real’ world connection kept students interested in the activity, and knowing adults would be asked to use their kit inspired them to produce their best work.

Initially students were apprehensive; the task seemed overwhelming to them. Once we read through the packets, broke the task down into steps, and started the work; students were engrossed! I became a facilitator for learning, rather than a lecturer. As the project continued, and the students worked, I received phone calls from parents. Several parents called to tell me what a wonderful idea they thought this was. The feedback was incredibly positive.

The regional peer review experience was beneficial to this experience. There were suggestions and strategies for improvement that I used to make my final product better. The feedback and encouragement that I received at the peer review proved to be invaluable.

By far this was the best way that I have concluded the communication unit. The students were interested, challenged, enthused, and productive. The instructor was excited, interested, and amazed with the final products.


Standards and Intermediate Performance Indicators


Parenting Standard III
Support Systems: Students will be able to identify traits of a healthy family and access support systems and services when appropriate.

NYS Health Education Skills Matrix- Intermediate Level
Communication
CM.I.2 Applies effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills to enhance health.
CM.I.5 Recognizes barriers that interfere with effective healthy communication and applies strategies to overcome barriers.
CM.I.6 Demonstrates ways to communicate care, consideration, & respect for self and others.

Decision-Making
DM.I.3 Compiles and assesses available information to enhance health.

NYS Health
Standard 2: Students will acquire the knowledge and ability necessary to create and maintain a safe and healthy environment.
B. Demonstrate personal and social skills that enhance personal health and safety.

Standard 3: Students will understand and be able to manage their personal resources.
A. Distinguish between valid and invalid health information, products, and services.

NYS Career Development and Occupational Studies
Standard 3a: Students will demonstrate mastery of the foundation skills and competencies essential for success in the workplace.

2. Evaluate facts, solve advanced problems, and make decisions by applying logic and reasoning skills.
7. Understand the material, human and financial resources necessary to accomplish the tasks and activities.

The following ELA standards are extensions of the project.
NYS English Language Arts
Standard 1: Students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.
1a Use a wide variety of strategies for selecting, organizing and categorizing information.
2d Use standard English for formal presentation of information.


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