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Common Core Standards: ELA See All Teacher Resources



Grades 11-12

Speaking and Listening SL.11-12.1

Comprehension and Collaboration

SL.11-12.1. Initiate and participate in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

  • Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study, explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
  • Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussion and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.
  • Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
  • Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of the issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.

Getting teens to talk is usually no problem - until they have to speak in front of a large group, that is. In this Standard, we’ll see that preparation is the key in helping students feel comfortable in that situation. In the sample assignments given here, students will work in groups to prepare for discussion, often creating their own questions and topics. This standard also calls for the demonstration of proper discussion techniques. 

Proper preparation takes away some of the fear of public speaking. In this standard, students will understand the importance of solid planning and organizing within various types of groups. Students will understand and be able to implement respectful and insightful dialogue with others, which is a lifelong skill. Now, let’s get fishin’.

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example 1

The example that follows is something that you could give to your students to demonstrate how a class presentation that goes smoothly needs work and organization to be successful. Or, you could have your students work on this assignment or a similar one, if you are so inclined.

This assignment is based on the short story “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” by Leo Tolstoy and also requires that students are at least mildly familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy.


You have recently read “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” by Leo Tolstoy. You loved the surprise ending! You discovered that despite the main character’s quest for more and more land in order to be happy… WARNING! SPOILER AHEAD… a man needs just six feet of land when he dies. The theme of the story is that it is human nature to want more. Bigger. Better.

When the newest iPhone came out, you wanted to replace your adequately functioning unit with the latest and greatest. You know that your current cell phone is fine. But you WANTED the new one… just because it’s cool. Your friend, who has an iPad 2 instead of hands, just spent her hard-earned money on the new iPad 3. Just because. Yes, it’s human nature to want something that does more and performs better.

In order to better understand the story, your class has been placed into groups according to concept or theme. These are: allegory, greed, characterization, and irony. Your task is to prepare and conduct a Fish Bowl discussion on your topic. You’ve also received information about developing questions using Bloom’s Taxonomy. 

You choose five group norms or standards of behavior so that your group can meet its goal:

    • Be involved.
    • Be an active listener.
    • Be respectful.
    • Stay on task.
    • Everyone participates.

And, lucky you -- you’ve been elected leader! PUFF. PUFF. Other roles that your group members might take on might be taskmaster, liaison-to-the-teacher, and timekeeper.

Your group has been assigned the topic of greed. With your group, you make a list of six questions -- one for each level of Bloom’s. (These are: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.) In addition to creating the questions, you are expected to answer them. Sheeesh! You’ll make strong claims and offer solid evidence from the text to support those answers. Direct quotations add a nice flair. 

Each of you takes notes on your small group discussion. These will come in handy during the larger Fish Bowl discussion in front of your classmates. You have two days to prepare your work. Complete any additional research you might need to consider your topic thoroughly and effectively.

On the day of your assigned discussion, you meet with the two other groups also assigned to the topic of greed. The three groups sit in a small circle in the middle of the room with all your other classmates in a circle around your circle. Getting dizzy yet? Remember, it’s a fish bowl, and the audience is LOOKING at you. The outer circle acts as an audience -- they take notes but are NOT participating in the discussion.

You will be graded for your discussion. Here’s the deal: You’re expected to ask questions, respond to other students’ comments, answer questions with analytical remarks, and provide textual evidence. This won’t be too bad, you think, since your notes will come in handy, and you feel fully prepared. 

Group norms for the Fish Bowl are established. They sound just like the ones your small group set. As the discussion progresses, you remain respectful of all opinions. You notice the other groups’ questions are often different from yours, offering differing perspectives about greed. It seems your teacher is not participating at all except to correct misunderstandings. Students doing all the work? When did THAT happen? The conversation goes very well as each team builds on the others’ ideas. When differing in opinion, you do so with grace and well-reasoned arguments.

You were brilliant!

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.


  1. ____ collaborate

    Correct Answer:

    to work with one another; to cooperate

  2. ____ norm

    Correct Answer:

    a standard of behavior

  3. ____ diverse

    Correct Answer:

    composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities; differing

  4. ____ synthesize

    Correct Answer:

    to combine a number of things into a coherent whole

  5. ____ explicit

    Correct Answer:

    clear, or fully seen

  6. ____ claim

    Correct Answer:

    an assertion of something as a fact

  7. ____ evidence

    Correct Answer:

    that which tends to prove or disprove something

  8. ____ clarify

    Correct Answer:

    to make an idea or statement clear

  9. ____ verify

    Correct Answer:

    to prove the truth of, as by evidence or testimony

  10. ____ perspective

    Correct Answer:

    the viewpoint from which something is seen

Aligned Resources

More standards from Grades 11-12 - Speaking and Listening