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10 Habits of Highly Effective Students

October 18, 2012

The best thing you can do for yourself, as you plan to be a better student, is to develop a strong work ethic. Please download the handout here ( Review the handout, and summarize the top five things you need to do to develop a strong work ethic with your daily habits.


Digital Card Maker

December 22, 2011

Your assignment is to create a digital New Year’s Card using one of the following card makers. Your New Year’s Card’s message must include three New Year’s Resolutions made by YOU, identifying three goals to be a better student, based on the lessons covered in this class.

Be sure the one you choose is free. After making your card, send it to two teachers, but include my email as a third person as well (


What’s Your Plan To Make A Difference?

December 21, 2011

Similar to the CNN Heroes Awards, your assignment is to identify one way that you plan to make a positive difference in the world, contributing to a world that will be a better place to live, because of your efforts.

In a Pages Poster, please answer the following questions, based on exploring one or more of the sites in the “Be A Difference Maker” page at this website. Please include at least three pictures that demonstrate the work of this organization.

1. What organization or group do you plan to participate in as a member, volunteer, or financial contributor?
2. What is the mission / purpose of this organization?
3. What person(s), people group, or nation does this organization work with?
4. Where is the headquarters of this organization?
5. How can your efforts make a difference?
6. Please include the website(s) of this organization.

Nebraska Career Connections

December 15, 2011

Students are asked to create a ‘new user’ account at
Once the account has been completed, students are asked to complete the two assessments under the link “Self Exploration” (My Interests and My Skills). We will continue to work on this site for the next few days.

Your Plan To Communicate / Listen Effectively

December 13, 2011

Your assignment is to create a poster, using Pages software. Pages is in the iWork folder of your applications. Your poster should reflect what you have learned about yourself, and the ideas you want to improve about yourself.
Please summarize the quiz results from the Communications Quiz and Listening Quiz on this site.
As well, please identify your top ten ways to improve the way you communicate and listen, as you work with other students, teachers, and communicate with your parents. Please have at least seven pictures to demonstrate your top ten ideas in the poster. When you are done, email your poster to Mr. Bednar as an attachment (

How Well Do You Communicate?

December 13, 2011

Communication skills are some of the most important skills that you need to succeed in the workplace. We talk to people face to face, and we listen when people talk to us. We write emails and reports, and we read the documents that are sent to us. Communication, therefore, is a process that involves at least two people – a sender and a receiver. For it to be successful, the receiver must understand the message in the way that the sender intended.

Please complete the quiz at the site below, then explain your results in the comments.

Also complete the online listening quiz at

and explain your results in the comments.

Practice Good Listening Skills

December 12, 2011

The following is adapted from Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong site. You can read the entire article here.

What are three types of effective listening?

1. Paraphrasing
To paraphrase, one simply rewords what another individual has said. For example, the speaker might say, “She was foolish to quit her job.” The listener might respond, “I hear you saying that you believe she shouldn’t have quit.” What has occurred is paraphrasing where the listener has clarified what the speaker has said.
2. Open Questions
An open question explores a person’s statement without requiring a simple “yes” or “no” answer. The basic difference between an open question and a closed question is what they provide the person being asked. When you are asked an open question it helps you think more about an issue. A closed question will not do that. It may force you to answer before you are ready, or require a “yes” or “no” answer that doesn’t allow more thinking about the issue. Closed questions close the door on further thought, while open questions open the door. For example, the speaker might say, “I don’t like my job.” The listener might respond, “What about your job don’t you like?” or, “Tell me more about your feelings regarding your job.”
3. Feeling Reflection
Feeling reflection is a response in which you express a feeling or emotion you have experienced in reference to a particular statement. For example, the speaker might say, “I get sick of working so much overtime!” The listener might respond, “I hear you feeling angry and resentful at being asked to work so much overtime.” Feeling reflections are perhaps the most difficult active listening responses to make. Not only do you actively listen to what is being said but also you actively listen for what is being felt. When you make a feeling reflection, you are reflecting back what you hear of another’s feelings. It is similar to paraphrasing; however, you repeat what you heard them feeling instead of what you heard them saying. To understand what individuals are feeling, you must listen to their words, to their tone of voice, and watch their body signals. By observing all three you can begin to guess their feelings.
* Listen carefully so that you will be able to understand, comprehend and evaluate. Careful listening will require a conscious effort on your part. You must be aware of the verbal and nonverbal messages (reading between the lines).
* Be mentally and physically prepared to listen. Put other thoughts out of your mind. Your attention will be diverted from listening if you try to think of answers in advance.
* You can’t hear if you do all the talking.
* Think about the topic in advance, if possible. Be prepared to listen.
* Listen with empathy. See the situation from the other’s point of view. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
* Be courteous; don’t interrupt. Take notes if you worry about forgetting a particular point.
* Avoid stereotyping individuals by making assumptions about how you expect them to act. This will bias your listening.
* Listen to how something is said. Be alert for what is left unsaid.
* Make certain everyone involved gets an opportunity to voice their opinions. Don’t let one person dominate the conversation.
* Face those you are talking with, lean slightly forward and make eye contact. Use your body to show your interest and concern.

Roadblocks to Effective Listening

The following types of responses indicate ineffective listening:
* warning
* interrogating
* preaching
* ordering
* judging
* diverting
* analyzing
* blaming
* labeling
* moralizing
* probing
* ridiculing
* threatening
* reassuring
* distracting
* sympathizing
* demanding
* interpreting
* teaching
* withdrawing
* giving solutions
* scolding
* praising
* advising
* criticizing
* directing
* lecturing
* name-calling

Reasons to Improve Listening Skills

* To avoid saying the wrong thing, being tactless
* To dissipate strong feelings
* To learn to accept feelings (yours and others)
* To generate a feeling of caring
* To help people start listening to you
* To increase the other person’s confidence in you
* To make the other person feel important and recognized
* To be sure you both are on the same wavelength
* To be sure you both are focused on the same topic
* To check that you are both are on target with one another

Questions to Ask Yourself in Conversations
* What am I doing in this interaction?
* What are my strategies or goals in communicating this message?
* Where do I want to go in this conversation?
* What is my body feeling right now in this conversation?
* What pressures am I feeling in talking with this person?
* What could I say differently?
* How could I say that so as to show I understood?
* What am I feeling at this time?
* What impulses do I have?
* What is my decision–making process in this conversation?
* How is she feeling toward me?
* What do I want or not want him to feel?
* What risks am I experiencing in this conversation?
* How is her appearance affecting me?
* What fantasy is going on in my head in this dialogue?
* What cues of the other am I responding to?
* How does his behavior affect my approach in this discussion?
* How genuine am I feeling at this time?
* How does what I say reflect genuineness to her?
* How could I have made what I just said more empathetic? How did I demonstrate respect for the other?
* How is my level of communication and vocabulary affecting the dialogue?
* What different style of communication could I use to reach her better?
* How attentive am I to him at this time?
* How do I feel about her response?
* How comfortable am I feeling at this time?
* How are my values affecting what I am hearing at this time?
* What is the level of my trust at this time?
* How did that question further the discussion and show I was listening?
* How mutually helpful is this conversation at this time?
* How honest are my statements with her?
* How comfortable am I in honestly labeling what I see going on with him?
* What can I do to improve the feedback I am giving the other?
* How well am I tuning into her feelings?
* What responses can I use to demonstrate that I am “with” the other?

Feelings for Which You Can be Listening

Use these lists of words to help you as you listen for the feelings of others in your conversations. Try to identify the other person’s feeling, then reflect them back to the speaker.
Positive feelings include love, affection, concern, interest, elation and joy.
Negative feelings include depression, sadness, distress, fear, anger and anxiety.
Practice Listening for Feelings
Give either a paraphrase, an open question or a feeling-reflection listening response for each of the following statements. First identify the feelings, then give your response. Compare your answers with a friend’s. Discuss the feelings identification and appropriateness of your responses.
“I am overwhelmed with work and can’t get to your project yet.”
“No one ever appreciates me around here!”
“I am lost. I’ll never get this job done. Can you help me with this?”
“When I was younger I never knew what to expect in my house. One day Dad would be happy and carefree, and the next day he might be angry and hateful.”
“I always work hard to achieve the goals of my group. I can’t believe everyone else doesn’t feel that way.”
“I am so upset. I hate bringing the baby to the mall. Everyone stares at him. I get so embarrassed, I could cry!”
“Why doesn’t anyone understand how I feel? I try my hardest but it never seems to matter. They still argue and fight all the time.”
“I would rather die than let anyone know how I feel about it.”
“No one but me is responsible for what happens to me. Butt out of my business and I’ll butt out of yours.”
“Why did this have to happen to me? What did I do wrong? Why has God chosen me for this?”
“Why doesn’t anyone ever hear me? I am so anxious for them to give me a chance but they all seem busy and preoccupied. I don’t think they really care about me anymore.”
“You are all a bunch of phonies. I can’t stand your cold-hearted, pompous ideas of right and wrong. I’d rather be anywhere else than with you tonight!”
“I get so embarrassed in that group. Everyone seems so together and with it. I’m afraid they would never accept me for who I am and the way I feel.”
“I get so uptight coming to this group every week. I am sure that someday my turn will come and I’ll be so clammed up I’ll never be able to say a word.”
“I am so afraid of letting my feelings out. If I ever let them out, I may never stop. I might go over the edge.”
“My dad and mom are so busy taking care of my little brother that I’m afraid to tell them about my problems. They seem insignificant compared to his problems.”
“Nobody really cares if we win or lose. They goof around and take nothing serious.”
“I am so untalented, ignorant and ugly that no one could possibly love me.”
“I wish that I had never been born. If I hadn’t been born, maybe my family wouldn’t have had such problems. Maybe Mom and Dad would have been happy and not divorced.”
“I want to thank you for making this the best day of my life. You are all so special and wonderful. I love you all.”

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Your assignment: team up with a partner. Ask your partner what is the most exciting about our upcoming vacation and what is one thing you dread about vacation. Get your partner to talk in greater depth and detail, lasting at least three minutes. Then summarize what you partner said (without putting their name to the comment) regarding at least five details about what they are excited about and five details about what is dreaded. Please use the above ideas from Lance Armstrong.