Like them or not, I think it's rather telling that the Common Core State Standards include standards for speaking and listening. Logic would suggest that these standards were created because students show some deficiency in their ability to converse, at least in the traditional sense (texting, tweets, and status updates aside). While I certainly am an advocate of technology, I do buy into the notion that it has harmed students' conversation skills, as well as their ability to pick up on the subtleties of communication. There are probably other factors involved in this decline, but in this post at least, I'm not concerned with those. What I am concerned with is an excellent post from Allen Mendler on Edutopia.
Mendler takes the time to illustrate several strategies aimed at coaching students through having both formal and informal conversations. While many of them seem elementary, it is truly amazing to consider their impact, especially in the "read/write/speak more" push in the Common Core. I had already implemented some of these prior to this posting, and have seen seismic shifts in the way that students communicate with each other during fishbowl discussions, as well as think-pair-shares. It's certainly a worthy read for anyone who says "why won't these kids just respect each other?" It's not that they won't, it's that sometimes, they just don't know how.
Mendler, A. (2013, November 5). Teaching your students how to have a conversation. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teaching-your-students-conversation-allen-mendler