Hair Trouble

story by Richard Brookton , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning intention: 

I am learning to use active listening and speaking skills so that I can communicate effectively with my peers. 


Success criteria: 

  • I can engage in active listening. 
  • I can use questioning to gain more information. 
  • I can use appropriate language for specific situations. 


After reading Hair Trouble as a class or listening to the audio recording, ask students what made Adam so friendly. Ensure students understand that Adam’s questions engaged his peers, and that asking people to talk about themselves is a good way to make friends. 


Sort students into groups of four. For this activity, it’s useful to choose groups who don’t normally socialise. Explain that the groups will be asking questions to their peers to find out more about them and actively listening to responses. Ask students what active listening looks like, sounds like and feels like. If time permits, you can complete a Y-chart to discuss this in further detail which can be accessed easily via Canva for Education Y Chart templates. 


Example answers on active listening: 

Looks like – eye contact, sitting up straight, nodding heads, facing speaker, hands in laps 

Sounds like – asking follow-up questions, one person speaking at a time 

Feels like – safe, learning, social, respect. 


Explain that students should consider what they already know about the people in their group and what kinds of questions they might ask. Discuss open questions versus closed questions and encourage students to think of open questions. For example, rather than ask “Do you like art?”, which has a yes or no answer, students should ask their peers something like “What’s your favourite subject and why?” or “Tell us about your family.” 


Each student can have one minute to talk about themselves, answering questions delivered by their peers. Remind students that they’re in a social situation, so can use casual – but respectful – language. 


At the end of the session, ask students whether they learnt surprising or interesting things about their peers. Reflect on whether Adam’s strategy of asking questions might be a useful skill for making friends in new places. 


Assessment as/of learning:  

Using an Exit ticket ask students to reflect on what question they posed to gain further information. Was it successful? Could they have adapted the question differently in order to gain further information.