Look and Listen

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This session will explore the first LEADS strategy: Look and Listen. WITS LEADerS are those who effectively look and intently listen to others. How we look and listen is influenced by our feelings and impressions of the person or experience. It is important that we are aware of our thoughts and feelings when we encounter a new person or situation.


To begin, show students the LEADS poster, and introduce the strategy Look and listen. Discuss the following questions:

  1. What does it mean to take a close look at something or someone? Take time to look longer and pay close attention. Block out the distractions of other things you see.
  2. What are some ways we can actively listen to others? Introduce the Whole Body Listening chart.


Each activity in this segment will take one or two classes to complete. Activities are divided into three levels:

  • GETTING STARTED ACTIVITIES: Suitable for students being introduced to LEADS for the first time.
  • NEXT STEP ACTIVITIES: Used to reinforce LEADS strategies that have been introduced in a previous session or year.
  • REINFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES: Suitable for students who have been using the LEADS Programs for two or more years.

Complete one of the Getting Started Activities below and then read the book Each Kindess by Jacqueline Woodson. Use the questions and activities in the book’s associated lesson plan to reinforce the Look and listen strategy.




Distribute or project the What Do You See? handout to students. Ask them to look at each of the pictures and describe what they see at first glance and then what they see the longer they look at each picture. Use the key below to identify the different images depicted in each illustration:

  1. There is an apple core and the profile view of two faces
  2. The picture is of a woman, trees and a face
  3. A picture of a man and by rotating the picture – a picture of a dog


  1. What happens when we look a little longer at each of the pictures? We see something different.
  2. What happened when we didn’t see the other images immediately? Other people pointed out and described the different images that they saw. This may have helped us see all the images in the pictures.



Group children in teams of three or four. Pick one volunteer to stand at the front of the room for one minute while the others observe him or her. Ask the child volunteer to leave the room and then give the students two minutes to write down as many observations about the child as they can. Examples include:

  • What colour is the child’s hair?
  • What kind of clothing is the child wearing?
  • What colour are his or her eyes?
  • Was the child wearing any accessories (bracelet, necklace, watch, etc.)?
  • What kind of shoes did the child have on?
  • How was the child feeling (angry, scared, happy, excited, etc.)?

Discuss what was easy to remember and what was difficult to recall.
Play the game again, but this time ask students to carefully observe details about the person before he or she leaves the room. How was the observation process different this time? Possible answers:

  • I paid attention to the details of the person’s form and clothing.
  • I looked at the expression on the person’s face.
  • I blocked out other things I see in the room to focus on the person.

WHAT KIDS SAY: Why is looking important?

  • “We can see how they’re feeling.”
  • “To actually hear them.”
  • “Eye contact and paying attention.”
  • “To concentrate on what they are saying.”
  • “When looking, we know how serious they are in telling us information.”




First impressions are judgments we make about people based upon their appearances and our first guesses about them. In this activity, students will be creating a first impression description of someone based solely on a photo.

Organize students in groups of three or four. Distribute a copy of the First Impressions Questions handout and the First Impression Photos handout to each group. Ask students to guess the answers to the questions based on their first impressions about each photo.

Ask students to share their first impressions with another group or the whole class.


Read aloud the real biographies from the First Impression Biography handout and have each group compare their first impressions to the person’s real life story. What did they miss by using only their first impressions to judge someone? Have them re-answer question 5 now that they know the person’s true situation.

Extension Activity

Ask students to write a quick reflection on how easy or difficult it was to create the first impression descriptions. What clues did they rely on? What have they learned from this activity?



First impressions are judgments that we make about people based upon their appearances and our first guesses about them. Sometimes these impressions happen “in a flash” without you even realizing it.

Have students respond in writing to the following prompts:

  1. Think of a time when someone (or a group of people) made a “flash judgment” about you. Describe what happened and how it made you feel.
  2. Describe a time when you made a flash judgment about someone else. What did you base your flash judgment on? Did your flash judgment change? If yes, why did it change?


Ask students to share their reflections in small groups or through a classroom discussion. Ask them to discuss the commonalities among their experiences and the emotions that come up when someone is judged “in a flash.”

Ask students to brainstorm a few strategies to use to be aware of their own tendencies when they make flash judgments about someone. How can they work on not being so quick to form an opinion? Create a list of strategies on the board or have them do this in small groups.



This activity is an exercise in developing active listening skills. Ask students to write the lyrics of a favorite song or the text from a favourite poem or quotation on a piece of paper. On a second copy, ask students to rewrite the text and to change the words in a number of places within the text. Tell them how many changes they should make.

Organize the students into small groups of four. Ask each student to read aloud their passage twice – once with the original words and the second time with the changed words. Ask the listeners to identify which words were changed from the original by writing their answers on a separate piece of paper. Ask the listeners to compare their answers with the objective of identifying the new words in the second reading. After the small group discussion, the speaker may share the “answers” – the words that were changed in the second reading.


  1. What strategies did you use to identify the words that had changed?
  2. What did you hear in the speaker’s voice that helped you identify a changed word?
  3. What did you see in the speaker’s facial expression that identified a changed word?
  4. What was challenging about the exercise?




Show the Blocks to Listening poster to students and use this brief introduction to help students think about the blocks illustrated in the poster: Listening to other people sounds easy, but in reality it is one of the most difficult aspects of good communication. It means understanding the blocks that may stop you from listening effectively to others. These illustrated blocks will help you think about barriers you may face when trying to listen to others.

Read aloud the descriptions on the poster. While reading aloud the descriptions ask students to think about times when they were daydreaming, rehearsing, filtering, judging, or feeling distracted when trying to listen to someone else.

Distribute the Blocks to Listening Reflection handout and ask students to answer the questions about each of the blocks.


When students have finished writing their reflections ask them to discuss in small groups. After the small group discussions ask students if they noticed any patterns with the communication blocks they explored and discussed.

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