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Career Readiness | Communication Skills | 21st Century Skills

3 Best Communication Lessons and Activities for High School

January 26th, 2022 | 7 min. read

Bri Stauffer

Bri Stauffer

For nearly 10 years, Bri has focused on creating content to address the questions and concerns educators have about teaching classes, preparing students for certifications, and making the most of the iCEV curriculum system.

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Mumbled speech, negative body language, constantly interrupting others. If you're like many high school teachers, you've probably noticed a lack of good communication skills among your students. 

Some teachers claim that with the rise of text messaging and social media, high schoolers just don’t have the same face-to-face interactions that they had 20 years ago. Others think their students are just caught in the throes of teenage awkwardness. 

Whatever the reason, poor communication skills can hamper even the brightest student. Thousands of teachers approach iCEV every year looking for the best communication skills activities so that they might better achieve their classroom goals

After all, you could spend hours developing your own lessons and activities to teach students communication, but that can take a lot of time that you don’t have to spare. The fact is, you need timely, relevant, effective resources to help plan your communication lessons.

In this article, you'll discover three of the best resources you can use to teach your high schoolers communications skills:

  1. Communication activities for high school students from the US Department of Labor
  2. Communication lesson plans from Teachers Pay Teachers
  3. The Importance of Communication Skills from Texas CTE

After reading this article, you'll know where to go to find great lesson plans and activities to teach the right communication skills in your classroom.

1. Communication Activities from the United States Department of Labor


The US Department of Labor has an amazing resource for teaching workplace readiness skills called “Soft Skills to Pay the Bills.” It includes some of the best communication skills activities for high school students.

This curriculum was created to teach six different soft skills to students ages 14-21, with one of the curriculum sections being specifically dedicated to teaching communication skills.

The communication unit is an 18-page PDF that you can use to plan your communication lessons and activities. It features an introduction and five lesson plans that include:

  • Approximate time for the lesson/activity
  • List of materials needed
  • Directions for you and your students
  • Guided notes and other student resources
  • Details for discussions
  • Journaling activities
  • Optional extension activities

This communication unit has most everything you need to teach your students good communication skills. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t come with a summative assessment to measure student knowledge.

That means if you plan to give grades to your students, you’ll need to create your own quizzes, tests, and rubrics to go along with the communication skills lessons and activities.

While this will take you some time, all of the actual lesson planning is already done for you!

2. Communication Lesson Plans from Teachers Pay Teachers


Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) is an online marketplace with more than 3 million resources where teachers can share, sell, and buy lessons from each other.

The marketplace has a ton of communication lesson plans and activity ideas for practically every grade level, including high school.

You can use filters to sort the resources by price, grade level, and other details to find the best ones for you and your students.

However, the number of resources available on TpT can be both a positive and a negative.

While there are a lot of options to choose from, there are many communication activities for students that won’t be relevant to your classes. This means you will spend a lot of time reviewing which ones to try out, which ones to avoid, and which ones are worth buying.

Two of the top resources to teach communication skills on TpT are:

Of these two, "Phone A Friend!" by Jenn Alcorn is a useful activity to help your students develop conversational skills, whether in-person or over the phone. This resource works well for high school students, and comes with materials like worksheets and phone cards to help facilitate their learning.

"Effective Communication Skills Presentation" by Kara's Class is great for teaching students the basics of what it means to communicate well. This resource comes in a PowerPoint, but also contains several activities students can take part in to hone their skills. 

Also, keep in mind that new resources are added regularly to TpT, so you’ll always have options to try something new!

3. The Importance of Communication Skills from Texas CTE


Texas CTE is a website affiliated with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the state government branch responsible for regulating educational standards in Texas.

Texas CTE provides a number of high-quality instructional resources for CTE teachers in a variety of pathways. Although these resources are designed specifically to meet Texas TEKS criteria, you can use them in classrooms throughout the country.

Among the resources Texas CTE offers is “The Importance of Communication Skills - You Said What?”, a lesson plan designed in conjunction with Stephen F. Austin State University.

This lesson plan is designed to last four 45-minute class periods. While it’s designed to especially help students cover communication in the hospitality and tourism career cluster, the basic competencies covered here will help students regardless of their work environment.

The Texas CTE lessons cover the following forms of communication:

  • Verbal
  • Non-verbal
  • Listening
  • Written
  • Electronic

The lesson plans include a variety of resources and activities to vary your instruction when teaching each type of communication.

Some examples of resources include:

  • PowerPoint presentation
  • Glossary of terms
  • Conversation cubes
  • Discussion questions
  • YouTube video communication analysis
  • Web resources
  • Writing assignment

Using this wide range of resources, teachers can demonstrate effective communication and the differences when communicating through different media. The variety of available resources can also help instructors adopt a blended learning approach that balances traditional and digital materials.

To assist students in special populations, the lesson plans also included suggested modifications for Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

Overall, Texas CTE offers a quality free resource for teaching communication skills, particularly for students pursuing careers in hospitality and tourism.

Need to Teach Your Students Communication and Other Valuable 21st Century Skills?

In this article, you've found several resources you can use to teach your students more effective communication. Whether it's learning to make better eye contact or to speak more clearly over the phone, good communication skills are key to your students succeeding in their professional lives.

Students who develop these communication skills are better equipped to handle any unexpected situations they find themselves in, while those who lack these qualities might find themselves anxious or stressed when it comes to expressing their thoughts to others. 

But good communication is only one skillset among many in an ever-evolving professional world. After all, while it's important your students are able to communicate their ideas, the first step to this meaningful interaction is teaching them to think critically and creatively about the topics they're passionate about. 

If you want to go further in teaching your high schoolers all the skills they need to flourish in the modern workforceand in their personal livescheck out the free Guide to Teaching the Four C's of 21 Century Skills

This free 7-page guide will teach you all about the 4 C's: Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication. You'll learn what these skills mean, why they matter, and how to teach them to your students!

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