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Thursday / December 2

21 Communication Skills Every High School Student Should Have

Over the past 10 years, I have worked with thousands of high school students. During that period, I really started paying attention to the skills they had and the skills they needed. I examined college and career readiness standards. I spoke to businesses and entrepreneurs. I invited people to share with me what they felt students needed to be successful beyond a K-12 institution. My book Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students is a culmination of all of those findings.

Before we dive into the 21 communication skills every high school student should have before starting college and a career, I want to make the case for teaching communication skills beyond oral and written communication. We have to remember that communication isn’t just about written skills and oral skills, but also about how we communicate an idea, communicate with an audience, and communicate our strengths and experiences.

Did you know that communication skills were the highest rated of the 4 C’s (communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity) from a survey of 768 managers and executives? And that communication skills also ranked at the top of most important soft skills in a study conducted by 225 US employers? These studies also found that communication, positive attitude, and teamwork were the three highest rated soft skills and, coincidentally, also the three hardest skills to find.

Below is the list of 21 Communication Skills that every high school student should have before beginning college or a career. An infographic of this list can also be found below. All of these skills are addressed in detail within the book Cultivating Communication in the Classroom, and these skills have been designed to be easily integrated into your core curriculum in fun, purposeful, and creative ways.

  1. COMPOSE an email that elicits a clear response.
  2. UNDERSTAND the difference between personal and professional communications and can CRAFT clear communications for a variety of audiences.
  3. TROUBLESHOOT sending large attachments and a variety of file types.
  4. SET norms and expectations within any group setting.
  5. ARTICULATE their ideas comfortably and show empathy for other students’ perspectives and points of view.
  6. DETERMINE their own signature strengths and advocate for specific roles.
  7. ASSESS the effectiveness of their own (and their peers’) participation and involvement within the group.
  8. CREATE an agenda and maintain a project timeline.
  9. ORGANIZE content so it is interesting, informative, and memorable for their peers.
  10. Effectively SELECT, LOCATE, and INTEGRATE images and icons as visual cues that complement their content.
  11. SELECT the best application to deliver their content.
  12. PUBLISH and provide purposeful content for a variety of authentic audiences.
  13. LOCATE and UTILIZE appropriately licensed images.
  14. PROTECT their own work and images using a variety of methods and tools.
  15. CREATE and MAINTAIN a digital portfolio and resume.
  16. REFLECT on individual learning artifacts as well as their process of learning.
  17. PROVIDE effective formative feedback to their peers and their work.
  18. BE AWARE that social media is only one aspect of a person’s life and can oftentimes be distorted.
  19. LEVERAGE social media to share authentic learning artifacts.
  20. UTILIZE curation as a way to digest and distill information.
  21. SELECT appropriate tools (both analog and digital) and processes for curation and distillation of content.

If you would like the infographic version of these 21 skills, it is available here as a free download.

Written by

Lisa Johnson (better know as TechChef4u) has devoted over two decades to supporting students and teachers in a variety of capacities including teaching both Math and English in the classroom, developing technology integration curriculum, serving as an Educational Technologist for a 1:1 iPad district, and presenting keynotes and workshops around the world. She holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and has been honored as both an Apple Distinguished Educator and PBS Lead Digital Innovator for Texas.

Lisa is the author of two books (Cultivating Communication in the Classroom and Creatively Productive) and has contributed content to six other published books. People around the world utilize the resources she creates and curates daily. She is a respected voice in education and passionate about college and career readiness skills, social emotional learning, executive functioning, instructional design, visual literacy, and professional development for students.

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