Active Constructive Responding - Novice High

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes: Students will discuss what makes a good friend, identify ways to listen actively, and identify the four types of responding (active constructive, active destructive, passive constructive, and passive destructive) with the help of a visual. Language Learning Outcomes: Students will listen for the main idea, listen for specific information, ask follow-up questions to get more information, and use high-frequency general vocabulary.

Lesson Information

Positive Psychology Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. discuss what makes a good friend.
  2. identify ways to listen actively.
  3. identify the four types of responding (active constructive, active destructive, passive constructive, and passive destructive) with the help of a visual.

Language Learning Outcomes

Students will...

  1. listen for the main idea.
  2. listen for specific information.
  3. ask follow-up questions to get more information.
  4. use high-frequency general vocabulary.

Materials Needed


Today we will talk about one way to be a good friend.

Activate Background Knowledge

Show the class this picture.

  • These students are friends.
    • What makes a good friend?

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  • Speaking task with a partner:
    • Work with a partner to come up with a list of words that describes a good friend. (Example: kind, helpful, fun, etc.) Students can look up words if necessary.
  • Come back together as a class and have the groups share their lists with the class. Create a class list of words that describe a good friend.

Activity 1: Vocabulary/Writing

Pre-teach vocabulary: Here are some words that you will need to know for today's lesson. (Students could add these words to a vocabulary notebook, or write them down to help them remember. )

  • listen: hear and understand what a person says
  • respond: to say something back when someone says something to you
  • active: showing movement or action
  • passive: watching, looking at, or listening to things rather than doing things
  • constructive: building up
  • destructive: tearing down

Activity 2: Listening/Speaking

As you watch this video listen for the main idea:

Active listening is a skill! Here's how it's done 

  • Discuss as a class: what is the main idea of this video?
  • Look at the following pictures. 
    • Which ones show someone who is listening? 
    • How can you tell they are or are not listening?

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Here are some ways people can tell that you are listening. 

  • Did some of these things help you tell if someone was listening or not in the pictures?

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Listening strategy: Note-taking 

Taking notes while listening will help you remember what you heard.

  • Watch the video again.
  • Circle the things on the chart that they talk about in the video.

  • Write down the four steps the video says are needed to be an active listener. (stop, breath, listen, respond)

Activity 3: Listening/Role-play

In addition to listening actively, it is also important to respond in a positive way. How we respond when someone shares  good news with us is important to our relationship with that person.

  • Active Learning Strategy: Using charts and visuals to organize and remember information. Creating and/or using charts and diagrams is one way to be an active learner
  • When someone tells us good news there are 4 ways we can respond. The four ways of responding are organized on the chart below. Show this chart and discuss each way of responding.

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  • Put the students into groups. Give each group a chart showing the 4 types of responses.
    • Listen for main idea
    • Listen for mood
  • We will now watch some videos. In each of the videos Connor tells his friend Caden about his new dog. See how Caden reacts. You may watch the videos more than once if needed.

  • After each clip, discuss with your group which type of response was demonstrated in the video clip. (Encourage students to refer to the charts as needed.)
    • How can you tell? What phrases or actions in the clip identified the type of response it was illustrating? How do you think Connor feels? How would you feel if someone responded to your good news in this way?

  • Give each group a chart showing the four types of responding as well as cards with scenarios on them. Have members of the group take turns choosing a card and reading it to the group (They may want to have a partner help read if there are 2 people talking). The group decides which type of responding is being shown. Place the card in the proper section of the chart.
  • Next, give each group a role-play card with one of the four types of responses and some good news. As a group, create a response that matches the response type you were assigned. Choose two people from your group who will role-play the scenario for the class. The rest of the class will guess which type of response they are demonstrating.

Activity 4: Speaking

Speaking Strategy: Asking follow-up questions. When you ask follow-up questions in conversations it shows that you are interested and helps you get more information from the speaker.

  • One of the skills of active constructive responding is asking follow-up questions to show interest and get more information. Follow-up questions should relate to what the speaker has just said and request more information.
  • Demonstrate with some examples of good news and some example follow-up questions that could be used.

  • Use fluency lines (inner/outer circles) to practice asking follow-up questions.
    • Have students form two lines with the lines facing each other. One person shares some good news or tells of something good that happened to them.
    • The person facing them asks follow-up questions relating to what their partner shared. The questions need to request more information about the good news or event.
    • Then switch who shares the good news and who asks the follow-up questions.
    • After one minute one line will rotate one person to the left giving students a new partner. Repeat until students have rotated through the line or until the desired time for this activity is up.

Activity 5: Speaking

Review: Share with your partner three things that you learned today.


This week, make a conscious effort to practice active constructive responding. Whenever a friend or family member tells you about some news, practice the principles you learned in this class about active constructive responding. Keep in mind the importance of making eye contact and asking follow-up questions.



Review vocabulary by writing the vocabulary words on the chalkboard. Divide the class into two teams. One student from each team comes to the chalkboard and is given a flyswatter. Show the students a picture associated with each of the words (or give the definition). The first student to hit the correct word with the flyswatter gets a point for their team. Remind the students how the vocabulary relates to active constructive responding.


Happier than a camel on hump day Geico commercial. Which type of response are the office employees demonstrating? Discuss why.

Hump Day Camel Commercial 


Review follow-up questions. When someone shares good news with us it is important to ask follow-up questions to show interest and get more information. Tell the students some good news. Then roll a dice and the students must come up with a question starting with the word indicated:

1- What.....

2- When....

3- Why...

4- Who...

5- Where....

6- How...

Alternate activity: 

Four Corners.

Label each corner of the room with one of the types of responses. Give an example of one of the types of responding (similar to the examples on the cards). Students go to the corner which is labeled with the response they think it is.

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