Topical Talk skills

Topical Talk develops critical-thinking and communication skills. Specifically, activities foster progress in listening, speaking, problem-solving and creativity.

Our Topical Talk programme focuses on four Universal Framework skills, developed by The Skills Builder Partnership: speaking and listening, and problem-solving and creativity. For each skill, we have chosen the five (out of 16) steps that are more relevant for conversations about current affairs.

These skills are hugely valuable both in school and life. They help us make sense of the news, participate in discussions and come up with new ideas to tackle the challenges facing our world.

When students show one of these skills on the Student Hub, the Foundation team award a skills star. Check out the school and student leaderboards to find out who has the most!

Students can read about the skills below and see what each one looks like in action. This sits in conjunction with our News Curriculum.

Listening

Good listeners learn more.

Listening helps us to gather all the important information we need to understand the news.

This will help you to...

-listen to things you don’t agree with so you can hear all of the important perspectives
-listen critically to spot what’s true and what’s not
-ask questions to find out more

How often do you do the following steps?

Step 8

I show I am listening by summarising or rephrasing what I have heard

  • Step 11

    I listen critically and compare different perspectives

  • Step 12

    I listen critically and think about where differences in perspectives come from

  • Step 13

    I listen critically and identify potential bias in different perspectives

  • Step 14

    I listen critically and use questioning to evaluate different perspectives

Speaking

Good speakers have discussions that help everyone to learn, including themselves.

Speaking about the news helps us to understand it.

This will help you to...

-join discussions about the news so you can work out what you think
-think hard about your answers to the questions that people ask you
-share your opinions about what’s happening and what should be done

How often do you do the following steps?

Step 3

I speak effectively by making points in a logical order

  • Step 5

    I speak effectively by using appropriate language

  • Step 7

    I speak engagingly by using facts and examples to support my points

  • Step 11

    I speak adaptively by planning for different possible responses of listeners

  • Step 14

    I speak influentially by changing the examples and facts I use to best persuade the listeners

Problem-solving

Good problem-solvers can work out what’s really going on and what should be done about it.

Problem-solving helps us work out what we think about the news, which opinions make the most sense and why.

This will help you to...

-work out whether information is true or false
-work out how to solve problems you hear about in the news
-work out which points of view you agree with and why

How often do you do the following steps?

Step 3

I complete tasks by finding information I need myself

  • Step 5

    I explore problems by thinking about the pros and cons of possible solutions

  • Step 7

    I explore complex problems by building my understanding through research

  • Step 11

    I analyse complex problems by using logical reasoning

  • Step 14

    I implement strategic plans to solve complex problems and assess their success

Creativity

Creative people can come up with ideas about what might be going on and what could be done about it.

Creativity gives us ideas which help us to understand the news.

This will help you to...

-come up with ideas about why something is happening in the news
-come up with ideas about how different events in the news might be connected
-imagine the consequences of actions and decisions to help you make up your mind

How often do you do the following steps?

Step 3

I generate ideas when I've been given a clear brief

  • Step 4

    I generate ideas to improve something

  • Step 9

    I develop ideas by asking myself questions

  • Step 10

    I develop ideas by considering different perspectives

  • Step 12

    I innovate effectively by seeking out varied experiences and stimuli

Skills Builder logo

The Skills Builder Universal Framework shows how to build essential skills at every stage of life. In addition to the four skills used for news literacy, the Skills Builder Universal Framework includes Staying Positive, Aiming High, Leadership and Teamwork. Topical Talk focuses on five steps in each skill that we think are crucial for informed, open-minded discussions about the new (Skills Builder suggest 16 steps for each skill in total). You can find out more about the Skills Builder Universal Framework and further supporting resources at skillsbuilder.org