Full Curriculum Conversation Topics Topic Surfing (Shifting the Topic)

Topic Surfing (Shifting the Topic)

The delicate skill of Shifting the Topic requires the forethought to perceive the subtle clues of a conversational partner’s fading interest. Then one mentally searches for a suitable segue that is related to the previous topic, but different enough to spark a new level of interest.

Sample Video:

Shifting the Conversation Topic

SOCIAL SKILLS IN ACTION (SSIA) – When is a conversation like a surfer riding a wave? When we switch topics, we have to be sure we are done talking about our first topic. Like a surfer riding a wave, if the surfer tries to jump before the wave is done, the surfer will crash!

Get Access to this Lesson Plan & More. Start Your Free Trial here!


Narrator: Conversations need to flow smoothly from topic to topic. When we’re finished talking about one topic, we can shift to a new topic. It’s like surfing. Surfers ride one wave until it’s finished, then they start riding a new one. Think about every topic like a wave. If you’re riding a wave called homework, you talk about homework until that wave ends. 

Starting to talk about another topic, like our favorite video game, is like jumping to a new wave. If we jump too early, other people will become confused and our surfer will crash. We ride one topic until it ends, like the wave, and then we can switch to a new topic. Let’s watch Andrew learn when the time is right to change the topic.


Bobby: Hey, what’s up?

Andrew: Not much. After school today, I’m going to karate practice.

Bobby: Oh, that sounds fun. I’ve been thinking of trying out karate. Do you think it’s easy to learn?

Andrew: This weekend, I’m going to a car show with my dad.

Bobby: (confused) Oh, cool.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s going to be awesome! We go every year.

(Bobby is confused)

Narrator: Bobby and Andrew were still riding the karate wave when Andrew shifted the topic and started talking about the car show. Andrew jumped to a new wave too early and the surfer crashed. How did it make Bobby feel when Andrew shifted to the new topic? Let’s see.

Bobby: (thought bubble) That was confusing. I thought we were talking about karate. I wish he answered my question.

Narrator: Bobby feels confused. The conversation didn’t flow smoothly from one topic to the next. Andrew needed to ride the topic of karate until it is finished, like a surfer. Let’s watch Andrew learn when to shift the topic.


Bobby: Hey, what’s up?

Andrew: Not much. After school today, I have karate practice.

Bobby: Oh, that sounds fun. I’ve been thinking of trying out karate. Do you think it’s easy to learn?

Andrew: You should. It’s really fun

Bobby: What belt are you?

Andrew: Yellow belt.

Bobby: Cool!

Andrew: (inner thought) Bobby isn’t saying anything else about karate or asking me questions. I think I can shift the topic now.

Andrew: (out loud) This weekend, I’m going to a car show.

Bobby: Really? That sounds fun.

Andrew: Yeah. My dad and I go every year. It’s really fun.

Narrator: That time, Andrew waited until a pause in the conversation. He rode out the conversation about Karate before jumping to a new topic. He learned that conversations are like surfers riding waves. We ride out one topic until it’s done, then we can jump to talking about a new topic.

Companion Worksheet:

Every video comes with a companion worksheet for students to review what they just learned. This helps assess comprehension and promote generalization by reinforcing the concepts covered in the video.

Videos to teach Topic Surfing

Interactive online games to teach Topic Surfing

Worksheets and activities to teach Topic Surfing

Everyday Speech provides you with a complete curriculum for Social-Emotional Learning for ALL students.

Social Worker
School Psychologist
SEL Instructor
Guidance Counsellor
Built for ALL roles

We provide the entire school the best tools possible to teach SEL lessons and teaching training videos so all will feel confident in how they’re teaching.

High School
Covering All Ages and Learners

Materials are laid out in lesson plans for both general and special education students to ensure the best access and retention of SEL skills, no matter how your students learn best.

Conversation Topics
Emotional Recognition
Bullying Prevention
Problem Solving
Showing Empathy

Build strong foundational skills

Trusted by teachers and loved by students

Make Social Communication Training easy for your students and you.

Find high-quality videos, worksheets and activities specially designed to help you teach your kids comprehensive social skills. With Everyday Speech, spend less time worrying and more time teaching!

Staying on Topic

Conversation Topics

Keeping an Open Mind




Get free no-prep lessons every week, straight in your inbox