Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pay Attention to My Directions

attention In The Perils of Proceeding in the Dark from Anne Beninghof's Idea Sharing blog, the author asks,

“What strategies have you found to be effective for giving directions?”

This made me start thinking about the strategies that I use to help my students follow the directions. Sometimes when they don’t follow the directions, it may be because I haven’t made them clear or explained them in enough detail.

I remember when I was young; I wanted to make onion dip. I had the box of Lipton’s Onion Soup mix and sour cream. Now, you would think this was easy to make but it wasn’t. I read the directions one line at a time. It said:

Mix Lipton’s onion soup

Mix with sour cream

No one taught me how to follow directions so I decided to follow each line one at a time. First, I mixed up the onion soup (which included pouring the mix into 4 cups of water). Then I mixed it with the sour cream. Of course, this did not turn out the way I wanted! I learned a big lesson in reading ALL of the directions before I try to do something. I have shared this story with my students so that they can learn from my mistakes and to also learn that I make mistakes too.

Sometimes I assume that students are able to do things that lead up to the next steps and I need to assess that they are ready for the next steps. If students do not have the foundation, they are not always able to move on to new skills.

Sometimes students need a verbal cue that I am about to give directions. I will start off by telling the class that I am going to be giving them directions and that it is important that they are pay attention. I also explain that if someone has trouble following the steps I give, I would only help those that paid attention to me as I went over the directions the first time. Those that did not pay attention may need to copy the directions down on paper when I am done. Then if they still need help, I will be glad to help them. Usually that gets everyone looking at me as I go over directions.

I do not ask if everyone understood the directions because I will usually see the whole class nod their heads and if anyone didn’t understand them, they won’t confess to it now.

Here are some of the strategies that I use when I give directions:

1. Have the directions in written form as well as giving them aloud.

2. Have students repeat the steps that I want them to take.

3. Model following the directions for the students.

4. Have steps written out on sentence strips and have students put them in the right order.

5. Have directions posted where students can refer to the steps.

6. Video the directions being followed and say each step as it is being done.

7. Have students create videos of routine classroom procedures that can be reviewed or shown to new students.

8. Have students tell the directions in their own words.

What strategies do you find effective when giving directions? Please share.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Pay attention I'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/27996745@N00/3021647654 by: www.davidcornejo.es Photography


Anonymous said...

I have the students repeat the directions to their partner. I start by having them tell a partner "Hi Friend! Today we are going to ____." They repeat each direction to the friend, (usually talking over each other which is fine since the point is they are saying the directions)

Jessi said...

I teach high school science and the directions I give usually pertain to the procedure for a lab. I have a few strategies I use to prevent the class from getting into the lab and having no idea what to do...

1. Students need to create a flow chart of steps from the written directions including diagrams with labels of the equipment they will be using. This is especially helpful when there are multiple solutions being mixed in varying amounts.

2. Read through the instructions as a class and have students highlight or underline important information such as amounts, temperatures, chemical names etc.

3. Fill in the blanks instructions that we go through as a class.

Students must show me the completed instructions as a "ticket" into the lab.