Trouble Following Directions

Discussion in 'Fourth Grade' started by 773 Miles Away, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    Sep 23, 2008

    I could give my class a worksheet with what appears to be very easy to understand directions. And it seems like half the class is raising their hand saying they're confused... they don't get it... they don't know what to do.

    How do you solve this?

    I understand a big chunk could be the concept that I need to teach them the skill of carefully reading and comprehending directions... but how can I tackle that task?

    And in the mean time what do you do at the very moment they are asking?
     
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  3. Miss Starr

    Miss Starr Companion

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    Sep 23, 2008

    I spend at least the first half of the year reading every direction on every sheet aloud to the class. We use highlighters or just pencils to underline the important words in the directions. After winter break I stop reading everything aloud and just choose to read things that are tricky or when you need to point out how the directions change from one part of the sheet to another. Also on tests I always read each sections directions aloud and help them to highlight the important parts throughout the year. Teaching how to read directions is a skill that needs to be taught just like the actual concepts of the assignment.

    I also use "Following Direction" activities to help them to learn to read the directions fully. The first lesson is the sheet of crazy directions and the last direction is to "Only write your name on the top of the sheet and submit to your teacher" It gets them every year and helps them to remember to read everything through first. I also have typed up directions to different little puzzles and art projects (origami) so that they practice reading step by step directions to complete the projects. They find it fun.

    But reading and following directions if always a challenge...
     
  4. GoldenPoppy

    GoldenPoppy Habitué

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    Sep 24, 2008

    I like to "hide" little rewards within some of the directions. My vocabulary test last Friday had the standard directions at the top, plus the instruction to draw a star next to problem #6 for extra credit. Only 1 person in the class didn't get the extra credit. I don't do this on every assignment, only enough to keep them on their toes about reading the directions.
     
  5. AnnK

    AnnK Rookie

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    Sep 24, 2008

    I some of the strategies already mentioned, but I also ask the students what they think they should do. I find that many of my students ask questions about routines and directions. The first words out of my mouth are, "What do you think..." I find that if the students think you will tell them what they want to hear, they will keep asking the questions and not really stop to think for themselves. More times than not, the students know what to do.

    If the response is "I don't know," I will ask them to read the directions aloud to me (this way I know they have read them). Usually they then respond "oh" and can explain the directions to me.
     
  6. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Sep 24, 2008

    I bet they enjoyed finding the secret hidden instruction as much as the actual extra credit itself!
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Sep 24, 2008

    I've always liked the "how to make a peanut butter sandwich" project. First, they have to write out directions for how to make a pb&j sandwich, then they switch papers with another student, and follow the the other student's directions EXACTLY as written. The results are often hysterical, and it gets the point across.
     
  8. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    Sep 25, 2008

    Today, in a writing academy seminar, we learned that most kids have to be told something an average of 15-20 times before they remember it.

    We also learned that right-brainers (which most folks are) are more apt to be terrible at following written directions. The instructor at the seminar read instructions out loud to us as we read along. Some of us were still confused as to what to do -- and we're not a bunch of kids.

    So go back, as suggested, and make sure the instructions are very clear. Review the directions with the kids, then ask them a few questions about what they mean (a mini-review). After a while, they should be able to do it on their own.
     
  9. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Sep 25, 2008

    Don't feel bad. It happens in 5th all the time as well. Perfect example is today's art class. When they came back from PE I told them to glue their pictures to a piece of yellow construction paper and leave it on their desks to dry. They were then to begin working on any other work they did finish during the day. No sooner than a sat down did I get the following questions. Questions in the same color indicate an ongoing conversation.
    What should I do with this?
    How should I glue this to the paper?
    Where do I put it now (after it's glued)?
    Should I wash out the paintbrush? How should I do that? Should I use the sink or the water fountain?
    Where do we put our paint shirts?
    What do I do now?
    We have other work to do? When did you give us an English assignment? Does it have to be done by tomorrow?
    This happens whenever I set them to work on something. It gets very old very fast. I have started answering this silly questions with nonsense (as far as they know) words like farfignewton and weiner snitzel.
     
  10. goopp

    goopp Devotee

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    Sep 29, 2008

    My problem is that they don't follow directions...and I have 1/2 my class that still refuses to write their names on their papers. I may have solved that problem today. I've been telling them for at least a week that I was going to begin throwing away no name papers. Today I had 10 out of 21 turn in homework with no name. I threw the pile in the trash and told them they'd have to redo it at recess or for homework tonight (this was a two page sheet that they had all week to finish last week). I had a student take hers out of the trash and put her name on it, which I was NOT happy about. So, I picked up all of the no name papers from the trash and ripped them into little pieces then handed out the same sheet to be redone by the 10 people who hadn't put their names on the 1st time. I had 3 who cried...but I'm pretty sure they won't turn in another paper without a name!:)
     
  11. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Sep 29, 2008

    Keep doing this. It's harsh, but it gets the point across quickly. I have done this with my kiddos in the past and they fix things right away.
     
  12. goopp

    goopp Devotee

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    Sep 29, 2008

    I figure I'll get some emails or notes from parents...but I think a 9 or 10 yr old is perfectly capable of taking some responsibility for their work...which includes writing their name on top.
     
  13. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Sep 29, 2008

    You might, but then you might not. And if they do call just calmly explain what is going on, why you chose this course of action, and how this natural consequence will help their child in the future. After all, if I wrote a proposal and submitted it to my P without my name attached, how would she know who to credit or refer to for more information? How can you possibly give grades when half of the class forgets something as simple as a name? I know second grade teachers who tell their students if a paper has no name, and a child has no paper, both the paper and the child get a zero in the grade book.
     
  14. tbed63

    tbed63 Rookie

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    Oct 4, 2008

    No Name Papers and Following Directions

    I used to throw kids' papers in the trash, had a 'no name' box, charged tickets, etc. None of these methods worked nearly as well as a trick I learned from a first year teacher a few years back (first year teachers come up some of the best ideas!) I use tickets as an incentive in my room...have for years. The following method is so simple, it's sick I didn't think of it earlier in my career! ; ) Just tell the kids they can charge their neighbor a ticket if they catch him/her writing on any paper without first putting his/her name at the top. Students may not charge a ticket unless they first have their own name on their own paper. The kids police each other! It works amazingly well. I get about 2 to 3 no name papers each MONTH! With no-name-papers, I just go charge the kid 2-5 tickets. It's no big deal because it happens so infrequently.

    With regard to kids not following written directions (or verbal directions) on assignments: Simply have the students read the directions, then turn to their neighbors and explain to them what they are supposed to do. If the directions are trickier, have them get up and go tell 3 people. By the time they have listened and told several other kids, only the lamest of students will not know what to do. And it only takes about a minute to do this...well worth the time. After making this a routine, you won't need to do it after a while because the kids will start thinking about directions automatically when they are given an assignment.

    I hope these ideas help!
    Tim
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2008
  15. tbed63

    tbed63 Rookie

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    Oct 4, 2008

    BTW...After about a month of using the take a ticket from your neighbor method, the kids rarely ever catch each other because they get in such a good habit of putting their names on their papers.
     
  16. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Oct 4, 2008

    You could let them write their names in colored pencil.
     
  17. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    I charge points for no names on papers. I have a No Name/No Fame stamp and each week the number of points goes up. The second week of school it was 10 points off, the 3rd 20 points off, the 4th 30 points off. I didn't make it past 20 points off since students remembered to do it. It helped get the point across.
    Now I am at 15 points off, but rarely have someone not have their name on the paper. They also have to sit out at recess and write their name over and over.
     

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