Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Following Directions

In second grade my teacher conducted a lesson on following directions. We were given a list of directions to follow, remembering to read ALL the directions before we began. The directions were things like put your name on the top of the paper, flip your paper over and draw a square on the back, sing "Jingle Bells," stand up and jump three times. Of course the final direction was to do the first direction only. I remember I had only read the first half of the directions when everyone else began to sing "Jingle Bells." I was so embarrassed that everyone else had finished reading the directions so much faster than me! Of course, they had neglected to read all the directions before they began, which was apparently the whole point of the lesson.

I wouldn't suggest a lesson like that one for students today, but being able to follow directions is an important skill. Many times we assume students aren't following directions because they are defiant, or just not listening, but following directions is actually a skill they could be lacking. Children with a receptive language deficit will undoubtedly struggle to follow directions.

The first time I saw my teaching partner/mentor using an activity that required students to follow directions, I thought it looked way too easy. I'm not sure why I even decided to try it. I was SHOCKED to see how difficult it was for my class! Suddenly my eyes were opened. I realized there had been so many times where I thought my kids weren't listening, or weren't understanding an academic concept, when they actually just didn't know how to follow a basic direction. I needed to address a vocabulary or receptive language deficit before I could expect them to be able to do what I wanted them to do.

I don't see many activities that address this problem, so I began creating my own. I encourage you to give this a try and see how it goes.

Students design some cute snowmen by carefully following the directions.

TPT            TN

I'm working on creating following directions worksheets for other holidays as well. You can find several at my TPT store. Be sure to follow so you are the first to know when new ones are published.

If you found this post to be helpful or interesting, I hope you'll follow me on social media and at my TPT or TN store.

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