Teaching a class of middle school students who have trouble following directions can be a frustrating task. During adolescence, children are experiencing many social, emotional and physical changes. Consequently, they may have shorter attention spans and a tendency to rush through work. They may not listen as carefully and may skim written instructions. Such carelessness can cause students to miss critical details, eventually affecting their grades negatively. Assigning activities with multiple steps teaches children the importance of following directions.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Drawing paper
Create a worksheet with a long list of numbered directions. In each numbered line, instruct the student to complete a task, such as cross out the first sentence on this page, circle all the verbs you can find, or underline the punctuation marks in line 10. Preface the list with a short paragraph instructing students to read, but not follow, any of the directions in the numbered lines, or to only do the tasks written in odd-numbered lines.
Give every student a large piece of blank paper. Tell the students they will be drawing a picture. Choose an elaborate subject such as a house with a garden and two cars in a driveway, but do not tell the students what you've chosen. Begin giving step-by-step directions for how to draw the picture. For instance, say, "Start by drawing two parallel, vertical lines on left side of your page, three inches from the bottom. Make the lines five inches apart." Speak slowly and pause after each step. Continue giving directions and allow students to erase when necessary. Ask the students to show their pictures, but do not require it. Allow them to giggle and share their experiences. Ask them about any directions they may have missed.
Mix up sentences in a short, grade-appropriate story and print them on a page for each student. Ask the students to take some time to read the sentences. Tell the students they will have to rearrange, rewrite, or number the sentences in the correct order to form a story that makes sense. This may also be done with directions to a recipe.
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