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    Following Directions
    By Ruthann

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    I too get frustrated at some of my fourth graders for being unable to follow even a simple direction. I teach in the inner city and some of my students have no problems with directions while others are simply clueless. Even when the rest of the class is doing something one or two will be doing something totally opposite. For instance, at the end of one day all my students were sitting in their seats waiting to be dismissed, not this one boy, he was standing up behind his desk. He had no clue, even though everyone else was sitting and had followed the direction. I finally said to him, what are you suppose to be doing? He gave me a look of..I don't know. I said, what was the direction? He still was clueless. I there any way you could figure out what you need to be doing? He still had no clue. I said..look at your classmates. Nothing registered. I said..what is the rest of the class doing? it took about 2 minutes to register with him, and then..a big..OHHHHH..and he then got himself seated. I just thought..OMG
    even with a visual clue he didn't have a clue.

    So, I have been doing activities everyday for students to be able to follow directions. I have bought a book by scholastic called Follow the Directions. Grades 3-6 It has directions for 180 days. (You could even make your own) So what I have been doing is this... I type up the directions on cardstock and am having them laminated so I can use from year to year. Then part of the students independent work/workshop way, is to do following directions. Everyday it is a task for students to complete. Some have come to me before they even read it and ask what to do and I refuse to tell them. I say..what does it say to do? I think that making them accountable for their learning is a big factor. Some students just want to be spoon fed and I don't see it helping them at all to become independent and resourceful people.
    Another activity I have used and they seem to like, is Simon Says. So I will give a direction for them to follow using that game.
    I also talk alot about using strategies to figure out things.We do some scenarios and think of ways we could find an answer. I tell the kids, no one knows everything, but you have to know ways to find thing out. Being resourceful.
    I also have told my class I will only repeat a direction one time and if they don't listen, then it is their responsiblity to find a way to figure it out. Whether it be asking a classmate, or reading the direction. I always use both verbal and visual directions in most things for both types of learners.
    Next week will be the 4th week of school and I am beginning to see a difference in their ability to be independent workers and follow directions.
    It takes alot of patience and repetition. I hope this helps some.

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