What are we doing? What do I do now? What directions? I’m done. Whatta ya mean I’m sposed to create a spreadsheet?
Verbal directions with middle schoolers really don’t work that well – especially multi-step directions. They don’t listen past the first sentence, if they listen at all. So of course I have written directions. But that presupposes they READ the directions.
I’m still experimenting. Moodle, unlike D2L, doesn’t show the “news” or teacher messages when students first come into the course; they would have to click on a link. Will they click on the link? Since they never have, I closed the “news” module entirely.
Besides not reading the directions, middle schoolers are not big on sequence. They tend to click around rather randomly, so I need to 1) carefully organize materials and 2) “hide” anything I don’t want them to be distracted by. Within each activity (like a discussion), there’s room for directions; the problem is getting them to do more than one activity, to do the activities a particular sequence, and to understand the deadlines.
Right now, I’m experimenting with adding the directions for the day/week right in with the activities. I write them on a Moodle label and place them just before the activities I want students to engage in.
They still ask: What are we doing? What do I do now? What directions? But at least not as often. ;)