Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting students to read directions

                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. ;)

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