04 January 2016

Did you read the instructions?

I'm sure any of my teacher friends will be able to relate to this post. I've been teaching for 9 years now, and I'm sure this would have to be the question I ask most frequently. Why am I writing about it? Just reflecting.

Today we were learning about time-lines in mathematics, and students had to create a time-line of a day in another class, using information provided in their book. I started the lesson with a demonstration, using our own timetable, of the various skills required. The biggest one was how do I make all that space show the correct amounts of time. After I'd demonstrated a couple, I had students continue the process on the whiteboard. Frustration abounded when the computer went into sleep mode (I've frozen the display) and I couldn't get it to come back again in exactly the same place. We worked around that, and it seemed like students were getting it, so I moved to the next step which was having students work independently in their maths journal.

Check for Comprehension Cards FREEBIE
Here's the link to where I got these
Before we got started I introduced our new Check for Comprehension Cards, and showed the student page using the projector. We talked about some of the more tricky parts, and then I sent to off to get started. Unfortunately, I forget to actually read the instructions at the top of the page with the students. Ooops!

As I wandered around the room, most students had either green or yellow cards displayed, which was a good start. After giving them time to get started, I took another walk around the room, and discovered that none of them had actually read the instructions, or if they did they weren't following them. I called the whole class back to the mat, and asked who had read the instructions. About 3 hands went up. I asked one of those students why they hadn't used any coloured pencils, which is what the instruction indicated. Her reply shouldn't really have surprised me, given the cultural context. She said, "No-one else was using colour so I didn't either."

We then reviewed the two sentence instruction at the top of the page together, highlighting the one word some might not have known, and then I sent them back to work. Alas, I still had students using a single colour for the whole time-line, and others who didn't put anything on it at all. Looks like I'll need to review the activity tomorrow. I'll see how many actually get it right, and I might have to get some new copies of that page and do a full demo on the board!

Ah, the joys of teaching! My favourite question: "Did you read the instructions?" Thankfully this was a learning activity and not formal assessment!

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