“If all else fails, read the instructions”.
I don’t know who actually said it first, but it seems that a great many people invest a great deal of effort in proving the veracity of this old adage.
My Deaf and hard of hearing students (ok, “MOST of’ , there are notable exceptions) prefer a different version:
“If all else fails, don’t do it .”
Reading the instructions doesn’t even enter into the equation. In ANY language – not just in English as a foreign language!
I encourage, I point out the instructions, sometimes I refuse to help unless they read the instructions, but without my intervention, the instructions usually remain unread. Perhaps 10th grade is a bit late to start working on the importance of “reading instructions”, but I haven’t given up yet.
Now that schools have closed because of THE VIRUS, I have discovered that I now have a golden opportunity (we have to be optimistic and look at the bright side, right? ) to get these students reading instructions!
Over these first crazy days of trying to adjust to online learning with my students, who are not only at every possible level there is, but all their schoolbooks are the classroom I have learned three useful tips.
At least I’m learning new things every day!
- Start them off with a task that has two parts. What needs to be done in the first part consists of an exercise of the sort where it is very very obvious what needs to be done. Such as the following Live Worksheet, on the topic of words and phrases that I see often on national exams and confuse my students.
With a live worksheet, the students can do a worksheet online and check their answers on their own, while using content made by their own teachers. The students know exactly what to do.
**** You can see it here, but if you want to try answering it to see how it works, use the link here in green letters : Confusing Words and Phrases
2. The second part of the exercise involves reading a simple instruction. If the students ignored it, you can first praise them for getting the first part right. Builds confidence! My own students were asked to send me translations of this completed exercise.
If your students DO send you a question, don’t answer instantly. Wait a bit. Besides the VERY important message that you want your students to understand regarding you not being on call EVERY SECOND OF THE DAY, let them look at the exercise on their own for a bit. When they don’t get an answer right away, they might actually try again. Try it!
3. When you respond to the question, first ask them to explain exactly what was it in the instructions that was unclear to them, which part or which words. That makes both you and the students reread the instructions.
There’s a good chance that the students will now know exactly what to do.
If not, then YOU, the teacher, may realize that the instructions could be improved.
A win-win situation!