I teach 6th graders. I’ve learned that they struggle with following directions (written and verbal) and really good at asking millions of questions (you know, when they don’t listen or feel like reading the directions).
This SHOULDN’T drive me crazy, because I know it is a skill they are still learning. I know that many of them have been spoon fed each and every step, one step at a time, in elementary school. I know they are sometimes just too excited to listen to me, or read the directions. But, they have to now. Because otherwise I NEVER get to everyone’s questions. And they just sit there, with their hand raised, waiting on me to help them, while they do nothing, but wait. The result is usually that several students do not finish their daily project, and I get really frustrated answer almost the same question 50 times, an hour. “Did you read step #3?” “That is written in step #2.” “You can find that answer in step #5 of your written directions.” “Have you read the directions?”
Enter Google Documents. God bless Google Document today. Today I SAT, in one spot, in my comfy teacher chair, and answered questions. In fact, I was able to answer over 50 detailed questions in just two 45 minute class periods. Since this included introducing the project and a summary at the end even I can’t believe how many questions I answered (painlessly). Everyone got so much work done. Many students even finished in class. The classroom was very quiet today while the students actually read and followed the directions. It was teacher heaven!
Ok, I KNOW – enough already. I will get to what I did. I am just in awe and basking in it tonight! This is the third year in a row I have done this project, and this is the first year is wasn’t pure torture for me. In fact, it was a blast!
- I created the step by step project instructions, as usual, and made them available to the students.
- I created a public Google Document and I retyped all of the project steps onto it.
- I told the students how to use the question document. The students were instructed to type their question under the step that they had a question on. This was great because they really had to pay attention to which step they were on. This often meant re-reading the question, and many students discovered the answers to their questions by simply re-reading the instructions.
- Every time I saw a hand go up in class I asked the student if they had already typed their question on the Google Doc. I also asked them if they read the other questions that had been posted on that step. Often, their question had been asked and answered by another student and was already on the document.
In the end, it looked like this…