Saturday, January 30, 2010

Read the Directions

Today I have only one piece of advice, just one helpful hint.

Read the directions.

This afternoon my husband has been trying to connect some new electronics equipment. Will he read directions? Absolutely not. At least not until he's tried every possible connection without reading the directions. The only good thing I can say for this afternoon is that I didn't hear him swear, not even once. Is everything hooked up correctly? Well, not yet. I'm sure it's a work-in-progress for a few days.

I used to have the same trouble with students in class. They didn't like to read directions. Sometimes the instructions would specify that they only do a certain part of a math problem. You could always tell the ones who hadn't read the directions because they would either do the wrong part of the problem or do the entire problem. Granted, they were still getting practice, but following directions is also important.

It's also necessary to understand the vocabulary in the directions. In Algebra, if the directions say to specify the domain and range of a function, you're going to have a hard time if you don't know what the domain and the range are.

There used to be a test given to students to check on their ability to follow directions. The first instruction was to read the entire test before answering any questions. Of course when you got to the 50th question on the back of the test, it said "Don't answer any of the previous questions. Just put your name on the paper and turn it in." A huge percentage of students spent a huge amount of time answering all 50 questions. It was a hard lesson, but most of those students read directions from then on.

Evidently my husband never took that test.

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