Following Directions: A Lifelong Skill The ability to follow directions is crucial for students’ success. You can teach a lesson that focuses on the importance of this skill to stimulate a change in students’ behavior. Here’s how: 1. Prepare an easy two-page test on current material for your students, printed on both front and back of the test paper. Make the word count similar for each question. 2. Arrange for another teacher or aide to be in the cafeteria. 3. Pass out the test face down, and ask students to listen to your directions. 4. Explain that as students complete the written test, they may quietly rise, deliver the paper to your desk, and then proceed to the cafeteria for a surprise event. 5. Remind students that looking around and whispering will not be tolerated. If students engage in such behavior, they will not be allowed to attend the special event. 6. Stress that the students are to read the entire test, both front and back before answering the questions. 7. Clearly repeat Steps 3, 4, and 5 above. Then tell students to begin. On the back page of the test, one of the questions near the bottom should state the following: “Write your full name and address. When you have done this, bring your paper directly to me without answering any other questions and proceed to the cafeteria.” The results will astonish you! Very few students will actually read the entire test front and back before beginning. Excited by an awaiting surprise in the cafeteria, a few students may skim the test, but most will immediately begin answering in a rush to finish first. Once they have participated in this unique experience, students will remember this lesson for years to come and take to heart the lesson learned.
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