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How to teach a student to be careful and follow directions?


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Argh!

 

Dd did poorly on a math test today only because of careless errors, not following directions, skipping things or copying wrong. She can do all of the math. She only missed one half of one problem due to an actual lack of understanding the math or setting it up wrong.

 

How do I teach these things? I am a very administrative, organized person so carefulness, neatness, following directions etc. come naturally. But Dd is creative and not much like me except in her love for words and language and facility with it. She is messy and disorganized by nature. 

 

I think middle school is the crucial time for her to get a grip on these skills, but I need some help figuring out how to teach them. 

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Patience and perseverance. Maturity will help.

For math, teach her to copy problems neatly and write them out neatly.  Make the expectations specific:
Use graph paper.

One equation per line.

Show all operations.

Underline result.

Write answer sentence to a word problem.

 

This will slow her down and force her to focus.

 

In addition, using colored pencils for plus and minus signs and parenthesis is helpful to visualize important details.

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By consistently wasting their and, consequently, your time by it doing again and again until satisfactory, whatever that means in your homeschool. Make sure to emphasize the amount of time and effort spent on repeated assignments that could have been spared had they took care the first time.  Now, in my school, mastery is at least 80% so a few errors are permitted as a matter of course, so this method might be a bit extreme if your bar is set higher.  

Might also consider having a checklist that they must certify before handing in assignments - check for spelling, etc?  write out solutions?  This is could serve as an additional reminder to be careful and puts the ownership on them since they know the expectations.  Handing them rubrics with assignments helps, too. 

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Have patience, especially in middle school.  Puberty messes with the mind, and middle school expectations don't always take that into account.  The 6th grade teachers would get so frustrated in our previous local school because the school expected x,y, z, and the teachers KNEW that the kids simply weren't capable for the most part.

 

Take it easy.  Create simple task lists, slowly giving more of the responsibility to the child.  Have the same checklist at the end of every like-project and build it slowly.  Work hard on routine and watch how to best help your daughter organize by working with what she already does. 

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I used to tell Calvin to check his work, but it slowly became clear that he didn't know what that meant.  He needed more detailed instruction.  I made a list of the steps to undertake and stuck them to the table.  If he made a careless mistake, I would just hand his work back to him to go back and go through the steps (again) until he found the error.  Over time, checking became a habit.

 

The list was something like:

 

-Have I transcribed the numbers correctly?

- Am I using the correct operation?

- Have I made a mistake in my calculation?

- Have I written down the answer correctly?

- Does my answer make sense, given the initial data?......

 

That kind of thing.

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I am in this same situation and in the trial and error phase of figuring out a solution.

 

For now, I do not negatively critique any mistakes that are due to needing more teaching on the concept. For those problems, I tell him which ones are wrong and why they are wrong. I go back and remediate as necessary, then have him work out the correction in my presence. I help as much as asked or needed in this situation. This usually results in doing a similiar problem correctly the next time.

 

For mistakes that are result of rushing, not writing numbers neatly, or not reading all the instructions: I used to circle the mistakes and have him redo those problems only, telling him where and why the mistake occurred. That did not help him slow down for future lessons. Now I don't tell him where or why those mistakes were made, I just tell him he made mistakes and he needs to recheck every problem to find the mistakes. I usually tell him how many mistakes he made so he isn't overwhelmed thinking the whole page is wrong. I remind him to slow down, read all the instructions, write neatly, and check the answer. I tell him not to bring the sheet back to me until he completes those steps. (We do not have more than one page/day of written math work with MEP, so it's doesn't take too long for him to do this. If we used a program with lots of written work/day I would tell him which area on a page needs rechecked). This is working better to have him slow down for future lessons. It is new for us, so I can't claim victory in this arena yet. It was easy for him to change a few answers I told him were incorrect. It is not easy for him to go back and check every problem to see if it is right or wrong. Time will tell if this strategy works for the long haul.

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For something different and fun you could try Paper Sloyd. :) You'll have to browse through projects as some aren't very useful anymore, but I found it helped my little wild man slow down and pay attention. Plus it's free with stuff you probably have around the house - this post links to a helpful OOP book on Sloyd: http://rarefied.weebly.com/captain-idea-log/paper-sloyd-envelope

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And a non-math thing I have done to teach following directions. I have done this type of thing in a class, or group. One version makes it obvious to everyone at the end who didn't follow the directions, one type would not.... example of first.... Both types look like a test...

 

1. Read ALL directions carefully for entire test before starting

2. Write your name

3. What is 4+5

4. Jump up and say 'I love math!'

5. Crow like a rooster

6. (Etc)

Last item says.... To pass this test, do question 1 and 2, then sit quietly and watch your classmates.

 

The non-embarassing version has lots of hard multi-step problems, or an essay, or something appropriate to take most of the class time, and the last direction says "do question 1 and 2, write 'I can follow directions', turn in the paper and leave class (or sit quietly and read).

 

Sent from my SM-T530NU using Tapatalk

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I love Laura's list.

 

My dd was making careless errors in math, so I had her finish her work but not give it to me to check until the next morning, when I'd give her 10 minutes before we started math to check it over once more. She'd catch a lot of her careless errors. Coming to it fresh really helped. Having the checklist from Laura would be a super way to teach checking.

 

When writing, some people just need to do a sloppy copy, so to speak, and then edit. Everyone needs an editor, some just more than others. The same idea sort of applies with math--although you really do need to learn to do the procedures correctly the first time as much as possible. But that's why one writes out every step, so to catch errors when checking. So I guess giving time to go over it before you "grade" work would be helpful, no?

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And a non-math thing I have done to teach following directions. I have done this type of thing in a class, or group. One version makes it obvious to everyone at the end who didn't follow the directions, one type would not.... example of first.... Both types look like a test...

 

1. Read ALL directions carefully for entire test before starting

2. Write your name

3. What is 4+5

4. Jump up and say 'I love math!'

5. Crow like a rooster

6. (Etc)

Last item says.... To pass this test, do question 1 and 2, then sit quietly and watch your classmates.

 

The non-embarassing version has lots of hard multi-step problems, or an essay, or something appropriate to take most of the class time, and the last direction says "do question 1 and 2, write 'I can follow directions', turn in the paper and leave class (or sit quietly and read).

 

Sent from my SM-T530NU using Tapatalk

I remember having these in high school and college!

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I used to tell Calvin to check his work, but it slowly became clear that he didn't know what that meant. He needed more detailed instruction. I made a list of the steps to undertake and stuck them to the table. If he made a careless mistake, I would just hand his work back to him to go back and go through the steps (again) until he found the error. Over time, checking became a habit.

 

The list was something like:

 

-Have I transcribed the numbers correctly?

- Am I using the correct operation?

- Have I made a mistake in my calculation?

- Have I written down the answer correctly?

- Does my answer make sense, given the initial data?......

 

That kind of thing.

This list is great, thanks! I will be making a similar one for Dd this week.

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Does she have problems following directions generally, or just in academic areas, or just in some academics (math)?

She is generally responsible and does fine with directions overall, but she doesn't have a natural attention to detail personality. The nature of math just highlights her weaknesses, I think. She can be lost in her own imagination sometimes but then so can I, at age 49!

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Patience and perseverance. Maturity will help.

For math, teach her to copy problems neatly and write them out neatly. Make the expectations specific:

Use graph paper.

One equation per line.

Show all operations.

Underline result.

Write answer sentence to a word problem.

 

This will slow her down and force her to focus.

 

In addition, using colored pencils for plus and minus signs and parenthesis is helpful to visualize important details.

This is helpful, thanks!

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For ds3, I marked all problems wrong for illegibility and for failure to show all work. This was regardless of the correct answers. No video games (he has a carefully allocated hour for them) until all problems were reworked correctly. In about a month, I could read all the problems, and see his work and in about 6 months it became a habit. Graph paper really helped, but it took a lot of practice. And he hated to see correct problems marked as incorrect.

 

For dd2, I gave partial credit if I could see every step and we could find the error (generally transcription...she is dyslexic). So she is very careful, partial credit is very important to her.

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I used to tell Calvin to check his work, but it slowly became clear that he didn't know what that meant. He needed more detailed instruction. I made a list of the steps to undertake and stuck them to the table. If he made a careless mistake, I would just hand his work back to him to go back and go through the steps (again) until he found the error. Over time, checking became a habit.

 

The list was something like:

 

-Have I transcribed the numbers correctly?

- Am I using the correct operation?

- Have I made a mistake in my calculation?

- Have I written down the answer correctly?

- Does my answer make sense, given the initial data?......

 

That kind of thing.

You summarized a big part of our daily math ordeals! Not necessarily lack of knowledge, but yeah, what you had on your list! Can I please use it??? :) And it's always so nice to notice it's not just us!
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I have this issue with DS. I love the Sloyd idea, and with his love of handcrafts that might be a good thing. I will, however, be making a poster for the wall near his desk reminding him to pay attention to what he's doing, probably with a short list of steps he should be following.

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Where does she do her regular lesson?? Using graph notebooks has made a world of a difference for us. We still run into these issues, but it seems like much less, and the type of paper is just helping so much with organization in their entire lesson :)

She is doing MM5, so in the worktext. I will get her a graph paper notebook to use for showing her work. Sometimes she needs extra room anyway.

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Re-do the sloppiness on all daily work. It's the ONLY way.

 

I hate to say it but they just won't care until about the tenth time you make them re/do an entire lesson because most of it was sloppy. Then suddenly a light bulb will come on, and that'll last a few months and then you'll see it start to slide only, the second time around you will only need to make her re-do it once and she will remember "oh yeah mom means it."

 

Not conincidentally she will probably also at some point after several months of neatness see the value in it as her math scores are better and she can also find and fix errors.

 

bdtd

Stay strong mom. It's the only way.

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Ps my sons math tutor and also Jann in TX... do NOT recommend graph paper and I agree. It helps little little kids but by middle school they need to just line it up themselves. There are too many symbols and such that don't take up a whole block so it's annoying anyway and on top of all of that the kids find it very restrictive and frustrating.....

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Ps my sons math tutor and also Jann in TX... do NOT recommend graph paper and I agree. It helps little little kids but by middle school they need to just line it up themselves. There are too many symbols and such that don't take up a whole block so it's annoying anyway and on top of all of that the kids find it very restrictive and frustrating.....

I don't know? I guess it's personal preference? Now that we got graph paper for the kids dh and I have been trying to remember what we used through highschool and even college/university, and we both recall that for both of us it was a no brainer to use graph paper for math/number related classes. I guess everyone has their own preferences :)
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I used to tell Calvin to check his work, but it slowly became clear that he didn't know what that meant. He needed more detailed instruction. I made a list of the steps to undertake and stuck them to the table. If he made a careless mistake, I would just hand his work back to him to go back and go through the steps (again) until he found the error. Over time, checking became a habit.

 

The list was something like:

 

-Have I transcribed the numbers correctly?

- Am I using the correct operation?

- Have I made a mistake in my calculation?

- Have I written down the answer correctly?

- Does my answer make sense, given the initial data?......

 

That kind of thing.

Definitely need to start using your list!!! $50something divided by 8 equals $60something according to my 9yr old? Yeah...I'd like my money to multiply like that somehow :)
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Ps my sons math tutor and also Jann in TX... do NOT recommend graph paper and I agree. It helps little little kids but by middle school they need to just line it up themselves. There are too many symbols and such that don't take up a whole block so it's annoying anyway and on top of all of that the kids find it very restrictive and frustrating.....

 

In every country I've worked other than the US graph paper is used for so many things, throughout a person's academic career, and lined paper is only used for writing lit or philosophy exams.

 

I think that's because graph paper is awesome.

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I worked on this for years with some of my kids!  I kept thinking it should be an easy fix.  What I learned is that it usually isn't.  That is, if you work on it consistently in their daily habits/work and keep stressing it over and over again by having them read the directions twice and out loud and do over math problems and all of that, they'll eventually get there, maybe by the time they get to college.  :) 

 

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