Step by Step: The Value of Following Directions

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For my birthday, I received a beautiful interior sliding barn door as a gift.  I envisioned that this hefty, rustic door was going to be a unique addition that would bring more style to my home.  With a few extra hands, how hard could this DIY project be if we just followed the instructions?  Right?

Well, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be!

Have you ever experienced a situation when you didn’t need to read the directions for a simple recipe or to assemble a new toy?  I’d venture to say that sometimes that works out, but not every time.  Even when you’ve read the instructions, they sometimes aren’t clear enough to get the final product you’d hoped for.  If that’s the case, you may end up with holes in your wall and a barn door that is now taking up space leaning against the wall. (Ugh!)  When it comes to reading the directions every time, I’m just as guilty as the next person—I don’t always do it. 

In the classroom, many students bypass the instructions and head straight to number one on the assignment.  Shurley English students are not immune to this; it happens all the time.  As a teacher, it’s frustrating and heartbreaking to see the defeat in a child’s eyes when they realize they haven’t followed the directions and must start the assignment over.

Shurley English stresses the importance of following written directions and gives students plenty of opportunities to practice following directions and writing them.  Students learn that they will follow written directions for various reasons such as following recipes, filling out forms, taking tests, and following “how to” instructions.  We also teach students that it is normal to have to read directions several times to fully understand what to do. 

There’s a simple, hands-on activity in the Shurley English Quick Reference section that can help you reinforce following directions.  You might enjoy implementing it in your classroom now!  Here’s how it works…

 

Writing Activity: (Students will need a partner for this activity.)

1.     One partner will hide a small object in the classroom.

2.     Then, he/she will write simple instructions for the other partner to follow and locate the item.

3.     Now, reverse roles and hide the object again.

4.     Discuss the ease or difficulty of writing and following these directions.

5.     Which did you find easiest? Why?

 

Remember, in order to be competent and confident at anything, you have to practice, practice, practice!  So, practice reading the directions first!  You’ll be glad you did! 

Having Fun with Analogies

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An analogy is a way of thinking about how pairs of words are related.   It’s a special kind of word puzzle that lets a student have fun and exercises their brain at the same time!  If you need a language arts activity to help keep your students on their toes, teach them how to create analogy puzzles!  They can be done at any time, and kids seem to always enjoy the challenge.     

Usually, an analogy exercise will be a set of three words and a blank line, which the student must fill in with the correct word.  The : symbol in the analogy means “is to,” and the :: symbol stands for “as.”  When the analogy is read out loud, students should be taught to read these symbols as if they were words.  For instance, the following analogy should be read like this:

boat: goat:: fan: man

“Boat is to goat as fan is to man.”

Analogies are a form of logic or step-by-step thinking to solve problems.  The most important thing you have to do is to make sure students understand the “thinking process” involved in the analogy.  You can teach them to solve the puzzle just by following these steps:

Step 1:  Decide how the first two words in the analogy are related.

Step 2:  Think how the other pair of words relate in the same way.

Step 3:  Choose a word that makes both pairs relate that way.

Let’s try it!  Look at the first set of words in the example again.  How are boat and goat related?  They rhyme!  Now, look at the word fan.  Can you think of a word that rhymes with fan?  We could use the word manMan rhymes with fan, so man would be a good choice to fill in the blank.  That’s how we solve the puzzle and come up with the analogy:  “Boat is to goat as fan is to man.”

Shurley English teaches a list of analogies called “The Big 10.”  The list shows different ways words can be related, and it’s very helpful as students learn to discover word relationships, using analogies.  Post this list in your classroom for quick reference: 

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Rain : train :: cup :  pup

This is the proper reading of this rhyming analogy: 

Rain is to train as cup is to pup.

stripe : zebra :: spot : leopard

This is the proper reading of characteristic analogy: 

Stripe is to zebra as spot is to leopard.

Read analogies often with your students, and go through the “thinking process” with them.  Then, have students complete brain puzzles.  Try implementing analogy activities like the one below as often as you can to help your students exercise their brains and have fun at the same time!

BONUS ACTIVITY: Analogy Puzzles

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Summer Learning: How to create a positive summer reading experience

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Summer vacation is supposed to be a break from the usual routine of school, but many parents worry their kid’s reading skills will digress without some sort of action plan.  According to the "Kids and Family Reading Report," a survey done by Scholastic, an American publishing company, those fears might not be far from the truth for some.

Scholastic’s most recent report showed that among kids ages 9-11, 14% did not read any books during the summer of 2018, compared with 7% in 2016. Among kids ages 15-17, 32% did not ready any books during the summer of 2018, compared with 22% in 2016. 

Now, before you hit the panic button, it’s important to let you know that the same report found that nearly 60% of kids ages 6-17 did have a positive experience reading books over the summer.  So, what can you do as a parent to help increase your child’s odds of having a positive reading experience during their time off from school? 

First, give your child permission to read as many books as possible this summer for pleasure.  Let them choose their own books whether they are easy or hard, long or short.  The truth is that it doesn’t matter as long as they enjoy them.   Also, let them know that you are not going to ask them questions to find out whether they understood the books or not.  If they can understand enough of a book to enjoy it and want to go on reading it, then let them!

Secondly, if a child doesn’t want to finish a book they’ve started, that’s okay!  They should give an author a chance to get the story going, but if they don’t like the characters and don’t care what happens to them, it’s perfectly okay to find a different book.

Lastly, you must keep in mind that reading is reading regardless of the venue.  Let your child select what they want to read from hard cover books and magazines to online versions.  Giving a child permission to read for pleasure will be the best thing you can do for them over the summer!  Too often, reading is associated with comprehension questions and vocabulary checks.  When you remove them, reading for pleasure becomes the focus!