Monday, October 19, 2009

Listen to the Directions

6th period. 7th grade world history. They had a map of Latin America to label.

It was a busy work assignment. The teacher's absence wasn't planned, and the teacher next door had left me a bunch of activities for the kiddos to work on. Coloring a map? It's a nice way to kill a period.

The directions on the map said to label all the countries, the major bodies of water, and the equator. But the map also had been numbered, and the numbers did not correspond to the things the instructions said to label.

This is confusing for 7th graders (older students can usually look past such inconsistencies). So, I spent some time explaining the inconsistencies of the map.

I explained that #6 corresponded to the Amazon River which they did not need to label. I explained that while the Pacific Ocean had a number (14) the Atlantic Ocean did not, but both oceans needed to be labeled. I explained that South America was on one map in their book and Central America was on the map with North America (the previous page). I also explained that they could write names of countries on the side of the map if they could not fit their writing in the countries' outlines.

"What is #6 pointing to?"

"Why is there a 14 here but no number for this ocean?"

"What if I can't write the country's name in the space?"

"Where can I find these countries?" (The Central American countries.)

"Is that Alaska?" (The girl was pointing to Mexico.)

I answered none of these questions (except for the Alaska one). I kind of glared at them. I spent five minutes giving instructions which they did not hear. And it gets to me.

I got the class quiet. I warned them that I was going to answer many of their questions in the instructions. But I might as well be going "wah-wah" sometimes. Sometimes they just don't hear me.

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