Do you ever get tired of answering the same questions over and over again? I'm talking about things like:
- "Can I used colored pencils?"
- "Can we work with a partner?"
- "Where can we sit?"
- "Where do I put this when I'm done?"
If you're like me, then you probably woke up in the middle of the night answering those questions. Well, I have a simple solution that can help save your time and your sanity: visual direction cards.
WHAT ARE VISUAL DIRECTION CARDS?
Visual direction cards are physical, visual displays that help reinforce the instructions you just gave students about completing an activity. They are usually placed in the front of the room on the whiteboard or in a place where all students can easily see them.
The cards give students reminders and preemptively answers their questions about the task they are working on. If a student can't remember where you said to turn in an assignment, they can look at the board. If a student can't remember who they work with or where they can sit, they can look at the board. This helps them find the answers they need without disrupting the class or interrupting you.
(Please note that I'm not advocating ignoring students when they need help. This is only for those questions that get repeated again and again.)
HOW DO I USE VISUAL DIRECTION CARDS?
You can print out the pre-typed pages or use the editable versions to create your own. I recommend laminating them for durability. You can glue a magnet or a Velcro dot on the back of each card to make switching them out quicker and easier.
After giving directions for a task or assignment, switch out the cards so they are relevant to what your students are working on. Then, remind students to refer to the board if needed. Your students will quickly get used to this procedure and will know where to look if they have a question.
WHY ARE VISUAL DIRECTION CARDS BENEFICIAL?
Visual directions are a great way to help students whose primary language isn't English (our ESL/ELL students). The pictures will help them understand what to do even if they don't understand everything you are saying yet.
These cards can also help students with processing delays or other learning disabilities. It gives them a visual reference that they can discreetly refer back to as often as they need.
Finally, these cards help stop unwanted interruptions in your teaching so you can focus on working with students, grading, planning, or preparing for your next tasks.
WHAT DO I DO IF THEY KEEP COMING UP TO ASK ME THE QUESTIONS AND IGNORE THE BOARD?
Most of your students will fall quickly into the routine of checking the board after you give an assignment. Some students, especially those who are anxious or who have become accustomed to relying solely on the teacher for answers, might need a few extra reminders. If a student keeps coming up to you, I would just silently point up to the board, signalling to them that they can find their answer up there. You could also print out the cards on a full page and laminate it for these particular students. Then, after you have given directions and put up the cards, they can take a dry-erase marker and circle the images that match the cards you have put up. You could also do this for them if needed.
These cards make student work time less stressful and chaotic. You can check out my set here!