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        4-6, 13+

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        Producing Clear Directions - Trackers

        Students write directions for how to make and use a tracking stick. Peers test and assess the clarity of the directions.

        Lesson Summary


        Students watch a video segment in which the speaker describes how to make and use a tracking stick. Then students write directions for making and using one. Peers will test and assess the directions by trying to follow the directions using the required materials. 

        Why is this an important concept?

        Producing clear directions is a life skill. We need to be able to tell someone how to get to our house, how to complete a simple task, and so on. The ability for learners to clearly express themselves is part of being functionally literate. Also, writing directions helps learners follow and comprehend other's directions more efficiently. 

        Grade Level:


        Suggested Time


        Media Resources


        • Writing Directions rubric
        • Samples of efficient directions (i.e., cookbooks, map directions)
        • Paper, pencil, chart paper, markers
        • Sticks about in diameter and 3 ft long (one for each student)
        • 3 rubber bands for each student
        • Printouts of animal footprints, one set for every four students

        The Lesson

        Part I: Learning Activity

        1. Have a student volunteer who is wearing laced shoes listen to another student tell him or her how to tie a shoelace. Tell the volunteer wearing the shoe to do only exactly what the peer giving directions says to do. It is usually pretty funny to interpret directions literally this way because steps taken for granted are left out and language use is not precise.

        2. Ask why it is important to be able to write or give someone clear directions. When might this be used in life?

        3. Pass out examples of clear, efficient directions you have collected (i.e., cookbooks, directions, etc.). Be sure some include labeled diagrams. Ask students why these are good examples of directions. Compile a list of components of clear, efficient directions by recording students comments on chart paper. Be sure to include those components listed in the Writing Directions rubric.

        4. Before viewing the video segment, provide a media focus by asking students to focus on the concept of tracking and the directions given for creating and using a tracking stick. This first time viewing the segment, students will just watch and listen.

        5. Show the segment again. Provide a media focus by asking students to take notes on the specific steps in making and using the stick.  

        6. Give students two minutes to share their notes with a classmate and add to them as needed. Share in a whole-class discussion.

        7. Review the class-generated chart from step 3. Distribute and go through the Writing Directions rubric. Discuss how students might include the required labeled diagram in their directions to best help the reader.

        8. Next, students should review the samples of well-written directions again as they begin to write their directions for making and using a tracking stick.

        9. Students should work with a partner. Each pair of students should be given a stick, three rubber bands and printouts of animal tracks (see Environmental Education for Kids for animal tracks) to manipulate while they are writing directions.

        10. Before finalizing directions, partners should have another team test their directions and diagram, assess the directions by using the rubric and provide suggestions for improvement. Directions should be revised as needed.

        For students who need additional teacher guidance:
        • Review note-taking strategies before watching the segment.
        • Provide assistance with taking notes while watching the video.
        • Provide opportunities for students to view segment additional times, pausing the video to allow students time to write their notes.

        Part II: Assessment

        After directions are written, partners will switch directions and diagrams with another pair of partners. Using the sticks, rubber bands and printouts of animal tracks, they will take turns following each other's directions. Students will assess each other's directions and diagrams using the Writing Directions rubric. You will assess using the rubric. The rubric will also allow you to assess the students' ability to read directions and graphics and determine what is missing because peers have used the rubric to evaluate other's work. 


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