Following Directions- One of the most important skills we all learn is how to follow directions. This is a skill we assume our students mastered in Kindergarten (or earlier), but the reality is they often ignore directions. College Board clarifies expectations and alludes to how students will be assessed in their directions. By skipping directions, students are putting themselves at risk of failure. Each year there are many high quality answers and essays that score low because of not following directions.
Below are a few examples of how I reinforce this skill in class.

1.Short Answer Question Portfolio – Students have a portfolio that remains in class. They write a full SAQ two or three times a week. Each entry has three goals: ATFP, evidence, and explain how or why. When SAQs are graded and all three goals reached they receive a sticker on the cover. For students who struggle, they can earn stickers for improvement. Stickers may seem elementary, but my juniors love them and celebrate each additional one they receive. J For teachers who struggle with time to grade SAQs, peer grading or self-assessment are also options.

Blue Highlighting = ATFP! (Address The Full Prompt) and using the lingo from the prompt!

Yellow Highlighting =  one piece of evidence [or analysis beyond the obvious for interpretation questions]

Green Highlighting = EXPLAIN HOW OR WHY! Close the Loop!


2.      Table Folders – In my classroom students sit in tables of 4 to 6. Each table has a folder with student names. This is how I collect and pass back papers. I reward students for following directions by adding stickers next to their name. Directions can be simply “highlight your final answers on the quiz yellow,” or “underline the source of each document.” By rewarding the simple skill of following directions, we can help students elevate their responses on the AP exam. This is a little skill that makes a BIG difference! NOTE: Some students do not respond to this, but the vast majority want to see their folder covered with stickers, and they count them and compete. This requires them to follow directions!

“Don’t underestimate the power of teaching and repeatedly reinforcing the skill of following directions! Students that read and follow directions are on their way to success. The strategies updated here were designed simply by interpreting and breaking down the revised rubrics as directions.”

- Rebecca Richardson, M.Ed