My students often have difficulty reading, understanding, and executing written directions found on tests, quizzes, and assignments - especially those found from a textbook & materials writter 10+ years ago.
I typically find this mildly frustrating. The fact that so many kids can completely miss a key direction, thereby ruining any chance they have at performing at a high level, can take a lot of wind out of one's sails.
And I think this will always be a little bothersome as a teacher, and I will certainly always teach & model the importance of reading & interpreting directions, but I think there is another factor besides typical pre-teen attention deficits.
That, of course, would be the natural 'intuitiveness' - or lack thereof - of so many written directions found in older tests and textbooks...and here's the key: to my 21st-century 'digital native' students.
When I think about it (and I did quite a bit yesterday), so much of what my students interact with is intuitive: devices, games, software, etc. So, what does this mean for me? A couple things, I think: a.) it is incredibly important for me to write clear, understandable directions when developing my own tests, rubrics, etc. I mean, we're not far away from intuitive technology shaping most of our lives, right?
b.) continue to teach my students and model for them strategies on deciphering directions so they may execute them properly. This will only grow more and more important as students interact with more and more intuitive technology in the future.
There will probably never be an absolute cure for pre-teen attention deficits and general apathy, but at least I can have some control and influence when it comes to directions.