In class, my partner and I were assigned the task of learning how to jump a car with a dead battery. I am slightly ashamed to say that I wasn’t 100% sure exactly how to jump a car. I thought I knew the basics. Open the hood, attach the jumper cables to the battery of the vehicle with the dead battery to the battery of a car without the dead battery, etc.
So when my instructor proposed this task I jumped (pun intended) at the chance to learn this skill. I am, after all, well-educated in many areas, but I must admit, cars are not my area of expertise. So we dove right in. There was one thing we discovered was assumed when dealing with this every day problem:
- Creators of tutorials often assume their audience has a general understanding of car mechanics (which every person does not have)
Through a series of general searches we came away with two sets of directions to evaluate. Take a look at the linked video below. It was posted by a well-known auto parts chain.
Now look at the image below:
I must admit, that had I attempted to jump a car prior to viewing the two tutorials, there may have been a mishap, and fire…and perhaps the need for paramedics. Just as you have to connect positive to negative terminals to complete a circuit or put batteries into a kid’s toy, I had assumed the same held true to charge a battery…not so!
As I looked at both examples, I began to wonder if I also assume things about my audience (my students) that may not be true. I thought back to tutorials I had created that involved a learner learning how to complete a task using only the video/written directions I had created.
When I post directions on the board, it is with the assumption that the students understand the academic vocabulary and have understood the connected whole group lessons. When I give students independent work, that line of assumptions continues. As a teacher with a high population of ELLs (English Language Learners) I know that I must explain the academic vocabulary so that my students understand what I am asking them to do. I provide a lot examples through modeling and anchor charts. I use video and other forms of multimedia as well. I am sure that what I am asking is not always as clear as I hope.
Still I am always striving to do my best. The folks at Edutopia put it so well:
Before I end this post, I must add that nearly 48 hours after class I attempted to start my vehicle and got the dreaded CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! of a dead battery. Even though I did not jump the vehicle myself, I knew how!