Repeat the Directions

Clarify the Task, "Check In" For Understanding

UDL 3.3 UDL 6.3

Repeating the directions or clarifying a task is a strategy in which students are asked to internalize instructions that are given and relay them, in their own words, to classmates, teachers or aides. The strategy allows for a basic comprehension check from the students prior to taking action on a given task. The opportunity to verbalize one's own understanding of the directions can deepen student understanding and increase accountability. Solidifying student understanding prior to the outset, coupled with extra think time, may help alleviate students' insecurities regarding how to start the task. The strategy can be implemented at all grade levels and content areas in ways that are developmentally-appropriate. Repeating the directions or clarifying the task can benefit all students' active listening, and may be especially helpful for those with reading comprehension or auditory processing difficulties.

Implementation Tips

Check in with Struggling Students
Try using this strategy privately when a student seems to be having difficulty getting started. This allows you to check for understanding and to correct any misconceptions. It also allows the student to verbally process the information and to gain confidence that the task is understood.
Elicit a Volunteer to Clarify the Task
Prior to giving the directions, it can be helpful to let the students know that you will be asking for a volunteer to clarify the task. This encourages all students to listen more actively than they otherwise might.
Think Pair Share
When doing a turn-and-talk, the teacher may want to set a timer for two minutes. While it is not beneficial to rush the students, it is sometimes helpful to keep them on-task with a time constraint.
Be certain that this strategy is not used or perceived as a way to single out misbehavior or a student's difficulty. Integrate this strategy into ongoing practice (whole class, small group, privately) so that it becomes a positive aspect of your classroom culture.


Lower Elementary
Teachers can use this strategy with early readers as they progress from entirely verbal directions to more written instructions. For this group of learners, pages where there are a lot of written directions can be intimidating. Asking students to repeat the directions that were read serves as a comprehension check and provides an opportunity to ensure that the steps are understood.
Upper Elementary
When close reading a new text, students can be asked to turn-and-talk and discuss the purpose for reading prior to each read. As upper elementary students transition to more complex reading material, it can be difficult for students to focus attention on the most critical aspects. Clarifying the directions can further focus students on reading for a particular purpose.
Middle School
Before independently engaging in the writing process, teachers can ask a student volunteer to clarify the task in order to ensure that students have a good grasp of the many steps involved. This not only allows that particular student to process what was said, but also benefits the other students to hear the directions repeated.
High School
Teachers can utilize the strategy of repeating the directions as students move into more abstract problem-solving, such as working through mathematical proofs. The act of verbal repetition serves as a reminder of the steps involved and helps to commit them to memory.

Related Strategies