Which Side Is Up?


Sometimes the little things at the junior high school really make me nuts. When I pass out two-sided worksheets, I always hand them to the people in the front row face up. When they pass them back at least half of the students end up with their sheets upside-down. This wouldn’t be nearly as frustrating if it weren’t for the fact that the kids in the front row often end out looking at the back side of theirs.

I could understand that careless passing out of the papers might result in about a quarter of them looking at the wrong side; however, how the kids in the front row get screwed up baffles me.

Originally I would try to correct the problem by: holding a copy up at the front of the room; demanding their attention; and telling them, “This is the front side of the worksheet.” That process had to be repeated at least ten times to get most of the students looking at the correct side.

I figured out is was quicker to walk around the room pointing at upside-down worksheets, right under their noses, and saying, “That’s upside-down!” This still isn’t 100 percent effective, but I guess that would be asking too much.

Temptation is pushing me toward writing “THIS IS THE FRONT” (ここは表だよ!) and “THIS IS THE BACK” (ここは裏だよ!) in 16 point font across the top of the page. Unfortunately, I am usually real estate limited and don’t want to cough up two lines per page.

Some parents have assured me that junior high schoolers are just as obtuse in America, but my experience with my nieces who are now in junior high and high school has been very different. They must be very special (but I have always suspected so.)


4 Responses to “Which Side Is Up?”

  1. Keven Says:

    Well the solution is to design the worksheet such that it doesn’t matter what orientation it is in!

  2. びっくり Says:

    Good point… although we do try to start with fundamentals and build from there. Today I had to teach a class using six pages of worksheets and activities (mostly on present perfect tense) to get the kids ready for mid-terms on Wed and Thurs. Four pages were copied onto one A3 size sheet of paper. The numbers 11, 12, 13, and 14 were inside golf ball-sized black circles in the corners of the pages.

    I gave no other instructions than please do these worksheets. Less than a quarter of the students were working the wrong side. 14 was a review of the materials covered in the first three sections (and was explained in Japanese) but a few of the students were doing there darndest to work out 14 without doing 11 and 12. 13 also built on 12, but that wasn’t explained.

    Long ago I decided the real solution is to not care, but I can’t seem to reach that point. No matter how much they drag their feet, I still want them to learn and think the taxpayers should get something for their money.

  3. sunkissd1 Says:

    I had a couple teachers that made their point(s). We were given a test with the oral and written instructions to read through the entire test before beginning. Of course almost nobody did, so at the end of the long, involved test, the last set of directions said something to the effect of “you can turn the test over and put it down on your desk, you don’t need to complete it”. So majority suffered through the test only to find out they didn’t need to do it in the first place. Sweet revenge for the teacher. In hind sight that was quite clever on their part.

  4. びっくり Says:

    I think I had a teacher do this once. I may have to steal that idea. It would give me a certain amount of satisfaction to see them punished for not following directions. It would be interesting to see who got it.

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