Clear writing starts with clear thinking. It’s difficult to give instructions to another person in a remote location. It takes practice to avoid frustration for either party in the exchange. Here are some suggestions to give your student the experience of imagining himself in the place of another and talking through the steps to construct or troubleshoot with words alone.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Pick a simple task e.g. making a peanut butter sandwhich

Ask your student to give instructions from the other room, or over the phone, or with his/her back turned.Pretend you don’t know how to make a pbj so when the instruction comes you follow it literally:

Student: “Put the peanut butter on the bread.”

You: Place the jar on the loaf of bread or spread it on the crust only.

Ask for periodic correction by asking the student if what you have done is right. Then have him/her go back to blind intruction.

2. Blindfold yourself. Have your student guide you across a cluttered room to pick up an object.

3. Replicate a design. This can become an interactive game. First one of you comes up with a relatively simple but nondescript design (see sample). At a remove, try to get the other person to replicate the drawing. Reverse roles as there is as much to learn from receiving as giving instructions.

4. Construct an unseen object using any combination of pipe cleaners, construction paper, tape, leggos, tinker toys etc.

5. Have your student walk you through a technological glitch (modem reset, dvr recording, using the printer) over the phone. Who knows you may be developing a service tech career.