". . . I gave out a step by step sheet at the start. Of course they never
referred to it and asked me repeatedly when they should have been referrring
to the sheet. . ."
I teach elementary, but I use instruction sheets. I think that when
students keep asking you instead of referring to the sheets it's because
they are either not used to the sheets, or they lack confidence and they
want your attention and feedback, they want to hear, "Yes! That's right."
So I would suggest that you give the instruction sheets, then when students
keep asking you, tell them to refer to the sheet, while you either watch
them work, or have them explain what they think it means. You can then,
hopefully, tell them they are right, giving them the immediate feedback they
crave. In the long run, perhaps they'll become confident enough to just
follow the sheets while you circulate giving positive feedback and help. If
the students get used to using the instruction sheets, I think it will save
you a lot of time in the end.