Best Practices for Teaching Students with ADHD (Guest Post)

ADHD tips stickerA classroom is a microcosm of society, and just like in any society, there are outliers who stand apart from the majority. As a teacher, you strive to keep your classroom fair and develop your lesson plans to suit the various spectrums of learning. At some point, you may encounter a student with ADHD who poses a challenge for your standard classroom management techniques and your carefully curated curriculum. A student with ADHD has the brainpower for learning, however their unique brain composition makes it difficult for them to focus on the subject matter. The more you understand this condition, the more you can help your student.

What Is ADHD?

About 11 percent (6.4 million) of school-aged children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD in their lifetime. Boys have a higher ADHD diagnosis rate than girls, and the average age of diagnosis is at 7 years of age. Make sure you know the signs of ADHD so you can recognize when a kid may need special help.

The symptoms of ADHD are grouped into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Behavioral signs related with inattention include: easily distracted, doesn’t follow directions, fails to finish tasks, has difficulty with organization. Hyperactivity can manifest itself behaviorally as excessive talking, always moving, difficulty with volume control, inability to stay seated and fidgeting. Impulsivity includes blurting of answers, unable to wait for his or her turn and interruption of others.

Classroom Challenges

A child with ADHD will cause interruption within the classroom and may have difficulty in the completion of their individual tasks. You must anticipate their behavior and develop appropriate reactions that will keep the mood positive, help the child with ADHD and keep your entire class on track with their learning. In the classroom, children with ADHD may struggle with long-term projects, group work, difficult math equations, reading and writing. Regardless of your ADHD student’s struggles, make sure you never shame him for his behavior, but instead encourage him or her towards academic success.

Have a brief conference with the ADHD student and come up with a secret code or signal for when he or she is distracting the class and must re-focus his attention, like a hand signal or a light shoulder tap. Don’t over-do the signals; refrain from pointing out every instance when he or she is off task and only the moments when his or her behavior is a distraction for the whole class.

How You Can Help

Create classroom accommodations for your students with ADHD. Seating assignment can help limit distractions in the classroom. Make sure they are seated away from the windows and the door, put them near your desk and organize the classroom desk formation in rows, rather than table groups. Deliver task instructions in a clear and concise way. Write on the board step-by-step instructions that the students can easily follow and provide other visuals like charts and pictures.

Allow writing assignments to be completed on a computer, rather than in handwriting. A student with ADHD often thinks faster than he or she can write, which can result in messy handwriting and a loss of cohesive thought. Utilize writing prompt tools to help the student practice their composition skills. Help the student with his or her organization and provide the entire class with five to 10 minutes of desk organization and cleaning time at the end of the day.

Work one-on-one with your ADHD students and come up with a special organization system for them. A strong organizational system may include color coding, a three-subject notebook or three-ring binder, and a planner where he or she can write down important assignments and due dates.

About the author: Joyce Wilson is a retired teacher with decades of experience. Today, she is a proud grandmom and mentor to teachers in her local public school system. She and a fellow retired teacher created TeacherSpark.org to share creative ideas and practical resources for the classroom.

 

Verb Tenses Worksheet

Verb Tenses previewI’ve posted another freebie over at We Are Teachers! It’s about changing words for past and future tenses. Perfect for ESL/ELL students! (Click here to check out my post!)

Missing Letters – St. Patrick’s Day ABC Worksheet

Check out this St. Patrick’s Day freebie I posted over at We Are Teachers recently! It’s perfect for pre-K or kindergarten, or students needing a review of the English alphabet. Enjoy!

Missing Letters PreviewClick here for more St. Patrick’s Day freebies!

Chinese New Year Craft: Spring Character

Chinese Spring Character Craft STICKER

The following Chinese new year craft was submitted by a fellow teacher who just did this craft with her second graders:

  1. Copy this page for each student (white paper).
  2. Color the back side of this paper different colors – so no white shows.
  3. Turn it over.
  4. Fold it in half.
  5. Cut on bold lines.
  6. Open it up and turn it over… It’s the Chinese character for “Spring”!
  7. Glue it on another piece of construction paper (optional).

Super easy and totally cute. Enjoy!

Click here to download the template: Chinese New Year- Spring Character Craft

Common Disabilities Fact Sheets (Printable)

disabilities fact sheets sticker

I’m definitely not an expert on disabilities students may have. So, I’ve been trying to find out more information. I’ve been looking for some good fact sheets about the most common disabilities; and, I scored the jackpot! These are from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (which, sadly, last lost funding and has closed). Their free online resources will only be available until September, 2014. So, I downloaded all the disabilities fact sheets, because they’re really helpful and easy to read. Here they are:

ADHD Fact Sheet

Autism Fact Sheet

Cerebral Palsy Fact Sheet

Deaf-Blindness Fact Sheet

Deafness and Hearing Loss Fact Sheet

Developmental Delay Fact Sheet

Down Syndrome Fact Sheet

Emotional Disturbance Fact Sheet

Epilepsy Fact Sheet

Intellectual Disabilities Fact Sheet

Learning Disabilities Fact Sheet

Multiple Disabilities Fact Sheet

Other Health Impairments Fact Sheet

Speech and Language Impairments Fact Sheet

Spina Bifida Fact Sheet

Traumatic Brain Injury Fact Sheet

Visual Impairment, Including Blindness Fact Sheet

Dyslexia: What Teachers (& Parents) Need To Know (Part 4)

This is the final part (part 4) in a series about Dyslexia. The author, Robin, is a mother of 4 boys, 2 of whom have dyslexia.  She has been taking her sons to private tutoring and researching as much as she can about dyslexia for the past 7 years.

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Famous people who are dyslexic (and these are only the ones whose names I recognized):

Whoopi Goldberg                             Henry Winkler*

Tom Cruise                                         Jay Leno

Danny Glover                                     Orlando Bloom

Alexander Graham Bell                     Albert Einstein

Thomas Edison                                  Cher

John Lennon                                      Bruce Jenner

Muhammad Ali                                 Magic Johnson

George Washington                          Woodrow Wilson

Andrew Jackson                                Nelson Rockefeller

Hans Christina Anderson                 Agatha Christie

Henry Ford                                         Charles Schwab

Steven Spielberg                               Walt Disney

*Henry Winkler, also known as the Fonz from the TV series Happy Days, is dyslexic.  He never new until he was an adult and his own son struggled with it and was diagnosed.  He had a very strict military father and went to military school and really struggled.  He had a talent for acting so that’s how he became a success.  Anyway, he got together a few years ago with an author and they wrote a series of books about a kid in elementary school with dyslexia (based on Winkler’s life).  They are called the Han Zipzer series. Many teachers haven’t heard of them, but they’re an excellent read.  They are funny but bring to light some of the struggles that kids with dyslexia have as well as some of the stereotypes of being lazy or just a bad kid.

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I’ve combined all these posts together into a 9 page PDF document so you can print it out easily. Here it is: Dyslexia book.

DISCLAIMER: The medical information in this article is merely information – not advice. If you need medical advice, you should consult a doctor or other appropriate medical professional.

Dyslexia: What Teachers (& Parents) Need To Know (Part 3)

This is part 3 in a series about Dyslexia. The author, Robin, is a mother of 4 boys, 2 of whom have dyslexia.  She has been taking her sons to private tutoring and researching as much as she can about dyslexia for the past 7 years.

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Kids with dyslexia learn best kinesthetically.  Here is a list of ways to help them learn material if they are struggling with other areas.

  • writing words in the air
  • large invisible letters on a wall with their finger, have them point to where each letter is in a different sequence so you know they visualize the word
  • write on the board  in large letters
  • Have them write their letters inside a square box so they remember which direction the letter goes.
  • Practice tracking with the child using fun finger pointers, a pen, or a ruler
  • Play fluency games: a list of letters repeated in a different order on each line.  Have them read as many as they can in a minute and see if they can beat their previous time every day.  You can also use words as they begin to read more.
  • Sand is messy so make a board with fine sandpaper that students can write letters with their fingers.
  • hair gel in a large zip bag gives them a squishy surface to practice spelling words.
  • Teach students WHY a word is spelled the way it is, give them a rule to apply or a saying to go with the rule.  One of the first that my son learned was the FLOSS rule which states that when a small word with a single short vowel sound ends in F L S (or Z), you double the last consonant.  And the word floss demonstrates the rule.  Other words are jazz, miss, grass, fluff, doll…you get the idea.
  • Give instructions in steps and allow more time to complete assignments or shorten the assignment to help the child feel successful by completing along with the rest of the class.

One final thought.  Kids with dyslexia often have distortions when looking at a page with a lot of text.  Copy work on to colored paper (blue is the most common to help) to eliminate the stark difference between black print and white background. The distortions are part of what is called Irlen’s Syndrome.  The Irlen method of using colored overlays or lenses was discovered by Helen Irlen.  It is common among people with all kinds of learning disabilities such as dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, and various other visual processing disorders.  The disorder is not only associated with dyslexia, although many people with dyslexia are helped by the Irlen method.  

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Remember, these are smart kids that just learn differently.  Find what works best for them.  You will be their best friend if you show that you try to understand them.  Encouragement goes a long way with a child who puts forth a great effort that seems effortless to others.

{MINDY’S 2 CENTS: I had Irlen’s Syndrome as a kid. In elementary school, I was in the gifted and talented classes, but I had a hard time reading. I complained of having headaches while reading and said the words seemed to swim on a white page with black printing. My GATE teacher referred us to a specialist from the Irlen Institute who tested me to see how well I did on reading and different tasks when I had colored lenses on. Light blueish-violet was the trick! That particular shade of blue caused no color distortion (when I looked at a white wall it was still white), and my reading problems went away!  The specialist said that without the colored lenses (or colored transparency on the page), I wasn’t blinking so my eyes would become fatigued. The colored sheets did the trick, and I wore blue-tinted lenses for many years as a kid. This was a relatively inexpensive fix (not funded by the school district) and it did wonders! Turns out, my sister also needed colored lenses (a different shade) for depth perception instead of reading.  They weren’t the coolest glasses ever, but it made a world of difference in my studies, self-confidence and ability to get through scholastic tasks. Now I don’t really seem to have the problem, but boy am I glad my teacher knew enough about Irlen’s Syndrome, dyslexia and other learning circumstances to suggest this to my mom.}

Stay tuned for more in our Dyslexia series (symptoms, tips & tricks for parents and teachers)!

DISCLAIMER: The medical information in this article is merely information – not advice. If you need medical advice, you should consult a doctor or other appropriate medical professional.

Dyslexia: What Teachers (& Parents) Need To Know (Part 2)

This is part 2 in a series about Dyslexia. The author, Robin, is a mother of 4 boys, 2 of whom have dyslexia.  She has been taking her sons to private tutoring and researching as much as she can about dyslexia for the past 7 years.dyslexia series- sticker 2

What does Dyslexia look like?

Do you have a child struggling to read?  It might be Dyslexia.  It’s not just reversal of letters as most people think.  Dyslexia manifests itself in a variety of ways.  It has been estimated that one in five children of average or higher intelligence have this common learning difference.  Look at this list of symptoms.  If you have a child who exhibits a few of them, maybe it’s time to be tested.

* difficulty reading unfamiliar words

* slow, sound by sound reading

* headaches when reading

* words moving, shifting, or blurring on the page

* difficulty with handwriting

* unable to write alphabet in order or alphabetize

* reverses or flips letters or numbers

* writes from right to left or backwards

* unable to determine dexterity –  tries to use both hands

* difficulty of eyes following text on a line

* fixating on one word or area of text for longer than normal

* spells phonetically, often eliminating vowels (HND for hand)

* poor organizational skills – messy desk or backpack, forgets homework

* loses concentration and attention quickly

* makes many errors while reading

* re-reads text often

* mispronounces larger words – amblience for ambulance, pasketti for spaghetti

* has difficulty recalling a list of items when given the list verbally

* has difficulty remembering names or objects

* forgets or doesn’t follow instructions

* slower than most kids to complete work or tasks

* difficulty learning math facts, days of the week, months of the year

* lack of coordination, clumsy or bumps into things

* difficulty remembering left from right

* is very artistic, musically inclines, or athletic (right brained)

* seems to zone out

* learns best by hands-on activities

* knows material but doesn’t test well

* difficulty copying print

* writes in an upward or downward slant

* might be extremely orderly or line things up even if it’s not organized

* time management problems

* difficulty with large or fine motor skills

* difficulty telling time on a traditional face clock

* learning to type is difficult

It was a list similar to this one that helped me determine why my son was struggling to read and succeed in school.  His teacher had previously told me that she thought he was just lazy.  Look over the list and you’ll find that you too might recognize multiple symptoms in your struggling reader.  If you are a teacher, ask parents to look at this list.  Maybe they will recognize some of the symptoms that you don’t encounter at school.  If so, refer the child for testing.

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Stay tuned for more in our Dyslexia series (symptoms, tips & tricks for parents and teachers)!

DISCLAIMER: The medical information in this article is merely information – not advice. If you need medical advice, you should consult a doctor or other appropriate medical professional.