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.

 

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Learning Styles Survey

Here’s one of my recent printables over at We Are Teachers! It’ll be great for your first week of school when you’re learning about your new students and planning how you can create the best learning environment for them. Click here to go to my post.

How Do You Work Best preview

 

Online Teaching Conference 2015

I recently attended another conference, the Online Teaching Conference. Held at the San Diego Convention Center, it covered a wide variety of topics from increasing participation in online classes to free tech tools to group work in distance education classes. I’m assuming that most teachers in America (of the world, for that matter) don’t teach courses exclusively online. However, many of the ideas presented there are applicable to any teaching arena.

Online Teaching Conference

The topic I found the most interesting was the conversation about group work.  One of the suggestions was to encourage the group to not only do an “ice breaker” at the start of their team experience, but to also explore what roles each member would have in the group. After the students discuss roles, teachers can have the group decide on group rules and expectations.  This is especially important for a long-term project.

One of the teachers presenting talked about how they have their students turn in a “group expectations” page detailing what the group expected of its members. The presenter said that while they give the group a grade for turning in the page, they don’t necessarily grade the group on how closely they actually stick to their original expectations. This is often because the students set unrealistic expectations for the group. On a number of assignments, the presenter said he asks his students to revise their expectations document part-way through the project so they can make their guidelines more realistic. The presenter indicated that the times when he provides this kind of group support to his students, the groups usually do better, produce higher quality projects and get along better.

This idea makes so much sense! But, I had never thought of it! Learning how to function in a group (that you can’t always choose) is an essential skill in today’s world, and we as teachers can do a lot to help teach our students how to be a good group members.

What have you learned about working with groups (in your experience as a student or as a teacher)? Comment below!

#WhatIWishMyTeacherKnew (Learning About Your Students)

I recently learned about a project launched by a Colorado teacher, Kyle Schwartz, called #WhatIWishMyTeacherKnew. The main ideas is that this third grade teacher didn’t feel like she knew them very well or how to support them. She asked her students to finish the sentence “I wish my teacher knew…”. The students’ responses were honest and highlight the struggles in their lives and the importance of truly connecting with our students. Here are some articles about the project:

How #IWishMyTeacherKnew can help teachers support students – Christian Science Monitor

Students Share What They Wish Their Teacher Knew – Huffington Post

Colorado Teacher Shares Heartbreaking Notes From Third Graders – ABC News

I Wish My Teacher Knew’: Social movement sparked after teacher shares heartbreaking notes from third graders – FOX News

I think this is a great idea! It’s important to know what your students are struggling with so you can find ways/resources to help them. If you do this exercise with your class, and are comfortable sharing the results, join other teachers on Twitter by using the hashtag #whatiwishmyteacherknew. i wish my teacher knew STICKER Use this printable to collect your answers if you’d like: I wish my teacher knew

Student Self-Evaluation for Parent Teacher Conferences

Self Evaluation Preview

Parent teacher conferences are stressful. There are so many things that teachers want to show parents that  it’s hard to remember everything! Hand each of your students one of these pages and let them tell their parents about how they’ve done! One less thing for you to do! Also, I’ve found that giving students a self-reflection page before handing out grades, helps kids be less surprised by their grades.

Get the free PDF from my recent post over at We Are Teachers!

Fun Halloween Ideas

It’s finally “Halloween season!” Bust out the spooky decor and let’s get scaring! Ok, fine… maybe you can’t do as much fun Halloween themed stuff as you could years ago, but here are some productive Halloween ideas for you. I found them on Pinterest.  (Oooh! Follow me on Pinterest!)…

paper chain ghostI think this paper chain ghost (source) could be a fun class craft… or adapted into a management tool!! It might work to build the ghost out of paper chains, and then tell the class if they can get rid of the ghost, they earn a prize (extra recess, no homework for a night, etc.). When the class does well, remove a paper loop and throw it away. The kids can see the ghost disappearing, so they can see their progress towards a prize. Or you could be really ambitious and do this in reverse, by earning paper chain links to build the ghost and earn the prize.

 

I’m musically challenged. It’s ironic, because my husband is very musically gifted (I guess opposites really do attract). Anyway, whenever I have a chance to bring a music activity that SOMEONE ELSE PLANNED into my classroom, I jump on it. Especially when it’s about a holiday (killing two birds with one stone)! Here’s a clever Halloween song and rhythm game. It’s not too difficult, and it involves some physical actions, so I’m all for it.

Click here for the directions and printable game cards.

Classroom Coupons – English and Spanish

classroom coupons STICKERMy friend is teaching a bilingual class this year. I made her these homework coupons or homework passes (or whatever you want to call them). They’re blank so that you as the teacher can write in the value of the coupon before you copy them. Read my post about classroom reward ideas if you need some inspiration.

Click here to view the coupons: Classroom Coupons – English
Classroom Coupons – Spanish

Click here to view my other set of free classroom coupons.

47 Questions New Teachers Should Ask

47 questions new teachers should askTeaching is a big job. It can get overwhelming to plan for, remember and execute everything you’re supposed to. In an effort to help a good friend who’s starting teaching this year, I recently read a great article by Karen Zauber and it got me thinking about questions teachers should ask. I’ve put together a list of some questions all teachers should ask at the start of the school year and periodically throughout the school year. Some questions are for you to ask yourself, and others are for you to ask someone else. Please comment below if there are any important questions I missed!

Establishing the Climate of My Classroom (To Ask Myself)

  1. How do I expect students to turn things in? (This is definitely something to tell students on the first day!)
  2. How much noise can I tolerate? “It’s easier to start out more controlled and gradually open up to activity and noise than the other way around.”  – Karen Zauber
  3. How neat and organized does my room have to be? Can I handle some clutter?
  4. What do I want my desk and classroom to say about me and what I value?
  5. How will I make myself inviting and approachable, while continuing to be the authority figure in the classroom?
  6. How will I make sure things are fair in my classroom? Read my post, Fair isn’t Equal: 7 Classroom Tips.

Conducting My Class Efficiently (To Ask Myself)

  1. How will I gain students’ attention before starting a new activity?
  2. How will I make sure I stay consistent in what I say and do?
  3. How will I make sure that the materials I give my students are correct and clear? Do I have a fellow teacher who I can ask to read over a letter I’m sending home to parents?
  4. What are my long-term goals? How will I keep them in mind as I do my daily planning?
  5. What routines and procedures do I need to teach my students? Check out my post on 30 must-have classroom procedures.
  6. What strategy will I use to learn my students names quickly?

Reaching & Encouraging My Students (To Ask Myself)

  1. Do I accentuate the positive?
  2. Do I show my students that it’s ok to make mistakes while learning? Do I acknowledge that I don’t know everything and that I sometimes make mistakes?
  3. Do I have the right balance of being serious about accomplishing work and making class fun?
  4. Do I move around the room enough as I’m teaching or do I stay in one place too long?
  5. Do I take time to really connect with my students and learn about who they are as a person (family, interests, dreams, etc.)? Click here for some fun “get to know you” games and activities.
  6. Do I talk to all my students, not just my favorite students?
  7. Do my student know that I expect them to succeed? Do I communicate this in my words and actions? Click here to see one idea for showing your students you’re proud of them.
  8. How can I use tone of voice and body language to keep students interested?
  9. How will I make sure I’m speaking in a clear, easy to follow way? What should students do if they don’t understand what I’m saying?

Applying Proven Teaching Techniques (To Ask Myself)

  1. Do I teach using a variety of strategies, or do I stick to only the strategies that are easy for me?
  2. Do I give students enough time to think after I ask a question? (You should wait at least 3 seconds after you ask a content question.)
  3. Do I have the right balance of working one-on-one with students, small groups and monitoring the whole class?
  4. Do I make sure students understand the content as I teach?
  5. Do I praise students appropriately? Am I specific in the praise I give? “If you praise them all the time — especially when they’re only doing what’s expected and no more, they won’t strive to do more. Remember, intermittent reinforcement is the most powerful way to reinforce positive behavior. Be selective in your praise. Be honest. Tell them when they’ve excelled and how they can improve. “ –Karen Zauber

Establishing Discipline (To Ask Myself)

  1. Am I consistent in what I say and what I do?
  2. Is my attention signal working? If it’s not, try something new!
  3. Do I control the class by using threats to control the class? “If you do use a threat, be prepared to carry it out.” –Karen Zauber
  4. Do I nip behavior problems in the bud? It’s easier to correct behavior problems when they first start than after it’s become a habit.
  5. Do I reprimand a student one-on-one or in front of the whole class? How does a public reprimand affect the student and the whole class?

Miscellaneous Questions (To Ask Myself)

  1. How will I get parents involved in my classroom?
  2. How will my class celebrate birthdays and special occasions? (Find out the school policy on this.)
  3. What school committees am I interested in being a part of?

Miscellaneous Questions (To Ask My Principal or Fellow Teachers)

  1. When can I get into my classroom to start preparing for the school year?
  2. What should I do if I have to be late to school unexpectedly?
  3. What programs are required by your school/district/state and which are optional or just a school tradition? (If you’re a new teacher focus on the required programs. Then once you’ve got a handle on those, add the optional programs into your classroom one at a time. I learned this the hard way during my first year.)
  4. What textbooks are available to me? Which ones am I required to use?
  5. If I need to step out of my classroom for a few minutes (emergency trip to the bathroom for example), what should I do?
  6. What is my budget? What things are covered in a grade/school budget? (Again, I learned the hard way. My first year, I paid for things from my budget that I could have gotten with my grade level budget. Also, Keep your receipts for taxes or if the PTA/PTO decides to reimburse some of them.)
  7. Does our school give out student supply lists? Am I allowed to distribute a supply list? (I once worked in a district that prohibited distributing supply lists.)
  8. Can I ask for donations from parents? Some schools allow a “wishlist” to go home, so parents can donate if they so desire.
  9. How can I obtain a copy of the parent/student handbook?
  10. What time commitments are there outside a traditional day (meetings, school events, conferences, etc.)?
  11. Exactly how will I be evaluated? Will I have advanced notice of classroom observations?
  12. How should I report attendance?
  13. What should I do if I feel like a situation is getting out of hand with a student or parent?