Strategies to Help Students with ADHD Stay on Task and Tiering Lessons for Them
What strategies can you use to help students with ADHD stay on task?
It is critical for teachers to have instructional accommodations in place to meet the needs of students with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Instructional accommodations are supports provided to help students gain full access to class content and instruction, and to demonstrate accurately what they know (Friend & Bursuck, 2015). Some of the strategies that I think have been useful in my instruction are explained in the next paragraphs.
In teaching students with ADHD, it is important that when we assign work, we give clear directions, so students know what is required of them. When teachers present directions clearly, there will be less time for students to figure out what to do or ask questions about the assignment. Instead, they are focused on completing the assignment and in that way, there is more efficiency in the instructional time. Also, when instructions are clear, specific, and concise, it helps students make a thorough and thoughtful response to the assignment. If clarifications are needed, make sure it is addressed before the assignment starts so as not to disrupt the students while working.
It will also be a very useful tool to have checklists and visual cues for classroom procedures. First, it keeps students focused on their work or task by providing them an overview of what to expect throughout the lesson. Next, visuals give students a reminder of what they should be doing and when assignments are specifically outlined it makes it easier for them to transition to the next assignment. Another thing is that checklist and visual cues promote independency to students especially when they are given responsibility for finishing their work themselves. But one thing that teachers needed to be aware of is that we have to make sure that these visuals do not become a distraction to students and hinder them from focusing on their task.
The use of a timer to motivate students is an effective strategy for helping them focus on their tasks. In classrooms, when teachers use a timer it gives students a notion of “beating the time” concept. This strategy also encourages them to use their time wisely and effectively as there will not be a lot for them to waste. Moreover, the use of this tool enhances their order of thinking in a span of time and thus develop their thinking skills and enriches their competitiveness.
Students that have ADHD are easily frustrated. All of them have issues and bad behaviors, and it is important that we don’t take things personally as it is not, it’s just them naturally. To solve problems in the classroom, we need to ask our students what works for them. We need to create strategies based on their responses to the questions: “What’s going on?”; “What are the things that make it challenging for you to redirect yourself right now?”; and “How can we help you not to get distracted and stay on task?”. It is also helpful that when redirecting students to their work, we are showing them that we are supportive of them rather than giving them punishment or getting them in trouble. Solving behavior problems gently and positively give students the confidence to their teacher, and it builds a progressive learning environment for all.
How can your teaching be tiered to meet students at their level?
Tiering a lesson is teaching the same concept to the whole class while varying the level of complexity in the instruction to engage all students (Friend & Bursuck, 2015). After the introduction of a new concept, the teacher must give assignments that will challenge their thinking in a developmentally appropriate manner. Have some complex problems for the more advanced students and challenging but developmentally appropriate for the introductory group. Tiering a lesson allows all students including students with ADHD and other disabilities to experience success.
One way teaching can be tiered to meet students at their level is by splitting up the class in an organized group based on their academic level, interest, or learning style. The flexible use of classroom grouping arrangements is an important part of differentiated instruction (Broderick, Mehta-Parekh, & Reid, 2005). Depending on the lesson, students can be grouped with high-performing, low-performing, and average students together. But there should also be times that teachers can experiment and mix and match students so that learning becomes dynamic and collaborative at different levels. After working in groups, teachers can assess students by giving exit slips to check the mastery of the new concept and to see if they were able to pull out something from working with their diverse groups. Although using groups effectively is an important part of an inclusive classroom, Kauffman (2011) cautions that grouping is effective because it makes effective instruction possible; grouping in and of itself is not a means of improving education.
Broderick, A., Mehta-Parekh, H., & Reid, D. K. (2005). Differentiating instruction for disabled students in inclusive classrooms. Theory into practice, 44(3), 194-202.
Friend, M. P., & Bursuck, W. D. (2015). Including students with special needs: A practical guide for classroom teachers.
Kauffman, J. M. (2011) Toward a science of education: The battle between rogue and real science. Verona, WI: Attainment.