From Chaos to Clarity!

School Success strategies

On August 07, 2008 in

School Success Strategies

Teaching strategies and accommodations that work well for students with learning challenges, including ADD or ADHD.

General Teaching Strategies:

Make the learning process as concrete and visual as possible.

Written expression
a. Dictate information to a “scribe” or parents.
b. Use graphic organizers to provide visual prompts.
c. Use Post-it notes to brainstorm essay ideas.
a. Use paired learning (teacher explains problem, students make up their own examples, swap problems, and discuss and correct answers).
b. Use a peer tutor.
(After barely passing high school and college algebra, my son made an A in calculus plus had a 100 average on tests when the professor used this strategy. At the same time, he also tutored a friend.)
a Use mnemonics (memory tricks), such as acronyms or acrostics, e.g., HOMES to remember names of the Great Lakes, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
b. Use visual posting of key information on strips of poster board.

Modify teaching methods.

a. Use an overhead projector to demonstrate how to write an essay. (Parents may simply write on paper or a computer to model this skill.)
b. Use color to highlight important information.
c. Use graphic organizers to help students organize their thoughts.

Modify assignments-reduce written work.

a. Shorten assignments.
b. Check time spent on homework, and reduce it if appropriate (when total homework takes longer than roughly 10 minutes per grade level as recommended in a PTA/NEA Policy, e.g. 7th grader = 70 minutes).
c. Write answers only, not the questions (photocopy questions).

Modify testing and grading.

a. Give extended time on tests.
b. Divide long-term projects into segments with separate due dates and grades.
c. Average two grades on essays- one for content and one for grammar.

Modify level of support and supervision.

a. Appoint a “row captain” to check to see that homework assignments are written down and later turned in to the teacher. Dr. Clare Jones has found this strategy effective.
b. Increase the amount of supervision and monitoring for these students, if they’re struggling.

Use technology.

a. Use a computer as often as possible.
b. Use software to help teach skills.

Unfortunately students with learning challenges, learning disorders and ADD/ADHD are often punished for executive function deficits such as lack of organizational and memory skills that interfere with their ability to bring home the correct homework assignments and books. Hopefully, after reading this article, teachers and parents will develop more innovative intervention strategies. For example, one effective alternative would be to have someone (a friend or teacher aide), meet the student at his locker to get the necessary homework materials together. Ultimately, this process of “modeling” and “shaping” behavior at the critical “point of performance” will help the student master skills or at a minimum, teach him to compensate for deficits.

Clearly school is often very difficult for students with attention deficits. However, when executive function deficits are also present, the accompanying problems are often overwhelming to the student and family. Unfortunately, some parents and teachers have had little awareness or sympathy for the challenges presented by these combined deficits. Hopefully, teachers and parents now realize that attention deficit disorder is often a very complex condition! It’s much more than just a simple case of hyperactivity. When deficits in executive function and related learning problems are present, students can try their very best and still not succeed in school!!

So what should parents and teachers do with this new information?
1) Identify a) the student’s specific learning problems (e.g. written expression or math) and b) their executive function deficits (e.g. working memory, disorganization, forgetfulness, or impaired sense of time) and 2) provide accommodations in both areas!

Food for Thought

“Succeeding in school is one of the most therapeutic things
that can happen to a child!
So do whatever it takes to help the child succeed in school.”