Sunday, October 20, 2013

Creative Projects and ADHD

Teaching students with ADHD requires teachers to think outside the box to find ways to accommodate their needs. Sometimes just to get students to do lower level thinking work can be a difficult task, let alone higher order! Here I want to share some strategies to help get students with ADHD to engage in higher order thinking:

1) Whispermaphones

For Reading, I highly recommend "Whisper Phones" to help them stay focused on what they are reading. I've even had these written into 504 plans to help them with testing/reading.

You can use PVC pipe from Home Depot or Lowes.

I found this works really well and is really cheap only like $2 or $3!

  Or look at this handy gadget for Guided Reading:

2) Chair Options:

Wiggle Seats give them permission to wiggle in their chair and get those wiggles out!
Ball chairs also let kids bounce around while they're working!
3) Having a place to focus.

You never want to single a child out and have them seated away from everyone, but sometimes the child needs to be separated from the group in order to focus! Alas, the double edged sword. Here's how I've solved that problem: I have the student regularly seated at the group table, but also have a place removed from the group where they can go when they need to focus more. I have called this place their "Office." The kids have really liked being able to go to their "office" to work. In reality, it's just a desk near my desk. You could also have the kids name it themselves, maybe "Lisa's Learning Area" or "Tessa's Think Tank" something fun to give them ownership and so it won't feel like such a drag to go there.

Also I make a point when I see the students are off task to have them make the choice to go there. I would say something like, "It looks like you're having a little trouble focusing over here, do you think you might work better in your office?" This gives them the ownership of their own learning choices. (Of course sometimes you will need to mandate it).

4) Small Chunks
If a child with ADHA has the job to create a big project, they sometimes can be overwhelmed with lots of ideas. For instance if they have the task to write a play of an updated fairytale, they might get carried away with intricate details plot twists and characters. It is important to chunk the project into manageable bites for a student with ADHD. Other students in the class may be able to get the project requirements and run with it. But it will help the child with ADHD to be successful if you work with them doing small jobs one at a time instead of looking just at the big job.

When designing your higher order thinking project assignments, be sure to include planning sheets and conference time to ensure that all of your students can be successful.

5) Redirection and Deep Breaths
Redirection is part of working with students with ADHD. It takes patience and it takes deep breaths. Remember to pick your battles. You constantly repeating a direction doesn't help the child or your stress level. Patience is essential when working with students with ADHD and to help you stay patient, remind yourself that they did not choose to have ADHD. They would probably prefer to be able to stay focused easier and not move around so much, that is how they were created, and it's your important job to help them be successful.
Here are some other ways to redirect without repeating yourself:
  • hand on the shoulder
  • play a certain sound (rainstick, bell)
  • write a note
  • assign a buddy to help 
  • eye contact
  • reward positive learning choices
The best part about doing creative projects with students with ADHD is that they are filled with great ideas! I've found that there is never a lacking of innovative ideas, but rather a surplus to choose from. Narrowing it down to one or two functional ideas is the challenging task, but it's a pretty fun one to have.

What other ideas do you use for your students with ADHD?

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