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ADHD and learning

http://inclusive.tki.org.nz/guides/attention-deficithyperactivity-disorder-adhd-and-learning/

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is increasingly common. Between 2–5% of children have ADHD. At least half of those also have dyslexia. 

Students with ADHD are often energetic, creative, and good problem-solvers. They need support with sensory integration, thinking, and social interaction.

This guide focuses on areas for specific support and on whole-class strategies that benefit all students. Links to in-depth resources and specialist support services are included.

Categories

Specifically about
ADHD
Highly relevant to
Dyslexia
FASD
Behaviour
Also related to
ASD
Inclusive curriculum
Removing barriers to learning
Innovative learning environments

Information about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects students’ learning in a range of ways. Students with ADHD are likely to need support developing learning strategies and communication skills to manage hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattention.

Student's share what’s it like to have ADHD in this animated research interview.

Source: ADHDVoices (UK)

No captions or transcript available

Suggestions and resources

Types of ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a lifelong neurological condition that affects the way the brain receives, processes, and responds to information, causing inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

There are three types of ADHD:

  1. Mostly Inattentive Type – students need support with: organising and completing tasks, following instructions or conversations and attending to detail.

  2. Mostly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type – students need support with: speaking at appropriate times, waiting their turn, listening to directions, and thinking before they act.

  3. Combined Type (inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive).

Types of ADHD
ADHD described (video)
What is ADHD?

An explanation of ADHD and how it affects executive functions.

No captions or transcript available

Source: The National Centre for Learning Disabilities (US)

ADHD described

Resources and downloads

What is ADHD?

An explanation of ADHD from the ADHD Association of New Zealand.

ADHD information from SPELD

A description of the characteristics of ADHD and information on the similarities between dyslexia and ADHD, from SPELD New Zealand.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Diagnosis and management of ADHD in children, young people and adults

Clinical guidelines from the UK with recommendations for the diagnosis and management of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, young people and adults.

Overview

ADHD appears to run in families, which suggests that it may be at least partly genetic.

It is a developmental disorder, which means that symptoms are present from before seven years old. ADHD is often seen alongside other developmental disorders such as dyslexia.

It is more frequent in males than in females, with a ratio of approximately 2:1 in children (Polanczyk et al. 2007). Females are more likely than males to present primarily with inattentive type ADHD.

Overview
Indicators of ADHD

When the signs below are significantly more pronounced in one child compared to other children of the same age, and when their behavior undermines school and social life, the child may have ADHD. A full medical/psychological assessment is required for proper diagnosis.

Inattention:

  • difficulty sustaining attention in tasks and play
  • appearing not to listen when spoken to directly
  • difficulty organising tasks and activities
  • distracted easily.

Hyperactivity:

  • restless and overactive
  • talking constantly
  • interrupting others frequently.

Impulsivity:

  • difficulty waiting for their turn in play or conversations or standing in line
  • blurting out responses before questions have been completed.

 

Indicators of ADHD
Positive attributes

Attributes will vary from student to student, but may include:

  1. high energy, a good leader, entrepreneurial

  2. creative, thinks outside the square, a problem solver

  3. intuitive, insightful, enterprising

  4. tenacity

  5. warm-hearted, always supporting the ‘under-dog’

  6. super sensitive, enabling empathy in most

  7. ability to take chances, risks

  8. good sense of humour, the life of the party

  9. strong sense of justice for all

  10. can hyper-focus on favoured activities, computers, computer games, sport etc

  11. does well in the arts, acting, music, singing and songwriting, comedian

Source: ADHD association, Inspirational ADHD

Positive attributes

Resources and downloads

New Zealand guidelines for the assessment and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Guidelines published in July 2001 by the Ministry of Health.

ADHD information from SPELD

A description of the characteristics of ADHD and information on the similarities between dyslexia and ADHD, from SPELD New Zealand.

Students describe having ADHD (video)
What it's like to have ADHD

Animated research interviews of students with ADHD.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: ADHDVoices (UK)

Students describe having ADHD
Supporting executive functioning

Students with ADHD may need support with executive functioning. These are cognitive processes that have to do with managing self and resources in order to achieve a goal. They include:

  • activation – organising, prioritising, and starting work
  • focus – focusing, sustaining, and shifting attention
  • effort – regulating alertness, sustaining effort, and processing speed
  • emotion – managing frustration and regulating emotions
  • memory – utilising working memory and accessing recall
  • action – monitoring and self-regulating action.

In ADHD the normal development of executive function is delayed. Developing or improving executive functioning may take many years. For some people it may never happen.

Source: Brown, T. E. (2006). “Executive functions and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Implications of two conflicting views,” International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, Vol. 53, No. 1, March 2006, (pp. 35–46)

Supporting executive functioning
Challenges and teaching approaches (image)
ADHD
Every situation and every student is different

How ADHD can influence learning summarises student strengths and the challenges they may experience at school. It describes teaching opportunities to support learning.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) examines how ADHD can influence learning and provides more detailed strategies teachers can use in the classroom.

Source: Ministry of Education

Challenges and teaching approaches
ADHD and dyslexia

ADHD and dyslexia can occur together but they do not cause each other. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability characterised by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition, spelling and reading. People with dyslexia have problems discriminating sounds within a word or phonemes, a key factor in their learning difficulties.

Co-occurring ADHD and dyslexia needs a specific assessment and evidence-based learning strategies.

Support for students with ADHD and dyslexia may cover:

  1. teaching structured comprehension strategies and focusing on developing fluency to support comprehension

  2. providing different types of reading material, for example, graphic novels and online texts with verbal support to support sustained engagement

  3. strategies to support self organisation and proofreading

  4. digital text as an alternative to handwriting.

ADHD and dyslexia
Understanding focus and concentration (video)
ADHD in the classroom

A short animated film that depicts a day in the life of a young student with ADHD

No captions or transcript available

Source: The Huffington Post

Understanding focus and concentration

Resources and downloads

ADHD voices – YouTube Channel

Short, animated video clips on the perspectives and experiences of children with ADHD.

ADD/ADHD/Dyslexia – 101 tips for teachers/parents

Teaching tips for teachers’ of students with ADHD.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A resource for educators

This Ministry of Education booklet examines how ADHD can influence learning and provides strategies teachers can use in the classroom. It examines key areas where students with ADHD may need support and features some whole class strategies that may benefit all students, particularly those with ADHD.

How ADHD can influence learning

A summary of student strengths and the challenges students with ADHD may experience at school. It contains teaching opportunities outlining adjustments to the classroom, ways to present the curriculum, technologies that can be utilised, and ways to stimulate interest and make learning successful. A Ministry of Education publication.

ADHD documentary

New Zealanders share their experiences about what it was like growing up with ADHD. They highlight some of the challenges faced in school.

Back to top

Identifying needs and strengths, and accessing support

Get to know the student and take an evidence-based approach to identifying where they need support. Work in partnership with the student, their whānau, and those with expertise and experience.

You can meet the needs of many students by modifying your classroom and your teaching approaches. In this animated research interview, young people with ADHD share their recomendations. 

Source: ADHDVoices (UK)

No captions or transcript available

Suggestions and resources

Sample learner profile (image)
Learner profile
Who am I?

A learner profile can be created in any format including:

  • a document with photos
  • a slide presentation with a series of pictures
  • a video
  • a blog.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Sample learner profile
Benefits of learner profiles

It’s useful to develop a profile of all of your students, and to use this as the basis of a class profile.

A learner profile tells teachers about students. It sits alongside assessment data. It helps school staff to build relationships with students and to understand things from a student perspective. This can inform planning, classroom layout, timetabling, and supports to enable students to participate and contribute in all classroom learning.

Developing a learner profile means your students can:

  • express who they are
  • address assumptions
  • express their aspirations and passions
  • have a say in what goes on for them.

Senior students may prefer to just have a conversation. Take time to get the student’s views of what will support their learning.

Benefits of learner profiles
What to include in a learner profile

The purpose of a learner profile can be agreed by the student, their whānau, and the teacher.

Depending on its purpose, a useful profile (whether an official document or simply inquiry on your part) can include:

  1. important people

  2. cultural connections and experiences

  3. languages spoken

  4. things the student is good at

  5. memorable life experiences

  6. how they like to unwind and relax

  7. likes and interests

  8. dislikes and things they avoid

  9. how they like to learn and what helps

  10. things that make it hard for them to learn

  11. what they do when they need help.

What to include in a learner profile
Surveying students

In the video Student Profiles, Canadian secondary teacher Naryn Searcy describes how she asks students about how they learn most effectively. She also asks students what is important to them beyond school.

She uses this information in her planning:

"I personally do a survey at the beginning of every class every semester, just everything from personal background to their history in the subject area to things they like to do outside of school, usually put a whole bunch of activities down there that we would potentially do in the class and ask them to rank it, you know what would you enjoy doing, what would you not like doing.

So just to get an idea of who is in the classroom to begin with and what they would benefit, or what they want to see in the class, what would work for them."

Source: Student Profiles - UDL supporting diversity in BC schools (Canada)

Surveying students

Resources and downloads

Rachel's learner profile (NZ high school)

An example of a secondary student’s learner profile.

Laiza’s transition

An example of a primary school student’s learner profile, developed by the adults around her.

Student profiles

A resource from UDL British Columbia Schools providing information to support developing student profiles. It contains a video with teachers sharing strategies they use to get to know their students each year.

Developing learner profiles

This document provides general support and guidance when developing a learner profile. It includes prompts and questions, along side purpose and benefits for students.

About me

This learner profile template is a companion to "Developing learner profiles". It is an interactive PDF with questions for students to answer.

Most effective when used together

ADHD can be familial (image)
father and son
Be mindful that ADHD can sometimes be familial

As ADHD can be hereditary, family members may have had a difficult time at school and their experiences may colour their expectations of the contribution a school can make.

Source: Melanie Cook

ADHD can be familial
Suggestions for working with parents

Suggestions for working together with parents, caregivers and whānau

  1. Communicate and share information in a meaningful way, demonstrating understanding and support for parents’ concerns.

  2. Value what parents and caregivers have noticed or assessments they have had done outside school.

  3. Involve parents and caregivers in determining strategies to support student learning and well-being.

  4. Work with any programmes or materials they are using at home, to maximise consistency and support for the student.

  5. Develop systems for passing on information about a student’s needs, progress and next steps in ways that are meaningful.

  6. Share information about out-of-school programmes (for example, classes or groups for music, art, debating or sport).

  7. Actively and regularly communicate positive information and achievements to the family.

Suggestions for working with parents
Managing medication

Some students with ADHD take medication. They will have a medication plan that sets out when and how much medication they must take at school.

  1. Read your student’s plan and keep it handy.

  2. Know your role in helping your student to take their medication. Know, for example, whether you need to prompt them to take it and how you will do that. You may need to arrange safe storage for the medication.

  3. Learn to recognise when the medication has worn off or if it is causing side effects.

  4. Provide a private place for your student to take their medication.

  5. Do not disclose medication use to other students without permission.

Managing medication
Questions to ask parents

Connect with the family to understand the strengths and needs of students

Practical elements:

  • the language/s spoken at home
  • medications and allergies
  • equipment used at home
  • what they do at home to support learning.

Student’s likes and dislikes:

  • likes, interests, what they’re good at, need help with, can do independently
  • dislikes, what can upset them, how they express this, calming skills
  • favourites (TV programmes, hobbies, books, songs, sports).

The people in the student’s life:

  • parent and whānau hopes and priorities
  • important people in the student’s life
  • best methods and times to communicate with the family
  • professionals working with the family
  • questions they have and support they would like from the school.
Questions to ask parents

Resources and downloads

Family/whānau file

A booklet published by the Ministry of Education to help parents of students with additional needs to brief their child’s school.

Using e-Portfolios at Onslow College (NZ) (video)
Using e-portfolios to collaborate

John Robinson, HoD Learning Support, reflects on the impact of utilising digital technologies to share information about students with staff more effectively.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Using e-Portfolios at Onslow College (NZ)
Working as a team

Suggestions for an effective partnership with the learning support coordinator and RTLB

  1. Share your concerns, questions and ideas.

  2. Take an inquiry approach: discuss assessment approaches, evaluate assessment data together, and consider possible strategies and approaches.

  3. Meet together with the student and whānau and take a team approach to planning and providing support.

  4. Find out about other staff members who have experience of teaching students with ADHD, or a personal experience of ADHD, who might be happy to advise you.

  5. Ask about recommended resources and online communities.

Working as a team
Teaching as inquiry

Be a learner as well as a teacher

Inquire into and reflect on the impact of your practice and actions.

  1. What is important (and therefore worth spending time on), given where my student is at?

  2. What strategies (evidence-based) are most likely to help my student to learn this?

  3. What has happened as a result of my teaching and what will I need to do next?

Teaching as inquiry
The effects of medication

The use of medication for ADHD can be a sensitive issue. Parents need teacher support for their decisions on medication.

Be informed about the effects of medication. Understand possible side effects so you know when to alert parents. Medication may at times need be reviewed.

Medication can:

  • decrease impulsivity, task jumping, and aggressiveness
  • increase compliance
  • improve handwriting and fine motor skills, peer and adult-child relationships, and short-term memory. 

Medication won’t:

  • increase intelligence
  • improve reading unless attention is the major issue
  • change a child’s personality
  • cause drug dependency.

Side effects:

  • loss of appetite/mild weight loss
  • insomnia
  • tearfulness, being withdrawn or clingy (these could be signs that medication needs adjusting)
  • tics – when Tourette syndrome is in family
  • rebound behaviour – discuss with professionals.
The effects of medication
New Zealand organisations

There are a number of New Zealand resources and organisations that provide support for people with ADHD, as well as advice for teachers and families.

New Zealand organisations

Resources and downloads

Managing the special education grant: A handbook for schools

NZ schools are allocated the Special Education Grant to enable them to best meet the needs of their students. This handbook is a guide for schools on managing the grant.

Interim response fund (IRF)

A Ministry of Education fund available to keep students engaged in learning following a significantly challenging behavioural event. It gives funding for a short term response while a more comprehensive intervention plan is devised.

Students with special education needs

Information from the MInistry of Education about services and funding available for students when the need for additional learning supports is identified for learning, behaviour and/or social communication, vision, hearing, mobility, or communication needs.

Information for parents and caregivers of children with special education needs: Support organisations and useful contacts

A list of national organisations that support students with additional needs and their families, compiled by the Ministry of Education.

Back to top

Supporting key areas of learning and wellbeing: sensory integration, thinking, social interaction, and positive behaviour

Students with ADHD may need a range of supports within the classroom to help ready themselves for learning. Be aware that moving and jiggling may be signals that they are focused.

A New Zealand high school teacher describes how she matches her teaching strategies to the interests, experiences, and needs of her student.

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Closed captioning available in player

Suggestions and resources

Helping students to focus (video)
Recomendations from students

Examples of strategies students can use to manage their behaviour and increase their attention and focus.

No captions or transcript available

Source: ADHDVoices (UK)

Helping students to focus
Standing to work (image)
Student working standing at his desk
Optimise the environment

Provide standing workstations in classrooms to give students more opportunity to move while learning.

Source: EDtalks (NZ)

Standing to work
Classroom adjustments

Build flexibility and supports into the classroom environment

  1. Provide physical activity breaks throughout the day to increase engagement – for example, handing out materials, running errands or dancing to music during tidy up times.

  2. Break up longer tasks with short relaxation breaks to give students an opportunity to recharge and refocus.

  3. Introduce Swiss balls or a mini tramp into the classroom to allow students to release tension. Movement assists concentration.

  4. Support students with ADHD to alternate between different work stations or desks throughout the day.

  5. Note that some students with ADHD experience light, temperature, or noise sensitivity.

  6. Schedule activities, such as singing, that promote relaxation.

Classroom adjustments
Maximising hands-on learning (image)
Students engaged in a hands-on maths activity
Learning by moving

Use hands-on, practical activities to build on the particular strengths of students with ADHD and praise their effort and achievements.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Maximising hands-on learning
Providing sensory support

Providing sensory support can help students with ADHD feel less anxious and frustrated and may improve their overall sense of well-being and behaviour. Ensure these options are part of the general class environment and available to all students.

  1. Provide something tactile and quiet (a stress ball, a rubber toy) to fiddle with in class to help them to focus and pay attention.

  2. Adapt the chair of a student who needs to move his feet while seated. For example, tie old pantyhose to the front two legs of the chair. Invite the student to sit on the chair, placing their feet on the pantyhose and bouncing their feet up and down.

  3. Allow students to take off their shoes and wiggle their toes during times of anxiety, such as tests and exams.

Providing sensory support

Resources and downloads

Ask the expert: ADHD in the classroom management strategies and student supports

A webinar with Sandra Rief, author of How to reach and teach children with ADD/ADHD. The webinar is an hour long, with an introduction, a description of ADHD and strategies and supports that teachers can provide to students with ADHD.

Strategies to empower, not control, kids labeled ADD/ADHD (Chapter 3)

A broad collection of classroom strategies from the book ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong.

Options for student expression

Provide a range of ways for students to express what they know

  1. Give students a range of ways to communicate their ideas and complete their work. Encourage them to work on computers.

  2. Allow students to choose how to communicate about a topic. Give students with ADHD fewer written tasks and opportunities to present their ideas visually or orally.

  3. Provide options for exams – use digital rather than hand-written text or access a supervised reader. If your student also has dyslexia, organise an early assessment for reader/writer support or specialised software for reading/writing.

Options for student expression
Taking regular breaks (image)
Student drinking orange juice
Take regular breaks during class time

Provide short, five-minute breaks for students to eat some healthy food throughout the day.

Source: USDA photo by Lance Cheung

Taking regular breaks
Using organisational tools (image)
A student using a graphic organiser.
Planning and making connections

Familiarise students with a range of mind mapping tools and graphic organisers.

Model how to use them to organise and connect ideas, map concepts and break tasks into smaller parts.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Using organisational tools
Suggestions for presenting content

Suggestions for presenting curriculum content in different ways

  1. Provide hands-on learning activities or activities that involve movement, drama and interaction.

  2. Teach in 10-minute blocks. Many students with ADHD need support with working memory and recall (by holding facts in their heads briefly and manipulating, sequencing, organising, and recording factual information).

  3. Order or sequence information simply and clearly.

  4. Make use of digital technologies. These provide students with interactive resources, and the ability to pace and control their learning.

  5. Use a wide range of visual learning materials, such as video clips, posters, diagrams and so on.

  6. Establish peer tutoring. This provides many instructional variables that help students with ADHD to succeed, including frequent and immediate feedback.

Suggestions for presenting content

Resources and downloads

Assistive technology's blogs

The Ministry of Education publish a regular tech blog and newsletter with the latest product information in the Virtual Learning Network (VLN), featuring a range of resources and information like a discussion page.

Defeating stigma (video)
Stigma

The best way to defeat stigma is for people to be open with each other.

An animated research interview of young people with ADHD from ADHDVoices project.

 

No captions or transcript available

Source: ADHDVoices (UK)

Defeating stigma
Focusing on strengths (image)
Students working together on a science activity
Identify activities that a student with ADHD is good at and enjoys

Use activities that a student with ADHD is good at as the basis for a group activity that the student can lead or contribute to.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Focusing on strengths
Using class physical activities (image)
Student on a climbing frame
Structured play

Support social interactions using a repertoire of regular class physical activities and structured games, such as stretch or dance breaks or five-minute playground activities.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Using class physical activities
Providing quiet spaces (image)
Working in the bottle bivvy
Providing quiet spaces

Provide dedicated quiet spaces that your students can use when needed, to reduce stimulation.

Source: EDtalks (NZ)

Providing quiet spaces

Resources and downloads

Social stories creator and library for preschool, autism, and special needs

A free app for creating and sharing educational social stories and visual schedules. Download for iPhone and iPad.

Functional behavioural assessment (image)
Functional Behavioural Assessment
Understanding student behaviour

Functional Behavioural Assessment focuses on understanding and responding to the function (the why) of student behaviour, rather than responding solely to the behaviour itself.  

Source: Adapted from the Practical Functional Behavioral Assessment Training Manual for School-Based Personnel (US)

Functional behavioural assessment
Supporting positive behaviour
  1. Create opportunities for students to take the lead using their strengths and interests.

  2. Help students to develop a strong sense of identity and be knowledgeable about their specific learning needs and abilities.

  3. Consistently teach and reinforce classroom and playground rules.

  4. Take opportunities to give specific positive feedback about attempted tasks that meet achievement goals.

  5. Consider short term contracts to achieve learning goals and task expectations. Negotiate these with the student.

  6. Give choice within set alternatives, starting with one out of two possible choices.

  7. Develop cues individually with the student that will signal such things as when they need to refocus or take a break from a task or situation.

  8. Teach organisation skills.

  9. Teach coping skills.

  10. Teach self-management skills, including alternative ways to achieve goals, managing anger, problem-solving, asking for help, and finding a safe place or person.

Supporting positive behaviour
Anticipating difficult times

Encouraging "on task" behaviour through clear routines and systems

To minimise frustration for students with ADHD, establish clear classroom routines and systems of support, including:

  1. recognising, removing or minimising things that can cause distress

  2. clear and consistent instructions and approaches to work

  3. reminders about self-management strategies, such as taking a break

  4. reducing negative behaviour by distracting the student or re-engaging them in another activity

  5. checking whether medication may be influencing behaviour (it may, for example, have worn off)

  6. learning to recognise signs that a student’s behaviour is escalating and using verbal messages or cues to help calm them, and alternative calming activities

  7. ignoring minor examples of poor behaviour, especially if the student is following instructions

  8. standing in close proximity to the student as a way of moderating off-task activities.

Anticipating difficult times
Managing difficult times

Respond with non-aversive techniques

Appropriate techniques acknowledge the student’s need, provide some boundaries, ensure they get support, and help them manage their actions until they can be more receptive.

1: Make changes around the things that set off such reactions

  • Remove objects that may distract the student.
  • Change the time, location, or duration of activities if these factors are viewed as influencing difficult behaviour.
  • Redirect the student to another activity they enjoy.
  • Remove unnecessary demands or requests.
  • Change where the student sits.
  • If the student is taking medication, check that it has been given/taken when it is required.

2: Interrupt the build-up

  • Move closer or move away as appropriate, stand side on rather than face-on.
  • Give instructions that the student is more likely to follow.
  • Remind them of any self-management strategies they know.
  • Cue them to take a break or to monitor and recognise the beginning of a build-up.
  • Facilitate relaxation.
  • If the student is taking medication, check (in private) if medication was taken.
Managing difficult times

Resources and downloads

Practical functional behavioral assessment manual for school-based personnel: Participants guidebook

This manual, released by Technical Assistance Centre on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, provides a step-by-step guide to understanding Functional Behavioral Assessment.

Strategies to empower, not control, kids labeled ADD/ADHD (Chapter 3)

A broad collection of classroom strategies from the book ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong.

Encourage positive behaviours

Section from the Positive Behaviour for Learning website on the Ministry of Education’s TKI portal that provides strategies for encouraging positive behaviour in the individual, the classroom and school-wide.

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Using whole-class strategies to support students with ADHD in years 1–6

Take a look at your classroom, including your teaching strategies, materials and the ways you construct learning tasks. Consider how it feels and works for your students who have ADHD.

Linda Ojala describes her approach to designing learning that works for all students.

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Closed captioning available in player

Suggestions and resources

Problem-solving at Stonefields School (NZ) (video)
Supporting collaboration and resilience

Support students to develop strategies for “getting out of the pit” when they get stuck in their learning.

View transcript

Source: Chris Bradbeer (NZ)

Problem-solving at Stonefields School (NZ)
Suggestions to increase confidence
  1. Ask students how they learn like to learn.

  2. Use students’ interests and strengths as bases for teaching.

  3. Recognise and eliminate situations that students may find difficult or embarrassing because of their physical or cognitive differences.

  4. Foster tuakana-teina relationships and create a class culture where students support each other.

  5. Feedback success to students’ parents and whānau.

  6. Pick up quickly on any concerns about a student’s well-being.

  7. Recognise avoidance strategies and provide support and encouragement.

  8. Give students extra time to complete work.

  9. Make learning supports, such as text-to-speech and word prediction, available to all students.

  10. Enable students to show their strengths and contribute their ideas in collaborative work, without the challenge of lengthy writing tasks.

  11. Give ongoing prompts and positive feedback and provide the student with strategies to help them when they get stuck.

Suggestions to increase confidence
Self-regulation strategies

Inhibition and self-regulation strategies

  1. Give immediate feedback and positive reinforcement (see Class Dojo).

  2. Provide regular exercise and movement breaks.

  3. Have cue cards on students’ desks and/or private signals to remind to stop, think, and make a good choice.

  4. Provide a designated calming spot.

  5. Encourage students with ADHD to self-manage and stay focused, organised and on track, using tools such as a vibrating watch or timer.

  6. Use social stories and role-play to rehearse appropriate behaviours.

Self-regulation strategies
Giving students time (image)
A student works at his own pace
Give students with ADHD the time they need to succeed

Consider reducing the quantity rather than the complexity of the learning.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Giving students time
Varied approaches (image)
A list of ways to show what you know
Be creative in presenting information to students

Model and practise creative ways to present information that support engagement and understanding.

Source: For the teachers blog

Varied approaches
Suggestions for increasing engagement
  1. Take a multisensory approach – use real experiences, physical activities and manipulatives to support understanding.

  2. Provide multiple visual and physical examples of information, using infographics, real objects, images, video and interactives on devices.

  3. Support text with visuals and audio.

  4. Present digital rather than printed text so that students can personalise it by choosing fonts, font size, screen brightness and digital tools such as glossaries.

  5. Use blogs, wikis, and online tools such as Moodle to bring together different versions of content in one place (for example, a YouTube video, a graphic, and some text).

  6. Provide visual supports for students with ADHD and dyslexia.

Suggestions for increasing engagement
Utilising text-to-speech tools (video)
Introduce students to alternative ways of accessing text

In this video tutorial, US educator and UDL consultant, Kit Hard explains how to use text-to-speech to access digital text across the curriculum.

View transcript

Source: Kit Hard (US)

Utilising text-to-speech tools
Teaching maths using a UDL approach (NZ) (video)
Taking a UDL approach with maths

Offer students multiple representations of information and multiple ways to demonstrate understanding.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Teaching maths using a UDL approach (NZ)
Finding videos with closed captions

How to find YouTube videos with closed captions using a laptop or desktop computer

 

  1. Search for YouTube and open the home page.

  2. Type search subject (for example “frogs”) into YouTube search bar and press return key.

  3. On left of screen, click the tab called “Filters” and a menu box will open.

  4. Select “subtitles/CC” under the Features list.

  5. Select a video from the selection of filtered videos presented by YouTube.

  6. Watch the selected video with the closed captions turned on to check for accuracy before sharing with students.

  7. Share closed captioned video with students.

Finding videos with closed captions

Resources and downloads

Representation

In this video on the UDL: Supporting diversity in BC schools website, Canadian teachers share some of the ways they prepare learning materials to address diverse student needs in their classrooms. No captions or transcript available.

ClassDojo

An online tool to support positive and on-task behaviour in the classroom.

Everyone's In: An inclusive planning tool

This planning tool has been developed for teachers by the Ministry of Education. It is designed to assist with developing a classroom curriculum that works for all students, from the outset.

Managing transitions between activities
  1. Provide a warning five to ten minutes in advance that a class or lesson is about to end.

  2. Use physical activities, such as standing and taking deep breaths, to mark the change from one lesson to another. Simple stretching or singing exercises are other ways to mark the transition.

  3. Display a visual, daily timetable on the whiteboard with the outline for the day and refer to it when letting students know what is coming next.

  4. Encourage students to self-manage timing with a vibrating watch or a timer on their cellphone. They can set it to silently vibrate at particular intervals as reminders to transition to the next activity or class.

Managing transitions between activities
Using mind maps (image)
A mind map
Supporting understanding

Model the use of colour, symbols and images alongside text when using mind maps.

Encourage students to use mind maps to support thinking and organise ideas.

Source: Barrett Discovery

Using mind maps
Supporting concentration

Attention, on-task, and activation strategies

  1. Provide instruction in short segments (teach → student activity → teach → student activity).

  2. Provide students with checklists, with tasks broken into smaller segments. Colour-highlight key parts of a task.

  3. Before beginning a task, have students explain their understanding of the task to a buddy.

  4. Give positive feedback for immediate starts to work.

  5. Check-in frequently with students to ensure they are not having problems.

  6. Ensure that all materials and resources are accessible.

  7. Partner students with well-focused buddies.

  8. Encourage students to self-manage their timing with a vibrating watch or a timer on their cellphone.

Supporting concentration
Using graphic organisers in writing (video)
Capturing ideas

5th-grade teacher Jon Weinberger shares his strategies for improving the classroom experience for children with ADHD.

One section of a longer video.

No captions or transcript available

Source: InsideADHD.org (US)

Using graphic organisers in writing
Using visual timers (video)
Supporting attention

High contrast, uncluttered visual representations of time passing may support students in their time management and increase concentration.

Explore the Time Timer Apps for more information.

No captions or transcript available

Source: Time Timer (US)

Using visual timers

Resources and downloads

Graphic organizers

A collation of free graphic organisers from the Universal Design for Learning toolkit. These include hardcopy, App organisers, Chrome extensions, and computer options.

Graphic Organizers

Advice about how to support students in the effective use of a variety of graphic organisers on the Resources for Teachers website.

Strategies to empower, not control, kids labeled ADD/ADHD (Chapter 3)

A broad collection of classroom strategies from the book ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong.

Everyone's In: An inclusive planning tool

This planning tool has been developed for teachers by the Ministry of Education. It is designed to assist with developing a classroom curriculum that works for all students, from the outset.

Personalising learning checklist

Optimise the environment for personalised learning. Identify and minimise potential barriers to students successfully demonstrating their understanding.

  1. Create opportunities where students can personalise learning tasks and build on their knowledge, experience, and strengths.

  2. Develop success criteria with the students and present it supported by visuals.

  3. Encourage and value independent and collaborative work in different formats, such as mind maps, videos, photos and diagrams.

  4. Provide opportunities for students to gain confidence using a range of media so they can select the most appropriate to express their learning.

  5. Make learning support tools available to all students (text-to-speech, graphic organisers, planning tools, storyboards and so on).

  6. Use collaborative, peer mentoring, and cooperative learning models.

  7. Assess understanding and presentation separately.

  8. Discuss the best environments for students to work in during exams and assessments.

  9. Provide support in assessments, for example a reader-writer or assistive technologies.

Personalising learning checklist
Using digital collaborative tools (image)
Google Doc with student comments
Flexible collaboration

Offer students tools such as Google Docs that easily support 24/7 collaboration and timely feedback.

Customise their use to meet the individual needs and preferences of students.

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Using digital collaborative tools
Ways to show what you know (image)
A list of ways to show what you know
Encouraging and valuing creativity

Discuss with students the different ways they can demonstrate their thinking and learning.

Source: For the teachers blog

Ways to show what you know
Supporting success in assessments

Discuss with students what support they need to demonstrate their understanding in assessments.

Consider:

  1. possible barriers hidden in the physical environment, for example: unfamiliar layout of room, lighting, temperature

  2. possible barriers hidden in the resources and materials, for example: cluttered presentation, hard-to-read diagrams, unclear layout, hard-copies only

  3. approaches to managing time allocations such as calendar tools and visual timers

  4. approaches to managing anxiety

  5. approaches to maintaining concentration

  6. negotiating breaks

  7. use of digital technologies such as text-to-speech and predictive text

  8. pre-teaching specific assessment/exam skills, such as how to approach multiple choice questions

  9. identify whether SAC application needs to be made for NCEA.

Supporting success in assessments
Read & Write for Google (video)
Read & Write for Google - Everything You Need to Know

This video shows all the features of Read & Write for Google, specifically using it for Google Docs.

No captions or transcript available

Source: Educator Dave

Read & Write for Google

Resources and downloads

Different ways to publish your stories: Using a variety of tools

UK teacher Jacqui Sharp illustrates some of the ways students and teachers can present digital stories and inquiries, using many different tools.

Assistive technology in action

A collection of short videos introducing students talking about how they use AT and overviews of tools such as text-to-speech and word prediction, produced by the Pacer Center in Washington.

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Using whole-class strategies to support students with ADHD in years 7–13

Take a reflective look at your classroom, including your teaching strategies, assessment processes, materials and the ways you construct learning tasks. Consider how it works for your students who have ADHD.

In partnership with students, develop flexible learning environments that students can customise to meet their individual needs and preferences.

Source: Ministry of Education (NZ)

Suggestions and resources

Fostering confidence
  1. Ask students how they like to learn.

  2. Use students’ interests and strengths as basis for teaching.

  3. Recognise and eliminate situations that students may find difficult or embarrassing because of their physical, behavioural, or cognitive differences.

  4. Communicate success to students’ parents and whānau.

  5. Pick up quickly on any concerns about a student’s well-being.

  6. Recognise avoidance strategies and provide support and encouragement.

  7. Give students extra time to complete work.

  8. Make learning supports, such as text-to-speech and word prediction, available to all students.

  9. Enable students to show their strengths and contribute their ideas in collaborative work, without the challenge of lengthy reading and writing tasks.

  10. Give feedback promptly before students fail.

Fostering confidence
Checking students’ well-being (image)
Bored girl
Notice and act

Teachers need to be alert for signs that a student is feeling bad about themselves as a learner or that their contributions are not valued.

Discuss observations with the wider team.

Source: Adreson, Flickr

Checking students’ well-being
Nurturing self-esteem

In the classroom, talking, reading, writing, and spelling are essential parts of most activities across the curriculum.

Students who have ADHD often find themselves in situations where they are regarded as different, strange, or unintelligent. This can result in feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, or disengagement.

Students may be subject to bullying and taunts of being stupid. Teachers have a vital role in nurturing positive self-perception and self-esteem.

Nurturing self-esteem

Resources and downloads

Strategies to empower, not control, kids labeled ADD/ADHD (Chapter 3)

A broad collection of classroom strategies from the book ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong.

Utilising alternative media (video)
Media to inspire and support understanding

Introduce students to content and ideas presented in different ways.

Some students will be more captivated by video content that is animated or takes a more alternative approach.  

No captions or transcript available

Source: Vi Hart (US)

Utilising alternative media
Multiple ways to engage students

Provide students with multiple ways to engage with information

  1. Present content in more than one way.

  2. Use digital technologies to create options for students.

  3. Create digital rather than only hard copy content and information. This enables students to personalise how they access. They can listen to it, add digital sticky notes, or sync it to online calendars and organise it in ways that work for them.

  4. Take a multisensory approach – use real experiences, physical activities, manipulables, photos, graphics and video alongside text or spoken content.

  5. Use blogs, wikis, and online tools such as Moodle to bring together different versions of content in one place (for example, a YouTube video, a graphic and some text).

  6. Turn on the closed captions on videos.

  7. Avoid using handouts or workbooks that can’t be adjusted.

  8. Make instructions, demonstrations, or key content rewindable and accessible 24/7.

Multiple ways to engage students
101 ways to say what you know (image)
A list of ways to show what you know
Creatively present content

Model and practise creative ways to present information to students to support engagement and understanding.

Introduce students to new forms of expression.

Source: For the teachers blog

101 ways to say what you know
Finding videos with closed captions

How to find YouTube videos with closed captions using a laptop or desktop computer

  1. Search for YouTube and open the home page.

  2. Type search subject (for example “frogs”) into YouTube search bar and press return key.

  3. On left of screen, click the tab called “Filters” and a menu box will open.

  4. Select “subtitles/CC” under the Features list.

  5. Select a video from the selection of filtered videos presented by YouTube.

  6. Watch the selected video with the closed captions turned on to check for accuracy before sharing with students.

  7. Share closed captioned video with students.

Finding videos with closed captions

Resources and downloads

Popular movies help children improve literacy

A study by the University of Canterbury (NZ) showed that using captions not only significantly improved literacy levels, particularly among Māori and Pasifika students, but also reduced students’ truancy through engagement.

The MindShift guide to digital games and learning

A guide to support educators using digital games for learning. From the page access the guide a downloadable PDF or the blog posts by Jordan Shapiro that it is based on.

Strategies to empower, not control, kids labeled ADD/ADHD (Chapter 3)

A broad collection of classroom strategies from the book ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong.

Everyone's In: An inclusive planning tool

This planning tool has been developed for teachers by the Ministry of Education. It is designed to assist with developing a classroom curriculum that works for all students, from the outset.

Using visual timers (video)
Minimising barriers to concentration

High contrast, uncluttered visual representations of time passing may support students in their time management and increase focussed attention on a task.

Explore the Time Timer Apps for more information.

No captions or transcript available

Source: Time Timer (US)

Using visual timers
Ideas for supporting concentration

Provide options to support concentration and short-term memory

  1. Monitor and moderate the classroom for visual and auditory distractions.

  2. Encourage students to adapt the environment to meet their needs by, for example, wearing headphones, moving to a quiet environment or taking a walk to support their thinking.

  3. Present information in a range of ways over an extended period of time to help students to retain information, build their understanding and stay focused.

  4. Discuss with students the effectiveness of the classroom and make modifications and remove barriers where needed.

  5. Make effective use of visual prompts and cues to support understanding and navigation in online environments.

  6. Make hyperlinks to background knowledge or previous learning to increase connections.

  7. Schedule regular short breaks for physical movement.

Ideas for supporting concentration
Suggestions for supporting planning

Suggestions for supporting students’ planning and organising

  1. Use charts, visual calendars, colour-coded schedules, visible timers and cues to increase the predictability of regular activities and transitions.

  2. Encourage students to use their mobile devices to schedule alerts and reminders for regular and novel events and task deadlines.

  3. Highlight patterns, critical features, big ideas and relationships using visuals, mind maps, 3-D manipulatives, outlines, flow charts and real objects.

  4. Model and make available graphic organisers and flow charts to support planning and thinking in all curriculum areas.

  5. Break tasks and lengthy assignments into small manageable parts. Schedule workflow using Trello to organise what needs to be done and when.

  6. Provide options so that students can submit work online.

Suggestions for supporting planning
Supporting thinking
  1. Highlight patterns, critical features, big ideas and relationships using visuals, mind maps, 3-D manipulatives, outlines, flow charts and real objects.

  2. Give students multiple opportunities to engage with new ideas and concepts.

  3. Provide extra time for students to think and process before needing to respond in a discussion.

  4. Use mind maps to brainstorm ideas and make connections.

  5. Support group and class discussions with visual annotations to prompt later recall of key ideas.

  6. Offer students a variety of graphic organisers and flow charts to support thinking in all curriculum areas.

Supporting thinking

Resources and downloads

Free technology toolkit for UDL in all classrooms

A collection of free tools and resources, aligned to Universal Design for Learning approach, that support students in their learning.

Graphic organizers

A wide range of graphic organisers from Education Oasis that can be printed and some that can be filled out online. These are also useful as a starting point for creating students’ own designs.

SET Connections – Executive function resources (Apps/Tools)

Apps to support executive function.

Everyone's In: An inclusive planning tool

This planning tool has been developed for teachers by the Ministry of Education. It is designed to assist with developing a classroom curriculum that works for all students, from the outset.

Benefits of text-to-speech (video)
Impact of the Missouri Text-to-Speech Pilot Program

Students describe how using text-to-speech has made a difference to their learning achievements.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: National Center on Aim (US)

Benefits of text-to-speech
Personalising learning checklist

Optimise the environment for personalised learning. Identify and minimise potential barriers to students successfully demonstrating their understanding.

  1. Create opportunities where students can personalise learning tasks and build on their knowledge, experience, and strengths.

  2. Develop success criteria with the students and present it supported by visuals.

  3. Encourage and value independent and collaborative work in different formats, such as mind maps, videos, photos, podcasts, and diagrams.

  4. Provide opportunities for students to gain confidence using a range of media so they can select the most appropriate to express their learning.

  5. Make learning support tools available to all students (text-to-speech, graphic organisers, planning tools, storyboards and so on).

  6. Use collaborative, peer mentoring, and cooperative learning models.

  7. Assess understanding and presentation separately.

  8. Provide alternatives to multiple-choice tests.

  9. Discuss the best environments for students to work in during exams and assessments.

  10. Provide support in assessments, for example a reader-writer or assistive technologies.

Personalising learning checklist
Ways to show what you know (image)
A list of ways to show what you know
Encouraging and valuing creativity

Provide students with a range of options and supports to enable them to confidently and creatively express their thinking.

 

Source: For the teachers blog

Ways to show what you know
Supporting success in assessments

Discuss with students what support they need to demonstrate their understanding in assessments.

Consider:

  1. possible barriers hidden in the physical environment, for example: unfamiliar layout of room, lighting, temperature

  2. possible barriers hidden in the resources and materials, for example: cluttered presentation, hard-to-read diagrams, unclear layout, hard-copies only

  3. approaches to managing time allocations such as calendar tools and visual timers

  4. approaches to managing anxiety

  5. approaches to maintaining concentration

  6. negotiating breaks

  7. use of digital technologies such as text-to-speech and predictive text

  8. pre-teaching specific assessment/exam skills, such as how to approach multiple choice questions

  9. identify whether SAC application needs to be made for NCEA.

Supporting success in assessments
Read & Write for Google (video)
Read & Write for Google - Everything You Need to Know

This video shows all the features of Read & Write for Google, specifically using it for Google Docs.

No captions or transcript available

Source: Educator Dave

Read & Write for Google

Resources and downloads

Special assessment conditions guidelines

A description of special assessment conditions that are made available for students with permanent or long-term disabilities. Produced by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

MyStudyBar

This is a free floating toolbar for Windows desktops and netbooks that provides a suite of portable open-source applications to support learning.

Free technology toolkit for UDL in all classrooms

A collection of free tools and resources, aligned to Universal Design for Learning approach, that support students in their learning.

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