Strategies to Help Students with ADHD Succeed in Your Classroom

Learners Edge Webinar - October 2016

Inspiring Ideas: Help Students with ADHD Succeed in Your K-8 Classroom.

ADHD-Transparent.pngLearners Edge Curriculum and Instruction Specialist and former Special Education Teacher, Jill Rockwell, shares easy to implement strategies for effectively teaching students with ADHD. Jill will share stories of techniques used with students – and the student's successes and challenges. Leave this webinar with tools and practical methods to apply immediately in your K-8 classroom, and equip students with skills to help them reach their goals. Watch the webinar now!



Questions and Answers from the Webinar:

q-and-a.pngWe received an abundance of amazing questions during the webinar. We wanted to make sure we addressed all the applicable questions and shared them with you. And remember, there are often great resources right within your own schools - school counselors and your special education professionals can often provide fantastic insight. 

Q: What do you suggest when a student misuses their fidget tool? For example, poking his pencil into it, or using it as a "puck" pencil is the stick or sharing with other students?

A: Practice appropriate ways to use the fidgets and set parameters. I clearly state 2 simple expectations when using fidgets:

  • I don’t want to see the fidgets (I encourage students to use them under their desks).
  • You can drop the fidget only once. After that I will need to put it away as it’s distracting to other students.

Q: What if bullying is happening in group work?

A: Bullying should be taken very seriously and most districts have bullying policies that should be referred to. Measures I would take in the classroom include: protect the student who is being bulled—and I do that by pairing students within groups so each student has a buddy. Next, I find a way to mix up, or change the groups—so a new dynamic is created and I speak with the student(s) who are bullying. Additionally, I reinforce our classroom rule of embracing differences in our classroom, and I remind them how to report bullying behaviors. 

Q: It is also important to remember the remaining students in the classroom...How do you keep the student with ADHD from impacting THEIR learning before strategies can be provided?

A: Most of the strategies I discussed in the webinar can be used for all students. That being said, I find it is important to establish rules and expectations in the beginning of the school year. When doing so, I include the whole class and I post them on the wall. That way, I can refer to them, and remind students of our mutually agreed upon rules.

If a student continues to struggle with following expectations, I would find out what the student really needs-perhaps more movement, less stimulation, more academic support (some students act out to avoid work that is too difficult), more social/emotional support, etc. The student might not be able to articulate his/her needs, so it might take some trial and error work. I would also ask parents for input on what they’re seeing at home and see if they can offer any suggestions they have found beneficial.

Q: Do you think that screen time can affect students with ADHD more than others?

A: That’s a great question. One of the reoccurring themes with ADHD is students’ inability to focus. I have found that when students are asked to be sedentary for long periods of time (as is the case with technology) they have a more difficult time focusing. Making sure students get movement, exercise, eat nutritional foods, and drink water all play roles in their ability to focus.  This is true for all students, not just those with ADHD. 

Q: How can we help students with ADHD learn to make and keep friends?

A: Social skills can be challenging for students with ADHD. As mentioned in the webinar, hosting a weekly lunch bunch with carefully selected peers was so beneficial for everyone-especially those struggling with developing/maintaining friendships. I also asked our school psychologist for assistance with organizing social skills groups where students could learn and practice problem-solving skills, friendship skills, calming strategies, etc.  Additionally, involving students in extracurricular activities—especially where movement is rewarded (dance, running, biking, games) can help students learn how to be a part of a team and can be a good way to nurture friendships. 

Q: How do we convince parents to have their child tested for ADHD?

A: Creating relationships with parents before school starts is always beneficial. Reaching out to families with an email, a phone call, or a postcard is a good way to encourage communication and sets the stage for later conversations.

It’s best to use a collaborative/team approach when speaking with parents. It is helpful to first ask parents if they have any concerns. Then provide specific examples of behaviors you have seen that might indicate ADHD. Provide data-for example: Jill did not complete her math work 4 out of 5 days this week because she was wandering around the room during work time. She needed 5 or more prompts to return to her work within a 10-minute timeframe.

Q: What should I do about students who blurt out?

A: Blurting is an example of what the doctor in the video said about students with ADHD having race car minds with bicycle brakes-we need to help them slow down sometimes. Give explicit 1:1 instruction on how to control blurt-outs. Perhaps provide a visual with these 3 steps: take a deep breath, repeat the question inside your head, then raise your hand. You could also consider having your whole class use mini dry erase boards for active class participation to help control the blurting. 

One of our webinar attendees, also provided this suggestion: A teacher in our school uses a sticky note pad for kids to have a "blurt pad"...they cannot call out but write down their blurt and she collects as she is teaching and reads. Great idea - thanks for sharing!

Q. How do you handle lost planners?

A. This is common! I offered incentives for being prepared for class (points, stickers, etc.). For one student, I had him use his iPod as an electronic planner when he could not keep track of his paper planner.

Q. How do you handle lost behavior charts?

A. Again, I would offer incentives (points, stickers, etc.). If it’s a recurring problem, I would consider using a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly contract instead.

Q. How do you keep students from wandering around the classroom when they should be in their seats?

A. Allow movement breaks. Perhaps have them run an errand for you (deliver a fake note to the office, etc.), provide a stand-up desk or exercise ball during worktime, provide a visual reminder to stay seated.

Q. Are there any known causes of ADHD?

A. Genetics is the most common contributor of ADHD (like Julia from our video).

Q. How can I use technology to help my students with ADHD?

A. Check out for engaging videos to get your students moving or to help calm them down. There are several apps to support students with focus and attention-I liked using the timer apps during independent work time. You could also consider having students use electronic organizers in lieu of paper planners for those who are more motivated by technology.

Strategies that you use in working with students with ADHD in the classroom:

images.jpgIn the webinar, we asked participants some of the ways they help students with ADHD in their classroom. Here are some of their great responses!

  • Stand-up Desks
  • Ball Chairs
  • Fidgets (I have fidgets available for all students so that no one feels pointed out)
  • I let kids listen to music while they work independently
  • Classroom Movements
  • Hands-On Activities
  • I allow wiggly students to stand if it helps them focus
  • Exercise Bands on Chair Legs
  • Wall push-ups, movement/brain breaks, doodling, noise-cancelling headphones, privacy shields, separate work spaces, checklists, colored dot/sticker on desk that I quietly tap if refocusing is needed, nonverbal signals, sitting close to instruction
  • wiggle seats, take a break, go get a drink, quiet work space in the classroom, koosh balls, talking stick, weighted lap animals, scented neck wraps, chewy necklaces, reduce the number or questions on each page

Looking for More?

hands.jpgIf this topic has sparked an interest in you, or you simply want and need to learn more about working with students with ADHD, let us suggest a few courses that may be of interest:

Course 5027:  ADHD: Focusing, Learning, Teaching - 3 graduate credits 
Course 5855: Neurodiversity: A New Approach for Students with Special Needs- 3 graduate credits 
Coures 753: Succeeding with the Struggling Student - 3 graduate credits

Explore All Courses



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