I am excited to present this guest post written by Joyce Wilson. Joyce is a retired teacher with decades of experience. Today, she is a proud grandmom and mentor to teachers in her local public school system. She and a fellow retired teacher created TeacherSpark.org to share creative ideas and practical resources for the classroom.
Thank you Joyce for this informative article!
Focusing on one topic for an extended period of time can be challenging for any learner. This task, however, is particularly challenging for students who have ADHD. Targeted strategies aimed at helping students with ADHD in the classroom must be put into action in order for these students to experience success.
One such strategy is breaking up topics into mini-lessons. Mini-lessons allow students to focus their attention on a topic for a shorter amount of time rather than for an entire class period. Because they are brief in nature, mini-lessons allow students with ADHD to feel comfortable with the duration of the activity, thus increasing their potential for success. Allowing these students to feel comfortable with classroom activities, increases their motivation to focus on learning the topic at hand.
Let’s take a look at some examples of mini-lessons and how they can be incorporated into the classroom:
Geography Lesson on the States: Rather than use an entire class period or two to teach students this topic, teachers can use a week’s worth of mini lessons to effectively teach it to students. Learning the location of the states can be overwhelming, especially for students with ADHD. To teach this topic using mini-lessons, on the first day students could simply label a blank map of their own with the names of states. On the second day, students could cut their states out, mix them up and put them back together. For day three, students could color each state according to their region. Day four, students could piece together states of each region. And on day five, students could put the entire map together again. Each short activity gives students the opportunity to practice learning this topic multiple times.
ELA Descriptive Writing Lesson: To break this topic up into mini-lessons, on day one, teach students about the five senses. Use the five senses to describe 3-5 items with the students. Day two, give students a picture, and have them write a description of the picture using the five senses. For day three, break students up in pairs and have them describe three designated places or objects to each other using the five senses. On day four, give students a worksheet with groupings of descriptive phrases. Have them guess the object or place the phrases are describing (can be a group activity). And on day five, ask students to write a descriptive paragraph about their favorite place to visit using the five senses.
Math Lesson and Pool Time: This swimming curriculum lesson teaches students about calculating perimeter by asking them to design a dream pool for themselves or their best friend. In the exercise, students create the pool’s measurements and calculate its cost based on the design that is desired. You can break this into mini lessons in a couple of different ways. For example, you might spend the first day simply discussing which measurements and associated costs the students will need to assess and then spend the other days working on those calculations. Or you could come up with multiple possible designs, calculating measurements and costs for a different design each day. Use your judgment as to how much your student or class can digest and learn when deciding how best to break up the activity.
Science Lesson on Clouds: For day one, have students engage in a writing activity about clouds. Tell students to write down everything they know about clouds, even if they are not sure if it is true. Next, have them draw some pictures of clouds to go along with their writing. On day two, display a chart on the overhead screen or smart board that illustrates the different cloud types and provides a description of each. Have students write down the descriptions. On day three, display pictures of each cloud type and the kind of weather conditions each indicates; have students take notes. Day four, have students fill in a cloud chart with descriptions and the kind of weather conditions for each type. And on day five, allow students to draw each cloud type and label 2 facts about each type.
Each mini-lesson should be about 10-15 minutes long, depending on the age group. The key to mini-lessons is to keep them focused, moving along and staying within the time frame they are designated for. Remember the goal of mini-lessons is to offer students with ADHD the opportunity to stay engaged with the topic for the entire time.