View Full Version : What helps you learn?

12-29-13, 06:03 PM
Dear students,

I am a high school science teacher of quite a few students with AD/HD. I am here looking for advice on how to best serve my students. The "12 Things ADHD High Schoolers Want Their Teachers to Know" was extremely helpful, but now I am looking for more specific strategies that I can use to help my students.

I teach Physics and Chemistry. Please share with me specific things that a teacher did or allowed you to do that aided your learning.


A concerned first year teacher

12-30-13, 08:35 AM
osmosis ;)

12-30-13, 11:53 AM
Get to the point. Quickly.

12-30-13, 02:19 PM
Repetition, quick to the point, and a good animated voice maybe, will catch their attention longer.

12-30-13, 02:28 PM
bite sized chunks with lotsa prac and colours and repetition, think sesame street with smarts...

think modes... 10-15listen, 15-25 do... etc... never talk for longer than 25minutes!

read the book 100 things every presenter needs to know about people... now, because i've teached... i know that the prep involved to create that kind of environment / lesson structure will kill you, you have to leverage existing materials where available, think outside the box...

leverage groups, leverage presentations / feedback of learnings in a non-threatening manner...

familiar modes, unpredictable structure.

p.s. kudos to you for reaching out, a teency nudge and directed question ( often non-related ) to the right students at the right time can make a lifetime of difference. be careful investing emotions, yet be on the lookout for those who need "connecting" with external support.

12-30-13, 02:45 PM
I bet we're all really glad you posted this. :) I make these suggestions with a lot of humility,.. you have a tough job. When I was in HS Chemistry and Physics were my favorite subjects.. my best subjects too. This is not so for ADHD accross the board, but for kids with a particular learning disability (the one that I have) yours can really be the subject where they for once feel smart.

3 Things:
1. Small Group Activities: Some teachers would always break us into small groups, not just for the "labs", but for in class problem sets.
I would ROCK those! Small groups are great for an ADHD kid.. a small group of people to focus on. And you may be thinking that it allows kids to mooch off others.. it's the opposite.. I was **** on tests, I could never remember my homework but I used to lead my group in labs and problem sets.

2.Outline your lectures: The worst thing about being ADHD and smart is that they understand what you are saying, but in paying attention to where you ARE they completely forget how you GOT THERE. Even a simple unimpressive looking outline can help A LOT!! I had one teacher who did them for us.. most kids through they were stupid.. I would staple them into my notebook after class. Or maybe write a little outline on the board as you go.

(but not random words and problems here and there.. that would drove me nuts when teachers did that.)

3. Tell them what you're about to tell them Tell them. Then tell them what you just told them.
Some of us said repetition.. and others said get to the point quickly.. those two can seem contradictory. I think the trick is to acknowledge that it may be hard to see the forest through the trees.. so you start with "This is where we are going". Then you get there. Then say, "and remember,.. this is how we got here". For kids who can't follow every single point AND remember every previous point.. it makes it easier to keep a frame of reference.

Oh, one last thing.. fidgeting doesnt mean spacing out.. BUT if you call on a fidget-er, he may have been completely focused and following, but the second you call on him he panics, gets startled, and forgets his own name. Some kids, you just can't call on. :)

12-30-13, 06:57 PM
What I'm saying here is an idealized abstract notion of the truth, but maybe helpful in a schematic-only kind of way.

If your lesson plan has three things you expect to teach, then you should be speaking a total of five sentences: intro, first thing, second thing, third thing, conclusion.

Anything that can possibly be cut, then cut.

Because you know their brains are flying all over the place, then you need to know that if you want your course to get done, you have to be organized to a highly regimented degree.

NOT the kind of "organized" that leaves you bristling with papers and books and convoluted outlines and plans, but the kind of "organized" that ruthlessly strips away all extraneous material.

Your ADHD students will lead you on enough tangents to blow your mind. Don't bring in any yourself. :)

This is not to say be boring or cut yourself out of the process... it's about giving your lessons rigid obvious explicit hierarchy. These kids can't see hierarchy, unless you blatantly telegraph it EVERY TIME. You actually can say unimportant, tangential, "fun" things, but be scrupulous about signalling and labelling the hierarchy of your lesson plan for them.

Red Rabbit66
01-10-14, 04:20 PM

01-14-14, 04:19 PM
I can't speak much about high school and I don't know what is available to you in terms of technology, but if you have the opportunity, use slides with diagrams and the basic outline/bulletpoint of what you are saying in that instance. Email them to students afterwards.

This is massively helpful to students since it lets the ADHDers(or at least me) focus on the information in a condensed format and use that to get the idea of where you are going and what you're saying. Once they know that, they can better take in the information you are about to dish out. Plus, the changing slides helps keep attention since it isn't just a blackboard being erased and re-written on.

Emailing them out after or before class is helpful since it can direct studying or note taking to prevent useless material in textbooks (face it, there's a lot in there with some books) from clogging up the students' minds and notes.

01-14-14, 05:52 PM
I learn from people who are really enthusiastic and passionate about the topic. I need to be sold on why I need to learn this topic. But not sales-ishy, passionately. And preferably with an emotional story that I can wrap my head around and recall later on when I'm trying to remember what I learned about the subject.

I had a biology teacher whom, I swear, would just about cry everytime he started a lesson. He believed in what he was doing, and he made it soo clear how the lesson would impact our life. He usually had a great story that played into the lesson that made us think. None of the students ever wanted to leave the class when the bell rang.

If you are dry and boring, and just learned the lesson the night before, then I wouldn't learn a thing. As a student I would probably take a good nap. I hated listening to something that even the teacher wasn't interested in.

01-14-14, 06:02 PM
I loved it when my teachers had handouts with notes on it... I didn't have to worry about notes while I was trying to listen. One less thing I had to focus on

01-14-14, 06:02 PM
Phantasm: :thankyou: :goodpost:

01-14-14, 08:16 PM
I loved it when my teachers had handouts with notes on it... I didn't have to worry about notes while I was trying to listen. One less thing I had to focus on

:goodpost::thankyou: That was just the best!

Didn't have to be exhaustive either, .. a word or two on each point did wonders for me if I ever was a little slow with something or couldn't recall the context.

01-15-14, 12:24 PM
People with ADHD learn things by connecting them with other things. Ideas need to be tethered to things that are easy to recall. For the visual learner, pictures might explain things in a way that's easier to retain. For everyone, examples of how what you're teaching is relevant to something in real life is vital. Information that can't be applied to anything isn't going to attach to anything, and will therefore be forgotten.

Hands-on activities, in which the students can initiate the process and see how their actions bring about the conclusion, are great. Activities that might have different conclusions, which allow a discussion of what changed the outcome and why, fix the information even more deeply by connecting it to multiple memory anchors. (The focus should be on "why did this turn out differently" or "why did we not get the expected result" rather than "what did we do wrong.") The process is often more interesting to ADHDers than the goal, so understanding the process will make the outcome more relevant.

01-15-14, 03:07 PM
ADDers love instant gratification. I don't know how old your students are but hersey's kisses or scratch-n-sniff stickers were exciting to get if we answered questions correctly, or did good on a quiz/test.

Or even standing in line to leave first to go to recess...

If it's an older student, maybe they get points extra credit, or 5 extra minutes to take a test.

And I always LOVED to be recognized as being right, when answering a question correctly in front of class. It was horribly painful for me to be called out as being wrong or berated for answering a question incorrectly, like I was an idiot or something. That could shut and ADDer down and keep them from further participation.

01-15-14, 05:00 PM
I'm no expert, but in my opinion calling on kids randomly in class as a form of encouraging participation is highly overrated. It simply tests a kind of multi-tasking that has no value outside of a class lecture.