Assessing the need to implement teaching strategies in individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders presenting for treatment in children and adolescents (Wilens and Spencer, 2010), it is characterized by pervasive and impairing symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity (Polanczyk et al, 2007). ADHD also carries a high rate of comorbid psychiatric problems such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder, mood and anxiety disorders (Biederman et al, 2012) .
The purpose of this is assignment is to improve my understanding and knowledge in implementing effective evidence based teaching strategies when teaching students with ADHD. ADHD can have a major impact on students’ functioning at school, academically and socially (Loe and Feldman, 2007) causing underachievement and difficulties with personal relationships (Sayal, 2008). ADHD affects an estimated 4% to 12% of school-aged children worldwide (Polanczyk, 2007), With Holden et al (2013) study showing that the recognition and prevalence of ADHD in the UK is increasing meaning teachers have a very important role in the educational development of a child with ADHD (Yumi and Witruk, 2016). A study was completed in Finland interviewing ADHD students on how teachers adapted and helped students in the classroom. From the results five main problems arose; disproportionate, traumatising, neglectful, unfair and un-understanding (Honkasilta et al, 2016) , The study suggests that many teachers do not have enough understanding of how to effectively teach students with ADHD.
Throughout this assignment the student being observed/taught is Paul, Paul suffers from ADHD, he is also known to lie excessively when challenged, his behaviour in certain classes can be unsatisfactory, resulting in him being a report multiple times and phone calls home to parents/guardians, this behaviour is common in students with ADHD (Beszterczey et al, 2001; Andrew et al 2008 ), he is in a low/medium ability set in science with a predicted grade of 3- at GCSE.
2.) Observation and research of strategies
In an observation of a religious education (RE) lesson, the task set was to read a comprehension and answer questions, the task was long and was not very engaging for the students, this caused Paul to lose concentration and he refused to complete the task. Multiple journal suggests keeping activities short is essential (Abikoff, 1991; Allsopp et al, 2005; Rief, 2005), ADHD primarily affects the student’s attention span, so long activities mean that the students attention will soon be directed elsewhere away from the task (Yehle and Wambold, 1998), keeping activities short plays a significant role in helping children stay focussed, the activities must enjoyable, fun and interesting. Sweitzer (2014) states that beating boredom is the secret to managing ADHD in the classroom, “People with ADHD can only attend well to things that interest them.” (Sweitzer, 2014), setting tasks and activities more suited to Pauls disability would have improved his learning and his behaviour (Abikoff, 1991).
The teachers attempts to encourage Paul to complete his work failed, the lesson was with a low ability class, the whole class was generally loud and unfocussed so the teachers attention was elsewhere, this caused Paul to proceed to do nothing, the teaching assistant was made aware of Pauls behaviour, he proceeded to ask Paul to start his work, he then started the task, it was clear that Paul had respect for the teaching assistant and there was a good relationship between the two, he would generally listen to what the teaching assistant said, Another method of enabling students with ADHD, is to develop a good respectful relationship between the teacher and the student, “children with close, supportive, and non-conflictual relationships with their teachers feel secure, motivated, and capable of learning in the classroom setting” (Rogers et al., 2015), when there is a poor student-teacher relationship it can result in the student behaving badly (Gwernan-Jones et al., 2015), the interactions between Paul and the teacher in the lesson, suggested that there was not a mutual respect, this resulted in Paul defiance towards the teacher.
Paul was seated at the back corner of the classroom beside a window, he would of often focussed on what was going outside the classroom, being at the back of the classroom also allowed Paul the ability to do no work with minimal involvement from the teacher, Students suffering from ADHD are easily distracted by their environment around them, seating arrangements and desk placements also have been suggested to play a crucial part in creating a learning environment suitable for children suffering from ADHD (Dewitz, 2014). Seating children with ADHD close to the teacher and surrounded by well-behaved classmates has shown to improve attentiveness (Carbone, 2001), from my observations of Paul and background reading around classroom arrangement, it is clear that seating children with ADHD has a big effect on their learning in that classroom. Distraction outside of a classroom can also steer their focus away from learning, seating children away from windows and doors eliminates any distraction caused from outside the classroom (Gardill, DuPaul and Kyle, 1996).
Desk orientation has also shown to improve attentiveness, this could be difficult to set up, especially for a teacher without their own classroom, In Dewitz (2014) article he states that children with ADHD work better with single seat rather than long tables. Generally, science classrooms are located in a lab, which contain long tables, which causes a problem for science teachers to provide the correct desk orientation to suit the needs of the student.
Reif (2005) states that group work has a positive effect on a student’s learning provided there is clear goals established of what the group work will accomplish, group work can also improve help students with ADHD develop acceptable social behaviour (Tan and Cheung, 2008), furthermore providing students with a greater responsibility may help raise their social status and more likely be accepted by their peers (Armstrong, 1999).
Conclusion of the lesson
The RE lesson for Paul did not go well for him, he completed very little work compared to his peers, any work he had completed had very little educational value to him, the task set was long and not engaging which caused lack of focus in Paul and made him easily distracted. The seating arrangement was not suited for Paul, not being in direct view of the teacher allowed him to get away with very little work with minimal consequences, being seated beside a window distracted Paul.
4) Reflection on my own lessons.
The reflective method that will be used to evaluate and analyse my lessons will be Gibbs reflective cycle (Gibbs, 1988).
Lesson A was on Specific Heat Capacity, the starter used was a picture of a beach with a question on the board “Why does the sand feel hot but the water feels cold?”, this starter was used to help relate scientific ideas to real life application as this has been suggested to help students with learning disabilities understand (ref), I questioned Paul on his thoughts about the question, he responded very well with good scientific ideas, the next task was using the computers, student where asked to research the definition and equation for specific heat capacity, it was brought to my attention during the task by the teaching assistant that Paul was not on the appropriate website for the task, when confronted Paul denied being on the wrong website, I knew Paul was lying, in the classroom there is a software program for the teacher to monitor the websites the students are on, I gave Paul a verbal warning, this tendency to lie when confronted is not unusual for students with ADHD (REF), the next task was using the equation to calculate energy, exam style questions where on the board and the student had to calculate the answers, for one question, I asked Paul to come up and show to the class how he worked out the answer, prior to asking Paul to come up to the board I checked his answer, it is important to for Paul to receive positive feedback from the teacher and his peers, this appraisal from other students has shown to help ADHD sufferers improve their social behaviour (ref). The final task set was an online simulated experiment, student where asked to use the simulation and equation to calculate mathematically the energy required to heat different materials, approximately 10 minutes into the task I noticed on the teachers computer that Paul was on the incorrect website, when approached Paul clicked off the website, when asked what he clicked off, he said nothing, I further challenged Paul to admit being on the wrong website, Pauls behaviour was getting worse, he started to become angry and upset, I left Paul for five minutes so he could calm down and reflect on his actions, students with ADHD tend to find it hard to control their emotions (ref) , I returned and Pauls attitude towards me during this confrontation was very disrespectful, Paul was warned that if his attitude proceeded he would be sanctioned with a detention, Paul continued to disrespect me, this resulted in him receiving a C1 detention.
The classroom was an open computer room, with long desks and big open window in direct view of the playground, Paul was seated close to the front of classroom in direct view of me, he seated beside his teaching assistant.
Lesson B was on renewable/non-renewable energy resources, to start the lesson students were asked to produce a list of energy resources, Paul was asked to write two resources he knew onto the board and state whether they were renewable or non-renewable, Paul answered the question correctly, I praised Paul for his work and coming up to the board, good praising of students from teachers has shown to create better relationships (ref). Students were split into teams of four, the groups were planned prior to the lesson, Paul was placed in a group with three well behaved students, seating ADHD students with better behaved students has shown to increase attentiveness and reduce hyper activity (ref) . Students were given an island, the objective was to choose the appropriate energy resource to use on their island, the teams were assigned roles in the group (the chief, environment chief, finance chief and the scientist chief), I decided to assign Paul the role of the chief, in group work assigning more responsible roles improves social behaviour and provided better engagement for the student (ref) . The role of the chief was to be the team captain was to organise the team and to present their ideas at the end of the lesson, students were given information packs on different energy resources, each member of the group had to identify advantage and disadvantages of each energy resource in terms of their roles. Paul was working well he helped motivated his team and keep them on task, however due to the nature of his team being well behaved and generally quiet, it was hard for them to provide their opinions, Paul began to get increasingly hyper during the researching, he would be shouting out and talking very loudly, this resulted in him receiving a verbal warning. Paul did not challenge the warning, he listened and was better behaved for the rest of the lesson. The final task was the presentation, Paul’s team was last to present, when presenting Paul communicated well, he spoke clearly and provided arguments for why his team’s chosen resource was best. I challenged Pauls learning by asking questions about his chosen resource he answered well, Paul was praised for his work throughout the lesson, he was given positive behaviour points which his parent/guardian would be notified about, it is important when teaching students with ADHD that parent/guardians are kept informed of behaviour (ref) .
The classroom was a large with open windows, the desk where positioned in groups, with four pupils per table, the orientation of the desks means group work can be managed effectively. The classroom contains a big open window in view of the playground.
At the start of lesson A I was feeling confident that the appropriate strategies were implemented to help with Pauls learning, the starter went well with Paul providing an excellent answer, I found challenging Paul when he was on the incorrect website challenging, when Paul was asked to write his answer on the board I thought that he would struggle to present his answer to a crowd, he presented very well, the final task I thought prior to teaching it, would have been good, the demonstration of the practical would of provided enough engagement for Paul to stay focussed, Paul did not respond to this task, the challenging of behaviour was hard and the attitude that Paul had towards me was not pleasant, the persistent defiance made me feel not respected as a teacher, after the lesson I did not feel happy with how it went for Paul.
Before teaching lesson B I was nervous, I did not know how Paul would respond to group work, my initial thought was that he would be easily distracted by his peers, the lesson however was very well planned, at the time when assigning roles I did think that Paul might struggle presenting to his class, during the lesson I felt relieved at how well the group activities were going, I was surprised by how involved Paul was getting with his group, when the lesson had finished I felt that It went well.
The starter for lesson A was good, the relation to real life application helped Paul to understand what the topic was about, the research task was not engaging, although the task was short, Paul did not find it interesting, the calculations was good, there was good interactions between me and the students, helping to build relationships, allowing Paul to answer questions on the board worked well, the final task did not go well for Paul, the task was interesting to begin with but Paul lost focus very quickly, the task was too long.
Lesson B overall was good and planned well, the starter was engaging and the class responded well to it, the group activities worked brilliantly, Paul was really engaged with the tasks, the seating arrangement could have been better to reduce Pauls hyperactivity, the presenting went well, especially for Paul.
The seating and classroom in lesson A was not appropriate for Paul the open windows in direct view of the playground was too distracting for him, the research topic was not engaging enough, it also provided no challenge for Paul, challenging ADHD students can increase their engagement on a task (ref) , the calculation task worked well, the opportunity for a student to show off their understanding of a topic allowed Paul to focus and get on with his work (ref), allowing Paul to present his work to the class worked well, the final task was interesting to start off with but was long, student were required to do a lot of mathematical calculation, Paul lost focus quickly in this task. The computer room provided Paul with too many distractions he found it hard to stick to the appropriate website, meaning he was not engaged in tasks set.
Lesson B starter went well, Paul enjoyed expressing his answers to the class, the group activities worked brilliantly, Paul responded well to working in groups and providing him with a role with added responsibility enabled his engagement throughout the tasks, working in groups also implemented an element of competition between peers on which island was the best, adding competitions into a classroom environment increases learning motivation (Cheung et al, 2004). The group arrangement for Paul could have been better, seated next to students who are generally quiet provided Paul with an opportunity to take control, this caused minor disruptions in the class, but was handled effectively and stopped once a verbal warning was sanctioned. The presenting of the task allowed Paul to present his work to his peers, Paul presented well and responded well to questioning. Praising Paul will also have a great effect on his behaviour in lessons.
Action plan/ implications / conclusion
Too conclude, lesson A demonstrated little progress on Pauls learning, more interesting and challenging task should have been set along with a better seating arrangement
The next lesson worked very well, the group work was well planned and Paul responded very well in groups, the element of competition was also a good motivation for Paul to do well, the tasks were interesting with minimal writing, which kept Paul focussed, the only criticism about the group work was that Paul did not work as well as he could of in groups, he seemed to get very hyper and loud and although it was on task, I think this had a negative effect on the others in his group but, I do not think this should be a reason not to try group work again maybe with different members of the group, I think seating Paul with quiet well-behaved student allowed him to be loud and take control, maybe if Paul was seated with students who were more talkative he would be more settled.
Lesson B went better than lesson A, the relationship between me and Paul was a lot better by lesson B, I had a lot more experience of teaching him by this stage, the classroom setting facilitated a better educational environment in lesson B than lesson A, the classroom seating arrangement was more suited, with short tables (ref) , and better seating arrangement. The presenting on the board worked well in both lessons I will make sure to use this in future lessons; the main struggle of lesson A was planning engaging tasks to interest the students especially Paul.