Classroom Management Differentiation

How to Plan More Strategies for Differentiation for ADHD Students

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I hate paper work!  How about you? I ask because that is where my mind goes when I think of developing  strategies for differentiation for ADHD students. 

In an earlier blog post, ‘How to add inclusive strategies for ADHD in the classroom’ I shared multiple differentiation strategies . When made accessible to the whole classroom these strateges and while supporting pupils with adhd in the classroom.  

Implementing these  strategies  for the whole class aligns with Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  UDL and differentiation share a lot in common.

My point is that much of what we can do to implement strategies for differentiation for ADHD students will benefit multiple students in the classroom.

But even with all of these positive changes, for some students we may still need to implement differentiation for ADHD students.

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What is the next step when you have already implement UDL strategies for differentiation.

What are inclusive strategies for differentiation for ADHD students?

As I mentioned, within an inclusive classroom the teacher will have differentiated the classroom and designed the environment, instruction and assessments to support the learning needs and styles of all students.  

Hopefully, the teacher will have designed the strategies for differentiation for ADHD students with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in mind.

In this way even those students that we don’t know need visual supports, they still have them.

If another student needs to stand while working, then that is an option for all students.  

This type of differentiation for ADHD students promotes inclusiveness and recognizes and honours all the students.  Any stigma or shame associated with any one type of learning style is removed.

For many students with ADHD strategies for differentiation for ADHD students  and the support that is available to the whole class will be enough. 

However, as with most things, ADHD is unique to the individual person who has it.  😊

For some students a little more may be required. 

That is where the paperwork comes in. 🥴

Universal design takes what is necessary to support one student with ADHD and supports many other students.

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

Let me say first that I am not a huge fan of IEPs, but my reasons might surprise you.

I have found that IEPs can be like assessments that lead to a diagnosis.

Teachers sometimes feel that the assessment prior to the IEP is doing the work to support the student. But that is the next step in the support of students, not the end.

I am not pointing fingers here.  For the last 150-200 years  the educational system was run on a factory model. Students who did not fit within the mold were the “problem”. Every round peg was forced to fit, somehow, into the square hole or get tossed out.

Current trends in education, especially in western cultures, are now focusing on meeting the individual needs of each child.  The square holes are gone, and the work of the teacher is to shape  the instruction to the unique needs, or shape, of the student.

However, an assessment and a diagnosIs  may just be starting points for what we need to do for a student with ADHD in the classroom.

Now it is time to personalize learning more specifically for the student. 

What is the purpose of an IEPs as strategies for differentiation for ADHD students?

If you are already differentiating, and implementing UDL, many of the strategies for differentiation for ADHD students on the IEP will be met.  

Your job  then is just tracking your students progress, and, hopefully, providing awareness of a student’s growth in order to track a different area of progress.

One little note on this.  When you are tracking a student’s progress, consider a portfolio of photos and work.

As a student grows, positive reinforcement is at its finest when we can say, “Wow, you have really grown in this area. Let’s take a picture for your parents to see in your report card.” 

And they will see the growth that has occurred from the differentiation for ADHD and UDLand believe it for themselves.

And yet, sometimes, the student needs goals that tailored specifically to their needs. These are goals that are not necessary for the whole class. 

An example of this would be a note home each night that shares 2-3 points for the day.  Although many parents would love this personalized communication, very few students require it.  

And thank heavens for that!! 😅

Crafting strategies for differentiation for ADHD students 

Establishing personalized goals  for differentiation for ADHD just means looking at a student’s strengths and challenges and creating targets for them.

These targets could be for one or for multiple areas:

  • academic achievements
  • organizational skills
  • self-regulation

What is an IEP with strategies for differentiation for ADHD students?

The IEP is simply a road map of strategies for differentiation that are specific to that individual student and which lead to success for this student. It whittles down to the essentials the focus for the student.

An example is a “3 Stars and a Wish” journal that the student is given quiet time to write in. This journal is the student’s accounting of what they did well (3 stars), and a goal for the next day (the wish).  

This journal is taken home and signed by the parents, and, hopefully, a discussion between the student and parent occurs as well.

This simple strategy is not meant to be harsh or punitive. It is merely teaching the student to reflect positively on their successes, and to realize that tomorrow is a new day.  

It also tells the parents  a lot about their child’s day at school. 😊

An IEP may target multiple SMART goals, but no more than 3 should be implemented at one time.

What are not strategies for differentiation for ADHD students?

An IEP is not all the changes the teacher wants to see in a student to make them more like their peers.

An IEP is a blueprint and tracker for the student’s most important next steps in growth and learning.

Although the IEP can, and maybe should, contain multiple SMART goals, students should be actively working on only  3 at a time.

Or, if the goals are complex, 3 objectives or parts of a goal.  More than that is overwhelming for the student and for the staff member tracking the student’s work.

The focus of the successful IEP will be on designing objectives tailored to the strengths, challenges and learning styles of each student with ADHD.

Aligning these tailored objectives with specific approaches that will help the student to overcome challenges associated with ADHD.

Adapting assignments

To adapt assignments to varying abilities is to tailor tasks to match individual strengths, learning preferences and skill levels. 

Each student can then engage with the material in a way that suits their unique abilities and challenges.  

This may mean providing alternative  formats (video, book with tape, hands on), activities (like a choice board)  additional support or even flexible timelines.

If that all sounds overwhelming 🥹 consider that much of that work is done, through your implementation of differentiation for ADHD.  

Now you are just tracking the efficacy of these strategies on the IEP.

In other words . . . if you see that one of the structures or scaffolds that you already have in place, (i.e. routines or binders to support organization, movement breaks to extend focus etc.) is working, then you take a picture to show a student’s progress with the support of that scaffold.

This picture becomes a part of the IEP portfolio and indicates what strategies do, and do not work for the students.

Sometimes there is no picture you can take.

In other words, if the scaffold did not support student growth, then pictures can also show the lack of growth and suggest that it is time to try out a different scaffold or approach.

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By promoting inclusiveness and honouring the learning styles of all students you have already provided much support that is necessary for the student with ADHD.

Making strategies for differentiation for ADHD students manageable

I have written blogs on differentiation in writing, math and science.  Consider checking those out for ideas on how to make that work in your classroom.

Strategies for differentiation for ADHD students are typically a benefit to all students.  

Tracking the effectiveness of the strategies you have implemented through an IEP can provide insight into the best way to help a student with ADHD profess.  

Sometimes the whole class strategies aren’t enough. Sometimes, the student needs individualized strategies for differentiation for ADHD students that we need to implement and monitor. 

The paperwork accompanying one or two SMART goals that are specific to a student that you need to track is much more manageable than piles of different goals and strategies for different students. 

Keep your IEPs simple, make the goals SMART goals , and work on no more than 3 goals at a time. Rely on the implementation of  the UDL of your strategies for differentiation for ADHD students to achieve whatever work is possible for that student at this time.

Next up: ‘Team ADHD: How to Empower Teachers in the Classroom’ 

Related blog posts:

How to Add Inclusive Strategies for ADHD in the Classroom

Tales of : Why is Differentiation in the Classroom Important?

How to Unlock the Mystery of Differentiation in Math

Jumpstart Writing Now With Differentiation in Instruction Now!

Differentiation in Science Teaching: How to Make an Inclusive Classroom

Classroom Community: 7 Strategies for How to Create One

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