The paths to "Eureka" moments: Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Education

Archive for December, 2012

Exceptionality in the Classroom

All students can learn. And I believe all students can learn math!

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H1 – Honor student diversity and development. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become prevalent in the student body. As students struggle through the implications of such a disorder, it is important to recognize the behavioral and academic implications in the classroom. The article below provides some background and commonalities of ADHD as well as trends seen in the development of mathematics skills in students with ADHD.

Math Students and ADHD

Many students seem to find it difficult to transition from elementary addition of positive numbers to the addition of both positive and negative integers. And yet, this is a vital skill to learn. It is my belief that any student can develop the skills necessary and gain understanding of these concepts so as to achieve mastery in integer addition.

One important way to accomplish this is through lesson planning and the implementation of multiple learning styles. I have developed a lesson plan for the teaching visual and kinesthetic learners how to add and subtract with both positive and negative numbers.This is age appropriate for 7th grade students and meets appropriate OSPI standards as described in the lesson.

Teaching positive and negative addition to students with ADHD

Specifically, this lesson was designed with students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in mind. It is a dynamic and active lesson including games and the use of manipulatives to engage the students. In this way, students gain understanding though kinesthetic experience as well as stay engaged through visual reminders. Additionally, the lesson includes a self-monitoring sheet which allows the student to monitor his/her own behavior throughout the activities.  This creates a sense of ownership of the student’s learning which will positively influence future learning. In this lesson, we use colored chips to symbolize positive and negative numbers (as shown in the picture above). This demonstrates visually the differences between positive and negative integers allowing the student to develop a sense of “opposites”.

In writing the above article and designing the lesson plan, I have learned a great deal about the diversity of students with ADHD and how that will affect my teaching. I recognize I will need to integrate engaging activities and learning experiences in my lessons so that students are able to stay engaged. I also recognize the importance of self-monitoring aids that aid the student in developing an ownership of their behavior and learning. Though this lesson was designed for students with ADHD, it could and should be used for a wider demographic of students. It will be important in future lesson planning to consider the class being taught and the individual needs of the students. Additionally, taking advantage of other prompts and manipulatives will be key to presenting concepts to students with different learning styles.