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Teaching Students with LD and ADHD

Motivating students with special needs


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Joined: Jun 25, 2008
Posts: 1
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Posted Jun 25, 2008 at 3:11:43 PM
Subject: Motivating students with special needs

I teach older students with special needs and was wondering if anybody had any ideas for keeping them motivated to learn and read. I have a lot of trouble getting them to do anything because I think they have it in their minds that they can't do it. They have been in special education for several years and are used to not knowing how to read, to write, etc. as well as their peers. I don't want special education to be an excuse for my students.

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Mandi
Joined May 05, 2008
Posts: 424

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Posted:Jun 25, 2008 7:27:31 PM

Then don't label them and stick them in special ed. You can't have it all ways but theirs. In that, you don't forcibly medicate them which likely many are, you don't tell them they are different and inferior..... And then demand the same out of them as you would anyone else. This is a ridiculous standard to hold with such children who have been brought up and mistreated many of them anyway, on the basis that they are disabled. Their lives are miserable likely for the most part and they put up with more BS and people not taking them seriously. They have Society's number. No matter what they do they will not be treated equal or like a normal human being so why waste their energy on this stuff? If their disabilities are a reality, then why in goddesses name shouldn't they be an excuse? Would you hold someone with as the experts have put it, 'the intelligence of a dog' to the same standard of a normal person??? Then we get the labels.... What a hypocritical society....

If you want their attention, find some ways to make it clear that when you look at them, you don't see special ed students. Make it clear you see *them* for who they are. Make sure you make sure they know you value them. I would actually suggest holding off a little on the reading and writing and academics. Get their attention socially by being a cool person. Get to know them, then, give them something on something they are interested in. (For example, in highschool i had this great science teacher. I hated biology. Thought it was totally boring, and where i went to school we had 1 week to write a 60 page paper that would count for 2 thirds of our grade for the semester. Our research was supposed to be some random bogus genetic disease that 1 person or less in the world was sick with. Which really made me think it was a waste of my time. But as i was leaving my teacher asked if i was gonna do it. I said honestly, no. I just am not interested.... And he says to me, 'What do you do, Amanda?' And i said 'Uhh.... How do you mean?' He said 'when you leave school, what do you do for fun?' So i told him that i was very into music and i was a singer. He says 'Ahhh! Write me a 60 page research paper on the biological process involved in singing!' I just stood there shocked and soooo greatful that if he weren't my teacher i would have kissed him even if at the time he was like 80 years old....) Or try, something written by someone who doesn't believe in their disability. For example if it is a student with ADHD, print something off the internet on the myth.... Make sure they know it is written by an expert who says their disability doesn't exist. If that doesn't peak their interest.... Your kids ain't LD they are like.... rigomortis..... Please excuse any spellinf errors i have made in this post or may make as i go, i am dyslexic. Thank god, someone got my attention. I am fluent in 6 languages and working further towards another degree this one in egyptology. Tell your kids you met a dyslexic epigrapher. Tell them, make them believe, whatever goes on outside the classroom, they are safe. And they are not disabled in your classroom, they are only who they are not at all what they are labeled with. The trick though is, you gotta believe it. Tell them about ancient societies in which their disability wouldnt be a problem. For example, ancient egyptian hieroglyphs are written, from left to right or right to left. Or up and down or down and up, and the 'letters' can face either direction. Find something that gives those kids who have been deprived of their right to dream someone to believe in and something to dream about. If they like for example ancient egypt like i happen to, you could try using hieroglyphs and writing in them and then letting your kids translate them to decode something of vallue. Seriously, if i taught special ed, i would throw out english and just teach hieroglyph reading and then segway into english from there.... LD children, have some of the most creative minds you are ever going to find.Challenge their creativity. Give them a reason to write. Find out what they dislike about Bush's politics. Tell them, you will mail their letters (so long as they are polite, and to the point and written well) to the white house. Maybe, tell them, to, hmmm.... Write to the president to ask him to stop the war. Then, actually send their letters. Or maybe not that particular issue but find them something that interests them to write about. Offer to help them as they go and to edit their writing. Tell them. or have an author come in and speak to them and tell them how they have to send their work out for editing too and then have it corrected. So they know it isn't just more anti LDism. To get the attention of the radiccally minded you must be radical yourself. Show them somehow, maybe through some sort of a play, that all writing is is argueing on paper. Script an argument. Then have 2 of them read and explain to them, as they are argueing with eachother your scripted argument, that that is what writing is all about. Argueing! Do some things that don't make you seem like, 'just another adult and just another boring teacher.' Take them places, bring things in. Give them the world. Talk to them.... Offer them the ability to write to their parents about what their parents should know about them as people rather than just beings with LD. Make an assignment, where they can write something to be put in their own school file, about themselves so that when their next teacher reads their file, they will find, not inferior brains but personalities. Have them dream up some alternative system of education for LD students. See what they come up with, it could be really interesting. Tell them, they must write it down on paper and then each day, for however many days there are students, you all will actually test their ideas about the best way to educate people like them. The things for example, i might have said as a child of that age to my parents.... Would have been interesting.... I am sure, for your kids too. Because, parents in a desperate effort to help can get a bit weird about things. They really do mean well. They just become alienated by the term 'LD.' Put LD on the board, along with various words for them to look up and define. When they come back and call it i think an adjective (i could be wrong on that grammar was never my strong suit.) for describing certain people who have difficulty with tasks many people find simple. When they say LD is defined as 'learning disabled' Correct their papers and mark it as WRONG! Then go over it with them. Tell them, it actually really means Learning Differenced! Set up a feeling of different but equal to all the students in the school who are not labeled.

I remember highschool. I hated it. What a drain on my time. Soooo many places i would rather be. So many things i would have rather been doing. I didn't feel that i was valued in school, and i felt bored. I felt, it was a waste of time as my interests lay elsewhere. What relevance does a course in PE have when i walk a mile to school and home every day rain snow sun hale or flood?

Thank god, i had a couple of teachers who were not entirely brain dead. As there are a few fabulous teachers out there.... They could see me for me. Not for a label. Not only that, they even did things to gear stuff towards my interests. Or towards the interests of someone else having difficulty. The trick is really really really simple. You have to make whatever it is *matter* to your students. For example, why should i care about math??? I will never do anything related to it. I will avoid it. So don't give them a math book. Give them your check book with all your purchases written down. Make them figure out your account balance! Show them, there is a practical aplication for the lesson you are teaching. If you can't think of a good aplication... Then maybe the lesson isn't really as relevant as you thought? Find issues that turn their minds on. For example, if you have a student into feminism, help her study the sufrage movement. (As a woman i am still spankin offended that i have to know when Columbus sailed and all about his lame self, but i don't get the opportunity to study really any of the women's movement in school.) Ask them questions without a right or wrong answer and then tell them to argue their point on paper. Correct it for them, have them re-write it... Even offer a note on their paper, that plays devil's advocate and attacks their argument. You may find you get a nasty note of rebuttal in response dismissing your argument rather sumarilly. And then you got 2 writing assignments for the price of one now haven't you? Have them read what the experts are saying about them and their disability. (Seriously that is what inspired me to learn to read. Someone read me some of their papers.... I decided i had to learn to read that day because i wanted to write every single one of them a letter that pretty much told them, to go piss on themselves.) Ever heard of Ogham? That is a language of the ancient celtic druids. Around Halloween, you could try teaching that.... Make learning strange make it unique... Make it fun, and make it deal with issues they themselves find important. Don't correct bad language in their papers. Let them express themselves fully. So they feel more they are dealing with a friend. It is important to be seen that way, cuz they have had enough 'teachers' who taught them nothing and made them feel like crap most likely. Another cool idea would be, and this might take a lot of time but even if you did it 1 time a school year eventually,you could do it every time because you would keep adding yearly to your supply. Turn the books into scripts. Have them rather than reading, have them stand it up! And actually go through it. Offer small bribes. (Everyone understands the concepts of capitalism. Likely they think it is unfair to sit around all day with no real reward but an education that for them is more a pain in the ass than anything else. They likely feel too likely little of it will even be relevant once they are done in school. Adults get payed to attend school. Hell, in other countries atleast in secondary school they actually get a free education *and* they get money for attending on top of it (scandinavia is an excellent example.). so try bribery... Not necesarily money... But find a currency that works.) Let them explore the lessons, instead of telling them this is this that is that and in this year that happened. Instead, let them for example in a history lesson on world war 2, research all aspects of the 'bomb' and it's dropping as well as the situation at the time. Let them research the issue thoroughly. Get them interested in the time period. (Show up dressed in some really lame outfit for example when teaching modern history and the hippy erra. A long hair wig, a lot of tie die. Be willing to make yourself look like an ass if need be to get their attention. Also good if you are teaching about the middle ages. The old style garb is pretty cool. But if the issue is dropping the bomb, let them actually have a debate about it. If the issue is the magna carta,... Have them start a movement to have a special needs student appointed to the school board. It will ofcourse fail, but help them push it as far as it can go. After all, it is their tax dollars that pay for public education. (if you are a public school teacher.) Why should they pay for their substandard 'special' education the same amount as the rest, when they have no representation to see to their interests on the school board and they have no voice in the how special ed works? I mean why should they pay more for a product which is for them a substandard product in the end in many cases??? There are many ways to view these things. Start opening your mind more to their reasoning and their interests, as well as their 'needs'. Sometimes, an LD student has 2 sets of very distinctive needs. Those related to their identity as a person and those related to their LD. Sometimes those 2 sets of needs can even step on eachother's toes. Teach them how to strike a balance there to make the most of everything. But never do what everyone else does. Ignore the needs of the personal identity always in favor of the needs of the label. Challenge them, in more than academics. Use academics as a means to an end or a way to express something important which no one wants to hear. They feel they are put in special ed just to pretty much silence their voices in a normal class partly because their views and ideas are so unique. Teach them, writing a paper is the same as having a conversation, it is expressive in nature. It doesn't always have to be some lame assignment related to some book that bored them all to tears. Teach them about civil rights and slavery, ask them how the plight of the blacks was different than the plight of those with LD? Teach them about the salem witch trials and teach them about the method related to the diagnosis of most of these LDs. Make sure they know it is as subjective as the 'spectral evidence' presented by all those little girls in salem. Then get into mcartheism.... teach with an extreme angle. I don't care what the rules are for these things. Bit you can't teach a bland lesson and expect those with a minor mental disability related to focus and concentration and attention, to respond to such bland lessons. Otherwise why not send them back to a normal class room? Instead of giving them Lord of The Flies to suffer through, give them a biography of Einstein. Cool guy, married his own cousin. (nausious now) Not only that, but he had LD! He is one of the most interesting and intelligent people of the last 200 years!!! He couldn't talk till he was 5! Get a cat, as a class pet and name it Schroedinger... hehehe.... Help them learn about physics.... (If that doesn't work i will loan you my super hot sexy finnish fiance. I wouldn't be able to add or subtract or rationalizé gravity without him.... But he is pleasant to concentrate on.) I never took physics. But i am sure, i could after 5 years of living with my fiance the PHD in physics, manage to get atleast half way through a university degree in the subject.... For history, find ways for them to experience it. For reading and writing, controversial issues and their interests, are your friends. For math.... Hell if i know. I never managed to get beyond basic algebra and until last week couldn't do decimals at all.... Teach them evolution.... (if you are in a state where it is legal to teach evolution as opposed to the bible.) Have them make their own stone tools. Take them to museums.... Introduce them to Archaeologists..... let them ask any and every question they have! (There is this nifty little history thingy... It is called Facing History And Ourselves. if you have never heard of it you might want to try it.)

But at this point, in their minds what is in the front is 'If i am stupid anyway, i could be working at Mcdonalds making minimum wage, why am i wasting my time here studying nothing relevant to me?' So teach them something relevant to them. Use it, as a segway into something else and continue to mix it in or you will lose them again..... hehehe.... Just a thought, try teaching them a controversial issue. Then, instead of letting them 'discuss' the issue.... In a class discussion, hold a silent discussion. Everyone writes their thoughts and then talk about eachother's thoughts on whatever very controversial subject you choose which you know interests them. Then they sit there writing their responses back and forth to you and eachother. You could also, encourage socializing in class by note passing. Would seem to me, any practice they can get is of more worth than a bar of gold.

As a person labeled with half a dozen things but most predominantly as a person who speaks 6 languages fairly fluently, and reads and writes both modern western music notation as well as well as ancient greek music notation and hieroglyphs, hieratic script and some old coptic.... oh roight i do also read and write ogham i forget about that these days as i don't really use it anymore.I am supposedly very dyslexic. Also as someone with ADHD.... Who can focus quite on any old text of interest to me, thank you....

These kids, are going to have to be creative and find creative solutions and methods to overcome their differences in a society that caters to conventional thinking and methods. This means, that even more important than reading and writing, is teaching them to challenge convention in ways that society can wrap it's mind around the formatting of. Challenge their creative minds, because when they hit the real world that creativity will be challenged daily. Let them enjoy themselves as i am sure for many atleast life in general lacks pleasure. That is really all i can tell you or give you to work with... I am sure some of it may be useful some may not. Some may make no sense because i am actually more interested in the magical text on the table in hieroglyphs about a certain kind of magic in ancient egypt.... But i wanted to answer this because it warms my heart when someone tries to do something good for LD kids, as i was one. Thank you for your efforts.

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scifinut
Joined Jul 11, 2005
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Posted:Jun 27, 2008 9:57:47 AM

I think what helps motivate kids in learning support or sped classes is to tap into what they ARE good at or what they LOVE to do.

A boy I was tutoring hated reading but loved things about history and contemporary music. I got him some books on history, his mom encouraged him to read magazines and web pages about his favorite bands. Wha-la! He started reading more.

My dd was similar but for her we had to show her that she COULD read better than she thought. It started with TTS reading on the computer. Then I was finally able to find an author she LOVED that hooked her on reading. After that things really picked up with using Read180 at school. Since then she has not only found a love of reading and books but has also started writing more.

So, tap into what they Love and use that to direct their efforts. People are much more likely to do something they enjoy. Also, find ways for them to have the most successes. Its hard to keep going when you always feel like you will never measure up.

scifinut mom to: ms 16, bp/adhd/anxiety/complex ld mr. 20, add/dyslexic I hear and I forget I see and I remember I do and I understand. -Anonymous

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Mandi
Joined May 05, 2008
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Posted:Jun 27, 2008 6:31:51 PM

Its hard to keep going when you always feel like you will never measure up.

A more accurate statement was never made.

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Kathryn
Joined Oct 02, 2006
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Posted:Jun 29, 2008 8:15:44 PM

I believe kids will meet your expectations if you let them know what those expectations are. My daughter was always put in a group of 3 instead of a in a pair because she never pulled her weight. She was just expected to copy off the others. When it came time for a writing test, she pulled out her notes from her desk (the practice we had done) and copied it. The teacher came by and told her she could not copy and she had to put her notebook away. When the teacher turned around, she took the notebook out and copied it again. She tried to conceal it by putting it on her lap, but got caught. I was devastated. I told her private therapist (LD Specialist) what happened and she said to me "What do you expect? That's all she does all day long is copy because no one at school thinks she can do the work so they let her copy everything and so why shouldn't she be allowed to copy on a test?"

Point made. I insisted that the copying in class stop. Give her someone to help her with the work, not just another student to copy off of.

Kathryn

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Mandi
Joined May 05, 2008
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Posted:Jun 30, 2008 1:03:12 AM

Interesting story and example.... This is part of my personal issue with labeling kids actually... There are generally 2 things that happen. They get treated like crap by everyone for being different... or... They get pitied, when the fact is... We don't need pity. What we need, is someone to inspire us. Someone to do whatever has to be done to get and keep our attention. Perhaps a different style of education one more geared towards us as individuals. However, the same standard in almost every case must apply to us as does to everyone else.

I am soooo sick of having everyone trying to 'level' playing field.... The playing field is as level as i believe it is. If i have a probelm, i can do as anyone else can do, politely request assistance. If i don't get it, i know the teacher is a piece of dung who shouldn't be teaching and should be working as a Bank Teller instead or something. Because, i doubt she would help anyone. Let me state though, this is just a theoretical situation i am mentioning. I am *not* saying all teachers are dung. I have met my faitr share that definately are. I have also met many that are really wonderful. Truly inspirational gifted and kind people honest and trust worthy and sharing and willing to go to any length to educate. Those good ones, do it for peanuts. Unfortunately. We need some sort of Student's Choice award, where one teacher in every grade or 10 teachers or some arbitrary number get a special award and recognition. Kinda like a grammy only for teaching... More needs to be done.

Kids with LD often find philosophy interesting. I know i love it anyway. The reason why is because their minds are sooooo creative to find alternative ways to achieve things. For example, try giving them the simple phrase 'I think, therefore i am.' Then discuss it in terms of LD.... See what happens... Trust me, that is likely to get very very interesting. And it can lead to an opening for you to have the last word. Tell them what you think and what will be in your class. My reccomendation is, tell them what you think of their various forms of LD. Tell them what others think. Ask them if that fits with how they think of themselves and if that is how they want to live. Do what no one has likely ever done for them! Tell them who their label says they are. Teach them about their LD. Then you couLd tell them you only believe some of what the experts say. Then you tell them, they are the reason why you only believe small amounts of it. Tell them you hear them talking and that they have very sophisticated thoughts and more creative minds than their 'normal' peers. Sadly, society needs creativity to be formatted in a way we understand. Tell them, you want the whole world to see them for the geniuses they are. Tell them Einstein couldn't talk till he was 5, And Shakespeare, was sooo dyslexic he spelled his name 7 different ways. He is respected and worshipped for his creativity.because he atleast learned to structure his writing if not to spell it accurately, ultimately he made himself understood within a societally accepted medium. Your kids need to know they can do the same. There is nothing beyond them there is however some stuff they may have to be more creative about or work harder at. There are things that will come easier and everyone will marvel at it. But also listen to them. I doubt anyone other than doctors ever have. Which ofcourse likely leads them to believe they are sick rather than just a bit different. Hear them then tell them You might even like to point something out about each one of them that especially like. When someone likes and respects you it is easier to like and respect that someone. Plus, knowing this stuff, understanding it... Is Sooooo important. Realizing they are not sick important also. Knowing they are as able as they choose to be, the most important. Knowing it is not shameful to talk about it with friends family and teachers rather than just the doctors, also hugely important. Have them research their own LD and write 1 paper about what is said about it. Then tell them to write a paper about themselves and how they contradict or live up to the expert's opinions. Ask them to argue on paper, just 1 page, or paragraph about how the experts don't know anything. This is something important for LD people to understand. Because if they don't understand it, they accept a bunch of boundaries that are not necesarily accurate correct or even real. That is my thought.... Ask them to write you a paper maybe on what they think they need. and what they want to get out of their education and what they want to do with their lives.

For example, I am working slowly towards a PHD. I want my own tv show. I am going to call it, The Dyslexic Epigrapher. Because i think it is important for kids with LD to know they are not alone and because someone needs to tell them, rather than 'no you can't' 'Yes you can!' My show would explore various ancient cultures and their written texts and ruins of buildings. I was thinking of doing a certain number of episodes on mental health issues and LD and a few geared towards music in ancient societies and notation. Also, i would love to bring in different modern day issues that are all messed up and show and read about how ancient peoples hadled similar and the same problems. I was also thinking too of exploring human evolution in it as it pertains to LD. (As it *Doesn't* pertain at all.) But the idea is a show in the end that rocks for all people but very clearly sends a very clear message. If a dyslexic woman can read and write fluently in multiple differentancient languages, why couldn't any child currently in special ed grow up to do the same or anything else they dream of? I guess my dream may seem a bit silly... but... Hopefully in a few years you all can enjoy the pilot episode!

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