You are here

ADD/ADHD Instruction Ideas

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Subscriber Submission!

Implementing strategies to engage kids with attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) will help many other students in the classroom as well.

That’s an overarching message from experts at the Department of Public Instruction and a document produced at the federal level – as well as the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

In response to a subscriber’s request, DPI-ConnectEd explored suggestions for engaging kids with ADD/ADHD.

Molly Bever, DPI consultant on intellectual disabilities, has seen the positive effects of classrooms where, for example, kids who have trouble sitting still can listen to the day’s read-aloud book while quietly using exercise equipment.

The federal document, “Teaching Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Instructional Strategies and Practices,” available on the DPI’s Other Health Impairment page, recommends strategies related to academic instruction, behavioral intervention, and classroom accommodations – all of which it says are necessary for educating students with ADD/ADHD.

The document recommends integrating all three of these types of actions into an individualized plan such as an individualized educational program (IEP), then integrating the plan into the classroom’s educational activities.

Specific ideas in that publication include structured introductions to academic lessons, opportunities for classroom participation, use of audiovisual materials, immediate praise of good behavior, social skills classes, low-distraction work areas, advance warnings of the end of a lesson, and many, many more relating both to instruction generally and to specific literacy and mathematics topics.

The implications of a single “medical model diagnosis” such as ADD/ADHD can be far-reaching in the classroom, notes John Bemis, DPI consultant on emotional behavioral disability. A child with ADD/ADHD might be seen as having a learning disability, a cognitive or intellectual disability, an emotional behavioral disability, or “other health impairment.” Depending on the student and their symptoms, it might not even be considered an impairment at all.

Of course, the great thing about working the interventions into instruction for the whole classroom is, when you engage a diversity of learners, everyone benefits – even children who may not have a diagnosis to describe their learning style or challenges.

More information about teaching kids with ADD/ADHD can be found in the document mentioned above,, as well as the other Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Resources at And as always, the Mental Health Toolkit available on the DPI website is a good place to search for resources on such topics.

** This story idea was submitted by a DPI-ConnectEd subscriber! We are looking for your news of exciting programs, promising practices, initiatives that could benefit from publicity, or your questions about working with Wisconsin students. E-mail just a sentence or two to, with "Story Idea" in the subject line.