Meaning-Based Learning with RDI

The world we create for the AD/HD child has to be interesting enough, stimulating enough and powerful enough to “win” her/him away from the rich world inside his head. Lessons should have a sharpness, clarity and immediacy for the student. Creating meaning is crucial. The AD/HD child is constantly searching for a place to sink his attention and energy and if he doesn’t fairly quickly find it outside himself, he find’s it inside? (We should think of him as “an exquisite task-dedicated – a opposed to multi-tasking computer!”)

Use an active, hands-on teaching approach. Minimize worksheets and lecturing. Emphasize hands on, active learning projects. In an atmosphere of clear rules and limits, hands-on, experiential learning approaches help the student remain attentive. Whenever possible, increase the novelty and interest level of tasks, through increased stimulation, such as visual presentation and hands-on learning. Avoid lecturing, or instructional situations where the child must sit quietly and just listen for long periods of time. If worksheets are a fact of life, cut down the number of repetitive problems and allow the child to have more variety, before he tunes out and gets into trouble

Related: Experience Based Learning

Try to teach new information in a contextual, “meaning rich” context. Try to keep learning new information as relevant as possible. Teach new information as part of a larger whole, or with a specific goal in mind, rather than as isolated pieces of information. Try to give the student the “big picture” first, before supplying all of the details.   Spelling words may be better learned while writing a story, than by recitation. Learning math facts is easier as part of a building project, than on a worksheet.

 Minimize rote memorization. Most AD/HD children will not perform well when required to memorize a number of facts or bits of information that are not related to some more meaningful areas. For example memorizing lists of things, such as all the Roman Emperors, the Periodic Table, or a list of dates of events in history should not be part of lesson plans. Such information should be connected to meaningful concepts and ideas for it to be retained.

 Try to use cooperative learning approaches. AD/HD students generally do better when involved in interaction and discussion.  Try to use carefully structured cooperative learning experiences, where small groups of student’s problem solve together, for limited periods of time. Remember, just placing children together and expecting them to work together successfully will often lead to disaster. Children have to first learn how to divide up different roles, negotiate their functions, and work effectively as a team. Some ADHD children will not be ready for cooperative learning, as their impulsivity and poor social skills will get in the way.  However, the majority will find the experience enjoyable.

Provide quick feedback for tests and quizzes. The faster the child receives feedback, the greater the odds that it will have meaning for him. If a project is by nature a long one, try to break it up into a number of specific short segments, with specific completion periods and quick feedback for each segment. Remember to ask the child to self-evaluate before you provide your feedback.

1 Comment

  1. Allan Katz

    I enjoyed reading this post. On feedback I would focus on formative feedback to the kid while he is in the process of learning and not summative feedback given after tests , quizzes etc

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