Tag: learning styles

How Schools Are Improving Solutions for Kids with ADD & ADHD

In 2013, we’ll be delving more deeply into how some personality types and learning styles are aligned with certain learning differences…and what parents and teachers can do help honor and embrace these differences, while helping the kids play to their learning strengths.

In this guest post, Hailey Anderson highlights some of the techniques that can be used successfully with kids with ADD and ADHD by utilizing techniques that work for kids who prefer to file knowledge kinesthetically (engage in learning more effectively while moving around or interacting with manipulatives) and extraverted learners (who learn better with discussion/interaction that are more frequently seen in afterschool programs than standard, quiet classroom environments that focus on listening/reflection).

ADD (i.e., Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (i.e., Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) is a common challenge among children and young adults. While the disorder affects people of all ages, it is especially difficult for younger age children who are still learning how to control their behavior and may not have received proper diagnosis yet.

Symptoms of ADD/ADHD include the inability to pay attention, restlessness, and hyperactivity. These symptoms can have either minor or major effects on school performance, which include classroom disruption, non-compliance with school rules, and difficulty understanding and completing a task, depending on the severity of the disorder.

The good news is that schools are getting better at providing solutions to those affected by this disorder.  Two solutions include: afterschool programs; and specialized school furniture to help make students more comfortable and more likely to pay attention during class.

Afterschool Learning Programs

By providing after school learning programs for students dealing with this disorder, schools can provide those students  with the extra help they need without taking time away from other students during class. The student can stay in mainstream classes with his or her friends while receiving the extra help they may need in a controlled and organized environment. With a program and goals tailored to each individual’s needs, this is a great way to help students get extra learning time without a loud or busy environment to distract them. Structure and organization is the key to keeping students who suffer from ADD/ADHD on task.

Furniture Tailored to ADD/ADHD Students

Those who suffer from the disorder feel the need to constantly move around – whether it is consistent foot tapping, rocking, or bouncing around, it has been proven that allowing students the freedom to move about in their seat results in a higher ability to pay attention to the task at hand.

Virco, a leader in the school furniture industry, supports a theory called Healthy Movement. Healthy movement supports sensory integration, which refers to the way individuals sense, interact, and understand different things in their environment. The theory behind sensory integration is that an ADHD student who can move around as they please is more likely to stay engaged.

A Solution that Benefits All Students

Virco chairs have unique features that allow the user to move around without being overly distracting to other students, too.   Contrary to popular belief, sitting still does not equal undivided attention – instead, students tend to zone out. Thus, this specialized school furniture is great for all students, even those who do not suffer from the disorder.

These are just a couple ways that schools are catering to the needs of those with specific learning disorders. With the help of supportive teachers, a loving family, and outside resources, students with ADD/ADHD can be just as successful (if not more) than those who don’t have a learning disability. These solutions result in higher grades, less disruption in the classroom, and happier, healthy students.

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Hailey Andersen, our guest poster, enjoys writing about the latest trends and regularly contributes to a variety of publications.

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Why master teachers are also master marketers

As I speak with principals, assistant superintendents and curriculum directors each day, one of the first questions I always ask is “what is it that separates your superstar teachers from the rest of the pack?” The answer that comes back is always the same: “They are able to connect with each of their students,” “they tailor their lesson strategies to each class,” or “their classes are consistently engaged.”

Sounds a lot like another profession I was in for a couple of decades…marketing. A marketer’s job is to take a product and make it look/sound as appealing as possible to the target audience so that they’ll listen long enough to eventually be convinced to buy it based on the messages in their packaging, advertising and brochures. The selected message and advertising vehicle for products is not the same—it needs to be tweaked, tailored and massaged based on the target demographic. Focus groups are run in which all KINDS of perspectives are heard. A/B test splits are executed. Even if the message is perfected for a certain group, it will need to be modified if it’s to effectively reach a different target.

A teacher’s job is to take a concept and make it look/sound as appealing as possible to students so that they’ll engage long enough to eventually learn it based on the messages in lesson plans, homework and breakout groups. And, just as with marketing, the selected lessons and breakout groups need to be tweaked, tailored and massaged for the class based on who’s sitting in the classroom. Even if a unit is a hit with one class, the teacher will most likely need to modify it to most effectively reach their class mix either the next year…or next period.

In fact, the teacher’s job is INFINITELY harder than the marketer’s job because, while marketers can get a pat on the back for getting just a percentage of their target audience to purchase the product…the teacher is expected to get every kid in class to “buy” the concept.

Master teachers are able to do this because they often have an innate interpersonal gift. They intuitively know how to reach very different students. They are able to convince a raucous group of teenagers why geometry is and will be important to them. They are able to contextualize history in ways that students will be able to remember so that we’re not all doomed to repeat past horrors. They work magic with student breakout groups so that students are empowered to learn from each other and admire the unique strengths of their peers. They’re able to detect when a student “learns different” and help both the student and their parent modify the ways in which homework is approached so that the child has a greater chance of success with learning.

Why’s this important? Harvard & Columbia recently released the findings of a longitudinal study of 2.5 million students over 20 years that show the dramatic impact that quality teachers can have on their students. They are more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in better neighborhoods and save more for retirement. They are also less likely to become pregnant as a teenager.

But earning your stripes as a quality teacher is more meaningful than just for the students. It’s a much more enjoyable profession for the teacher when she feels she’s reaching or, better yet, inspiring her students. At long last, the education and EdTech sectors are beginning to take notice and calling this new ground swell Personalization 3.0. But, at Kidzmet, we feel that what EdWeek has dubbed Personalization 3.0 isn’t using a wide enough angle lens. While the teacher-student relationship is important, so is engaging the parents as a critical member of a child’s learning team…as is beginning to harness the power of compatible student groups. In short, we believe that ALL learning relationships matter in a student’s education. Parent-student, teacher-student, parent-teacher, and student-student.

What about you? Do you feel that content positioning is as important as content pacing in educating our youth?

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VAK Learning Styles

The full text of the hotly debated Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence piece by Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork from Psychological Science in the Public Interest was recently linked to by one of my favorite Tweeps – @anniemurphypaul.

Obviously, this piece is of particular interest to us at Kidzmet since one of our learning preference “pillars” is VAK learning styles. Most recently, NPR ran a piece that we felt was an incomplete summary of the learning styles piece, so we’ve pulled some quotes directly from the piece to flesh out the authors’ conclusions. We hope you’ll find them both insightful and enlightening as to the more complete findings of the study.

From Points of Clarification
“Although we have argued that the extant data do not provide support for the learning-styles hypothesis, it should be emphasized that we do not claim that the same kind of instruction is most useful in all contexts and with all learners.” (p116)

“Educators’ attraction to the idea of learning styles partly reflects their (correctly) noticing how often one student may achieve enlightenment from an approach that seems useless for another student.” (p116)

“It is undoubtedly the case that a particular student will sometimes benefit from having a particular kind of course content presented in one way vs. another.” (p116)

From Everybody’s Potential to Learn
“It is undeniable that the instruction that is optimal for a given student will often need to be guided by the aptitude, prior knowledge, and cultural assumptions that a student brings to a learning task.” (p117)

As we often talk about on Kidzmet, we don’t believe that kids CAN only learn in certain ways…we believe that kids PREFER to learn certain ways and that the more we’re able as parents and educators to key into these learning preferences, the more exciting, engaging and intrinsically motivating learning can be for our kids.


Interested in our assessment of your child’s learning preferences and how you can use this information to help with homework? Take our Pairing Portrait for a spin and send yourself our Student Snapshot–it takes about 15 minutes to complete.

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