If you teach for any length of time, you will eventually have a student (or two) that is easily distracted. See if these scenarios sound familiar. Another student gets up to get a tissue, the "D" (distractible) student watches in complete fascination. A squirrel runs by on the tree limb near your classroom's window, your "D" student quits working to watch what the squirrel is going to do next. Anything and everything seems to be more interesting than doing what he or she is supposed to be doing. It doesn't matter if this student is supposed to be listening to the story you are reading to your class at circle time or a paper-pencil assignment, this student is distracted by the world around him or her.
By this time of year, you have probably tried many different strategies. I have a few things you might want to add to your bag of tricks to try with your student(s).
The most important word to remember with a "D" student is novelty. I can't stress that word enough. Novelty is key! Did you notice that with the strategies that you've tried in the past, the strategy worked with some success in the beginning but it quit being effective? Rotate your techniques on a frequent basis. I suggest rotating every one or two weeks.
One of the things I did with my daughter when she was in the toddler years was to rotate her toys. I had different baskets of toys, but only used one of them at a time. I found she played better (stayed focused on the toys) when she only had one basket of toys. Each time I got out a new basket, she acted like these were new toys. It was the novelty of the toys! This works with school kids, too!
You can do the same type of thing for our "D" student. Ahead of time, set up 4 tubs/folders or a calendar with strategies that you want to use with your student. Here are a few suggestions that you could include:
1. Set up an office space / study carrel away from distractions
2. Use a visual timer - you can ask your special education dept. if they have one that you can borrow. My occupational therapist loaned me a class size one and a desk size one. I love, love, love my visual timer. I found my class size timer helped all of my students. You may decide to invest in one to use all the time.
3. If this is a student with extra energy, set up a stamping station (stamp and stamp pad). Give the student an egg timer. He or she works as many problems as he or she can until the sands run out of the egg timer. Then the student gets up, walks over to the stamping station with his/her assignment, he/she stamps the assignment next to the last problem that he/she finished. Then goes back to desk, turns over egg timer and begins working again. When time runs out, goes to stamping station, stamps last problem that he/she completed, goes back to desk and continues this until he/she completes the assignment. To modify this, you can tell them they need to turn over the egg timer once or twice before they stamp it or you can use a different type of timer to give a longer work period. This is a great documentation tool.
4. Let them stand up to work. Ask your custodian if you can have an extra desk for this and also ask your custodian to raise the desk as high as possible. You can put the desk on boards, cinder blocks, or bricks to raise it.
5. Let them stand up behind your class when students are on the carpet.
6. Use tape to make a clearly defined box that student will sit in when you are on the carpet. Have the assigned place in the front corner. Painters tape works great for this!
7. Headphones are amazing tools. Your librarian or tech specialist will usually have headphones that no longer work. You can cut the cords off of these. If you have a super-duper distracted student, I would recommend using the headphones that guys that run jackhammers use. You can buy them at Home Depot or Lowe's. Warning: These are pretty pricey! You can ask your P.T.A. to purchase these for you, write a grant, or ask parents for donations.
I hope these tips gave you a few things to add to your bag of tricks. Some friends of mine decided it would be fun to organize a blog to share some of our teaching tips. We realize this is a crazy, hectic time of year. We hope sharing a few strategies will help ease your stress. We plan to do this once a month. We are calling this Bright Ideas Blog Hop. So, be sure and follow our blogs!
We have also organized a Pinterest board that will be full of teacher ideas - no free or paid lessons - just amazing ideas for teachers. This will be a great resource for all teachers. I would highly recommend that you bookmark it so the next time you are stressed or your bag of tricks is getting a little low, you know where you can go for a new idea. Click HERE to visit the Bright Ideas: Practical Classroom Solutions - Pinterest board.
Next, go visit Gina @ Third Grade Tidbits. Gina is going to share some tips for organizing writing portfolios.
Don't forget to come back next month for our Bright Ideas blog hop!