Saturday, March 7, 2015

How To Keep A Student On Task

When my son was in 6th grade, one of his teachers had a hard time keeping him on task. I then compiled a list from various sources and gave it to her which she found extremely helpful.

1. Since some students are visual learners, not auditory learners, consider using a model or picture of what you are talking about or what you want them to do exactly. Use graphic organizers (Venn Diagrams and the compare/contrast chart, semantic maps, etc.) to help student comprehend information necessary to complete a task.

2. Make the connections with previous skills or knowledge explicit.

3. Students often need to understand how or why concepts required for mastery are relevant. Teachers must tell the student (a) why the information is useful, (b) how the student can use it, and (c) where it fits in with the knowledge the student already possesses. Some students need to understand lesson rational before they can or will learn.

4. Show the student exactly what to do. The teacher demonstrates how to complete a worksheet, participate in a cooperative group activity, begin a project, and so forth. It is important for the teacher to demonstrate how to complete a task or assignment correctly, instead of telling the student what not to do. Many students know what they should not do but have no understanding of what is required of them.

5. Break down the information and present it in small increments. This type of instruction is active, with the teacher presenting information, asking questions, and providing corrective feedback.

6. Too much movement in the classroom. Try having the student work in a booth. You can make one out of corrugated cardboard.

7. Classroom over decorated and confusing. Minimize displays.

8. Do not give too much work to the students at once. Chunk/modify assignment as appropriate with frequent teacher checks for accuracy.

9. Give frequent feedback. Students often do not see what they are doing as they are doing it. Do not wait until he is almost done with a paper or activity and tell them that
they are not doing it correctly.

10. Prioritize what the students need to know. If it is not relevant, do not dwell on it. Highlight material that the student must know.

11. Ask the student what will help him. Students are often very intuitive. They can tell you how they can learn best, if you ask them. They are often too embarrassed to volunteer the information.

12. Teachers need to write down the directions of what they want the students to do. Give specific directions in small chunks (one at a time) and simplify them.

13. Since some students learn better visually than auditorily, teachers need to write down what they are saying on the board (key words might suffice), this can be most helpful. This kind of structuring glues the ideas in place.

14. Simplify choices.

15. A point system is a possibility as part of behavioral modification or a reward system for students. Students respond well to rewards and incentives. A daily self-control checklist that the teacher fills out daily to provide information about how well the child was able to focus is beneficial (example: paid attention in class, did not disturb other students, worked independently, completed assignments, handed work in on time, followed instructions, work was neat, work was complete, etc.). The child would be encouraged to aim for a minimum daily score. The target score can be raised as they develop more self-control and self-discipline. Another example: measure how long the student is on task and then reward when they are on task that long, and then reward when they are on task a bit longer, etc. Or tell the student to do a certain amount of problems in a certain amount of time and that you will be back to check. Reward if the student complies with the request. Make sure the rewards are meaningful to them (something that they like or want, etc.).

16. Provide more immediate feedback. Example: A chart with a happy face and sad face with columns is placed on the student’s desk. When the teacher notices that the child is paying attention and getting work done, she could put a check in the happy face column. When the student is distracted, the teacher could put a check in the sad face column. A reward for improvement should be established in school and at home (a minimum of ten happy face checks in one day can be used for an extra half hour of TV, etc. or have a menu of rewards that he can pick from). The target score should be realistic and the expectations reasonable. Never take away earned points for poor performance. Encourage student to raise the target score in small increments, and praise them for even small gains.

17. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Review last week’s lesson prior to today’s lesson.

18. Give cues to the student before an important point to be made (example: “This is a major point. This will be on the test.” Etc.).

19. Check that the student actually knows what to do. The student needs to be able to paraphrase instructions, not repeat them.

20. Student must be actively engaged throughout the instructional process. Students should be provided physical cues to attend to relevant stimuli and be asked frequent questions.

21. Make sure you have the student’s attention before giving a direction.

22. Have hands-on lessons to facilitate comprehension of word-object, word-action, and object-action associations, and to promote comprehension beyond the level of the simple object label.

23. Chunk/modify assignment as appropriate with frequent teacher checks for accuracy.

24. If you want the student to understand, remember, and follow directions, begin by writing them down. For example, provide student with step-by-step directions that tell him how to complete a specific task. To help student follow steps in order, provide small boxes by each step so he can check off each step as it is completed. Take care to write directions clearly, spacing them apart so each step is visually clear to the student.

25. Seat the student that is having problems staying on task at the front of the class and direct frequent questions to him/her to help them attend to the lesson.

26. Teachers could write instructions they give to the whole class on the chalkboard so that if a student is not paying attention for a moment or cannot process the verbal instructions quickly, they will have a record and reminder of what to do.

27. Teachers might also provide the student with individual instructions in the form of a written prompt or reminder on an index card that can be taped to his desk.

28. Show a model of the final goal or completed product. It is often easier to work toward the conclusion when the student can see what he is supposed to be doing than if the end product is abstract or otherwise intangible.

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