By Nathalie Arbour, Remedial Teacher, Lanaudière Learning Support Services, and Adaptive Services Advisor, Collège de Saint-Jérôme
The questions came from participants of the webinar « TDAH - L’utilisation efficace du temps supplémentaire en situation d’évaluation ». Click here to access the webinar. (Available in French only).
How do you build in time for planning during an assessment?
I believe a primary student should be able to take 10 minutes to plan their time before beginning the actual assessment period. This would be beneficial not only to their outcome on the assessment, but also in learning how time management works overall. This method can be applied to classroom tasks as well to help develop planning as a normal part of the student’s work. As the student ages, specifically as they approach secondary school, I believe that the responsibility for time management must be gradually given to the student and planning time should be integrated into the time allotted for exams.
Do you have recommendations in regards to what a student with ADHD can do to take a break during an assessment situation?
For breaks, I always tell students that they must give themselves a few minutes to breathe, stretch, stand, etc. (things that only take a couple minutes) as a way to “air out” their brain and concentrate on a new task. You must determine how long the student is likely to remain focused and effective on a task in order to plan breaks. For example, a student may only be able to concentrate effectively for 15 minutes, and I would recommend a 2 minute break at the end of each cycle. Checking in with students as they work on extended tasks in class can help teachers determine how long they can focus before needing a “reset”.
Not all students are able to follow intervention plans without teacher guidance, especially in the primary grades. What are some concrete strategies to use during an assessment to help them manage their own time and follow the correct steps?
Unfortunately, there is no miracle strategy to make students manage their time, especially on their own. Like every action we take as educators, strategies must respond to a specific need of a student. Before any interventions are used in assessments I believe it is important to have individual meetings with the student in order to help them understand the methods that can be used and to personalize it for them. The student then needs help using these methods consistently and applying them to different types of tasks. Practice in class is essential to eventually having the student implement the methods on their own. In this way, the intervention becomes more of an automated response rather than an extra step the student must remember. Creating checklists or mnemonics for steps at the beginning of a task can also help those students who prefer visual aids. Like all strategies, this may not work for every single student, but merits being attempted.
What concrete methods can educators use to find extra time during normal classroom hours?
The best way is to clearly separate exam time from instructional class time to help students learn to manage their time during these specific “blocks”. Even during non-assessed tasks, students can slowly be given blocks of time within which to work that are clearly outlined by the teacher. Students can start applying their time management strategies within these blocks, which will then transfer over to specifically allotted exam periods. All students can benefit from time management strategies, so using instruction time to explicitly outline the steps involved in time management could give extra planning time to those that need it in class.
At what age do you think a student has the appropriate level of maturity to take part in creating their intervention plan?
Students must be taught early on to be up front about their difficulties, as self-advocacy can be a major difference maker in creating an intervention plan. It is, of course, up to the teachers to devise methods and strategies and try them out with the child to see which will meet their needs. Once we see that the child is more at ease with their difficulties and the methods that help them, they can start to be involved in the intervention planning. While the child is still in their younger years, they do not need to be present for the entire planning meeting; they can simply come in near the end so as to listen to the options discussed by the adults. I would say that around 5th or 6th grade the child can be more actively involved in the entire intervention plan meeting. Again, this will always depend on each individual child as some may be more hesitant than others to discuss their needs with many people present.
Nathalie Arbour has a Bachelor’s degree in academic and social adaptation and a minor in orthopedagogy. She also has a Bachelor of Education degree (Preschool/Primary). Twenty years of her career were dedicated to the Repentigny, Quebec school board, Commission scolaire des affluents. There, she acquired experience as a teacher in academic adaptation classrooms and regular classrooms and in orthopedagogy. During the past two years, she has worked more specifically as an educational consultant and as an orthopedagogical consultant. Since 2012, she has been a consultant in adapted services at Collège de Saint-Jérôme, specializing primarily in learning disorders, attention deficit disorder, and assistive technologies. In this capacity, she supports students presenting with disabilities; provides training on assistive technologies; and gives lectures on these topics. Nathalie also has a private practice in orthopedagogy, working with a broad spectrum of students from the primary level to the college level.