ADHD, Dyslexia & Reading Engagement

ADHD, Dyslexia & Reading: How to keep them engaged

Intervention support for students with ADHD should follow a few simple guidelines. They should:

1. Be quick 2. Focus on specific skills 3. Be interactive 4. Have an element of competition 5. Provide immediate feedback on progress

(The strategies discussed below are located on the Resource page of We Get To Teach and can also be completed in peer groups. Simply visit the Resources page, scroll down to Reading Fluency and click on "Bridge to Fluency Strategies by Adam Meyersieck".)

A common scenario

I was recently asked to support a 10-year-old student with ADHD and Autism in his reading. When the class teacher told him he was going to go out of the classroom "To do some reading with Adam”, I saw the eyes roll back in his head and his soul leave his body (maybe an exaggeration). Still, he was less than infused. He picked up his reading book, and as a fellow Liverpool supporter, noticed he had a Liverpool 2019 Annual on his desk so I asked him to bring it along as an ice-breaker (Allez!).

We found the library and I told him we were going to do some reading games. He still wasn’t impressed. His friends walked by the open-air library and said hi as they walked by. It was going to be hard to keep his attention and I could tell he was a bit nervous to be seen reading in the open-air space.

I reiterated, “It’s going to be fun – I promise!”

His head turned and his eyes looked away in disbelief. He'd heard that one before (apparently, this 30-something year-old teacher doesn't have the street-cred he thought he had!).

He took out his guided reading book, I introduced a few different ideas, and he loved it! He was even disappointed when we completed our session.

This story is not unique. Nor is it rocket science.

Here’s what I did...

Activity 1: Race-Yourself-Reading

  1. Using a timer, I asked him to read a page and timed how long it took him.

  2. I corrected his mistakes and ensured he re-read each word correctly.

  3. I showed him the timer displaying his time.

  4. I repeated this two more times with the same portion of text.

That's it!

During the first reading he was slightly distracted by other kids walking by and it took him 35 seconds to read the page. He was a little discouraged and said "I won't beat my time." I guaranteed him he would, and before he could continue with the self-doubt, I blurted "On your mark, get set, go!"

That second reading only took him 17 seconds, and the third was even quicker at 15 seconds - he was well-chuffed*!

I showed him his time after each reading and he gradually began ignoring his schoolmates when he realised this had turned into a game and he was winning... against himself!

He cracked a smile. I knew he was going to enjoy what was coming next: Ping Pong Reading.

*For my non-British readers, chuffed means "delighted". As in // He was chuffed to have remembered his anorak, wellies and brolly for the walk in the pleasure and pain to get a cheeky Nando's with his trouble.

Activity 2: Ping Pong Reading

Ping Pong Reading consists of four readings and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. It is based on the strategy called supported cloze procedure (click to see a video). Here's what it looked like:

  1. Using a timer, I asked him to read out of his book for 2-minutes. I immediately corrected his mistakes and ensured he re-read them correctly. I encouraged him to point at the words throughout.

  2. I then said “This time we are going to read it together. You will read the first word, I’ll read the second word, you'll read the third, I'll read the fourth, and so on. We will go back and forth like a game of Ping Pong until we have read the whole passage. Any questions?

  3. We read the same exact portion of text, ping pong style.

  4. We then reversed roles. I read the first word, he read the second, I read the third and he read the fourth, and so on.... We did this until we completed the original two-minute portion of text.

  5. Finally, I asked him to re-read it independently. He read it 20-seconds quicker with fewer errors!

He was fully focused during Ping Pong Reading because he was required to pay attention to each word. He was precise in this and even corrected me when I messed up!

Ping Pong Reading works because it follows the five intervention support principles listed above. Additionally, students get repeated practice in reading and hearing challenging words read correctly.

We completed another activity after this and then I offered him an opportunity to go back to class, or to keep reading. Shockingly, he wanted to keep reading. We spent the last 5-minutes looking at the Liverpool Annual and discussing our favourite players.

Everyone in the school could hear us singing “Allez! Allez! Allez!” in the corridor as we walked back to class.

Liverpool image from The Evening Standard