Frequently in our classrooms we come across a topic or exercise that appears simple in its content, but for some reason, the students (or some of them) just don’t get it. This month I’d like to share an experience with you that walks through how my ADHD brain collided with another’s and how we solved the problem.

My client Susie is a very inattentive 20-year-old with inattentive-type ADHD, and we are working on getting her ready to take the Georgia driving exam. How hard can that be? Susie reads well, but only if you consider word pronunciation, pausing at commas and stopping at periods. She has learned the technique. However, content understanding is so missing. She daydreams, thinks of other things, like wondering if the Braves will play a good game that night, whether her dog dug out of the back yard, and whether she feels ill, so she doesn’t have to do work! Remind you of anyone you know?

The issue isn’t one of lack of intelligence. Perhaps some passive-aggressive tendencies interfere due to fear of failure. You can explain material to her until you are blue in the face, but the wandering attention and lack of focus get in the way, and you wear out long before she does. She responds best to visual prompts and remembers most clearly when she is actively involved in the learning. A real take on our learners who need active involvement to stay engaged. Therefore, how do we approach this in the most efficient way so that learning takes place?

Spinning the disks in my own ADHD brain, I came up with designing a game to make the concepts clear, the need for action inherent, and the approach energizing to retain focus. Printing off the Driver Manual, it became evident that it was written by politicians on the State Transportation Committee, and edited by a lawyer with an expertise in legal-eze.

Turning Right at a Red Traffic Signal
“Before turning right on red, drivers must come to a full and complete stop before the crosswalk. Do not block the crosswalk when waiting to make a right turn at a red light. This puts pedestrians at risk, forcing them to walk around your vehicle. After looking to your left to find a gap in traffic, you must look to your passenger side to ensure a pedestrian is not crossing in front of your vehicle.” – GA DDS 2009 Driver’s Manual, p.93

The first issue was to turn some high verbal, overly lengthy description into a simple step-by-step explanation.  Make it short and to the point – Keep It Straightforward and Simple.

1. Come to a complete stop.
2. Do not block the crosswalk.
3. Do not obstruct pedestrians.
4. Look left; find a gap in traffic.
5. Look right; check for pedestrian traffic.
6. Proceed cautiously into a right turn checking oncoming traffic.

The second step was to determine how to operationalize the information so it is interesting, has multiple possibilities of demonstrating competency and makes learning operational and fun. As students with ADHD tire easily using only one approach, varying modes of responses were developed to make the game fast, fun and constantly changing. The name of the game soon determined the multiple operational styles.

The word DRIVE becomes the acronym for the various styles of responses the player would perform.

D – Demonstrate
The player will nonverbally role-play the situation presented on a card. Other players may be called upon to assist so the situation can play out successfully.
5 points for a successful demonstration

R – Reflect
The player will give a presentation as to why a particular driving rule must be followed and the consequences of failing to do so. Statements should be convincing and clear.
5 points for a successful demonstration (1 point per fact given)

I – Instruct
Using printed street plots, the player will demonstrate the situation presented on the card. Some situations will relate to rules of the road, others will relate to common courtesies needed to be a good driver.
5 points for a successful demonstration

V – Visualize
Using printed icons, drawings and other available objects, the student will show using their own imagination and skill, how to relate and pictorially represent a situation and its outcome.
5 points for a successful demonstration

E – Examine
The player will examine a scenario and determine whether or not the situation was legal, proper for a driver to have done, or some part of the event needed to be done differently. Clear and concise understanding of good driving habits should be used.
5 points for a successful demonstration

Instruction cards will be drawn for each play. The color on the card will indicate the type of activity requested. Materials necessary for play will be in boxes, sorted by the type of play.

Actual road scenes, cars, school buses, railroad crossings were captured from Google Images to assist in demonstration. I felt that the closer to reality the visuals became, the more realistic the image reinforcement, the more serious the output. For consequential learning, scenes from automobile accidents and other serious outcome images were used, with tact and appropriateness, of course.

For the Demonstrate phase, a collection of hats, scarves, sunglasses enhances the ability to role play.

Scenario: Darin and Phelicia are walking across the street. Susie is approaching the intersection and intends to turn left. Portray the scene and demonstrate the correct safety precautions and procedures for the left turn.

For the Reflect phase, a simple microphone or podium sets the scene.

Scenario: You are at a party with a bunch of your friends. Some of the kids begin drinking beer and appear drunk. What do you say to them to be sure you all arrive home safely that night?

For the Instruct by showing phase, craft magnets were glued to colored blocks with stickers to represent various cars, trucks, buses. Using a simple cookie sheet, street plots with were placed on the cookie sheet. Adding pedestrians, trees to obstruct the view, cars traveling in various directions, you can easily create a motoring situation to address. The materials were easy to find, easily obtained through the internet, big box and/or art store, and in a short period of time, the highly verbal confusing text of the drivers’ manual has become an operational game.

Answer these questions: What do the signs tell you about how you should drive? Indicate the outcome if you do not obey. Show the outcome.

Instructions: Using the mountain road scene, instruct the proper way to navigate this pass using the car and the truck. On your tray portray what you should do. Can you pass safely? What do the lines in the road tell you?

For the Visualize phase, a box of drawing paper, color markers, icons of signs and vehicles printed on sticky labels assists those who are grapho-motorically delayed. Everyone has a chance to succeed.

Instructions: Draw a picture showing what you should do as you approach a schoolbus loading children.

An easy way to develop stickers or icons is to import simple Google images into an Avery label frame. Stickers can easily be removed and placed on diagrams, avoiding the need to draw with accuracy, enhancing the feeling of success.

For the Examine phase, pictures of auto accidents, judges, court scenes, police all help the player to bring his/her message home.

Answer question: When an officer approaches your vehicle, what violations will result in your immediate arrest?

is not completed yet, unfortunately, but using the DDS Manual, having Susie describe events as we wander through the manual, it is a work in progress. Demonstrating, Reflecting, Instructing, Visualizing, Examining all enhance the learning process.

Teaching is a challenge, especially when our learners hit a brick wall.
I hope this gives you some idea as to how to take one simple subject, and by presenting it in multiple ways, create an exciting learning outcome. I’ll let you know how the game develops as our time together progresses.