8th Grade Religious Ed/Learning Disabilities


Figured asking here couldn’t hurt. I have a class of 11 students. 9 boys, 2 girls. One girl and one boy have learning disabilities. I don’t know exactly what, but it seems that both have issues with staying on topic, and the boy also acts out when he’s distracted. Now that the rest of the class understands that I mean business and want to cover everything and help them learn, they are now getting frustrated with said boy.

I try to redirect focus each time and the girl with LD actually read tonight in class out loud for the first time. I was so happy to see her open to do that, and she did great. The boy is my main concern. Other kids are now voicing their annoyance with his distractions and behavior and there’s only so many times I want to call attention to his behavior by asking him to be quiet or stop what he’s doing.

I don’t want to isolate him but I also don’t want the other kids to be hurtful even though they are telling him to stop, they are 8th graders so the maturity level is not high.

We mostly spend the first half of class reading the chapter together aloud, then I do some activity that is engaging for them.

I’m looking for suggestions on how to reign in this boy to keep him from opportunities or the need to act out for attention.

One thing that is effective is that if you notice him getting off topic, give him something to do rather then tell him what not to do. Especially if it’s something he already knows he isn’t supposed to be doing. (such as talking in class.) Ask him a question or give him a simple direction to follow. For example, if he is making noise by flapping the cover of his binder, you’ll probably have more luck saying, “Fred, put your binder inside your desk.” rather than “Fred, be quiet!” or “Fred, stop that.” This is particularly effective if you make your directive clear and neutral in tone. If he is the type that would argue or say, “Why?”, he is trying to get into a power struggle. Just repeat the directive in a calm voice. Feel free to tell the other students to mind their own business as well. It’s hard enought to control one’s own self at thirteen. They don’t need to take on the added pressure of controling someone else.

I’d talk to the DRE. You may need to have the child’s parent come to class with him. I once had a skittish boy whose mother came to every class with him and he did just fine with her there.

Give him something to do with his hands. Stress ball, legos, playdoh, drawing, etc. It will help him concentrate. In fact, it might help everyone.Give them craft sticks and tape and tell them to build a cathedral while you read.

Allow him freedom of movement. Don’t make him sit. Believe it or not, caffeine sometimes helps these kids because it’s a stimulant much like Ritalin.So, half a glass of soda might help him

Switch method of teaching. Reading through a text is really boring for some kids and if their minds are in hyper drive or distractible, they will tune out and turn to distruptive behaviors.

When I teach, I limit my activities to 10 minutes each. Pick out concepts that are important and hit them hard and repetitively with different activities. Don’t read the whole chapter.

This teaching method can be adapted for a CCD class: youtube.com/watch?v=JJw9mzCtWbk

One teaching method that I’ve found works really well with all kids, esp. middle school kids is acting out stories. For example, I narrate the Bible story and the kids act it out, sometimes I give them words to say, sometimes they just mouth it. Concepts can be taught the same way.

pray and fast for him.

Of all the kids in your class, you can have the most impact on this one.

If he has been identified with a learning disability in his regular classroom he will have an IEP. His parents could share with you the various interventions that are used for him and some of these could be helpful. Frankly, if his behavior causes you and the other students constant interruptions then perhaps you could ask for some help from the DRE. This time is very important for these students as this is one of the key ways they are cathechized in our faith, they need the opportunity to learn.

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