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Help Student Start Assignment

Help Student Start Assignment

Why should I do it:

  • Some students get overwhelmed by too much information on a page
  • Students who are dealing with ADD/ADHD tend to have difficulties with breaking up assignments
  • Prevents students from becoming discouraged and giving up before they really get into an assignment
  • Helps students gain confidence and reassurance
  • Improves students’ perceptions of the work and assignments
  • Increases student willingness and participation
  • Increases engagement, effort, and focus
  • Helps students to fully grasp the directions, where to start, how to start, and where to go
  • Helps disorganized students gather themselves
  • Provides a model for students to emulate when the teacher walks away
  • Promotes a spirit of team work whereby the student doesn’t feel they are alone when they get stuck

When should I do it:

  • When a student shows signs of being overwhelmed, anxious, unfocused, disorganized, lost, unmotivated, etc
  • When you are aware a student has ADHD/ADD or when they have symptoms of such
  • When a student is reluctant to begin, sustain, or complete work
  • When an assignment is longer, larger, more complex, or has many parts or sections
  • When a student doesn’t know where to start
  • When a student tends to be “scattered”
  • When students have trouble organizing their thoughts
  • When students have learning or other disabilities or challenges
  • When a student is not a self-starter

How do I do it:

  • Explain to the student you will do the first several problems with them, then they will need to complete the assignment on their own
  • Have the student read and explain the directions then move on to the first item
  • Have the student talk through what they are thinking and doing to solve the problem, assisting and giving explanations and hints as needed
  • Try to model a method, order, and strategy for doing the problems
  • After several problems, encourage the student that they can do the next items on their own
  • Try creating a song or rap to go along with how to break down certain tasks or how to approach certain problems
  • With assignments you foresee many students needing help to start, try doing the first few problems on the board with the entire class, asking the students questions about what to do, how to do it, and why
  • With assignments where there multiple sections, each focusing on a different skill, do one or two items from each section to model each skill and problem solving methodology

Resources & Support for technique:
(Items with footnotes link to external websites)


  1. Teach 2 Write, A Guide For Teaching Writing, Office of Instructional Development, UCLA. Break Down the Assignment Into Steps. [].