Sustained Attention

Instructional Strategies

  • Monitor/check student work in progress.
  • Help the student to break a task down into smaller components and set goals related to completion of the smaller components.
  • Use combination of written/oral assignments.
  • Do critical parts of assignments during class.
  • Have the student self-monitor whether he/she is on task. Reinforce the student when he/she is on task
  • Begin with having the student work on a task with which you know he/she can be successful.
  • Teach the student to break down tasks into chunks for which they can maintain attention for the entire chunk.
  • Teach the student to make a work plan which not only chunks tasks (see above), but also identifies motivational strategies and environmental cues. Gradually release the responsibility for making the plan to the student.
  • Utilize and teach the student to use Guided Notes
  • Utilize a structured check in-check out (CICO) procedure (see link to google drive with resources at bottom of video)


  • Provide the student with scaffolded or completed notes
  • Provide assignment choice.

Additional Resources

Focus Area/Sample SMART Goal/Sample Tier 2 Intervention Plan:

Focus Area

Sample SMART Goal

Sample Tier 2 Intervention Plan

Sustained Attention

Student will improve in his ability to remain on task (e.g. looking at his task, thinking about the steps needed to complete it, focusing attention on it, only stopping task when teacher gives permission, and ignoring distractions and interruptions by others) from 42% time on task to 80% time on task as measured by observation by April 2020.

  1. Work with student to identify observable signs that a student is paying attention and develop a description of paying attention for him/her
  2. Choose a particular time/type of activity for focus
  3. Determine how this will be monitored (e.g. a timer on set or random intervals, a checklist). Student monitors whether he/she was meeting the definition.
  4. Practice
  5. Set a goal and reinforce
Sustained Attention Student will improve her time on task from 10 minutes to 30 minutes as measured by the frequency of achieved tasks by December 20, 2019. Prior to independent work, teacher will work with student to set a measurable, discrete, and obtainable (but stretch) goal for expected work completion (e.g. number of problems, sentences, etc.) for the requested block of time (10 minutes for first few weeks, increased with success over time). Set timer for 10 minutes increments (for the first 4 weeks at least). Slowly increase the expectations for work. Teacher checks in at each 10 minutes mark  to provide praise/redirection as appropriate.

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