Categories
Cognitive Flexibility College Goal Setting

Teaching Financial Literacy with EF Strategies, Part 1

According to a study by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) Investor Education Foundation(link opens in new tab/window), four in five young people are not able to successfully complete a financial literacy quiz. Since the Great Recession in 2008, financial literacy has declined across all demographics, but it is especially true for Millennials and Generation Z. One approach to boost your students’ financial literacy is teaching executive function strategies that foster skills in organizing, prioritizing, self-reflection, and flexibility.  It’s never too early to teach your students financial literacy and EF strategies that can have a lasting impact(link opens in new tab/window)

Planning + Loans 

Taking out a loan to help pay for college or a car is a substantial decision that can affect a person’s financial status in the long run. Teaching your students strategies for long-term organizing and prioritizing of materials and time (Unit 4 in SMARTS) is an excellent place to start. Encourage students to explore their obligations (have to’s), aspirations (want to’s), and negotiations when it comes to their time, activities, and lifestyle. Loans, interest rates, and inflation also offer real-world scenarios that can be explored in math classes across the grades

Some ideas for helping students plan for loans include:

  • What are the terms and fees associated with the loan? 
  • Are there prepayment penalties? 
  • Have they considered options to lower the interest rate, such as enrolling in automatic debit payments? 
  • Are they eligible to enroll in an income-driven repayment plan?

Shifting Flexibly + Budgeting

Strong budgeting skills are at the heart of setting oneself up for financial success. In order to create and maintain an accurate budget, students can first engage in activities that promote self-reflection and self-understanding. This is another element of personal finance where students can determine their spending “have to’s” and “want to’s”. What interests, hobbies, and activities are priorities that students should budget for? Playing games that encourage real-life budgeting(link opens in new tab/window) is a fun and low-stakes way to explore what it means to budget. When it comes to budgeting, students will need to remain flexible; unexpected costs can arise, so encouraging students to set aside a monthly stipend for last-minute emergency costs can prepare them for the unexpected.  

Stay tuned for part 2 of our EF and Financial Literacy series. 

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Motivation Recommendations Teaching EF Tips

Motivation Monday: Attribution Theory

Attribution theory asserts that motivation depends on learners’ interpretations of their past successes and failures. Specifically, learner conceptualizations of the locus, stability, and controllability of past successful or failed outcomes influence if and how hard learners will try on similar tasks going forward. Here are some examples of what these characteristics(link opens in new tab/window)  might look like:

  • Locus: Was I successful on that test because I studied hard (internal factor) or because I got lucky (external factor)?
  • Stability: Will my effort/luck stay the same (stable) or change (unstable) over time?
  • Controllability: Can I control whether I do well on the next test (controllable) or is my success out of my hands (uncontrollable)?

Why it matters for education

Educators can play a critical role in helping students foster adaptive attribution styles. The benefits of certain attribution patterns are situationally relative. For example, an external attribution for a disagreement with a friend (“They were just having a tough day”) may benefit a student’s mental health. Contrarily, an external attribution for poor performance on a test (“It was my teacher’s fault”) may be maladaptive to a student’s motivation to put in effort on future assignments.

Takeaways

In education contexts, students are most likely to adaptively approach setbacks when they see challenges as internal, unstable, and controllable. A student with this attribution pattern might tell themselves after they perform poorly on a test, “I didn’t study in the best way for me, and I can make adjustments to how I prepare in order to improve next time.”

To help learners adopt adaptive attribution styles, consider the following approaches:

  • Teach students to see their success and failure as a product of their own effort (rather than ability). Statements like, “Great work—I can tell you studied a lot!” can go a long way.
  • Give students specific feedback. For example, when handing back a math worksheet, say, “It looks like you struggled most with dividing fractions on this assignment.”
  • Help students understand that failures can be addressed with appropriate strategy use. For the math worksheet example above, you might follow up with, “What strategy has worked for you in the past for mastering multiplying fractions? How can you apply a similar strategy to division?”
  • Create a classroom culture that values effort and persistence over being smart or good at a subject. If your students enjoy public praise, recognize students who you can tell work hard to improve their learning.
  • Taylor McKenna, M.A., SMARTS Intern

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Motivation Teaching EF Tips Working Memory

Motivation Monday: Constructivism

Constructivism is a theory of learning (link opens in new tab/window) that revolves around the idea that learners construct their own knowledge based on personal experiences and within their sociocultural contexts. In other words, knowledge cannot be separated from the context in which it occurs. Constructivists also believe that the motivation to learn is inherent within the learner, personal, and a prerequisite to successful learning.

Why it matters for education

Constructivism posits that many people learn best when they are allowed to discover essential information for themselves after working through a partially guided segment or lesson. (In the SMARTS curriculum, students engage in a metacognitive activator, guided instruction, independent practice, and reflection).

Constructivism also has clear connections to real-world learning across the subjects. For example, one study found(link opens in new tab/window) that students were more motivated to learn science topics when they had more opportunities to relate their learning to real-world issues. 

Takeaways

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Recommendations Self-Checking Self-Monitoring Student Perspective

Students Speak: What Is Self-Monitoring and Self-Checking?

What exactly does it mean to monitor and check our work? Self-monitoring and self-checking are two executive function areas that are often overlooked and not explicitly taught. In the SMARTS curriculum, these areas are clearly defined and modeled for students.

  • Self-monitoring is an ongoing process of noticing what one is doing.
  • Self-checking is the process of finding and correcting mistakes in one’s work.

What do students think about self-monitoring and self-checking? Throughout ResearchILD’s Student Ambassador Program this fall, students were encouraged to collectively think about their thinking and how executive function processes impact their day-to-day experiences in school and at home. Here are some of their ideas about what self-monitoring and self-checking mean to them:

Students Speak: What do self-monitoring and self-checking mean to you?

  • “Checking my language and tone while speaking with various people/making sure I recall certain facts.”
  • “Correcting and checking your own work.”
  • “Self monitoring and self checking is how to act in different environments.”
  • “Self-monitoring means having the ability to change how you act in different places or situations. Self-checking means the ability to make a list to keep you organized for whatever activity you are doing.”

Students Speak: What is one way that you monitor your progress or self-check?

  • “I look back on myself and my actions and try to think if they were smart or not.”
  • “I make a list.”
  • “Plan ahead and adjust accordingly by making mental checks to complete each day.”
  • “One way that I monitor my own progress or self-check is by saying to myself what I have to do for the activity I am doing.”

How to Encourage Students to Self-Monitor and Self-Check

Students struggle with self-monitoring when they don’t check what they are doing and have trouble setting goals for themselves. Strategies that improve self-awareness can help strengthen students’ ability to self-monitor and refocus.

  • Be clear about which materials students need to bring to and from school.
  • Set aside time for self-checking at the start and end of the school day and after students complete assignments.
  • Utilize theater games and literacy activities, such as Reader’s Theater, to help students monitor their tone, voice, and actions. 
  • Attend our free webinar on May 10: Executive Function and Self-Checking: Helping Students Learn from Their Mistakes. Learn more and register
  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
ADHD focus Procrastination

The Perfectionism-Procrastination Paradox

When students hand in assignments close to a deadline, it can be easy to label them as lazy, forgetful, or unmotivated. Surprisingly, research has shown that many procrastinators are perfectionists (link opens in new tab/window). For these students, the desire to get every element just right can be paralyzing and prevent them from getting started, despite their best intentions. Teaching executive function strategies can help “perfectionist-procrastinators” reframe their thinking and develop a realistic understanding of time. 

Hard Habits to Break

Breaking the perfectionism-procrastination cycle can be difficult. If the assignment doesn’t go well, there is a built-in excuse of lack of time: “Oh, I would have done better if I had more time.” If the assignment goes well, there is little incentive for students to change their ways.

All or Nothing

Many perfectionist-procrastinators engage in all-or-nothing thinking patterns. Take, for example, a multi-step project or research paper. Getting started can be daunting when students view the project as an overwhelming whole instead of something that they can break down into actionable parts. By teaching the Purposeful Highlighting strategy (from Unit 3 of SMARTS Elementary), you can help students learn to break down multi-step instructions into a numbered checklist. Purposeful Highlighting is a way for students to break down directions and identify multiple perspectives when reading or taking notes. This strategy helps students highlight effectively and avoid over-highlighting (“yellow page syndrome”).

Reestablish Reasonable Expectations

Perfectionist-procrastinators often struggle to initiate tasks when they are worried about making a mistake. Before students start their work, encourage them to reflect on the root causes of their perfectionism and procrastination tendencies. Fear and negative self-perceptions often go hand-in-hand with perfectionism and procrastination. Encourage self-compassion as students strive to change their studying and learning behaviors. Remind students that they can always revise their work and ideas along the way, so the first attempt doesn’t have to be perfect. 

Understanding Time

Another element that complicates task initiation is a tenuous understanding of time. Students tend to overestimate how long tasks will take, especially undesirable or difficult tasks. When it comes to getting started, encourage students to choose one task and estimate how long they think the task will take. Once students set a timer and get started, they might realize that they can get more done in a shorter period of time than they originally thought. 

What are your best tips for beating procrastination?   

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Equity Motivation Recommendations

Motivation Monday: Cultural Responsiveness

Why we need to consider culture when assessing student motivation

As educators, we talk a lot about using research-based practices. However, data shows(link opens in new tab/window) that 96% of participants in educational psychology research are from WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic)(link opens in new tab/window) countries, even though only 12% of the world population live in WEIRD areas. In light of this stunning disparity, 21st-century researchers have begun investigating whether patterns of motivation vary across diverse populations.

So far, the answer to this question has been a resounding yes; it is inequitable to solely rely on models of motivation based on WEIRD research. The distinctions in motivational forces across Western and Non-Western, collectivist and individualistic(link opens in new tab/window), and even generational and community cultures call for student and family-centered adaptations of motivational theories to classrooms.

Takeaways

You may be wondering, what can I do if “research-based practices” might not apply to my students?

 The good news is that many motivation experts, administrators, and educators have suggestions for how to account for and embrace cultural diversity when addressing student motivation in the classroom. These suggestions include:

  • Reflect on your own biases and assumptions regarding whether and why some students are “inherently” motivated or unmotivated. How can you challenge any assumptions you identify?
  • Consider using a beginning-of-the-year questionnaire(link opens in new tab/window) to ask caregivers what motivates their children. You might be surprised by the variety of extrinsic, intrinsic, relational and aspirational motivators parents and guardians name.
  • Adopt culturally sustaining teaching practices. Culturally sustaining pedagogy extends beyond the reach of culturally relevant pedagogy by incorporating rather than simply complimenting students’ diverse wealth of cultural knowledge into classroom instruction.

Interested in more information about theories of learning and motivation? Take a look at our posts on Behaviorism, Goal Orientation Theory and Growth Mindset, Expectancy-Value Theory and Self-Determination Theory.

  • Taylor McKenna, M.A., SMARTS Intern

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Cognitive Flexibility Equity Metacognition

Preparing Students for Global Citizenship

As the world grows more interconnected and interdependent, how can we prepare our students for global citizenship? Help them to develop their skills in metacognition and cognitive flexibility.

Preparing Global Citizens

In the Curriculum for Global Citizenship, Oxfam proposes key knowledge, skills, and values students need in order to thrive as global citizens.

s the world grows more interconnected and interdependent, how can we prepare our students for global citizenship? Help them to develop their skills in metacognition and cognitive flexibility.

Many of these elements, such as exploring the complexity of global issues, engaging with multiple perspectives, and self-reflection, ask students to shift perspectives, XXX and XXX. In short, they rely on metacognition and cognitive flexibility.

Metacognition and Cognitive Flexibility 

Metacognitive awareness is an integral component of academic and lifelong success. You can promote students’ self-awareness by helping them think about their thinking and understand their strengths and challenges.

Students also use metacognition and flexible thinking to develop the social awareness and relationship skills that are essential for connecting with others. It is also important for students to develop self-awareness of their values and judgments–they understand the world through the lens of their cultural identity, experiences, and personal values. Students should understand that conflict arises out of misunderstanding and that exploring multiple perspectives on a situation is a path towards mutual understanding or resolution. When students can step into their peers’ shoes XXXXXX.

 Perspective Taking: 3 Whys 

The 3 Whys thinking routine (also available in Spanish) from Project Zero can get students thinking beyond their own experience.

  1. Why might this [topic, question] matter to me?
  2. Why might it matter to people around me [family, friends, city, nation]?
  3. Why might it matter to the world?

This routine ensures that students first establish a personal connection to the issue at hand. Students are then asked to switch perspectives and step into the shoes of the people and the world around them. This thinking routine aligns well with cognitive flexibility strategies featured in the SMARTS curriculum, such as the “I’m Wearing Your Shoes” lesson.

For both the elementary and secondary SMARTS curriculum, the lesson focus sorter (available under “tools” when logged in to SMARTS) is a great resource for selecting lessons that address areas such as flexible thinking, perspective taking, self-advocacy, social awareness, and self-understanding.

For more information on global citizenship, check out these resources: 

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Motivation Teaching EF Tips

Motivation Monday: Expectancy-Value Theory

Expectancy-value theory , developed by Jacquelynne Eccles, Allan Wigfield, and their colleagues, posits that motivation (M) is the equal to the product of expectation of success and value of the goal:

Expectancy-Value Theory posits that motivation is equal to the product of a student’s expectation of success times how much the student values the task or goal.

In this equation, expectation of success (E) can be understood as how competent a student feels in completing the task or meeting the outlined goal. Eccles and Wigfield break value (V) into four sub-components:

  • Intrinsic value: How much do I enjoy this task?
  • Attainment value: How important is it that I do well on this task?
  • Utility value: How useful is this task for my life?
  • Cost: What am I giving up to complete this task?

If either factor (expectation or value) of the equation is equal to zero, then the product (students’ motivation) will also equal zero.

Why it matters for education

While expectancy-value theory does not account for all aspects of motivation, it can begin to reveal the reasons why a student is feeling unmotivated.

Students might not articulate that they do not feel like they can succeed at the task (expectation). Instead, they might see a difficult problem and not attempt to complete it. If a student feels that they won’t get the question right, this would negatively impact their motivation.

There are many reasons why a student might not value a task. Getting to the “why” behind a student’s reluctance to complete a task can determine a path forward (e.g., Does the student not have appropriate executive function strategies? Can the length of the assignment be adjusted? Can the task be made more enjoyable or relevant?). 

Takeaways

  • Ensure students have the strategies and scaffolds necessary to succeed at their assigned tasks. Do they know how to get started on the problem or task at hand? Can they break down what is expected of them into a checklist?
  • Sweeten the task: When it is challenging for students to see the utility value of an assignment, or if they feel it will take too much time and that they could use that time for something else, try to “sweeten the task.” At the outset of an assignment, encourage students to select a reward for themselves (e.g. snack, video break, acknowledgment that they are independently accomplishing their goals) for when they accomplish challenging or “boring” tasks.
  • Help students see the “big picture” and model your own experiences. If students can’t see the value of a certain task at the moment, show them how you (or favorite celebrities/sports stars) use the skill or executive function strategy.
  • Focus on students’ effort over ability. Remind them of their capacity to grow and persist, even when they face challenges.  
  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Metacognition Quick Tip Reading Comprehension

Metacognition and Reading Comprehension

Teaching students to become active readers and monitor their comprehension is an important part of becoming a successful reader.

For many readers, the process of decoding is taxing and can interfere with comprehension. When students think about their thinking and pay attention to the story that is developing in their head as they read, they can more actively check their comprehension and seek help resolving any inconsistencies.

Teaching students to think about their thinking can take many forms.

  • Thinking routines (from Project Zero) can help make students’ thinking visible while they read. A thinking routine is a set of questions or a brief sequence of steps used to scaffold student thinking. These routines help make students’ learning processes visible, offering a way for them to make sense of what they read.
  • When students aren’t sure if they understand what they’ve read, you can offer them strategies such as rereading or leaving a sticky note in places where they have questions.
  • Use “turn-and-talk partners” to encourage peer collaboration and let students articulate and discuss their understanding of a text.

For more metacognitive strategies that can boost reading comprehension, check out these suggestions from the Landmark School Outreach Professional Development for Educators.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

Build Your Executive Function Toolkit in 2022

Are you interested in building your Executive Function Toolkit? Join us in February and March to hear from EF experts on topics such as metacognition and motivation, strategies to support students with long-term projects and project-based learning, embedding EF in the general education curriculum, and the intersection of EF and social-emotional learning. Learn more and register today

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Goal Setting growth mindset Motivation

Motivation Monday: Goal Orientation Theory and Growth Mindset

Goal orientation theory posits that students engage in any given learning activity for one of two reasons. If an individual has a performance orientation towards a task, they complete it because they want to demonstrate competence, usually to an audience they seek approval from (e.g., peers, teachers, parents). Contrarily, an individual with a mastery orientation towards a goal hopes to gain knowledge or develop a skill for understanding purposes. In other words, someone with a mastery orientation wants to learn out of interest in a particular domain, to “learn for the sake of learning.”

Why it matters for education

Research shows that mastery orientations support the highest quality of learning for students. Students with mastery orientations are more likely to seek academic challenges and persist in learning difficult concepts. Further, mastery orientations bolster the effects of executive function strategy use by providing students with the intrinsic motivation to think flexibly and focus their effort on furthering their academic knowledge and understanding.

Educational psychologist Carol Dweck presents a particularly meaningful perspective on goal orientation theory by encouraging teachers to support students’ growth mindsets. A student with a growth mindset believes their skills and talents are malleable and a product of effort, and they are more likely to develop mastery orientations towards academic tasks.

Takeaways

Teachers and parents can make small adjustments to their language to help foster a growth mindset in children. Here are some ideas.

  • Praise student effort rather than ability. For example, instead of telling a student who aced a math test, You’re so good at fractions! say, I can tell you studied a lot for this test — keep up the hard work!
  • Remind students of their ability to grow. Carol Dweck’s talk on growth mindset highlights the positive effects of infusing “yet” into conversations with frustrated and overwhelmed students. Help students reframe I’m so bad at math to I just don’t understand this topic yet.
  • Teach students that mistakes are learning opportunities. You can do so by embracing mistakes yourself — own up to a time you did something incorrectly and explain what you learned from the experience.
  • Keep students’ academic scores private from peers. Re-consider hanging scored student work on the wall and academic award assemblies. For students who value peer recognition as a reward, praise students’ effort and actions.

Growth mindset interventions have the potential to lessen the effects of poverty on academic achievement. With this exciting possibility, it is important to note that applications of growth mindset theory cannot succeed without robust academic skill instruction and support. SMARTS’ executive function curriculum helps all students develop the strategies they need to benefit from growth mindsets.

  • Taylor McKenna, M.A., SMARTS Intern

Build Your Executive Function Toolkit in 2022

Are you interested in building your Executive Function Toolkit? Join us in February and March to hear from EF experts on topics such as metacognition and motivation, strategies to support students with long-term projects and project-based learning, embedding EF in the general education curriculum, and the intersection of EF and social-emotional learning. Learn more and register today

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org