Led by John Steinberg, Director of Educational Services at the Institute for Learning and Development, this 75-minute session will explore important executive function processes as they pertain specifically to math. Through this lens, you will develop a deeper understanding of:
Ways to integrate strategy instruction into the math curriculum
How to establish regular teaching practices to support your students’ executive function skills including cognitive flexibility, memory, planning and organization, and self-monitoring
Math problem solving can be difficult, especially for students with attentional weaknesses, executive function weaknesses and/or learning disabilities. Using these approaches will boost student motivation, build confidence, and create more successful math learners. In short — increase the joy of learning math!
Register and join us for Reaching for Joy in Math Learning on Thursday, April 1 from 4:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. EST. We look forward to seeing you!
In a typical school year, teachers may feel that by spring their students will fully understand the class expectations and be settled into their routines. This school year, however, has been anything but typical! It is important to remember that context matters for executive function, and the radically different expectations and systems of online learning context presents different challenges (and opportunities).
To help students succeed in an online learning environment, executive function demands must be consistent and transparent.
Where is my homework again?
Do not assume that students know how to find important information on their class websites or their school’s learning management system. While some students may seamlessly navigate these websites, even teaching you a few tricky, other students may run find seeming simple tasks quite challenging, giving up when they feel overloaded by information. Provide explicit modeling to ensure that all students can find their homework, participate in discussion, turn in their work, and check their grades. Some students may require more coordination and executive function support. Keep your communication systems simple and consistent; it makes a big difference. Teacher announcements should be in one designated spot, instead of mixing email announcements, discussion board posts, and in-person announcements.
I need help!
When teaching online, it can be difficult to determine when a student needs extra support and which aspects of the learning environment are posing challenges. Students are more isolated from their teacher and peers, making them reluctant to ask for help. Some students may not even know where to begin asking for help. By conducting brief check-ins (via a Zoom poll, Google form, etc.), you can discover how comfortable students are navigating the online resources for their classes or if they are still experiencing information overload. It is never too late to open up channels of communication and allow students to share their perspectives; this can ensure all learners feel heard and supported.
The past year has been a real cognitive flexibility challenge for everyone! One big shift for us was moving from in-person to online professional development workshops. The benefit—now you can access our FREE executive function webinars on your own time schedule.
Why do so many students seem to struggle with executive function? And how can teachers and parents support students as they manage the executive function demands of everyday life? In this one-hour webinar, we explore how understanding executive function and working to provide strategies at school and at home can support students across grades and content areas. The presentation features strategies from local educational therapists as well as resources and materials from the SMARTS Executive Function curriculum. https://www.youtube.com/embed/XaplK5jN7fk
Whether at home or at school, students need executive function strategies to handle challenging tasks as they set goals, shift flexibly, organize materials and information, and self-monitor and check their behavior and their work. When executive function expectations and supports are different at home and at school, executive function difficulties may arise. To truly support the executive function needs of students, executive function expectations and strategies must be clearly defined and accessible to everyone involved (teachers, parents, and students). In this one-hour webinar, educational therapists from the Institute for Learning and Development share strategies they use to help parents understand and support their students’ executive function needs.https://www.youtube.com/embed/9CozPKVB6yE
Students begin using executive function processes in literacy in the preschool years and continue as they progress through middle and high school and are expected to master complex skills in reading comprehension, summarizing, note-taking, and multi-stage writing projects. Beyond decoding spelling and vocabulary, successful reading requires that students be able to identify main ideas, topics, and supporting details in order to summarize and analyze what they are reading. Without strategies that help students meet the executive function demands of reading, students will struggle with reading comprehension, note-taking, essays, standardized tests, and more. In this one-hour webinar, Michael Greschler, M.Ed., director of the SMARTS Executive Function Programs, is joined by Wendy Stacey, M.S., director of Reading at the Institute for Learning and Development, to explore how executive function strategies can be used to help students tackle challenging reading material. The presentation features strategies developed at the Institute for Learning and Development and used in the SMARTS Executive Function curriculum. https://www.youtube.com/embed/IgvU1V3TgtM
In this one-hour webinar, Joan Steinberg, M.Ed., director of Educational Therapy and an educational specialist at the Institute for Learning and Development, explores how executive function strategies can be used to help students tackle math. The presentation features strategies developed at the Institute for Learning and Development and used in the SMARTS Executive Function curriculum.https://www.youtube.com/embed/HhLAcp6j9VM
The rapid shift to remote learning last spring turned students’, and teachers’, executive function strategies on their heads. As schools cycle between virtual, in-person, and hybrid instruction, it is becoming increasingly challenging for teachers, students, and parents to keep up. This webinar, led by Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS media manager, ResearchILD, and Caitlin Vanderberg, SMARTS intern, explores how various instructional models impact executive function demands and create executive function difficulties that undermine academic achievement. Through hands-on activities, attendees will learn strategies to help students shift flexibly and meet the executive function demands of virtual, in-person, and hybrid learning. https://www.youtube.com/embed/EjISXth80pw We love sharing executive function research and strategies with you! Stay tuned for upcoming executive function trainings and webinars. If you enjoyed our trainings and want to find out when we post new ones, subscribe to our SMARTS YouTube channel.
We’re excited to announce Executive Function Essentials 2021, our newest training series that focuses on teaching executive function strategies for remote and in-person classroom settings.Presented by Lynn Meltzer, Ph.D., and the staff of the Institutes for Learning and Development, this four-session series will help you build your executive function toolkit by:
Deepening your understanding of metacognition, organization, flexible problem solving, motivation, engagement
Developing a practical appreciation of the latest research
Gaining strategies and activities to use when teaching remotely and in-person
Do you know a student who would benefit from executive function strategy instruction this summer? Our sister organization, The Institute for Learning and Development, is now offering Master Your Mind courses for students online!
In these small online classes, middle and high school students will learn the necessary executive function strategies and tools that will enable them to be successful in school and in life.
Master Your Mind the SMARTS Way courses offer developmentally appropriate and interactive, hands-on instruction for students in the following executive function areas:
Organization and planning
Active reading and note-taking
Studying and test-taking
Students will have opportunities for modeled instruction, guided practice, and independent practice. They will leave the course with personalized executive function strategies that they can use as a resource in school.
Superintendents and principals are starting to release their plans for the fall, ranging from remote learning to in-person instruction with safeguards and a hybrid model combining the two.
No matter what approach your school is using, there are sure to be unknowns and changes along the way. How can teachers adapt to the new, ever-changing expectations?
On July 8, the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) hosted an online panel titled, “Education Now: What Makes a High-Quality Remote or Hybrid Learning Experience?” Panelists, including Justin Reich, director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab, HGSE Professor Jal Mehta, and Neema Avashia, a teacher at Boston Public Schools, discussed ways to ensure that schools help their students thrive in what is sure to be a challenging transition. Here are 3 takeaways.
Things have changed a lot in the past six months and it’s unlikely that we will be able to predict what learning will look like in another six months. Schools must plan to be flexible at every level, from scheduling to attendance. What will a teacher do if one of their students has to quarantine for a month? How can administrators shift if their families do not have the technology or childcare to engage with fully remote instruction? The answers to these questions may change as the year progresses.
Mehta offers one possible solution: plan for time to plan. He references one school in Colorado that switched to a four-day week, dedicating a full day to teacher collaboration. Schools should identify time where teams can come together to address the challenges they are facing and adapt accordingly.
Remote learning has radically shifted how teachers, students, parents, and administrators work together. One of the greatest challenges for many students and their parents has been the increased demands in terms of planning, tracking assignments, etc. Many students struggled to keep up, while parents were often frustratedby their inability to follow shifting schedules. Likewise, teachers were frustrated by a lack of connection to their students. If a student did not log in to a Zoom call or turn in an assignment, it was difficult to know why.
Setting up clear communication is going to be vital. Reich points out that clear lines of communication between the school and home will make sure students and parents understand the expectations and resources available. Acknowledging student and parent perspectives is also a tool for equity, giving voice to what is working and what is not.
Support Strong Relationships
Teachers need time and tools to make sure they can nurture relationships in their class (between students and between the teacher and the students). Ice breakers and games offer a way to start; however, Avashia explains that some flexibility is needed. For example, insisting that all students keep their cameras on all the time might backfire. If a student is feeling too vulnerable or exposed, they won’t be able to contribute to the class’s learning.
As you prepare for the reopening of school this fall, keep these three essentials in mind. At SMARTS, we are here to support teachers and their students with executive function strategies that can be implemented in-person and online. If you have any executive function questions, you know who to ask!
Engaging students at the start of an online lesson can be challenging. How do you quickly connect with students and get them excited and ready for learning online?
We have found that the simplest way to kick-start an online lesson is to ask a fun icebreaker question.
Icebreaker questions are easy to use (no additional technology or extensive preparation required) and students can respond in different ways. You can offer students the option to answer orally or write their response in the Zoom chat. Another great way to encourage low-stakes engagement is to have students use the “thumb up” Zoom reaction to show their agreement with their peers’ answers.
While there are many icebreaker questions available online, most are aimed at adults in remote meetings. I culled these lists for questions that work well with students and provide a fun beginning to any online class. Here are some of my favorites:
Would you rather be reincarnated as a cat or a dog?
If you could try any food, what would it be?
You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
Who’s your favorite Disney character?
What superpower would you most want?
What dog breed would you be?
What’s your favorite holiday?
What’s your favorite magical or mythical creature?
What’s your favorite holiday tradition?
What’s your favorite dessert?
Would you rather go back in time or visit the future?
Would you rather be able to teleport or fly?
Would you rather have a pet lion, pet elephant, or pet whale?
Would you rather live under the sea or on the moon?
What’s the strangest food you ever tried?
If you could have any unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
If you could be any supernatural creature, which would you pick?
Which movie made you laugh the most?
What is the origin of your name?
Would you rather be the funniest or smartest person in the room?
Do you use icebreakers to engage students during online lessons? Let us know your favorites in the comments!