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Cognitive Flexibility Goal Setting Self-Monitoring

Teaching Financial Literacy with EF Strategies: Part 3

This post is part of a series that highlights ways to teach financial literacy with executive function strategies. 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)

Goal Setting Continued

In the second post of this series, we covered tips for encouraging students to set goals for life beyond high school. Once students set their goals, it is important to self-monitor and self-check to track their progress over time. When it comes to long-term goals, we can’t just set and forget! 

Self-Monitoring and Self-Checking for Personal Finance

Because each financial situation depends on myriad factors, we can teach students to approach their personal finances flexibly. Employment, medical expenses, inflation, and interest rates are just a few examples that can affect one’s budget and spending.

With multiple financial factors to manage, self-checking and self-monitoring are keys to success. For example, students may need to complete financial forms or loan applications with a careful eye for details. Setting aside time to check their forms for accuracy can ensure a smooth process. Likewise, students can use self-monitoring strategies to assess how their actions and behavior are affecting their spending and aligning with their budget goals.

SMARTS Strategies for Self-Monitoring and Self-Checking

Self-monitoring and self-checking are two executive function areas that are often overlooked and not explicitly taught in school. 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.

By learning to monitor and check themselves, students can develop essential skills for successful goal-directed behavior. To learn more, visit our SMARTS videos on Self-Monitoring and Self-Checking.

  • 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
Goal Setting Metacognition Self Advocacy

Teaching Financial Literacy with EF Strategies, Part 2

This post is part of a series that highlights ways to teach financial literacy with executive function strategies. 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)↗.

Goal Setting + Life Beyond High School

Teaching students to set goals and monitor their progress is an essential part of setting them up for long-term success. To help students set goals for college and careers, begin with exercises that promote self-understanding around their strengths, challenges, interests, hobbies, and more. Encourage students to define the what, why, and how of their goals, and provide opportunities for them to envision what their life might look like beyond middle and high school. 

After high school, students have many options such as four-year colleges, two-year colleges, and trade schools. These options can vary in terms of time and cost, so it is beneficial to help students consider the return on investment (ROI).

For students who are considering college, the Education Data Initiative offers research and resources to tackle the rising costs of higher education. They have several resources that can help students balance their long-term goals and the cost of higher education(link opens in new tab/window) .

If students are unsure of their path, taking a semester or year off can help students gain experience, develop self-understanding, and find clarity about their path forward. 

Once students determine the outcomes they would like to achieve, encourage them to monitor their goals and consider obstacles that might arise. CANDO Goals Lesson from unit 2 of the SMARTS Curriculum is an excellent way to get students thinking about setting meaningful goals

Stay tuned for part 3 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
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
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

Categories
Cognitive Flexibility Executive Function Goal Setting

Executive Branch: Executive Function Strengths

What does it take to be a successful president? Many historians have studied the presidents of the United States to determine what qualities and characteristics lead to a prosperous tenure in office. Unsurprisingly, a well-developed sense of self-understanding and executive function strengths are key! 

A Vision for the Future

While successful presidents must understand the past and remain grounded in the present, they must also look forward to the future. What will they accomplish while in office? What will their legacy be? When campaigning, presidential candidates set many goals that they promise to carry through if elected. While many of these promises are long-term goals, they are made up of short-term goals along the way. To get students thinking about setting their own goals, check out these frameworks for goal setting. These frameworks (including CANDO goals in SMARTS, Unit 2) help students set realistic goals with built-in plans for reaching success. 

Balancing Multiple Opinions and Perspectives

A successful presidency relies on the ability to see situations from multiple perspectives. When balancing many different opinions, it can be easy to get stuck. It is inevitable that all presidents will face opposition to their initiatives, whether from other politicians or from citizens across the country. It is critical that presidents think flexibly and shift perspectives to understand the perspectives of their constituents and gain bipartisan support. 

MetaCOG Online

Are you looking for a way to help students understand their executive function strengths and challenges? MetaCOG Online, an interactive executive function survey system, helps students develop an understanding of their learning profiles (including their EF strength, EF challenge, strategy suggestions, and SMARTS lesson recommendations). MetaCOG Online also provides tools for teachers to collect data about students’ EF strategy use at multiple points throughout the school year. 

  • 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 Neuroscience Self Advocacy

Goal Setting with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

Goal setting and reflection—two popular topics on the SMARTS blog—often come up around the New Year. How can you incorporate mindfulness practices when reflecting on the past year and setting goals for 2022?

Mindfulness and Goal Setting

When setting goals, it can help to define the what, why, and how of the goal to ensure that you know how to get started. There are a number of frameworks for goal setting (including CANDO goals in SMARTS, Unit 2) that help students set realistic goals that have built-in plans for reaching success.

We often fall short of the high expectations we set for our goals. Taking a mindful approach to goal setting can help us remain calm and not judge ourselves if we don’t reach our goals or if the process takes longer than expected. 

Self-Compassion and Fresh Starts

Self-compassion is another key component of successful goal setting. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we must be perfect when we start fresh and that our progress is ruined if we fall back into old habits. Self-compassion means adopting a compassionate view towards oneself in difficult times through self-kindness and mindfulness.

Evidence indicates that the effects of mindfulness and self-compassion positively impact adolescents’ cognitive and affective outcomes. Results from this study support the use of contemplative practices (e.g., yoga and mindfulness) as a strategy to boost adolescents’ emotional regulation processes. Reminding ourselves that mistakes or failures don’t ruin our goals is an important aspect of self-compassion. Students and teachers can use this self-compassion strategy to remind themselves that it is okay to start again anytime.

Make Room for Mindfulness in 2022

The challenges of 2021 have left no one in our global community untouched. How can you enter the New Year in a more mindful and self-compassionate way?

  • 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

Goal Setting for 2021

The New Year offers a fresh start, a great time for setting goals and teaching executive function goal-setting strategies. Try this ten-minute activity to help students reflect on their year and set meaningful and doable goals for the year ahead.

Make Time for Setting Goals

As this whirlwind year comes to a close, students and their teachers have high hopes for 2021. It’s important to keep hope alive, so taking time to self reflect and set goals can help students carry some much needed positive energy into 2021. Goal setting helps students to recognize that their biggest power lies in themselves! Spending time talking about goals and using strategies (CANDO goals anyone?) will help turn New Years’ Resolutions into concrete goals for a fresh chapter.

What, Why, and How

Goal setting refers to the ability to identify the desired outcome based on an awareness of personal strengths and challenges. Goal setting without self-reflection can lead to dangerous goals that undermine motivation. We can better accomplish our goals when we understand our internal “why” of what drives us and make a plan for how we will get there. Here is a brief activity you can do with your students, or yourself, to reflect on goals for the new year.

  1. Create a list of outcomes you would like to see.
    Think about specific big moments during the year (e.g., AP tests or trying out for a play) or parts of your life (at school or your job). What would you like to see happen? Make your vision as clear and realistic as you can.
  2. For each outcome or goal, ask yourself why you want that outcome to be true.
    Jot down a note about what is motivating you. For example, perhaps you want to lose weight so that you can wear your favorite pair of jeans again. Maybe you want to achieve a higher GPA this semester to showcase on your college application or resume. Acknowledging the motivation behind your goal setting will keep your goals grounded and in view as you work towards them.
  3. Identify how you will reach your goals.
    Now that your list of goals is clear and you understand why you wish to accomplish them, develop your individualized approach to how you will reach your goals. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, clarify that you will do this by watching your meals and exercising five times per week. If your goal is to increase your GPA this semester, try to estimate how much time this will require, set a weekly goal, and identify your production time. The more specific you are about how to accomplish your goals, the more your why will drive you, so that your outcomes become a reality.

This activity can spark discussion about the importance, and challenge, of goal setting, as well as plant seeds for meaningful and strategic goal setting in a new year. Happy goal setting!

  • Iris Jeffries, 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
Goal Setting Metacognition

Amishi Jha: How Can We Pay Better Attention to Our Attention?

At ResearchILD, we believe that metacognition — thinking about one’s own thinking — is an essential component of teaching executive function strategies.

The link between metacognition, mindfulness practices, attention, and meditation has been getting a lot of publicity lately, but it can be hard to figure out what ideas are supported by science.

Amishi Jha, a neuroscientist whose research focuses on attention, working memory, and mindfulness, sheds some light on the scientific research about what attention is, how it can be studied, and what mindfulness practices can be used to improve it.Jha explores the role of attention as “the brain’s boss.” How does attention control us? What can we do when attention is not helping us get our work done efficiently? Jha uses the experiences of a former Marine experiencing the symptoms of PTSD to explore how our emotions and thoughts affect our attention, and the power of mindfulness training to help us regulate our attention.

What did you think of Dr. Jha’s talk? Have you used mindfulness practices and meditation to help improve attention and metacognition? Looking for other ways to integrate opportunities to build metacognition into your teaching? Let us know in the comments!

Categories
Executive Function Goal Setting

Fear and Goal Setting with Teenagers

Back to school is the perfect time to set goals, but goal setting can be a challenge for many students, especially those with learning differences or those struggling in school. Too often their goals are vague (e.g., I want to be famous) or unrealistic (e.g., I want to get into Harvard with a full-ride scholarship).

What’s the downside to setting vague, unrealistic goals? These dangerous ‘goals’ contain inherent self-criticism (e.g., If I’m not famous yet, there’s something wrong with me, or I’m not smart enough for Harvard.). Instead of motivating students to work hard, unrealistic goals can make students feel demotivated and inadequate. (The upside — these emotions, though negative, are a powerful message about what’s going on in your students’ minds.) To help students who set unrealistic goals, we must help them address negative emotions. Instead of running from them, we can help students define their self-criticisms and fears, and incorporate them into effective goal setting.

Tim Ferriss, a motivational speaker and podcaster, gave a TED Talk titled, “Why you should define your fears instead of your goals.”In his talk, Ferriss defines a useful concept known as “fear setting.

Instead of starting with a goal, fear setting starts with a fear. Students acknowledge something they are afraid of (e.g., “failing a test”) and then explore it fully in three steps: Define, Prevent, Repair.

In the Define step, students define in detail what would happen if their fear came true. A student who fears getting an F on a test might say, “What if I fail the class?” or “What if I can’t get into college?” By giving a name to these fears, students will be ready to make a plan to prevent them.Next comes Prevent, where students brainstorm all the ways to prevent their fears from coming true. The more detailed this section becomes, the more prepared students will be to set concrete, planful goals to address their fears.In the Repair stage, students acknowledge that sometimes bad things do happen. They have to think through possible ways to help heal from something bad happening. This step helps students think success flexibly, which will help them approach their goals with greater persistence.

So, while “fear setting” starts with a fear, by the end students have realized a detailed goal backed up by a plan that takes into account potential obstacles. This strategy is similar to our favorite goal setting strategy, CANDO goals.

Want to learn more about how goal setting affects students’ motivation, persistence, and executive function? Check out a free recording of our “Executive Function and Goal Setting” webinar!

Have you tried any good goal-setting strategies with your students? We’d love to hear!