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SMARTS

Estimating Time with Elementary Students

Can a nine-year-old estimate time accurately? Many teachers and parents will tell you no. But reality, as always, is more complicated than that.

Ask elementary students to estimate how long it would take to make a soufflé or read a novel, and their times will probably be off. But what about something they are more familiar with? Can they estimate how long it will take to play their favorite game or tie their shoes? Even with something students are extremely familiar with, they may struggle to estimate a realistic time.

If we want students to be able to estimate accurately, we need to teach them how. This process involves helping them understand the passing of time, but teachers can go one step further by helping students break down the steps of a given task (such as completing homework, cleaning out their desk, or getting ready for school in the morning). When students are able to talk through the steps that go into successfully completing a task, they will have a better sense of what it takes to do the task and how much time they will need.What if students still don’t estimate accurately, and end up taking more time or less time than they estimated? That’s actually a tremendous learning opportunity. Why did they go over? Did they lose focus or procrastinate? Do they need help understanding the topic more completely? If they overestimated, was it because they thought the task was harder than it turned out to be? These questions will help students internalize the knowledge they need to estimate successfully.
In SMARTS, teachers often start out by modeling how to estimate fun and consequence-free activities(How long does it take to tie your shoes? To do ten jumping jacks?). Students are then ready to apply a strategic approach to academic tasks, reflecting on how accurate they were and using that knowledge to plan and prioritize.

SMARTS Elementary, our newest curriculum, has 30 lessons you can use to teach young students strategies for accessing important executive function processes — including planning their time.

Many teachers don’t expect that their elementary students will be able to estimate time, but in the words of one SMARTS Elementary teacher, “My students surprised me! My expectations for what a fifth grader can do have grown.”

To learn more about our new curriculum for elementary students, check out the SMARTS Elementary curriculum overview page and download the free preview lesson “Prioritizing Time.”

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SMARTS

Free SMARTS Webinars on YouTube!

During this time of distance learning, executive function learning strategies are more important than ever. We’ve heard from many teachers (and parents and students) that their executive function is on overload! Never fear, our sister site, SMARTS Online, is here with strategies you can use whether via remote learning or in a classroom.
You can now access all of the free executive function webinars on the SMARTS Webinars playlist. These in-depth webinars cover the basics to understanding executive function, specific strategies for organizing and goal setting, as well as how executive function relates to important skills like reading (shown below) and math.

More webinars will be added to this playlist, so check back for new resources in the future!

If you’ve watched these webinars, did you find them useful? Which webinar was your favorite? Let us know the comments!

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Executive Function SMARTS Strategies Uncategorized

Free Webinar: Executive Function and Math

Why is math so hard for some students? If you ask them, you might hear answers such as, “It’s too complicated” or “It’s boring.” However, many students struggle with math because of weaknesses in executive function processes.
To help all students succeed in math, educators must understand the role executive function plays in successful math learning as well as strategies they can use to make math learning a more joyful process for students who struggle. This important topic will be the focus of our free webinar below.

Complex calculations and problem solving in math are challenging for many typically developing learners, and even more so for students with attentional weaknesses, executive function weaknesses, and/or learning disabilities. In addition, the Common Core math standards are placing higher demands on our students than ever before, adding stress and reducing the joy of learning.

Part of the problem may be the current trend towards emphasizing a constructivist approach to learning math. Students are expected to notice patterns and deduce mathematical rules from their observations. This can be extremely challenging for students with learning differences, who may struggle to sequence information or focus for extended periods. Without differentiated instruction, these students may fall further behind and lose confidence in their ability to succeed.

By understanding best practices for supporting student’s executive function needs, especially as they pertain to math, teachers can integrate strategy instruction into the curriculum and establish regular teaching practices to support their students’ executive skills (self-regulation, working memory, planning and sequencing, organization, flexible thinking, and self-monitoring). Using these approaches will increase student motivation, build confidence, and create more enthusiastic math learners.

We will be exploring important executive function processes as they pertain to math in our free webinar, “Executive Function and Math. Replay is available below:

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Remote Learning SMARTS

Remote Learning – Parent Perspective: A Moment of Gratitude

The challenge of remote learning can take its toll on students, parents, and teachers alike. From confusing directions, mounting frustration, or even a sense of despair, it can be easy to feel hopeless. Change, however, also brings opportunities.
In this installment of SMARTS Online  Real-Life Experiences with Remote Learning, a parent shares some moments of gratitude for unexpected moments of growth that remote learning has offered her daughter.

Because of the low self-esteem that often goes along with learning differences, my child will not always try new things, especially at school where teachers and students are not supportive and do not understand the struggle. In the safety of home, my child tried something new this week! It was just a quick musical project, but was a meaningful little victory. 

Isn’t that great! For this student, like many others, home is a place of safety. Students with learning differences might be anxious at school, nervous to try new things in front of their peers. Learning at home offers more freedom to explore things they might avoid in school. 

Also, after years of trying to get her interested in yoga, which could help her stress level, finally she has become interested. The remote yoga sessions that her school is offering have somehow sparked an interest. Now, she is doing yoga all the time, which may be reducing the stress of today’s various challenges. 

Many students, and their parents, are struggling with the monotony of being stuck at home. Why not try to adopt some new, healthy habits? Yoga, meditation, and arts and crafts are just some of the habits that students might have rejected before but would provide welcome entertainment and relief now that they are stuck inside.

I hope everyone out there is finding moments to smile and even be grateful during this very trying time.

This post is part of SMARTS Online’s Real-Life Experiences with Remote Learning series.