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Project-based learning (PBL) is a powerful and popular teaching approach in which students work on real-world projects to learn academic content; however, while PBL looks great on paper, it can be quite challenging for many students, especially students with learning and attention challenges. 

Incorporating executive function strategies, as well as opportunities for reflection, can transform PBL, helping students to not only complete projects more successfully, but also to gain an understanding of the strategies they want to use. 

This workshop will explore the connection between executive function and project-based learning. Through hands-on activities and real life examples, attendees will learn to identify and address the EF strategies needed for success in PBL and discuss ways to adapt PBL activities and projects to meet the needs of students with different EF strengths and challenges.


Jessica Chiusolo, M.Ed., is a SMARTS Instructional Designer and Professional Development Trainer at ResearchILD in Lexington, MA. Jessica works on SMARTS course design, development, and implementation. She also delivers SMARTS training, consultations, and coaching services for a variety of audiences. Jessica has been a classroom educator for over 20 years in both public and private schools while serving on various curriculum and design committees. Her Community Engagement and Instructional Design work has inspired her to create content that engages all learners. Jessica has also led Professional Development training in the areas of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Social Emotional Learning, and STEM initiatives. Jessica holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Southern Connecticut State University, along with a certification in Instructional Design and her Professional Educator License. She also had the opportunity to study education abroad in Bath, England at the University of Bath.


Laurel Black, Ed.M., joined ResearchILD in 2023 and serves as SMARTS curriculum designer, teacher trainer, and educational specialist. Laurel contributes to SMARTS curriculum development and instructional design for the student-facing curriculum, and provides training and coaching to school staff and clinicians to implement the SMARTS program. As an Educational Specialist, Laurel works with students who struggle with learning, attention, and executive function challenges and provides specialized instruction and empowerment coaching in the areas of behavior regulation, academic goal-setting, and executive function skills.

Laurel has worked as a special educator for 13 years prior to joining ResearchILD. She began her career as a high school science teacher and special education teacher in Austin, Texas, where she was named “Teacher of the Year” in 2014. After earning her masters degree, she transitioned to middle school special education. She has worked as a special educator with students in grades 5-12, and most recently served for 5 years as a middle school Dean of Student Supports at a charter school in East Boston, Massachusetts.

Laurel has a Masters Degree in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard, a bachelor’s degree in Biology, and a minor in Chemistry from Vanderbilt University. She is a certified practitioner in Collaborative Problem Solving through the ThinkKids Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is currently completing the training requirements to become a certified ADHD coach through JST Coaching.


Materials are only available to those who are enrolled in this session.