Dr. Warren’s blogger articles on executive functioning.

Back to School: Planning, Time Management and Organization Instruction

Many teachers can not fathom how apparently simple tasks such as using an agenda or turning in an assignment can be very difficult for some of their students.  In fact, many students need comprehensive instruction
and scaffolding to learn to plan, manage time, and organize. 
Executive functioning, which encompasses these skills is the last part of
the brain to fully develop, and in actuality, does not reach maturation until students
reach their early 20’s. 
How Hard Can it Really Be to Plan, Manage Time and Organize?
I have to admit, when I first started working
with students that struggled with executive functioning, I was surprised how
challenging planning, time management and organization could be for some of my
young, bright learners.  What
seemed to be clear and obvious was obscure, taxing and problematic for
These Students are Often Misunderstood:
of compassion and strategies, students that have difficulties with executive
functioning are often intimidated, harassed and mishandled with discipline and
inconsistent methods that result in poor grades. Many of these students are continually told that they
are lazy, unmotivated and careless, and this often results in feelings of frustration,
anger and even helplessness.  Acquiring accommodations for students that struggle with executive functioning difficulties is rare, and now, with
technology at our fingertips, each teacher seems to have their own way of
communicating and collecting assignments. 
As a result, this population of learners seems to be under additional pressure due to the lack of cohesive structure across classes and their need for consistency. 
So What are the Signs that a Student has Executive Functioning
They often:
1.   lose materials.
2.   forget to turn in assignments.
3.   leave things to the last minute.
4.   miscalculate or underestimate the amount of
time it will take to complete a task.
5.   fail to record homework in an agenda or
6.   leave needed materials at school.
7.   leave needed materials at home.
8.   fail to prepare for tests.
9.   fail to plan and break down long-term
assignments into manageable tasks or goals.
10. neglect to
plan for midterms or finals.
11. forget
12. lose focus
and miss important notes or directions.
13. lose mental
stamina and fail to complete a task.
14. misplace
important materials.
15. rush through
So What can be Done to Assist these Students?
1.   Create a structured daily routine.
2.   Set priorities.
3.   Generate a homework plan. 
4.   Break large assignments into manageable chunks.
5.   Make to do checklists.
6.   Teach study skills.
7.   Illustrate note-taking skills.
8.   Demonstrate time management skills by breaking large
assignments into manageable         chunks with numerous deadlines.
9.   Teach test taking strategies.
10. Demonstrate memory
11. Help student motivation by
offering incentives and positive reinforcement.  
12. Create and use graphic organizers for writing.
13. Teach metacognitive skills
by thinking through the process aloud. 
Where Can I Get Ready Made Materials?
learn all about these strategies and more, I have created a
116 page publication on CD or digital download that offers methods and materials that help to structure, guide, and support students in the areas of
time management, planning and organization
(executive functioning skills). 
This comprehensive document includes agendas, questionnaires,
checklists, as well as graphic organizers for writing and test preparation.  You will also find advice and materials
in the areas of reading, math, memory, motivation, setting priorities and
creating incentives programs. 
These materials were all created over a ten year period in my private
practice.  What’s more, the
materials are varied and accommodate learners of all ages from elementary to
college.  Finally, you can also get
a free sample assessment from the publication, as well as view a free video on executive functioning.  Click Here  

Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Helping Students to Record and Turn in Assignments

Recording assignments and turning in the finished product may
seem like a “no brainer” for many teachers, but did you know that executive
functioning, a key cognitive component in planning and organizing, is not fully
developed until many reach their early 20s?  What’s more, many young students are not allowed to use
modern technologies, such as smart phones and Ipads while at school to help
them with this process.  Furthermore,
many students are overwhelmed by the countless distractions in a busy classroom
and miss what appear to be clear directives.  So, what can we do to help students remember to record as
well as turn in assignments? 
Create a Structured,
Reliable Classroom Routine
Plan assignments for the whole week.  This will save a lot of time and
trouble for everyone.
Post assignments and reminders at the beginning
of class in a location that is easy to see. 
Review new assignments as well as those that are
due, verbally, once everyone is settled down.
Make sure that all the students record
assignments and check agendas for accuracy. 
Print assignments out onto labels that students
can place into their assignment pads. 
This is great for students that have graphomotor weaknesses.
Make a document or take a picture of written
assignments and email it to the students and students’ parents with a simple
email list.  
When students hand in their assignments, give
them a sticker of a hand to place into their assignment pad.  This way they will know that they turned
it in. 
To make sure everyone turned in their
assignments say, “Raise your hand if you turned in your assignment.”  Be specific about which assignment and
hold up a sample for all the students to see.
Offer a Consistent
and Planned Approach
for Missed Class Work and Assignments:
Post assignments on the internet.  However, do not use this approach
unless the site is reliable and you can always post the assignments before the
end of the school day.
Require that each of your students share their
contact information with at least 5 other students (Study Buddies).  This way students can contact one
another as needed. 
Suggest a plan for how and when students can
make up the work.
Email assignments to students and their parents.
Allow students to email you finished assignments
when they are not able to attend class. 
Communicate all missed work with students,
parents and any service providers.
you are looking for structured ways to help your students with planning,
organizing and time management, consider purchasing Planning, Time Management
and Organization for Success.  It
offers over 100 pages of graphic organizers and handouts that can help your
students with reading, writing, test prep, planning for long term assignments,
memory, active learning, motivation and more.  Click here or on the image to learn more.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

10 Ways to Teach Planning, Time Management and Organization

Teaching students planning, time management and organizational skills is necessary in the classroom as well as at home.  Although some find executive functioning to be quite obvious, there are those that need to learn the process.  Here are 10 recommendations:

© 2012 Good Sensory Learning

  1. Provide verbal, written and even electronic reminders.
  2. Let students select their preferred calendar option.  There are daily, weekly and even monthly calendars.  In addition, a calendar can be maintained on electronic devices, computers, wall charts, as well as printed planners.  
  3. Offer a calm, supportive and mindful environment.
  4. Avoid name calling.  Using terms like “careless” or “unmotivated” only creates negative energy, frustration and helplessness.  
  5. Provide short breaks.  Schedule “unstructured time” in your daily routine.
  6. Offer a structured and organized environment with clear expectations.
  7. Set an example and show how you plan, manage time and organize materials.
  8. Praise and reward self initiation.  In the beginning, recognize any movement in the right direction.
  9. Schedule time, post routines and communicate expectations around the house or classroom.
  10. Provide structure, by offering support and guidance.  In the beginning, do the process together.
To learn all these strategies and more you can purchase my recent publication Planning Time Management and Organization for Success: Quick and Easy Approaches to Mastering Executive Skills for Student. 
Good Sensory Learning