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Executive Functioning Game: In or Out

I’m so pleased to announce the release of my new Publication: Executive Functioning Game: In or Out!  It is the first of a series of executive functioning games that I have been creating over the past six months.
Card Descriptions: 
All 30 cards include two images: an inner image and an outer image. There are six images: a car, a light bulb, an alien, a raindrop, a flower and a hand. In addition, there are five different colors: yellow, red, blue, green and purple. It is a complex matching game that requires players to remember and utilize rules to search for commonalities amongst cards. The black symbol in the middle of the inner image directs players to look at the inner image or the outer image. Then players compare cards from their deck to the image in the discard pile. The black cat is simply a distractor and has no other purpose in the game.

What Population of Learners Does This Serve?


In or Out is a fabulously fun game for anyone, but it also serves as a cognitive, remedial tool that strengthens executive functioning skills: working memory, attention to detail, management of distractions, stamina, response inhibition, as well as mental shifting and sustained attention. For remedial purposes, this game can benefit individuals with ADHD, learning disabilities, executive functioning disorder as well as those with head injuries and the elderly.

For 1 to 3 Players:
Initially, I play the game with my students and verbalize the process. I slowly scaffold the process over to them. Once they have it, we play against one another.

Where Can I Purchase the Game?
The game is presently available @ Good Sensory Learning as a digital download. I am looking into printing decks of cards, and they will eventually be available on Amazon.


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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Executive Functioning: Problems and Solutions

                                       Click This Image to See a Free Prezi or Click Here

Many young learners are being diagnosed with executive functioning weaknesses and schools are struggling to meet the needs of this population of learners.  The problem is that many teachers and administrators don’t understand the difficulties associated with this problem and therefore find accommodating these students an ever increasing challenge.

What is Executive Functioning?
  •  The command and control center of the brain
  •  The conductor of cognitive skills
  •  The cognitive process that connects learned experiences with present actions.
  •  The place that encodes, retrieves and manipulates information.

What is the Impact of Executive Functioning Difficulties?
On the one hand, a weakness or deficit in executive functioning can impact an individual internally in a number of ways:
1) Cognitive Performance:

  • Slow processing speed
  • Difficulty maintaining motivation
  • Limited stamina
  • Poor goal-directed persistence

2) Emotional Regulation:

  • Problems curbing frustration
  • Difficulty maintaining a positive attitude
  • Struggles with controlling anxiety

3) Monitoring and Management:

  • Poor self-awareness  – prioritizing and self-awareness
  • Difficulties with self-regulation – time management, organization and planning

4) Memory:
  • Problems encoding information – holding and manipulating data
  • Difficulties retrieving information – word finding and connecting new concepts to prior knowledge
5) Attention:
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Problems sustaining attention
  • Difficulties shifting focus
  • Poor goal-directed persistence

On the other hand, difficulties with executive functioning can also impact an individual externally in a number of ways:

1) Social:
  • Difficulties arriving on time for social gatherings
  • Problems planning events
  • Difficulties engaging in-group dynamics
  • Struggles with recalling people’s names
2) Family:
  • Problems arriving on time for family gatherings
  • Difficulties finding items
  • Struggles with maintaining an organized space
  • Problems regulating emotions with family members
3) Educational:
  • Difficulties recording assignments
  • Problems initiating schoolwork
  • Struggles with locating Handouts and homework
  • Forgetting to submit completed assignments
  • Problems maintaining organized materials and space
  • Trouble keeping appointments
4) Occupational:
  • Problems maintaining stamina on projects
  • Difficulties organizing materials
  • Struggles to keep appointments
  • Problems finding materials
  • Difficulties arriving to work on time

What are Some General Solutions?
  • Meditation and mindfulness training
  • EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Cognitive remediation in areas such as working memory and emotional regulation
  • Individual or family therapy
  • Structured and routine oriented lifestyle
  • Use of planners, a PDA (such as a smartphone or computer) or hiring a personal assistant

What are Some Academic Solutions?
  • Create a structured daily routine
  • Set priorities
  • Generate a homework plan
  • Break large assignments into manageable chunks
  • Make to-do checklists
  • Teach study skills
  • Illustrate note-taking skills
  • Demonstrate time management skills by breaking large assignments into manageable chunks with numerous deadlines
  • Teach test taking strategies
  • Demonstrate memory strategies
  • Help student motivation by offering incentives and positive reinforcement
  • Create and use graphic organizers for writing
  • Teach metacognitive skills by thinking through the process aloud
  • Use technology such as a smartphone to create reminders

Academic Tools for Success:
To help with strategies and more, I created a 116-page publication that offers methods and materials that 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 10 year period for my private practice.  What’s more, the materials accommodate learners of all ages from elementary to college.  Come get a free sample assessment from the publication, as well as view a free video on executive functioning.  CLICK HERE

If you would like to view a Prezi that I created for this blog, CLICK HERE

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, www.learningtolearn.biz  

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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
them. 
These Students are Often Misunderstood:
Instead
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
Deficits?
  
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
planner.
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
details.
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
work.
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
strategies.
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?
To
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
:
   1)  
Plan assignments for the whole week.  This will save a lot of time and
trouble for everyone.
   2)  
Post assignments and reminders at the beginning
of class in a location that is easy to see. 
   3)  
Review new assignments as well as those that are
due, verbally, once everyone is settled down.
   4)  
Make sure that all the students record
assignments and check agendas for accuracy. 
   5)  
Print assignments out onto labels that students
can place into their assignment pads. 
This is great for students that have graphomotor weaknesses.
   6)  
Make a document or take a picture of written
assignments and email it to the students and students’ parents with a simple
email list.  
   7)  
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. 
   8)  
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:
   1)  
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.
   2)  
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. 
   3)  
Suggest a plan for how and when students can
make up the work.
   4)  
Email assignments to students and their parents.
   5)  
Allow students to email you finished assignments
when they are not able to attend class. 
   6)  
Communicate all missed work with students,
parents and any service providers.
If
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.
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.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

10 Easy Steps to Accommodate Students with Executive Functioning Weaknesses

10 Easy Steps to Accommodate Students with Executive
Functioning Weaknesses
   1.  Provide a consistent and structured environment:
a.    
At home: Create a structured routine and try to
schedule activities that are always on the same days and at the same
times.  You can even schedule
unstructured, free times.
b.    
In school: All teachers should communicate and post
homework assignments in the same way and at an expected time daily.  Home work should also be collected in a
reliable, routine manner.  Finally,
the classroom need to be managed in a consistent way with clear and concise
expectations.
   2.    
Provide reminders:
a.    
Use smart phones, ipods, watches with alarms,
and PDAs to provide auditory and visual reminders of important dates,
activities, and things that need to be done.
   3.    
Use a large month or two month at a glance
calendar to schedule events and post it in a high traffic location.  Review the calendar weekly and verbally
highlight each event.  If new activities
are added during the week, be sure to communicate these verbally and write them
on the calendar in a different color so that they stand out.
   4.    
Weekly, schedule and organization time:
a.    
At home: schedule an hour each week where all
family members “get organized.” 
Make it a fun time by playing music, having tasty snacks, and helping
each other.
b.    
At school: 
schedule a time once a week where students have an allocated time to get
their desks, backpacks, and lockers organized.  Try to make this fun by having contests and prizes for “the
most organized,” “the tidiest backpack,” 
“the best long-term planner,” “the neatest agenda”…  This too can be a time where teacher’s
can play music or students can listen to their ipods.
   5.    
Praise and reward organization, planning and
time management skills that are self initiated.
   6.    
Exhibit the behaviors you wish to see.  This means that you have to be
organized, plan and manage your time too. 
Set an example for your kids and students.  If you need help, hire an organization specialist for the
family or classroom.
   7.    
Organize the environment so that there is a place
for everything.  You can even label
drawers, closets, and shelves if necessary.
   8.    
Stay calm and supportive when your child or
student struggles with planning, time management and organization.  Make a time when the two of you can sit
down and devise a plan of action.
   9.    
Avoid name calling.  Lazy, unmotivated, careless and other negative labels will
not help the situation.  In fact,
it can create an environment where the child/student feels helpless and it can also
damage their self-esteem.
   10. When
your child or student is “mentally spent,” provide breaks, do an errand
together, play a short game, or take a walk. 
This publication is available on TPT and Amazon

http://goodsensorylearning.com/planning—organizing.html

An Executive Functioning Freebie

Download the Freebie to see the 5 components

Parents, teachers and administrators commonly ask me to define executive functioning. In fact, it is one of my most popular presentation topics. Executive functioning is a commonly used term in education at present and accommodating students that have this weaknesses can be difficult. The following free product offers a graphic depiction/organizer that reviews the components of executive functioning.  If we can understand this cognitive processing area better, surely we can learn to assist these students. I would love to hear your thoughts! http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Defining-Executive-Functioning-A-Graphic-Organizer