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lewelma

Explicitly teaching Executive Function skills

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In a previous thread about a how to do well in college, Maize asked about teaching executive function skills to kids who have trouble. I promised to start a new thread. I've copied in my two responses and hope people can add to them. I'm happy to answer questions with what I do with my tutor kids. 

  On 9/22/2018 at 12:29 PM, maize said:

I'd be interested in knowing what strategies have worked for people who generally struggle with executive function. A person who is naturally disorganized and has trouble focusing isn't likely to benefit from being told what organized, well focused people do that works for them.

 

I tutor at-risk teens, and many of them have executive function problems.  I do not agree that a class is the solution-- in my experience, these kids need modelling and mentoring.

The first thing I do, is make sure that they pound on a single test, be completely and totally prepared, and ace it.  To accomplish this, I evaluate what needs to be learned, organize their study, make daily lists, check up on their progress, mark off how much they have accomplished, discuss giving yourself buffer time in your study plan, do practice tests, organize materials in folders for them. I have no expectation that they can do *any* of this on their own.  I have even been known to hold the flash cards for a kid (even 17 year old kids), and sit with them at the library as a friendly supervisor. Basically, I do ALL the executive function *for* them, and make sure they are so prepared as to ace the test.  At this point the student knows what it feels like to be totally prepared for a test, and knows the effort it took to get there.  This is step one.

Next, is the gradual teaching of the *how* of executive function.  This takes a *long* time for some students, as in working with me for 2 years.  The key is not to expect them to be able to do it. Kids with executive function problems just can't.  And nagging them or belittling them is NOT going to work.  They have likely had this negative approach for all the years they have been in school.  They are already used to also negative self-labelling.  Some of my students have so much anxiety from failure due to executive function that they are cutting and drinking etc.  To turn it around, these kids need to believe that they are not abnormal.  *Many* students (as the original poster has noted) can't organize their way out of a box, it is fine to take time to learn the skill, rather than for someone to just tell you to fix it, now. I tell my students over and over that you must 1) figure out what you are supposed to know, 2) figure out what you actually know, 3) make a plan to get from one to the other. Most kids can do NONE of these 3 things.  So you have to show them how to do each, and it is very very tricky to do it well, which is why most kids can't.  Maize, I can go through the types of training I do with each of the 3, if you are interested. In this stage, you are working *with* the students to organize their study, in contrast to stage 1 where you do it all for them.  

Finally, you have the students organize their study while you watch. This step is often best done during exam season, so over the period of a month, and after you have already done at least 2 exam seasons *with* them.  This stage is about making sure they do it on their own and about making sure that they are recognized for doing it (so lots of praise). Kids need to know that someone cares, that there is follow through, that they are not out there on their own before they are ready.  Recognition is key --  Wow, you've got this.  Oh, what a good idea, I hadn't thought of that, I'll use that with my other students.  I love your use of color.  Show me how you laid that out.  Explain to me your system.  Etc. 

I cannot save all my students, but I can save most.  It is about caring, individualized attention. And time. The fix is not quick.

Ruth in NZ

 

 

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  On 9/24/2018 at 9:38 AM, maize said:

I see enough of myself in several of my kids to know they would really benefit from help with executive function skills but I haven't really known where to start. You've given me some great ideas.

 

I'm so glad I could be of some help!  Because I love writing, I'm going to summarize the approaches I take with the 3 big questions.

1) What am I supposed to know?  This is not as obvious as you might think.  Sure there might be things to memorize, techniques to master, concepts to understand.  But assessments require more nuance than that.  Are you supposed to relate ideas?  Are you suppose to synthesize? Are you suppose to be insightful?  These are the deeper questions to ask about what is expected of the student.  These example questions are about what you *know* , but there is also the question as to how you are supposed to express it.  How are you expected to show your work?  How are you to organize your arguments?  Are you to give examples, or refer to tables/equations/graphs? What does the style of writing for the subject look like? How much evidence do you need?  etc...

These are the questions that good students ask.  And they vary by subject. I once read that there are 4 types of learning - analytical, interpretative, production, and synthesis (and obviously many courses fall under more than one category). For analytical subjects like math and physics, you need to know how to showing your work, how many word problems there will be, how to do investigations, how much time pressure is expected, how to *explain* in words complex ideas.  For interpretative classes, like English or History, you need to know the requirements for good writing and thinking, things like what is insight look like? How do a make a good argument?  How do I address the question? For production classes like French and Violin, you need to know the speed and accuracy expected. What should you be able to hear? What should you be able to produce? And Finally for synthesis courses, like Biology, what do you have to memorize? How are you expected to synthesize it? How do you make logical arguments? How do you interweave new ideas with memorized content? What do certain instructions mean, like explain, interpret, synthesize, categorize, evaluate?  What exactly do you have to write to answer each of those types of questions? Step 1 of 'what am I supposed to know' is complex, and takes a lot of time to figure out for each different course you are taking.

2) What do I already know?  You would think that kids would be able to state clearly what they know, but no, they really can't.  They often think that if they are familiar with content, then they know it, and are surprised to find that they cannot explain it on a test, at all, especially not under time pressure.  And often they think that if they have memorized the content, then they are done, when actually they need to synthesize what they have learned, or develop skill in making an argument.  There is content and then there is skill.  I can know all about French grammar, but not be able to speak properly.  Skill must be identified and developed separately from content, but often concurrently.  After you make the detailed list of what you need to know from step 1, you need to decide you level of mastery - poor, adequate, excellent. And you need to be honest.  I often get kids to verbally explain something in full sentences, and if they can't, then they don't actually know it.

3) How do you get from what you know to what you need to know?  This is what most people think of as actual study skills, but actually without steps 1 and 2, you don't actually have a clue what to study.  I see this in students all the time.  Not a clue.  Once again, the goal is both learning the content and developing the skill in all 4 of the learning types - analytical, interpretative, production, and synthesis.  For analytical, the content is the straight forward math.  Can you do the work or not? But most students neglect problem solving skills, so that their word problem skills are very very poor.  And their investigation skills are even weaker.  I can go over how to develop problem solving skills in math if you want, as my focus is being a math tutor although I also tutor Bio, Chem, Physics, and English.

For interpretative courses, you need to have certain formats down cold, so that your mind is free to develop insight.  This is where books like "They Say, I Say" come in, and this is also the main purpose for speed writing under exam conditions, if you can write basic stuff fast, your mind is free to work at a higher level as the easy stuff is automated.  Most students do not realize that you really do have to write many many practice exams under time pressure to get good at this. 

For Production courses, obviously drill drill drill. I don't teach production courses but I am sure that someone else can offer advice.

And finally for synthesis courses, you must deal with the memory component in some fashion.  Most students need this to be active, so writing or speaking to memorize, not just doing it in your head.  But the part that most students do not know is that for synthesis subjects you need to practice how to write up answers to paragraph level questions.  And the key here is to use the answers.  Your answers should go into as great a depth and with the same organization as what the model answers look like. The gold is in the back of the book, assuming model answers have been provided.  You need to see how complex you are expected to write an answer, with what detail, and with what linkages.  Without a model to follow, you are flying blind.  And in addition, there are often only about 20 types of questions you need to be able to explain for any test, so you better keep a list and track what is expected for each and which ones you have mastered.  Synthesis subjects are typically the most difficult subjects for kids with executive function problems.

Ok, got to run.  Hope this helps.  I haven't even started with time management, priorities, schedule making etc.....

Ruth in NZ

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I am sort of afraid to post this but the above steps would drive my 2e son who has EF issues around the bend. I think that it is very good advice for most kids who are linear thinkers because it is a very linear approach. But my highly gifted son who is a visual spatial thinker would mutiny. 

For him, we look at the big picture of what he wants to accomplish first. He does come up with steps to get there but they aren’t as neat and orderly. And the process  can jump over steps that he finds “obvious” or intuitive. 

He’s the absent minded professor so we worked a lot on routines especially on “boring” things like hygiene and meds and even eating. He can and does  hyper focus on the things that interest him so we also worked on realizing when he needs to take a break. And realizing that achieving his goals means that he still needs to pass classes that he sees as irrelevant. 

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What about kiddos with significant EF issues, but they're very resistant to suggestions and advice?

My 13 yo is fairly resistant to any type of help with his lack of organization, inability to plan for a task, inability to get anywhere on time, etc.  He goes to a University model school so he's at school 3 days a week and home with me the other 2.  On his days at home, I model organizing his tasks within the day, we talk about how to prioritize those tasks, what else of daily life needs to happen (exercise, chores).  He absolutely hates a to-do list and would much rather just wing it...even though that requires ridiculous amounts of time with me prodding and nagging.

Yes, I've let him go it his own without the prodding/nagging, but that has a direct impact on the rest of the family - we're late for functions, or his chores never get done, or, or...

He's a very bright kid who thinks waaaay outside the box.  I mean, the box is not even in his line of sight, so there's that.

I've read a couple of books on EF and teens, but we're not getting very far.  Also, I printed out your other comments for him to read and he felt like it would be helpful down the line when he needed to study for tests (they're super easy for him right now).

Any thoughts on helping early teens that are resistant to advice and suggestions?  

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Here are some things I needed explicit instruction and practice in:

Time:

  • All things that need to happen have to be written (or entered) on the same calendar, AND you have to consult that calendar multiple times every day. To this day I cannot keep track of a paper planner; I need to put timed events on a big wall calendar and smaller items also in a to-do list on my phone. And not just the deadline gets entered--I need to specify time to work on the steps.
  • Alarms are our friend. They can even help build a new habit.
  • Pay attention to how long it takes to get places, and add a few minutes' margin when choosing when to leave; guessing makes people late, and late people are considered unreliable. It's no fun to feel that your reputation is at the mercy of a garbage truck.

Materials:

  • Color-coding is a worthwhile up-front investment (assuming you're that kind of thinker) because it gives us a mental shortcut. A subject gets a color, and that's the color of its book cover and binder and folder and highlighter and all other things that go with it. Color-coding your schedule helps if you have a lot of things going on. Adults need to sit with kids and work together on this task, although some kids manage it well before the end of middle school.
  • Any piece of paper by itself is an orphan in danger of being kidnapped by a recycling bin. All papers must travel with their group at all times to be safe. Buckle up in a binder or other safety device. Unfortunately, I still sometimes have trouble with this one.
  • Everything that doesn't have a home gets lost, typically at a very inconvenient moment. Hang up a hook next to the door for your keys; always set your bag in the same place; decide where your glasses live when not on your face; etc.
  • Objects that get used together need to live together. If every time you want to mail something, you have to gather a pen from one location, stamps from another, an envelope from another, etc., you risk misplacing something at every stop. The same is true for preparing a meal, doing your homework, wrapping gifts, mending clothes, or any other complex task.
  • Prepare your stuff in advance and put it all together in an obvious spot, preferably always the same spot on your way out the door. (This afternoon, I'm moving the things I need to drop off tomorrow to my car.) Post a checklist for the specialized things you need often (for swim practice, scout meetings, whatever). For a kid, the parent needs to help produce the checklist and direct the kid to it every time. Never yell because the goggles were forgotten, even if it was the fifth time this month; stay curious, and inquire whether they were indeed on the list and whether the list was reviewed on the way out, in order to see where the process is breaking down.

Space:

  • When you park a bike or car, verbalize where it is before walking away. "North side, by the farthest cart return," or whatever. This can work with any item that can't have a permanent home.

 

ETA: @MamaHill EF lessons are often more welcome from somebody other than the parent who is also clearly unhappy when the process breaks down and the whole family is late or something. Not everybody needs the same study skills, especially those for whom the content is fairly easy, and TBH I'd be inclined to leave that part alone for now--but the life skills tips might best be shared by someone like an older cousin who would not also be in a disciplinary role.

Edited by whitehawk
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29 minutes ago, whitehawk said:

 

  • Any piece of paper by itself is an orphan in danger of being kidnapped by a recycling bin. All papers must travel with their group at all times to be safe. Buckle up in a binder or other safety device. Unfortunately, I still sometimes have trouble with this one.
 

I love this! 

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5 hours ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

I am sort of afraid to post this but the above steps would drive my 2e son who has EF issues around the bend. I think that it is very good advice for most kids who are linear thinkers because it is a very linear approach. But my highly gifted son who is a visual spatial thinker would mutiny. 

 

Jean, please don't be afraid to post. This was not a Ruth's lecture series.  Every student is different, and I am always working to come up with new methods.  I have taught about 25 teens now, 10 of them for 3 full years, with a few coming between 3-5 hours a week.  No single method works, sadly.  If so, there would be an easy solution that we could all just implement and fix the problem yesterday. When I wrote out my steps, I had to make it make sense, so the write up looks waaaaaay more linear than any approach I have ever taken.  To be effective, I have to individualize, and that is why what I do is so intellectually challenging and fun. ?

As for gifted students, my older son had EF issues but is a linear thinker. The above process worked pretty well for him.  But my younger son is 2E and a very global thinker.  I have been working with him for four full years to find a way through his EF problems and his dysgraphia. At this point after so much time, we have been able to establish a routine (not a tick list), and for him to keep it, it must be super strict with clock-time like a school. We have also been able to get him to study for a hard external music theory exam and ace it (so step 1), and he has told me just last week when he took a practice external math exam, that he did not feel as prepared as for the music exam he aced, so thought he should not move on but rather redo the unit. So this tells me that he at least has a sense of what he knows, which is a huge step. However, after 4 years of teaching him EF skills, he still cannot make a list, keep a list, manage time without me sitting next to him, check his work, know what to study, etc.  BUT, we are making progress -- he is so much better than 4 years ago!  Kids with EF issues in my experience don't learn them in their early teens.  My goal for him is that he has moderate EF skills by the time he goes to college, and if I have to hold his hand for most of high school then I will.  I will just slowly, ever so slowly, have him take on more.  This drives my dh nuts, as he thinks ds should be able to do x y or z.  But that is why *I* am the teacher, and he is not!  Teaching is about paying attention to what your student can actually do rather than what you wish that they could do.  I know what has to be accomplished, and I have 3 more years to do it.  So in my mind I have broken up the skill set into 1000 pieces, for the 1000 days I have left.  Slow and steady.  There is NO quick fix.

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14 hours ago, lewelma said:
 

And finally for synthesis courses, you must deal with the memory component in some fashion.  Most students need this to be active, so writing or speaking to memorize, not just doing it in your head.  But the part that most students do not know is that for synthesis subjects you need to practice how to write up answers to paragraph level questions.  And the key here is to use the answers.  Your answers should go into as great a depth and with the same organization as what the model answers look like. The gold is in the back of the book, assuming model answers have been provided.  You need to see how complex you are expected to write an answer, with what detail, and with what linkages.  Without a model to follow, you are flying blind.  And in addition, there are often only about 20 types of questions you need to be able to explain for any test, so you better keep a list and track what is expected for each and which ones you have mastered.  Synthesis subjects are typically the most difficult subjects for kids with executive function problems.

Ok, got to run.  Hope this helps.  I haven't even started with time management, priorities, schedule making etc.....

Ruth in NZ

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Thanks so much for posting all of this Ruth. You have no idea how helpful it is. 

I was wondering, if you have time, would you mind fleshing the above out a bit more? How would you approach this in a case where a there are no model answers provided? Say you have an instructor who assigns readings picked from multiple sources provided to students in PDF excerpts- no textbook. For a mid-term the student is given a list of terms to know, and nothing more- the midterm will be essay based, but there have been no previous essays assigned for this course so the bar is murky at best. If your student is essentially, to quote you above, "flying blind", are there any suggestions or tips you can give for both the student and the tutor/parent to assist in this type situation? 

I do think narration by the student on a daily basis would help, but I have been unsure of what other tools to give the student in this siutation. I just purchased the book you mentioned too, They Say, I Say, as well as The Craft of Research in hopes of finding more ways to help dd through these type of courses, but I was hoping you had some other things to add. What you've said has been very clear, and is breaking it down in a way that I can see the steps. I'd love more input if you have any. 

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2 hours ago, MamaHill said:

What about kiddos with significant EF issues, but they're very resistant to suggestions and advice?

My 13 yo is fairly resistant to any type of help with his lack of organization, inability to plan for a task, inability to get anywhere on time, etc.  He goes to a University model school so he's at school 3 days a week and home with me the other 2.  On his days at home, I model organizing his tasks within the day, we talk about how to prioritize those tasks, what else of daily life needs to happen (exercise, chores).  He absolutely hates a to-do list and would much rather just wing it...even though that requires ridiculous amounts of time with me prodding and nagging.

Yes, I've let him go it his own without the prodding/nagging, but that has a direct impact on the rest of the family - we're late for functions, or his chores never get done, or, or...

He's a very bright kid who thinks waaaay outside the box.  I mean, the box is not even in his line of sight, so there's that.

I've read a couple of books on EF and teens, but we're not getting very far.  Also, I printed out your other comments for him to read and he felt like it would be helpful down the line when he needed to study for tests (they're super easy for him right now).

Any thoughts on helping early teens that are resistant to advice and suggestions?  

 

I have spent a good portion of the past decade thinking about EF skills and the psychology behind people who seem to do well vs those who don't. In my experience, it is not just that people don't know *how* to organize, manage their time, study, do chores, etc because clearly I can *tell* someone *how*, but rather that they don't seem to remember to do things that they know they should do, or that they struggle with delayed gratification and want to play before the work is done. So my efforts are usually more about the psychology rather than the *how*.

Fly lady was the first person that I read who ever focused on routine as a way of remembering to do things.  If you have clearly written down routines, things get done because you always do it in the same way.  My younger boy has learned that if he has to *decide* to do work, he won't want to, but if it is just what he does because he always does it they same way, then he will do it.  This is why for his school work, he has exact times that he does exact subjects, then there is no arguing in his own mind about doing it.  He doesn't have to pull up the reserves to stop to fun stuff and get to work. When we organized his day flexibly, then it was always a horrible effort to do work. Now that it is strict, it is not. He and I have worked for years studying what works for him and what doesn't. He really owns it, now, and is proud to have a system that works.  

The second person to really influence my perception of EF troubles as more psychological than lack of knowing how, was the author of "Wait but Why". This article is the most insightful piece of writing I have every read concerning procrastination. https://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrastinate.html  Read it, read it twice, study it with your child.  It is sooooo good. All of the emotions are personified, which makes them so easy to discuss.  Basically, when you don't do your work and instead do something fun, you feel horribly guilty because you know you shouldn't be playing.  When you have done your work, and then you play, you are in the happy playground.  Read the article.  Think about its impact on EF skills.  DS does not totally own this, but he at least has words to describe his emotions and some of his EF troubles. 

The third piece of psychology that I struggle with is that my younger DS wants to do everything *with* someone.  Ask him to put the dishes away, he won't ever get around to it.  Have me working in the kitchen while he puts the dishes away, he is more than happy to help.  This is an interesting social phenomenon. Although I admit that I get frustrated with the inability to work alone, I also recognize that DS needs success to believe in himself.  And in addition, maybe he needs to think deeply about this social need and make sure that he trains for a career that has it.  If working alone is not in the cards, then he should plan for it!

Got to run.  

 

Edited by lewelma
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2 hours ago, whitehawk said:

Here are some things I needed explicit instruction and practice in:

Time:

  • All things that need to happen have to be written (or entered) on the same calendar, AND you have to consult that calendar multiple times every day. To this day I cannot keep track of a paper planner; I need to put timed events on a big wall calendar and smaller items also in a to-do list on my phone. And not just the deadline gets entered--I need to specify time to work on the steps.
  • Alarms are our friend. They can even help build a new habit.
  • Pay attention to how long it takes to get places, and add a few minutes' margin when choosing when to leave; guessing makes people late, and late people are considered unreliable. It's no fun to feel that your reputation is at the mercy of a garbage truck.

Materials:

  • Color-coding is a worthwhile up-front investment (assuming you're that kind of thinker) because it gives us a mental shortcut. A subject gets a color, and that's the color of its book cover and binder and folder and highlighter and all other things that go with it. Color-coding your schedule helps if you have a lot of things going on. Adults need to sit with kids and work together on this task, although some kids manage it well before the end of middle school.
  • Any piece of paper by itself is an orphan in danger of being kidnapped by a recycling bin. All papers must travel with their group at all times to be safe. Buckle up in a binder or other safety device. Unfortunately, I still sometimes have trouble with this one.
  • Everything that doesn't have a home gets lost, typically at a very inconvenient moment. Hang up a hook next to the door for your keys; always set your bag in the same place; decide where your glasses live when not on your face; etc.
  • Objects that get used together need to live together. If every time you want to mail something, you have to gather a pen from one location, stamps from another, an envelope from another, etc., you risk misplacing something at every stop. The same is true for preparing a meal, doing your homework, wrapping gifts, mending clothes, or any other complex task.
  • Prepare your stuff in advance and put it all together in an obvious spot, preferably always the same spot on your way out the door. (This afternoon, I'm moving the things I need to drop off tomorrow to my car.) Post a checklist for the specialized things you need often (for swim practice, scout meetings, whatever). For a kid, the parent needs to help produce the checklist and direct the kid to it every time. Never yell because the goggles were forgotten, even if it was the fifth time this month; stay curious, and inquire whether they were indeed on the list and whether the list was reviewed on the way out, in order to see where the process is breaking down.

Space:

  • When you park a bike or car, verbalize where it is before walking away. "North side, by the farthest cart return," or whatever. This can work with any item that can't have a permanent home.

 

ETA: @MamaHill EF lessons are often more welcome from somebody other than the parent who is also clearly unhappy when the process breaks down and the whole family is late or something. Not everybody needs the same study skills, especially those for whom the content is fairly easy, and TBH I'd be inclined to leave that part alone for now--but the life skills tips might best be shared by someone like an older cousin who would not also be in a disciplinary role.

This is so helpful! Thank you! 

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1 hour ago, texasmom33 said:

I was wondering, if you have time, would you mind fleshing the above out a bit more? How would you approach this in a case where a there are no model answers provided? Say you have an instructor who assigns readings picked from multiple sources provided to students in PDF excerpts- no textbook. For a mid-term the student is given a list of terms to know, and nothing more- the midterm will be essay based, but there have been no previous essays assigned for this course so the bar is murky at best. If your student is essentially, to quote you above, "flying blind", are there any suggestions or tips you can give for both the student and the tutor/parent to assist in this type situation? 

 

If there are no workbook exercises with answers, and no practice tests with model answers, then you have to make it yourself.  This is based kind of on the Cornell notes system.  For whatever you are learning in the class, you need to write a question that can be answered with what you are learning. Then you need to practice actually writing the answer in paragraph form.  If you are writing questions based on notes, then in your written answer, you need to produce from memory in writing 95% of the points that the professor made.  As you write your answer, you are practicing logical and ordered thinking.  If you are writing your questions from material you have read, when you write up your answer, you don't need to write the paragraph word for word, but you do need to write your answer with proper scientific phrasing.  Usually these phrases are in clusters of 5 to 10 words.  If you are using a text or exerpts, then you have these phrases, and you should try to get a feel for how scientists write by studying the language they use. Kids often understand a concept, but then cannot actually write it down because they don't have a feel for the standard form used by scientists (this is what They Say I Say attacks for humanities). So in the paragraphs describing a concept, does the author state a theoretical idea and then use an example to explain it?  Are ideas interwoven with example? How do they conclude? Does the author explain a concept with 5 linkages between ideas, rather than just 2? Does the author refer to graphs and if so how?  etc.  Learning to write paragraph answers in science, is no different than learning to write answers for Literary analysis in English class. You need structure, content, support for your ideas, insight, and conclusions. My best student in Biology with essay tests, was a student who got a top mark on the National English exam.  

When writing your questions, you need to included the six levels of Blooms Taxonomy - knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation.  If your readings include a graph, you need to ask a question like "how does this graph provide support for the point xxx in the text?" or for synthesis you can ask questions like "using xxx example, explain xxx concept."  This kind of question writing is very high end.  So if you have a high school student, you would have to help at first. But there is simply no way to effectively study for an essay test without writing practice essays that answer questions.  

Edited by lewelma
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22 hours ago, lewelma said:

 

I have spent a good portion of the past decade thinking about EF skills and the psychology behind people who seem to do well vs those who don't. In my experience, it is not just that people don't know *how* to organize, manage their time, study, do chores, etc because clearly I can *tell* someone *how*, but rather that they don't seem to remember to do things that they know they should do, or that they struggle with delayed gratification and want to play before the work is done. So my efforts are usually more about the psychology rather than the *how*.

Fly lady was the first person that I read who ever focused on routine as a way of remembering to do things.  If you have clearly written down routines, things get done because you always do it in the same way.  My younger boy has learned that if he has to *decide* to do work, he won't want to, but if it is just what he does because he always does it they same way, then he will do it.  This is why for his school work, he has exact times that he does exact subjects, then there is no arguing in his own mind about doing it.  He doesn't have to pull up the reserves to stop to fun stuff and get to work. When we organized his day flexibly, then it was always a horrible effort to do work. Now that it is strict, it is not. He and I have worked for years studying what works for him and what doesn't. He really owns it, now, and is proud to have a system that works.  

The second person to really influence my perception of EF troubles as more psychological than lack of knowing how, was the author of "Wait but Why". This article is the most insightful piece of writing I have every read concerning procrastination. https://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrastinate.html  Read it, read it twice, study it with your child.  It is sooooo good. All of the emotions are personified, which makes them so easy to discuss.  Basically, when you don't do your work and instead do something fun, you feel horribly guilty because you know you shouldn't be playing.  When you have done your work, and then you play, you are in the happy playground.  Read the article.  Think about its impact on EF skills.  DS does not totally own this, but he at least has words to describe his emotions and some of his EF troubles. 

The third piece of psychology that I struggle with is that my younger DS wants to do everything *with* someone.  Ask him to put the dishes away, he won't ever get around to it.  Have me working in the kitchen while he puts the dishes away, he is more than happy to help.  This is an interesting social phenomenon. Although I admit that I get frustrated with the inability to work alone, I also recognize that DS needs success to believe in himself.  And in addition, maybe he needs to think deeply about this social need and make sure that he trains for a career that has it.  If working alone is not in the cards, then he should plan for it!

Got to run.  

 

This is incredible information.  You have just described my son in a multitude of ways - he struggles with delayed gratification, so he always chooses play before work and he ALWAYS wants to do something with someone. He's been this way since birth.  I, too, struggle with his inability to work well and diligently while alone.

The portion about having to *decide* to do the work.  That seems to be one of the biggest issues. 

I really appreciate you writing all of this out and sharing your thoughts and wisdom.  I am off to read the article you linked.  Again, many many thanks. ❤️

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I have been trying to set up routines for my teen and elementary student.  Wake up and go through the exact same routine for the one who is a night owl. Then we have a set time to start work.  However he is still up till 2AM the night before his class day.  I did talk to him about the link posted today.  He said once he gets started he's good to go and he does not get stuck at the 75% mark (I do!).  Tomorrow I"m just going to try and push him through doing work after class tomorrow.  I think experiencing having a margin of time where the panic monster is not driving the output might help.  This happens mostly with humanities subjects.  Science and math are usually a bit of daily work.  So clearly he is not starting his work and he's in the dark playground.   This kid is smart, but I have told him smart doesn't matter if we don't work.  I feel really driven to get him to a level to send him off to college in 2 years.  I am pretty hands off, but I do periodic check ins and I definitely start the day off more involved.   

Here's my problem with the whole keeping everyone on track...  I have been doing this consistently and daily for 2 months now and this past week I have been fantasizing about getting out my 20 year old backpack and buying a eurorail pass and running away.   

That article totally describes me, but when I do get task oriented and just check check check off the list I find myself in a hole of despair.  The sheer monotony of it is crushing my soul! LOL    

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When DS was in middle school, I stood with him as he cleaned the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher to ensure he was meeting my standard.  I backed off, and he's performed that task alone for years.

EF is a painful subject for me.  My DS is 2e with multiple SLDs, compromised processing speed, and average working memory, and he currently attends a tiny liberal arts university 60 miles away on a partial academic scholarship.  I don't know how DS will perform and midterms are in 2 weeks.  He's earning all A's and B's thus far, but the work expectations are increasing.  He qualifies for full academic accommodations.  Anyhoo...Tenth grade was the year that we reached a breaking point and discovered a fantastic CBT for EF issues. The CBT help was essential to me because I needed to understand precisely how to scaffold my son at home.  

My son has loads of currency which means he likes driving, sports, and hanging with friends.  The CBT immediately linked his currency to task completion and called the method Achievement Motivation.  We picked a couple of non-negotiable tasks that had to be completed at least 4-5 times per week.  We planned the steps to complete the task plus any possible back up contingencies and supports.   If DS completed his tasks, he received his reward which was prepping to get his drivers license, keeping his phone, hanging with friends, and playing football.  One of the tasks DS had to complete was daily mindfulness meditation for 5 minutes.  I wrote a contract with each task identified, and we signed it.  Each day, DS wrote his assignments down on a coil bound notebook with little boxes.  As he completed each task, he checked off the box.  For meditation, he set a timer on his phone.  When the timer went off, he stopped everything to meditate.  Another task was 20 minutes of BHQ.  BrainHQ is tedious and moderately challenging.  I could go online and verify that he had completed BHQ for 20 minutes.  Near the end of the week, I would look and gently remind him to finish his tasks.  If he did not complete BHQ, we could sit down and figure out how to sort the situation.  LIke, he couldn't go hiking or fishing with friends on a Saturday morning until he completed BHQ.  DS realized that fact so would awaken early and get BHQ done.  I believe DS missed two football practices for not completing tasks.  During his senior year of high school, he turned in all of his school work and never took a penalty for incomplete homework.  

My son is challenged in many areas such as seeking assistance early on when he needs it.  He has also had to become comfortable contacting teachers and asking questions about assignments.  I stood over DS as he typed his emails until he just started taking care of it on his own.  I still nudge on occasion, but DS has been around enough to see the wisdom in some of my recommendations.  With full accommodations at the university, he is in constant contact with his profs.

DS appears to be incorporating everything whitehawk mentioned at the university.  DS worked with Marydee Sklar over the summer to help address his time management skills.

As far as time management, one thing that has helped DS was for him to predict how long a task would take and then actually perform and time the task.  DS thought that he showered and dressed in 30 minutes.  No, it was 45 minutes, and he hadn't brushed his teeth or put his shoes on.  DS now happily uses timers in the bathroom to limit his showers.

I've attached a Goal Setting mindmap that we used while working with the CBT.  

ETA:  There is one last thing I was told to seriously consider, and that is brain maturity.  Sometimes these students just need to mature, and then they are ready for secondary education.  My DH entered college when he was 25 years old and is a highly successful BSEE.  That was not possible when he was 18-19 yo.

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we were writing at the same time, Heathermomster.  Funny we both bring up the bathroom!  My ds uses a timer also.  ?

I've spent a lot of time teaching my kids that the only way to get good at time management is to note how long it takes you to do something.  Kids with poor EF skills very typically underestimate the time.  My younger ds will think he has been in the bathroom getting ready for bed for 10 minutes and it will have been 40! So I regularly say "hey, it took us 15 minutes to drive to xxx," or "interesting, it took us 10 minutes to get out of the house one we said we were going," etc. This is stated WITHOUT judgement, just fact.  Then, we discuss how long we need to leave to get xxx done next time, and as always you have to add a buffer.  We set the buffer time as about 25% of the time expected.  So if you are driving somewhere for 20 minutes, you need to have 5 minute buffer. But when we had to drive 8 hours to catch a flight a couple of months ago, we left 2 hours buffer.  Then, when we do use up the buffer, I note that.  "Oh, good think we left our buffer time because we used it up."  And when our buffer time was insufficient, I note that too, and discuss why.  "Ah, rush hour traffic.  We definitely needed more buffer time". Both of my kids are really clued into this, especially because if it is *my* fault, I will say "Sorry guys, I misjudged how long it would take me to get ready, I need to leave 20 minutes not 5." And because we are nerdy math/science types we even discuss the probabilistic nature of the usage of the buffer.  What percentage of the time do we use up the buffer?  Does that percentage vary depending on the type of action?  Driving for example: stoplights are inconsistent so about 30% chance of using the buffer, but an accident will completely blow your buffer and you can't really plan in an extra hour when it only happens 1 in 500 times you drive. This long standing (as in years and years) conversation is fun and light hearted -- the absolute opposite of nagging.  I think we have all gotten better about it, and my older boy at university has already mentioned to me on the phone "good thing I gave myself 15 minutes buffer, because I went to the wrong building." So it seems to be working!

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On 9/30/2018 at 5:40 PM, lewelma said:

 

If there are no workbook exercises with answers, and no practice tests with model answers, then you have to make it yourself.  This is based kind of on the Cornell notes system.  For whatever you are learning in the class, you need to write a question that can be answered with what you are learning. Then you need to practice actually writing the answer in paragraph form.  If you are writing questions based on notes, then in your written answer, you need to produce from memory in writing 95% of the points that the professor made.  As you write your answer, you are practicing logical and ordered thinking.  If you are writing your questions from material you have read, when you write up your answer, you don't need to write the paragraph word for word, but you do need to write your answer with proper scientific phrasing.  Usually these phrases are in clusters of 5 to 10 words.  If you are using a text or exerpts, then you have these phrases, and you should try to get a feel for how scientists write by studying the language they use. Kids often understand a concept, but then cannot actually write it down because they don't have a feel for the standard form used by scientists (this is what They Say I Say attacks for humanities). So in the paragraphs describing a concept, does the author state a theoretical idea and then use an example to explain it?  Are ideas interwoven with example? How do they conclude? Does the author explain a concept with 5 linkages between ideas, rather than just 2? Does the author refer to graphs and if so how?  etc.  Learning to write paragraph answers in science, is no different than learning to write answers for Literary analysis in English class. You need structure, content, support for your ideas, insight, and conclusions. My best student in Biology with essay tests, was a student who got a top mark on the National English exam.  

When writing your questions, you need to included the six levels of Blooms Taxonomy - knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation.  If your readings include a graph, you need to ask a question like "how does this graph provide support for the point xxx in the text?" or for synthesis you can ask questions like "using xxx example, explain xxx concept."  This kind of question writing is very high end.  So if you have a high school student, you would have to help at first. But there is simply no way to effectively study for an essay test without writing practice essays that answer questions.  

Thank-you for this.  I forwarded this response to my DS at uni this morning.

Cornell Notetaking seems to be helpful for DS.  Just wanted to mention that.

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ETA:  There is one last thing I was told to seriously consider, and that is brain maturity.  Sometimes these students just need to mature, and then they are ready for secondary education. 

I completely agree with this. I was still sitting with my older son at age 17 to write official-type e-mails, and he is still calling me from MIT to talk through his time management plan to get all his work done. At 14, my younger boy can do close to nothing on his own without me sitting next to him.  Kids with EF issues just take longer to learn the skills and to consistently and independently use them. This is no different than a kid who has trouble with math needing a tutor and a class that moves slower.  There is no quick fix, I am going to be just as kind to a student with EF problems as I am to a student with dyslexia. You can't nag a kid into using skills he is struggling to learn let alone master.

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On 9/30/2018 at 2:17 PM, lewelma said:

 

The second person to really influence my perception of EF troubles as more psychological than lack of knowing how, was the author of "Wait but Why". This article is the most insightful piece of writing I have every read concerning procrastination. https://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrastinate.html  Read it, read it twice, study it with your child.  It is sooooo good. All of the emotions are personified, which makes them so easy to discuss.  Basically, when you don't do your work and instead do something fun, you feel horribly guilty because you know you shouldn't be playing.  When you have done your work, and then you play, you are in the happy playground.  Read the article.  Think about its impact on EF skills.  DS does not totally own this, but he at least has words to describe his emotions and some of his EF troubles. 

 

 

There is a fabulous TED talk I used to show my 8th graders by this same person.

 

It was very helpful as far as establishing common language in discussing EF issues in the classroom.. 

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I woke up last night when ds went to bed at 3:40 AM!  He did get all his work done and he'll probably get all A's.  However, he's going to be so tired doing his school day at hybrid school.  Then he will be so tired he won't want to get started on his work when we get home.  We both have some work to do to learn to deal with this.  He will not have this problem on his math/science day though.  I don't know if it's because he likes those subjects better and is naturally good at them.  He's actually good at humanities, but maybe it's just not as easy.   Video games, youtubes, wiki spirals all the typical things are a problem.  A good chunk of his school work is on the computer.  He has been diagnosed as mild inattentive ADHD.  I'm sure everyone in our family is a bit that way. 

I'm interested in everything posted above and how we can incorporate that in a way that is not relationship damaging. 

I was like this too.  I did not really fix the problem until first child came along.    I did fine at work.

edited:  on the way to school ds told me he had to turn his phone off at 2:30 AM because all the kids in his groupme were chatting.  Y'all..these are the most awesome fantastic kids.  What in the world???  There are a couple of them that I would assume have it together and get all their work done on time.  Apparently not.  

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On 9/30/2018 at 12:36 PM, MamaHill said:

What about kiddos with significant EF issues, but they're very resistant to suggestions and advice?

My 13 yo is fairly resistant to any type of help with his lack of organization, inability to plan for a task, inability to get anywhere on time, etc.  He goes to a University model school so he's at school 3 days a week and home with me the other 2.  On his days at home, I model organizing his tasks within the day, we talk about how to prioritize those tasks, what else of daily life needs to happen (exercise, chores).  He absolutely hates a to-do list and would much rather just wing it...even though that requires ridiculous amounts of time with me prodding and nagging.

Yes, I've let him go it his own without the prodding/nagging, but that has a direct impact on the rest of the family - we're late for functions, or his chores never get done, or, or...

He's a very bright kid who thinks waaaay outside the box.  I mean, the box is not even in his line of sight, so there's that.

I've read a couple of books on EF and teens, but we're not getting very far.  Also, I printed out your other comments for him to read and he felt like it would be helpful down the line when he needed to study for tests (they're super easy for him right now).

Any thoughts on helping early teens that are resistant to advice and suggestions?  

We sit down and have brainstorming sessions in which my DD comes up with ideas SHE thinks would work. Then, we enforce them. If she doesn't follow through, lather, rinse, repeat until we come up with something that DOES work. If she declares she has no ideas, we'll throw some at her. Usually she rejects them all until she fixates on one she really, really hates and suddenly one of the earlier suggestions becomes her idea. ?

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I got to adulting level of executive function skills by being explicitly taught--by drill instructors at boot camp. This was not for lack of trying on the part of my parents, I'll add. 

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My oldest just came home with a 65 on her first biology exam at brick and mortar school. Looks like I need to dig into how to make and follow a study plan with her.

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4 hours ago, Ravin said:

I got to adulting level of executive function skills by being explicitly taught--by drill instructors at boot camp. This was not for lack of trying on the part of my parents, I'll add. 

 

Can you give details on how this helped you?  Do they stand over you all day long?  I've never been in the military so my idea of drill instructors is probably cartoonish..  I have an idea this is not the way to go with my ds, but i'm guessing there might be some useful bits of info.  Some of the kids my son is in a groupme with do come from military families and do seem task oriented on the surface.  I"m just wondering if their parents don't know this is going on.  My kids seem to tell me much more info than their peers tell their parents and I do not want to damage that aspect of our relationship.  FWIW DS is interested actually in how to get past this, so that is a positive at least.

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1) What am I supposed to know?  This is not as obvious as you might think.  Sure there might be things to memorize, techniques to master, concepts to understand.  But assessments require more nuance than that.  Are you supposed to relate ideas?  Are you suppose to synthesize? Are you suppose to be insightful?  These are the deeper questions to ask about what is expected of the student.  These example questions are about what you *know* , but there is also the question as to how you are supposed to express it.  How are you expected to show your work?  How are you to organize your arguments?  Are you to give examples, or refer to tables/equations/graphs? What does the style of writing for the subject look like? How much evidence do you need?  etc...   

These are the questions that good students ask.  And they vary by subject.

It's interesting that some of these things, to me, are not EF skills in the sense that this is usually the realm of how the teacher grades, and hence, something the teacher should be communicating. As a student, I wondered these things but didn't know how to ask. What a relief it was to find that a lot of the time, in the real world, bosses tell you what they want or tell you the purpose of a project so that you can narrow down what needs to be done. But teachers don't always (at least mine didn't). I did have a few college professors that did, but they were typically professors that had not always been in teaching and had some "real world" experience, lol! I had a tech writing class in college that pulled this together for me, and if I had had that class many years earlier, I think it would've given me a basis for asking for clarification (the class had tons of real world suggestions about the purpose of projects, what's at stake, etc. that is not present in a lot of academic classes). I would've had to translate it from "real world' to "what the professor wants," but I would've had real suggestions to use as a questioning point, such as, "is it appropriate to present my information this way?" Or, "this discipline prizes wordiness and repetition of concepts over being succinct" (something I will admit to never understanding!). 

Anyway, the point I actually wanted to make is about global thinking/thinkers since that came up in other spots. I am a global thinker, but I seem to have very strong EF, but I think that global thinking is like EF in that it takes longer to mature unless it's mentored--global thinking is refined over time and exposure to many topics of interest and relevance and also as life experience shows you what you need to recalibrate (I think I am really referring to Intuition in the Meyer's Briggs sense, truthfully). But, it's awfully hard for global thinkers to pick up the crumbs left in the bottom of the box of factual crackers--they take the whole crackers out, and sometimes there are crumbs that seem homeless, and then it's anyone's guess what to do with those pieces. I often know intuitively that I am missing something but don't know what it is--I just know that there are crumbs that were supposed to be a cracker, and when they weren't a cracker, they got swept up off the floor when I was eating the crackers. Maybe this problem is unusual--I do know intuitive thinkers who are well-integrated at a young age, but they all had a parent or teacher or someone who reinforced their intuition (I did not--my intuition frustrated people). Anyway, the information/feedback I need is often unique to me--I made a connection that was faulty (usually due to global thinking!--global people seem to be super intuitive but often less precise--we have to shift out of "making connections" mode to "edit and proofread" mode). As a learner, I needed something to measure my understanding against, and school type assignments didn't usually provide that, so I could EASILY make a connection that was wrong and then not have the feedback necessary to undo that faulty understanding. In school this looked like getting good grades and "missing" things. I used to have other students ask me to help them during study hall based purely on their knowing that I got good grades. I would be utterly lost on concepts and still pulling A's sometimes . I was missing one or two key things that helped pull the global thinking together, but I wouldn't know what it was. When people would ask me for help, they often unwittingly gave me the piece of information that was missing, and then I could pull it all together on the fly and fix both their misunderstanding and mine, but had I not been asked a question that included my missing information, I would've been the student who was lost but had great grades. It was rather anxiety producing, truthfully! Any suggestions on how to help students like this? I do feel like your descriptions help to "make a point" for an assignment when there seems to be none, but it sounds daunting to have to do that for everything.

My son is both linear and global--he is 2e, and he needs the big picture, and then he needs the bits, and then he needs to do it all again (and sometimes many times). It's very, very inefficient, but it's not an EF thing entirely--it's largely an ASD thing. I have another kiddo that is 2e but no ASD, and he's much easier to teach in spite of having a lot fewer EF skills than my 2e ASD kiddo possesses. 

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I once read that there are 4 types of learning - analytical, interpretative, production, and synthesis (and obviously many courses fall under more than one category). For analytical subjects like math and physics, you need to know how to showing your work, how many word problems there will be, how to do investigations, how much time pressure is expected, how to *explain* in words complex ideas.  For interpretative classes, like English or History, you need to know the requirements for good writing and thinking, things like what is insight look like? How do a make a good argument?  How do I address the question? For production classes like French and Violin, you need to know the speed and accuracy expected. What should you be able to hear? What should you be able to produce? And Finally for synthesis courses, like Biology, what do you have to memorize? How are you expected to synthesize it? How do you make logical arguments? How do you interweave new ideas with memorized content? What do certain instructions mean, like explain, interpret, synthesize, categorize, evaluate?  What exactly do you have to write to answer each of those types of questions? Step 1 of 'what am I supposed to know' is complex, and takes a lot of time to figure out for each different course you are taking.

I love these descriptions! In case it helps anyone, The Critical Thinking Company has a book called Learning on Purpose that would offer some scaffolding for the various types of learning. They basically make rubrics that help a student learn how to organize information that comes to them in these various categories.

 

Somewhere you mention a math problem-solving approach...I can't find it. Would you mind putting that in the thread as well? My son is a fantastic novel problem-solver, but systematic problem-solving escapes him unless it's something fairly concrete and hands-on. I do have an explanatory resource for this, but I could use something with steps and examples, I think. This resource is kind of broad: https://www.physicsclassroom.com/calcpad/habits    Modeling only sort of helps because my son needs someone to both model and meet him where he's at, which is always off the beaten path, lol! He has a math tutor this year, and she's pretty astounded by all the ways he can solve a problem without doing anything remotely standard. It's good that he can be novel, but it's not efficient, and it leaves him high and dry when he does need to be systematic.

Lastly, does anyone have some good Cornell notes tutorials? I do appreciate the description, but I would love more information, and even seeing someone teach the method would be something I am interested in. I need to see how these things typically go when presented to students because my older son will do everything except what is typical with the information, and I need that reassurance that it's not just me--I am presenting things well.  

I am also struggling a bit with the idea of Cornell notes--studies show that good note-takers write down less, and categorize more, which is consistent with Cornell notes. The problem I have is that if I don't write down every detail, then if I mis-categorize, I have no way to go back and see what piece of information I am missing. Being a global thinker, I categorize and sift immediately, but if I get any part of that wrong, then I need those details as bread crumbs to get back on track. I think this is a big part of why I had such trouble asking questions when I was lost in school. Is there a method to satisfy both needs? I mostly just end up breaking my hand writing it all down. I am also a very, very poor auditory learner. My non-ASD son has CAPD, and I think I know where he gets it! We're going to teach him to use a Livescribe pen combined with purposeful note-taking, and Cornell note-taking is my goal. My ASD kiddo actually has language issues (wh- questions and the like) that make Cornell note-taking difficult for him to do without serious prompting and discussion, so we are in deep weeds regardless of how I approach things with him.

 

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kbutton, my DS is dysgraphic and uses a smartpen in class.  His writing SLD is language and motor based, and he cannot take a ton of readable notes.  DS has learned that he must pre-read assignments before any lecture and then review them Cornell Style.  After class, he types his notes into a Cornell template that we designed using a table in MacOS Pages.  During that time, son examines the information, summarizes, and writes down any questions in the Cues area.  Son can pick up his smartpen at any time and point to the lecture notes and rehear the lecture.  He can also download the pencast to his laptop and go to any portion of the lecture that went too quickly and relistens for clarification.  Either way, he can add the additional study information that was previously missed. ETA:  At the university, son’s profs provide all lectures slides as a file download, and he can meet with fellow students to compare notes, ensuring he didn’t miss any lecture info.  

We used the following video to learn the Cornell Notetaking system:

 

The trick with the system is to preread info before the lecture and then immediately review and summarize the info after.  The smartpen fills in the gap where not enough info was jotted down.  BTW, some people mindmap, draw timelines, and pictures in the Notes area.  

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Thank you for the link!!! Since this is our goal for my second son with CAPD, and I really appreciate hearing more about how you pull it all together. His SLP is actually working toward this goal as well. 

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On 10/3/2018 at 6:23 PM, texasmom33 said:

@Lori D. Hey Lori, Do you know how we can go about getting this thread pinned? ?


Hi texasmom33 -- I included it in the pinned thread at the top of the high school board, in the very first section of Reference Threads: High School Motherload #1

Because so many topics are good ones for pinning, and pinning a lot of threads tends to "clog up" the top of each forum board, maybe I could start a compilation post of all those "pin-able" threads for the General Board, similar to the ones I compiled and are pinned at the top of the High School and College boards. ?

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8 minutes ago, Lori D. said:


Hi texasmom33 -- I included it in the pinned thread at the top of the high school board, in the very first section of Reference Threads: High School Motherload #1

Because so many topics are good ones for pinning, and pinning a lot of threads tends to "clog up" the top of each forum board, maybe I could start a compilation post of all those "pin-able" threads for the General Board, similar to the ones I compiled and are pinned at the top of the High School and College boards. ?

Thank you!! That would be awesome- especially on this one, because I know a lot of people don't venture over to High School board- or at least it sounds like that. And these tips are applicable to junior high as well. 

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55 minutes ago, texasmom33 said:

Thank you!! That would be awesome- especially on this one, because I know a lot of people don't venture over to High School board- or at least it sounds like that. And these tips are applicable to junior high as well. 


Looks like the moderators just pinned this thread at the top of the General Board! (:D

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I have only read the first 6 posts or so or this thread. Still taking time to digest everything, and then read through the rest of the thread.

But I just want to pop in and say thank you for starting this thread, and for all the comments! This is so timely for us.

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On 10/1/2018 at 6:47 AM, lewelma said:

 

I have spent a good portion of the past decade thinking about EF skills and the psychology behind people who seem to do well vs those who don't. In my experience, it is not just that people don't know *how* to organize, manage their time, study, do chores, etc because clearly I can *tell* someone *how*, but rather that they don't seem to remember to do things that they know they should do, or that they struggle with delayed gratification and want to play before the work is done. So my efforts are usually more about the psychology rather than the *how*.

Fly lady was the first person that I read who ever focused on routine as a way of remembering to do things.  If you have clearly written down routines, things get done because you always do it in the same way.  My younger boy has learned that if he has to *decide* to do work, he won't want to, but if it is just what he does because he always does it they same way, then he will do it.  This is why for his school work, he has exact times that he does exact subjects, then there is no arguing in his own mind about doing it.  He doesn't have to pull up the reserves to stop to fun stuff and get to work. When we organized his day flexibly, then it was always a horrible effort to do work. Now that it is strict, it is not. He and I have worked for years studying what works for him and what doesn't. He really owns it, now, and is proud to have a system that works.  

The second person to really influence my perception of EF troubles as more psychological than lack of knowing how, was the author of "Wait but Why". This article is the most insightful piece of writing I have every read concerning procrastination. https://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrastinate.html  Read it, read it twice, study it with your child.  It is sooooo good. All of the emotions are personified, which makes them so easy to discuss.  Basically, when you don't do your work and instead do something fun, you feel horribly guilty because you know you shouldn't be playing.  When you have done your work, and then you play, you are in the happy playground.  Read the article.  Think about its impact on EF skills.  DS does not totally own this, but he at least has words to describe his emotions and some of his EF troubles. 

The third piece of psychology that I struggle with is that my younger DS wants to do everything *with* someone.  Ask him to put the dishes away, he won't ever get around to it.  Have me working in the kitchen while he puts the dishes away, he is more than happy to help.  This is an interesting social phenomenon. Although I admit that I get frustrated with the inability to work alone, I also recognize that DS needs success to believe in himself.  And in addition, maybe he needs to think deeply about this social need and make sure that he trains for a career that has it.  If working alone is not in the cards, then he should plan for it!

Got to run.  

 

I also think one piece of this puzzle is building a life where there is some time to play.  For me when we are over scheduled I am very inclined to play before work because I know once work starts it never stops.

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So glad I stumbled upon this thread, DS and I have been on the hamster wheel, I now understand so much more and am excited to try the things mentioned.  Thank you to all who posted - the struggle is real.

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I just want to say to lewelma and all others who have added to this topic a BIG THANK YOU! This is something I have been thinking about and working through for myself and my children.What I have learned from my own personal experience is that these things come easily (as in they pick them up or clue into them easily)for soem people. Also, generally, depending on who you are, it is easier to figure out these EF in some subjects versus others. For instance, I am great at figuring out how to learn math with mastery and got a 98% grade in high school with ease, but ask me to do that in English or History and I struggled because I just did not know what to do, and as one person mentioned above, only a few teachers in schools teach these EF in their class. I find most don't and expect people to figure them out themselves.

I am learning that the first step is to learn oneself or your children to know what kind of person they are. Secondly, I have learned that no matter the type of person they are, we all need to learn these skills (or as I see them, these frameworks) that are so important to know and use in one's life to make them successful. These frameworks are how we make sense of things and live effectively  ~  how to read, think, and express ourselves (basically knowledge, understanding and wisdom is another way of expressing it). Lastly, knowing who we are and that we need to learn these skills, as lewelma shares, we need to figure out how to teach these things so that it clicks in each persons mind.  And motivation and maturity has a huge amount of influence in this. 

Thank you so much for making this thread. I am going to read through and really digest this one. And I will definitely refer people to this thread for further help in this area. 

Edited by Caralee
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