Executive Function - WHAT? (still more)


WHAT? (still more)
So what?  You know the importance of the executive function, but what are some specific activities that you can implement in your classroom? 

Here are some ideas to help you “fuse” EF research in meaningful and practical ways.

Peer Editing
Pair children to edit each other’s work.  Teach them to say one “super duper” thing (positive) and one thing they need to work on.

Say, Write, Illustrate
Pair spoken directions with written directions.  After explaining assignments, ask a student to retell classmates what they should do.
*Rebus charts or pictures with directions can help struggling readers.

Create checklists so students can monitor their own work.
         Did you start every sentence with a capital?
         Did you end every sentence with punctuation?
         Did you check your spelling?
         Did you write neatly?
         Did you read over your work to see if it makes sense?

How about this chant for the writing process?  Children repeat each line.
         Who knows the writing process?
         I know the writing process.
         First step.  (Hold up one finger.)
         Brainstorm.  (Hands on the side of your head and shake          down.)
         Second step…(Hold up 2 fingers.)
         Write it down…(Pretend to write with index finger
                                    on palm.)

         Third step…(Hold up 3 fingers.)
         Edit your work…(Shake finger.)
         Fourth step…(Hold up 4 fingers.)
         Publish your work…(Brush hands together.)
         Oh, yeah!  (Hands on hips with an attitude.)

Visual Graphics
Attribute webs, Venn diagrams, time lines, T-charts, story maps, and other visuals will aid students in organizing and remembering information.  Graphics can be used to review information, or as an assessment at the end of a unit,

Give children blank cartoon frames to illustrate step-by-step directions.

Have students close their eyes as you read a story.  This will encourage them to hold information in their short-term memory.

Children can use their fingers or other pointers to track words and keep pace as they read.
*Pretzel sticks, Bugles, craft sticks, or index cards can all be used.

Book Walks
Preview material by “walking” your fingers through a book before asking students to read.  Call their attention to the table of contents, illustrations, characters, etc.
*Introduce vocabulary before asking students to read.

Acronyms and Mnemonic Devices
Create acronyms and use mnemonic devices to help students memorize information.
         Geography – Spell “geography” by remembering “George
         Elliot’s Oldest Girl Rode A Pig Home Yesterday.
         Homes – The Great Lakes are Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie,          and Superior.

         PlanetsMy (Mars) very (Venus) eager (Earth) mother (Mars)
          just (Jupiter), served (Saturn) us (Uranus) noodles (Neptune).

         Roy G. Biv – He’s your friend when it comes to the color          spectrum.
         Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
         ContinentsEat (Europe) an (Antarctica) aspirin (Asia) after          (Africa) a (Australia) nutty (North America) Sandwich (South          America).
         Directions – Never (North) Eat (East) Soggy (South) Waffles          (West)

Schema (Anne Evans shared this idea.)
Show students the symbol for join/connect in sign language.  (Hook two index fingers together.)  Students put one hand on their


head for what’s in their head.  They hold out the other hand for what’s in the book.
Join the fingers together to connect what’s in their head and what’s in the book to make a schema.

Need to Know
Children are more interested in learning when they need the information to do something.  Explain why it is important to learn to read, write, do math, and so forth to be successful in life.  Ask students to describe why learning various material (for example in social studies or science) is important.  Help build bridges between what they learn in school and how they can use it outside of school.

Cognitive Flexibility
Riddles and jokes provide the opportunity for students to shift between multiple word meanings. 
*In math, challenge them to solve problems another way.

Thinking Out Loud
When students answer questions say, “How did you know that?”  When one student “thinks out loud” that enables others to develop cognitive strategies.

Me, Too!
To help children refrain from interrupting others, teach them sign language for “Me, too!”  Stick out the thumb and pinky and bend in the three middle fingers.  Bend the wrist so the thumb points to the chest.  Explain that if they can relate to what a classmate is saying or if they can relate to something in a book they should make that sign.

Note Taking
Model note-taking for students.   Fold a sheet of paper into thirds to create three columns.  In the first column they write a key word.  In the second column they write details, and in the third column they write strategies for remembering.
*You can also use the brochure for K (what the Know), W (what they Want to know), and L (what they Learn).

Have children highlight information in different colors.  For example, teach them to underline key concepts in blue and supporting details in yellow.

PowerPoints, Document Cameras, Visuals 
Use visual aids to highlight key information.

Thinking about thinking.  What did you learn today? 
*Make a poster that says “Kiss Your Brain” to put on your classroom door.  Before students leave at the end of the day they have to tell you something new they learned and then they get to kiss their brains.

Kiss Your Brain

*Create a “take home journal” for each child by putting 10-20 sheets of white paper in a pocket folder.  At the end of each day give children 5-10 minutes to write, draw, or dictate what they learned at school.  They take their journal home each day and share what they learned with their families.  Parents write their comments and compliments and then their child returns the journal to school the following day.

Take Home Journal


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