All posts in Executive Function

The Hidden Reason Why Some Kids Can’t Follow Your Directions

Unlocking Multi-Step Directions with Dr. Leilani Sáez (BayTreeBlog.com)

Preface by Anne-Marie

I’m delighted to introduce you to Dr. Leilani Sáez. An educational researcher and former classroom teacher, Dr. Sáez knows how tough it can be to reach kids with working memory weaknesses.

Leilani Sáez - headshot

Leilani Sáez is an educational psychologist currently working as a research associate at Behavioral Research & Teaching (BRT), a research center at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on the early identification of learning difficulties, and the development and use of assessments designed to guide instruction and learning. In particular, she is interested in clarifying how working memory processing impacts learning. Dr. Sáez has 20 years of experience in school settings, including as a teacher of students with learning disabilities, as a university learning specialist, and a preK-12 researcher. She presents her work at national conferences and writes research articles and book chapters about reading, working memory, learning disabilities, and measurement.

You’re in for a treat today as she demystifies one of the most common challenges educators and parents face – helping kids to follow multi-step directions.

My favorite part? Her powerful and practical three-step toolkit for supporting children.

Please enjoy!

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Enter Leilani

Have you ever wondered why your student or child doesn’t follow directions well?

Although it may seem as if everyone should be able to follow directions, many children and adults with learning difficulties silently struggle to follow more than one step.

Have you ever seen a blank stare or frozen hesitation from a student after delivering a set of directions? As a parent or teacher, you may have questioned whether you were being understood. But perhaps you didn’t give much thought to the mental complexity involved in your request.

Multi-step directions are cognitively demanding, and their successful completion requires the use of a particular process called working memory. Of course there are other prerequisites (like motivation), but that’s another blog post entirely. In this article, we’ll focus on the role of working memory because it is crucial for completing day-to-day tasks and frequently goes unnoticed. Let me explain.

Read more…

How to Teach Students Who Are Too [Insert Emotion] to Learn, with Diana Kennedy (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 2)

How To Teach Students Who Are Too [Insert Emotion] to Learn (BayTreeBlog.com)

For a moment, I considered titling this episode, “How To Be A Cool Cucumber When Your Students Are Angry Apples.”

Too much fruit.

I don’t know about you, but remaining calm when a student is in pain is one of the most challenging parts of being an effective educator. And forget about actually teaching when a student goes nuclear.

Diana Kennedy

Diana Kennedy

To help us manage these common difficulties, I’d like to introduce you to my friend and colleague, Diana Kennedy. Diana is a fellow educational therapist who runs a thriving private practice in Marin County, California. She’s compassionate and playful, and one of the best educational therapists I know.

Listen to this episode and subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or stream the episode below:

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Why Your Students Can’t Stay Seated, Organized, or Focused (And What To Do About It)

6 Ways To Teach Distracted, Disorganized Students (BayTreeBlog.com)

This week, I’m excited to share with you two different posts (written by yours truly) on websites other than Bay Tree Blog.

Today’s article is on Adrianne Meldrum’s website, The Tutor House, and features actionable strategies for supporting students with executive functioning weaknesses. The Tutor House is a beautiful site, and if you have a moment, you should check out some of Adrianne’s terrific resources there.

I’ll get you started on today’s article right here, but to finish reading this post, you’ll need to hop over to Adrianne’s blog. Please enjoy!

Why Your Students Can’t Stay Seated, Organized, or Focused (And What To Do About It)

So, your students forget to turn their homework in too?

Mine certainly do.

Maybe you also have students who can’t sit still? Who can’t follow instructions? Who’s backpacks make your recycling bin look organized?

It’s not like your students aren’t capable. They’re bright, imaginative, and kind. Heck, they even fix your pencil sharpener for you!

Despite your best efforts, your students just don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

You might be wondering, “What am I doing wrong?”

If your disorganized, distracted students aren’t making sufficient progress, chances are good they struggle with executive function deficits.

The normal tricks of the trade aren’t going to cut it. You need explicit, strength-based strategies for supporting these different learners.

Read more…

Free Download: The Strengthening Executive Function Workbook

The Strengthening Executive Function Workbook (BayTreeBlog.com)

Do you have students who do their assignments, but can’t remember to turn them in? Or maybe they want to get better test scores, but they can’t seem to initiate studying at home. Maybe they don’t even know what good study habits look like?

Chances are good your students are struggling with executive function.

I have a few of these students myself. As a matter of fact, most of my students have some sort of executive function challenge.

That’s why I’ve created and shared this free workbook of executive function resources. Read more…

The Exceptional Educator, Episode 1 – Unlocking Executive Function with Pamm Scribner

The Exceptional Educator, Episode 1 – Unlocking Executive Function with Pamm Scribner (BayTreeBlog.com)

Welcome to the first episode of The Exceptional Educator!

I’m excited to launch a new format for delivering actionable teaching strategies to learning specialists and parents – the podcast. The Exceptional Educator will feature master teachers, authors, thought-leaders, and researchers for in-depth discussions about the best ways to reach every student in the classroom, regardless of ability or learning difference.

If you have feedback on the show, please let me know by leaving a review in iTunes or tweeting @btlearning #exceptionaleducator.


I can’t think of anyone better than my good friend and mentor, Pamm Scribner, to kick off the inaugural episode of the show.

Pamm Scribner
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Pamm is a world-class teacher and specialist helping kids with ADHD find success in school and life. Pamm is a Board Certified Educational Therapist, and a certified PEERS Coach through the UCLA PEERS Clinic. She is also an instructor for the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Extension: Educational Therapy Certificate Program and an educational consultant for schools throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. She has extensive experience supporting students with executive functioning disorders and assessing and treating learning disabilities. An all-around-good-person and volunteer in her community, Pamm has been an inspiration to me, and I know she’ll inspire you as well. Please enjoy!

Listen on iTunes or on Stitcher, right click here to download an mp3, or stream below:

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