Developing Executive Function With Priority Lists

Developing Executive Function With Priority Lists

>>Cantor: There are certain foundational
skills like executive function, self-regulation, that are
pre-requisites for the formation of more complex skills, like
perseverance and self-direction. A child can become a
productive and engaged learner from any developmental
starting point as long as we intentionally build those skills.>>Catherine: Any volunteers? Go up and
do a priority list? Abdi, thank you.>>Cantor: The most active research
right now is actually about adolescence. There are skills that develop
uniquely in adolescence that can’t develop in earlier periods. An example of one of those is executive
function skills, which enable us to organize and prioritize. By asking students to prioritize
their tasks the teacher builds that skillset in an entire classroom.>>Catherine: In eighth
grade there’s a ton of different deadlines
and work to manage. So, we do the ABC priority list in order to help them manage all
those different deadlines.>>Abdirahman: Somebody always goes
up to start our priority list. It helps us categorize everything
that we have and organize from most important to least important.>>Student: We have the West Virginia versus Barnette case
questions for social studies.>>Catherine: When is that due?>>Student: Today.>>Catherine: So, it’s a high priority.>>Student: We have a practice clot [ph?]
that we need to do for science class.>>Abdirahman: They tell
me each assignment and when it’s due or
how important it is.>>Student: We have the JIAS
observation for science.>>Catherine: Oh, wow. Jeez.>>They share out all the different
deadlines that are roaming around in their head and
then they know how to go through the protocol of prioritizing.>>Catherine: Can you help Abdi
to figure out what the A1 is?>>Student: JIAS observation?>>Catherine: I think so, because it’s
overdue, right? So, if it’s overdue, you’ve got to get that done first. And then what would be in A2?>>Student: The West Virginia
versus Barnette questions.>>Cantor: It wasn’t a
teacher saying, “You should.” It was a student saying,
“Here’s what I think are the ways in which these activities
should be prioritized.” So, in effect what this
teacher was doing was modeling and teaching executive function skills.>>Arius: If you’re kind of overwhelmed
by your work, then you can kind of like know what to do first and
then just kind like categorize it and get it done efficiently.>>Catherine: Okay, so, which one of those things is probably
going to be your frog?>>Catherine: Mark Twain said if you
wake up every morning and eat a frog, everything else will taste great. So, I taught them to take
their frog from the list, which is the thing they want to do
the least, and get it out of the way, because everything else will seem easy.>>Abdirahman: Our frog is like
the most important assignment, like the one I’m really worried about.>>Catherine: Dry ice. So, okay, you’ve
got to do that. What’s your frog?>>Abdirahman: It helps me realize I
need to get this done faster than I need to get this done, so even though
this is more fun I need to get this out of the way before I can do this.>>Catherine: So, as soon as we’re
done with that priority list, I notice everyone gets right to work, because they have it spelled
out very clearly for them.>>Cantor: This is the building of
executive function skills in kids.

5 Replies to “Developing Executive Function With Priority Lists”

  1. Having taught Middle Schoolers for five years (as well as having raised a Special Needs son and worked as a deadline driven journalist and technical trainer before teaching), I believe this application of the Executive Function skills — i.e., teaching PRIORITIZING to adolescents — is critical. I can also report "from the trenches" that we teachers are not taught how to teach this, given time to teach it, or incentivized or encouraged in any way to teach it. So it's not getting done…. These educational videos are truly great, but what about taking them to NEWS SHOWS like on PBS to socialize their importance?

  2. In what kind of high school do a whole room full of students have ALL the same assignments with all the same due dates?!?! Love the premise but this demonstration/activity is completely unrealistic.

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