I love the work you are doing. We spend so much time talking about how kids have no grit or perseverance, when it really is that they don’t have the EF skills. Finally a tangible way to teach grit! Thank you!
Randi Cookson, Monk PS, Bracebridge, ON
Thank you, Dr. Laurie Faith, for helping us ‘dip our toes’ into Executive Functioning this fine morning! We have been excited about this learning for weeks now, and you most certainly did not disappoint!! We loved that you started with inviting us into your growth mindset space…this helped us to feel comfortable and wide open off the hop. Thank you for using Lady Gaga to anchor us…we really do need just one good reason to keep supporting, serving, and loving the students in our care. Thank you for reminding us of evidence based strategies that fully support student autonomy. You’re right that it sometimes feels like a tug-of-war, but isn’t maximizing student autonomy our ultimate goal as educators? Thank you for introducing us to the barriers and strategies protocol. We have been inspired to begin this work in our classrooms. We have been inspired to refocus on executive functioning skills with the dollies in our care… to open conversations with them about why things are hard and how we can make those hard things less hard. Laurie, you really did give us a million reasons to continue our work as educators and to continue celebrating and supporting the dynamic differences in EFs that our students demonstrate- they truly are kaleidoscopes worthy of our work and so very worthy of our love.
Kelly Etmanskie and Katherine McLaughlin, Renfrew County Catholic District School Board, ON
Activated Learning feels like the missing piece to my ‘teaching puzzle.’ By giving me the tools to help my students think strategically, they have become more empowered to engage in inquiry/challenged based learning. The most powerful aspect is how it has provided real world context for learning. By focussing on skill development, students and parents can see the ‘application’ for school work, which has encouraged ownership, engagement and normalized learning differences. I have been amazed to see how students can troubleshoot with increased independence, most recently to work through difficult social situations. Activated Learning is a game-changer.
Julie Hough, Woodville Elementary School, Grade 7/8, Woodville, ON
Thank you for your collaboration with the team at Sagonaska. The strategies you shared have been extremely useful and your collaborative approach to PD was well-received by everyone. I would like to share your contact information with my colleagues, if that’s ok with you. I think this learning would be beneficial to all our schools.
Self-advocacy is a key focus for students at our school and we have found that your suggestions and ideas for embedding the EFs into the learning skills to be a very effective and high-yield strategy. Our students discuss EFs and ‘activate’ their learning on a daily basis through our morning circles, in their transition plans for return to their home school, their individual residence plans and their IEPs too. Also, by helping us understand the EFs we have been able to develop very precise intervention strategies for our students to build on their strengths and develop work-arounds for their weaknesses. We have lots of anchor charts and student work – we could do a whole slide show on how we are using it! We look forward to continued collaboration with you and your team.
Tina MacCauley-Gray, Principal, Sagonaska Provincial Demonstration School, ON
Using Activated Learning within the class in discussions during various points of an activity have allowed my learners to have a better understanding of their own learning and skills. The rich discussions are giving them perspective of each other and themselves. I never expected this personal introspection into my learner’s learning to take root quickly and actually hear them use the vocabulary and accept when they are against a ‘barrier’ and open to discuss ‘strategies’ to overcome them. Using a focus on Executive Function skills and Activated Learning allows the learner how to execute a task with an individual plan that is tailored to their EF strengths and weaknesses. Activated Learning has a 10 fold value over other diagnostics for gaining a profile of our learners. I don’t feel like a dancing bear trying to engage and keep the momentum entertaining and moving, Activated Learning has given control to my learners in a way they understand and know they can work on improving. THANKS LAURIE!!
…one more email from me tonight. I wanted to share an experience I had today hot on the heels of the Friday workshop. I had a supply day booked in a class that was, by all accounts from admin and staff, and incredibly challenging class. The principal started our day with a community circle to discuss the barriers to learning that might come up re: having a supply and knowing they’d have four different teachers in as many days. We then discussed strategies to handle the barriers. First block went so well! I was finding myself very present and intentional in all my words and actions and used EF language as much as I could.
After first recess I could sense some upset energy so I did another circle this time on my own with the class to talk about barriers to success in block 2 due to what happened at recess. Block two went pretty well!
Final block they came in and seemed okay after recess so I asked them about this and they said it went a lot better than first recess.
I don’t usually get compliments from students about my teaching, but today in third block they said I really listened to them. They were really, for the most part, really self-controlled, attentive, and on-task, all behaviours that they admitted in the very beginning of the day to struggling with (20 boys, 8 girls, Gr 4).
All this to say that I had direct and immediate proof that what I felt was a practical workshop ACTUALLY REALLY WAS!
Based on what I heard from staff about this class first thing in the morning, I almost kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the wheels to fall off, but wouldn’t you know, those shoes stayed on the wagon kept on rolling along all day, all four wheels intact! 😀
Thanks again for your thoughtful and practical workshop, Laurie. I had a great day today, thanks to you!
Miya Bradburn, TLDSB, ON, Canada
Activated Learning has built community, increased student self-awareness, increased student understanding of their own strengths and needs as well as others, improved growth mindset, and put value on student voice and class conversations. With this approach, students see value in learning from each other. It has centred the class focus on independence and problem-solving, and has connected the other initiatives in our board with something that is practical and life/work applicable to any age. It has taken judgement off character and put focus on executive skills and how to support the lagging ones. Our parents are interested in the EF approach to parenting!
Julie Kuiken, Learning Strategies Teacher, Central Senior School, Lindsay, ON
Activated Learning has placed more responsibility on both behaviour and learning back onto the students. My biggest example is getting 48 out of 51 group projects in science being completed on time for Grade 7 and 8 students, when historically, I’m lucky to get more than half completed.
Jeremiah Beggs, Teacher at Central Senior School, Lindsay,
When Laurie came to observe me delivering a lesson for my practicum placement, she zeroed in on precisely the executive functions which were undermining how I was teaching the students, and of course more importantly, the impact this had on the students. Her astute observations went right to the heart of the matter. At the time we spoke, I had not fully appreciated the way in which my executive functioning needs (planning and prioritizing, organization, time management, and goal-directed persistence) were getting in the way of the student’s learning. Laurie offered me clear and tangible strategies to help me develop my particular needs. It wasn’t easy, but I was truly invigorated when I began to see the direct impact that the strengthening of these EF’s had in the classroom and on the students. It was like a light-bulb went off. In taking the steps, for example, to become more organized, and therefore prepared, I was able to set clear goals and communicate them with the students. The classroom experience went from night to day. My preparedness created clear boundaries for the students, which allowed the student’s to take risks, and truly play with what we were learning. I am so grateful to Laurie for illuminating me to foundational quality executive functions have on learning.
Anna Silverstein, University of Toronto, MA Child Study in Education (Graduated 2019)
Activated Learning has helped my Grade 4 class with self regulation. I have several students with anxiety so changes in the schedule or even shifting desks was difficult for them. My students now quickly recognize that the executive function required for changes is flexibility. By being able to name the area of stress, it has greatly helped them improve in that area. Before doing a challenging class activity, such as cooperative learning, we now prethink what problems may arise. This gives the students voice and allows me to hear problems that they foresee, but that I had not anticipated. At first students gave “shallow” thinking when anticipating problems, such as “we will talk too much,” but are now digging deeper. They are willing to try out the suggested strategies. This also helps me be more proactive. Rather than going from group to group to tell them to get started or to tell them what to do to get started, I can ask them which strategy they will use. This seems to have a positive effect.
Janet Rhude, Grade 4 teacher, Scott Young Public School, Omemee, ON