All posts by Bethany

36th Annual EF Conference Spotlight: SMARTS Special Events

This is the tenth post in a series that highlights the events and speakers of this year’s 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, which will focus on promoting resilience and equity for ALL students.

At our conference this November, we are excited to offer a number of special SMARTS sessions. The evening before our conference begins, we will gather with SMARTS educators from around the world to explore how they are teaching executive function. We are also offering two optional lunchtime sessions, which will be recorded and available for viewing until January 31, 2022.

SMARTS Conversation

  • SMARTS Around the World
    Michael Greschler, M.Ed., Shelly Levy, M.Ed., M.S.
    November 10, 6-7 pm EST

Ever wonder how teachers in different countries teach executive function? The SMARTS Executive Function curriculum is currently being implemented by educators in 25 different countries. Michael Greschler, M.Ed., director of the SMARTS program, and Shelly Levy, M.Ed., M.S., SMARTS curriculum coordinator, will be joined by teachers from schools around the world for a panel on executive function with an international focus. Bring your questions, ideas, and whatever is on your mind. While SMARTS conversations are typically only open to SMARTS users, this special event is open to all. Register for SMARTS Around the World

Optional SMARTS Lunchtime Sessions

  • SMARTS and MTSS School-Wide: Administrator and School Leader Panel
    Michael Greschler, M.Ed., Rajneet Goomer, M.A., Kristina Mannino, M.Ed.
    November 12, 12:30-1:05 pm EST

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) provides a powerful framework for the development of levels of executive function intervention that can be used to support the success of all students and identify students who need more support. Michael Greschler, M.Ed., director of the SMARTS Program, will be joined by Rajneet Goomer, M.A., and Kristina Mannino, M.Ed., from the Robbinsville Public Schools, to explore how they have used SMARTS to create tiers of executive function support in their schools. Register for SMARTS and MTSS School-Wide

  • MetaCOG Online: A New Survey for Helping Teachers Understand Each Student’s EF Strengths and Challenges
    Lynn Meltzer, Ph.D., Kim Davis, M.Ed., and Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed.
    November 12, 12:30-1:05 pm EST

MetaCOG Online is an interactive executive function survey system that helps students develop an understanding of their learning profiles, including their executive function strengths and challenges. This self-understanding is the foundation for building students’ metacognitive awareness and their efficient and effective use of EF strategies. MetaCOG Online highlights students’ understanding of the strategies they use for planning, organizing, memorizing, shifting, and self-checking. This unique online survey enables students to understand and reflect on their personalized EF profiles. The tool also provides teachers with a class summary and action plan framework based on their students’ needs. Join us to explore the features of MetaCOG Online and how you can use this online survey tool to support your students. Register for MetaCOG Online

Learn More

You can learn more about our speakers and their work by attending ResearchILD’s 36th Annual Executive Function Conference on November 11 and 12. 

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development

Student Perspective: Multisensory Learning

What are the benefits of teaching with multisensory activities? This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. 

One of the best ways you can engage your students with learning differences is by using multisensory practices.

What is Multisensory Learning?

Multisensory learning occurs when a student uses multiple senses to learn information. The goal of multisensory learning is to allow your students to connect to the material being taught in many different ways. Students with and without learning differences can benefit from a multisensory approach since it allows students to make new connections and strengthen memories.

Engaging through Multisensory Activities

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that teachers use the same multisensory techniques from first grade through high school, but it is important for teachers to adapt their multisensory practices to better serve older students.  

For instance, watching videos in class is a multisensory activity. In biology class, dissecting an animal is multisensory because it allows the students to see and touch the parts of the animal that are being studied. Science is a great subject for multisensory teaching because many experiments are naturally multisensory — a great reason to increase the number of hands-on experiments in science. 

One multisensory activity for English and history classes is acting out scenes of a book or scenes from history. This allows students to immerse themselves in the time or book, helping them learn by interacting with the text in another way. 

Students will learn best if you try to integrate different multisensory activities, instead of relying only on traditional teaching practices like lecturing. There are many different ways that you can approach multisensory teaching. It can be helpful to experiment and think of new multisensory activities that fit with what you are teaching.

Join us this November for the 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, which will focus on promoting resilience and equity for ALL students.

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

36th Annual EF Conference Spotlight: Concurrent Presentations

This is the eighth post in a series that highlights the speakers of this year’s 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, which will focus on promoting resilience and equity for ALL students.

This November, we are honored to feature seven speakers who will offer recorded presentations addressing the close connections between executive function, stress, persistence, and school performance. Conference attendees can begin viewing these presentations on November 11, with unlimited access through January 31, 2022.

Hate or Hurt: Rethinking Social Exclusion, Isolation, and the Need-To-Belong in ASD Youth
Sucheta Kamath, M.A., M.A., CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS

Sucheta Kamath is the founder/CEO of ExQ, LLC, a game-based online curriculum designed to systematically train fundamental cognitive skills. She is a speech-language pathologist, TEDx speaker, and entrepreneur in the Ed-Tech space.

Student Identity and Student Agency: Strategies for Engagement, Inclusion, and Equity
Kim Carter, M.Ed.

Kim Carter is the founder and executive director of the Q.E.D. Foundation, an organization of adults and youth working together to create and sustain student-centered learning communities. The Q.E.D Foundation centers students’ voices and works with adults who are deeply invested in their students’ success.

Mindfulness, Metacognition, and Stress Reduction
Christopher Willard, Psy.D.

Christopher Willard is a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a psychologist and educational consultant specializing in mindfulness. Dr. Willard works with parents, educators, and counselors, teaching them to embody and teach mindfulness skills to promote resilience in students of any age.

The Role of Working Memory in Speaking and Written Language
Anthony S. Bashir, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Bonnie Singer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Anthony Bashir is a professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development and an educational consultant. Dr. Bashir was the director of the speech-language pathology department at Children’s Hospital in Boston for 25 years and is an honored fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Dr. Bonnie Singer is the founder and CEO of Vivido and Architects for Learning. Vivido offers professional development in language, literacy, and learning; Architects for Learning provides academic intervention, assessment, and consultation services.

Comprehension Strategy Instruction for Students with Executive Function Difficulties
Joan Sedita, M.Ed.

Joan Sedita is the founder of Keys to Literacy, a leading provider of literacy teacher training, curriculum, ongoing coaching, and materials to educators across the country. Since 1974, she has held the roles of teacher, school administrator, teacher trainer, and literacy consultant.

Transforming Trauma: Helping Schools Become Healing Places
David Melnick, LICSW

David Melnick is the co-director of Outpatient Services at the Northeastern Family Institute in Vermont and a fellow of the Child Trauma Academy. For 35 years, he has worked in many settings including outpatient, residential treatment, and public and day treatment schools. His expertise is in development trauma, family therapy, adolescence, attachment, and trauma-informed schools.

Learn More

You can learn more about the concurrent speakers and their work by attending ResearchILD’s 36th Annual Executive Function Conference on November 11th and 12th.

Raffle for New Registrants! All new conference registrants will be entered into a special raffle through October 17. Choose one of many prize options, including a full year’s access to the SMARTS Executive Function program, a seat at the upcoming Executive Function Essentials Workshops, or your own library of executive function resources!

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

36th Annual EF Conference Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Lynn Meltzer on Creating Strategic Classrooms

This is the seventh post in a series that highlights the speakers of this year’s 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, which will focus on promoting resilience and equity for ALL students.

This November, we are honored to feature the Director of the Institutes for Learning and Development (ResearchILD & ILD), Lynn Meltzer, Ph.D., who will speak about “Creating Strategic Classrooms: Re-Engaging Students to Promote Self-Understanding and Resilience.”

Dr. Meltzer is a fellow and past-president of the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities. She is the founder and program chair of the Annual Executive Function Conference, which she has chaired for over 35 years. For 30 years, she was an associate in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Child Development at Tufts University. Dr. Meltzer’s 40 years of clinical work, research, publications, and presentations have focused on understanding the complexity of learning and attention differences.  

Dr. Meltzer’s extensive publications include articles, chapters, and books, most recently, Executive Function in Education: From Theory to Practice (2018), Promoting Executive Function in the Classroom (2010), and The Power of Peers in the Classroom: Enhancing Learning and Social Skills (2015). Together with her ResearchILD staff, Dr. Meltzer developed SMARTS, an evidence-based Executive Function and Peer Mentoring/ Coaching Curriculum for elementary, middle, and high school students.

2021 Executive Function Conference

Dr. Meltzer founded the “Learning Disabilities Conference” thirty-six years ago while at Harvard Medical School. This conference was the first of its kind, connecting theorists, researchers, and teachers to improve the lives of students with learning and attention difficulties. Over the years, the name of the conference has changed to emphasize students’ strengths and resilience. However, the focus has remained on executive function as the foundation of success for ALL students. At this year’s conference, you can hear from Dr. Meltzer and a number of distinguished speakers who will address issues related to executive function, resilience, and equity. Dr. Meltzer’s talk will focus on building strategic classrooms. 

Strategy Use in the Classroom

How can teachers ensure that their classrooms are places where students can develop and refine their strategy use? At ResearchILD’s 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, Dr. Meltzer will describe how teachers can create strategic classrooms and learning environments. Dr. Meltzer will also highlight ways to promote students’ self-awareness and self-understanding. Self-understanding is a critical aspect of metacognition, which is the key to academic and lifelong success. Dr. Meltzer’s talk will cover strategies for promoting metacognitive awareness so we can help students to learn HOW to learn. She will also discuss the new MetaCOG Online survey system, an interactive executive function survey tool that highlights students’ perceptions of their executive function strategy use, self-concept, perceived effort, and persistence.

Learn More

You can learn more about Dr. Lynn Meltzer and her work:

Raffle for New Registrants—starting 9/24! All new conference registrants will be entered into a special raffle through October 17. Choose one of many great options, including a full year’s access to the SMARTS Executive Function program, a seat at the upcoming Executive Function Essentials Workshops, or your own library of EF resources!

Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Student Perspective: Interdisciplinary Learning

What are the benefits of interdisciplinary learning? This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. 

I will start by saying that I have had few encounters with interdisciplinary learning. What I have gathered from those few experiences has led me to a favorable view of the practice.

In my experience, interdisciplinary learning is when students are taught a topic or idea through multiple subjects. For instance, learning about the dangers of climate change from a scientific perspective in science class while reading a dystopian novel based on climate change in English. 

As someone with ADHD, it can be hard for me to focus on anything, let alone the thousands of facts I’m supposed to know in any given week. I feel this becomes more complex because my different classes seem to have no relevance to each other.

For example, this year my English class was reading a book on World War II, while at the same time my history class was teaching us about apartheid in South Africa. This was difficult for me because I would get the dates and facts about the two time periods mixed up in my head. If these two classes had synced up their curriculums, I could have spent less time focusing on remembering mere facts and more time on essential skills.

Another benefit of interdisciplinary learning is that it allows me to link different topics together. In school, teachers will tell me to draw from experiences that I’ve had or issues I’ve already learned about to influence my understanding of what I’m learning. But often, I find that my experience or previous education is not relevant to what I’m studying. Going in-depth on one topic and teaching it through multiple classes would allow me to draw more of those connections, even if I don’t have prior knowledge of the topic.

Join us this November for the 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, which will focus on promoting resilience and equity for ALL students.

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

36th Annual EF Conference Speaker Spotlight: David Flink on Identity, Advocacy, and Accommodations

This is the fifth post in a series that highlights the speakers of this year’s 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, which will focus on promoting resilience and equity for ALL students.

This November, we are honored to feature David Flink, Ed.M., who will offer a session on “Identity, Advocacy, and Accommodations: Transitioning to a World After COVID.”

Building Stronger Classroom Experiences

How can educators work to rebuild stronger classroom experiences than the ones we left behind before COVID-19? At ResearchILD’s 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, David Flink will discuss the importance of embracing students’ identities, providing effective accommodations, and promoting self-advocacy to build stronger and better classroom experiences for all students. This session will focus on taking advantage of the opportunity we currently have to build a more equitable education system that meets the needs of all students.

David Flink is the Founder & Chief Empowerment Officer of Eye to Eye, an organization dedicated to improving the life of every young person with learning differences.

Through Eye to Eye’s mentoring program, high school and college students with learning differences are trained to mentor similarly-identified middle school students. Eye to Eye is the only national organization run for and by people with learning and attention issues, like dyslexia and ADHD. In March of 2021, David was named a CNN hero for helping to unlock greatness in the 1 in 5 students who learn differently.

Learn More

You can learn more about David Flink and his work:

Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Program Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

36th Annual EF Conference Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Maurice Elias on Social-Emotional Learning and Character Development

This is the fourth post in a series that highlights the speakers of this year’s 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, which will focus on promoting resilience and equity for ALL students.

This November, we are honored to feature Maurice Elias, Ph.D., who will offer a session on “Social-Emotional Learning and Character Development: The Foundations of Safe and Successful Schools.”

Social-Emotional Learning and Executive Function

The COVID-19 pandemic has reframed our collective understanding of how closely intertwined the cognitive and affective elements of learning truly are. It is so clear that schools are places where much more than just academic learning happens. While social-emotional learning curricula are often viewed as separate from academic curricula, all types of learning happen in real time in moments each day that shape students’ character and self-efficacy. As students return to in-person learning this fall, it is crucial that they feel safe and supported in their learning environments.

Dr. Maurice Elias is a professor in the Psychology Department at Rutgers University and Co-Director of the Academy for SEL in Schools. Dr. Elias is also the director of the Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab, which aims to develop schools of character, close achievement gaps, and increase student proficiency. Their research-based approach focuses on improving students’ capacity to recognize and manage emotions, solve problems effectively, view others’ perspectives, and establish positive, empathic relationships with others. 

At ResearchILD’s 36th Annual Executive Function Conference, Dr. Elias’ presentation will explain the link between SEL and executive function and how it connects to resilience and equity. Dr. Elias will offer examples of how to embed SEL into various aspects of the school day.

Learn More

You can learn more about Dr. Elias and his work:

Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Program Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Student Perspective: How to Make Summer Work Less Stressful

How can teachers make summer work less stressful for their students? This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. 

As the end of summer approaches, I have started to stress about my summer work. Therefore, I have three suggestions for teachers to make summer work more manageable for students.

Reconsider Assigning Work

My first suggestion is not to assign any work. I know many teachers will roll their eyes at this suggestion, but it’s valid. Once students get into high school, they have more on their plates, even in the summertime. Many students have jobs, work on preparing for college, take extra classes, or complete any number of other activities. Adding more academic work to their plate makes students feel as though they have no break at all. As a student with dyslexia and ADHD, it’s tough for me; it takes me double the time of my classmates to complete most assignments.

Avoid Testing on Summer Material

Another way to make work less stressful is to avoid testing on summer material. Summer academic work is assigned to prevent backslide, to teach students new things, or help them spark an interest in something. It should by no means feel like a punishment. 

Teachers also need to consider that students’ priorities change in the summer. They don’t have as much time, so many students have to pick and choose what to do first. So when they get to school, not all the material will be fresh in their minds. All of this is especially true when applied to students with learning differences. For example, I have a different experience reading a book than many of my classmates. It can be challenging when tested on a book, especially when I started reading it three months ago.

Be Clear About the Purpose of Summer Work

My final suggestion to mitigate summer stress is to tell your students ahead of time what the work will be used to accomplish. As I suggested, summer work should be just for the experience and not graded. But if you think it’s crucial to assign summer work, tell your students ahead of time what their end goal should be. For example, if you want your students to write a paper on a summer reading book, tell them ahead of time, so they can prioritize all of their work.

Will you be teaching SMARTS next year? Join us for the SMARTS Executive Function Summer Workshop (August 10th, August 12th, August 17th, and August 19th). If you are interested in hearing from equity-minded educators from across the country, join us for the 36th Annual Executive Function Conference. Learn more and register today.

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Lessons from ResearchILD’s 2020-2021 EF and Equity Fellows: Part III

All educators play a crucial role in counteracting systemic racism and developing equitable approaches that support the success of every student. Our Executive Function (EF) and Equity Fellowship brings together educators from across the US to explore how schools are addressing students’ executive function needs through an equity lens. This post, the last in a three-part series, highlights the lessons that emerged from conversations with our 2020-2021 EF and Equity Fellows and guest speakers. 

Draw on Your Community’s Shared Knowledge

During ResearchILD’s monthly EF and Equity gatherings, our Fellows and guest speakers shared their experiences honoring all students’ identities and teaching executive function strategies.

These gatherings and ensuing conversations underscored an important finding—our community contained a rich fund of knowledge and experiences from which we could all learn.

Here are three takeaways from our conversations:

  • Teach students to navigate the context of their school system. This can include teaching students how to access existing resources, determine what questions to ask, and understand their school’s culture.
  • Helping students develop greater self-understanding can enable them to develop their self-advocacy skills. Executive function strategy instruction begins with teaching students to understand themselves as learners and become aware of their strengths and challenges. 
  • Executive function strategies are for all students. Explicitly and systematically teaching executive function strategies can open up new pathways as students learn to successfully navigate novel situations in their classrooms, schools, and personal lives.

Conversations with our EF and Equity fellows reaffirmed that we don’t have to look far to find inspiration and ideas. Our colleagues and community members may offer ways to recognize and build upon students’ existing funds of knowledge to make the curriculum personally relevant for them. 

EF and Equity

Are you interested in becoming a 2021-2022 EF and Equity Fellow? Learn more about the fellowship and application process. If you would like to hear more from equity-minded educators, join us for the 36th Annual Executive Function Conference. Learn more and register today!

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Program Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Student Perspective: A Helpful Way to Boost Your Students’ Reading Skills


Offering creative reading challenges can help students develop a love of reading. This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. 

People often assume that students with learning differences, especially those with dyslexia, cannot understand high-level material; this is not true. I have found that reading above my grade level has helped build my vocabulary and expose me to ideas that I would not have otherwise encountered.  

Offer Students Choices

When reading at a high level, students should have a say in what they’re reading. When students are interested in what they’re reading, it gives them a reason to keep reading, even when it gets tricky. For me, assistive technology such as audiobooks was a big help, so it is important to remember that using those tools can benefit many students. 

Using upper-level reading material will be hard for some students, so it is important to keep in mind what students are currently reading. You can’t expect them to make too big a leap, like from reading The Cat in the Hat straight to Shakespeare. Also, remember not to put too much pressure on students when asking them to read high-level books. It’s an important exercise to have them do this, but it should be fun. 

Create a Relaxed Reading Environment

As a teacher, it’s essential to make sure that you’ve created a space where students feel comfortable coming to you if they have trouble with a passage or word. Parents can also help expose students to high-level reading by encouraging their children to read or listen to more books that might be a little bit out of their comfort range. By doing this, it will help them build up to more complex texts. 

The goal should be to boost students’ love of reading and expose them to higher-level material. It doesn’t necessarily have to be graded or be made unnecessarily complicated—no notes, no essays, no journaling, no book reports. Just let them read!

To read more student perspectives, check out the Real-Life Experiences with Remote Learning series. If you are interested in building your executive function toolkit, join us for the Executive Function Summer Summit (July 27th, July 29th, August 3rd, and August 5th) and the SMARTS Executive Function Summer Workshop (August 10th, August 12th, August 17th, and August 19th).

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org