Learning and Sharing

Back to Executive Functions


Studying social skills, social thinking and perspective taking always brings me back to executive function skills.  Here is a visual to help us see what are executive functions-

ExecutiveFuncionLove this! Go to for a better view and more info (good info!).

I have wondered about the developmental sequence of executive control skills.  I found a list from the book Executive Function Skills in Children and Adolescents, by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare.  To download a free EF skills check-list go to:

At the social thinking conference last week, Michelle Garcia Winner mentioned an expert with whom she works closely.  This expert, Sara Ward, is a speech/language pathologist with a clinic that specializes in helping children who have executive function difficulties.  I have been perusing her work this weekend.  She has also broken these skills down by age.  Her practice is called Cognitive Connections.  Through a Google search of  Sara Ward executive function skills, I was able to find good information.

My plan is to put together a packet of info for parents concerning this topic.  Contact me for a share.




Fun Friday!


We have fun every day but Fridays can be extra fun!  Due to a meeting, I had to switch my Monday kindergarten group to Friday.  Today, this all girl group discussed being safe.   We used the power card from the Princess Social Skills packet.




Go to for a better look.  It is available at


The students in this group respond well to the Disney Princesses.  A princess is constantly looking for safety hazards.  Untied shoes, swinging lunch boxes, or walking backwards can be unsafe.  Her brain is thinking about safety for herself and for others.  We all have to work at sharing space.


We also had an activity from Social Skills Chipper Chat from


Today’s Social Skills Chipper Chat game was called “Operation Cooperation”.  A scenario is set up to describe different social situations that require cooperation and the student must answer some thinking questions about how they could cooperate in that situation.

We do not get out  Social Skills Chipper Chat very often because it is not one of our favorite activities.  Today is Friday-everything is fun on Friday!!


Everyone have a great weekend!


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Finding Common Interests

childrens faces

One of the second grade groups continued their work in “The Green Zone” of communication.  There are 5 second grade boys in this particular group along with 3 adults.  After reviewing the concept of shared interests and The Green Zone, we divided the groups into 4 pairs.  Each pair received  a copy of The Green Zone 2 person worksheet (pictured below).  Writing is sometimes stressful for these boys so instead of asking them to write their interests on the worksheet, we provided word/phrase strips for them to use.


Using an activity such as this is risky in a group as large as this one.  It turned out great.  No one was distracted and it just flowed well.

The venn diagram worksheet is available at

This is what it looked like as we worked together to find common interests and have a chat about those interests.


After 15 min. we changed partners and tried to find common interests with the new partner.  It is evident in the photos that the students were engaged and showing interest.  There was very little adult prompting during this activity.  We all agreed that it is a fantastic lesson.

Another visual available at


To converse in The Green Zone one must know how to listen well.

Here are some nuggets from Michelle Garcia Winner’s presentation today:

Comprehension is from the social mind.

Using pronouns correctly is perspective taking.

Language is behavior of the mind.

Teach kids to hang out-thinking about the group even when they are not saying anything.

Perspective taking can be looked at as an executive function skill.

Food for thought!  I will be digesting a lot of information after tomorrow.



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Off to Baltimore


Tomorrow I am driving up to Baltimore to attend the Social Thinking Conference.  So excited!  Two days of learning for me.  On Thursday the topic is Implementing Social Thinking Concepts and Vocabulary into our School and Home Day.  I attended Michelle Garcia Winner’s sessions at the ASHA conference in the fall so I know that I am in for some learnin’!

Baltimore Picture

Will keep you posted!



What If Everybody Did That?



Last week was an interesting one for the lunchbuddies groups.  We managed to connect perspective taking and understanding responsibility without really planning to do so.

One of the first grade groups needed to review that super power – being responsible.  We are all responsible for our  own actions.  Being responsible means that we always do our work even when it is hard.  Being responsible means that we participate in class and help others.

photo (89)

Our students love the Super Social Skills activities  available at .  Visit to look at the packet and for more ideas!  The packet is well written and  the lunchbuddies respond to the super heroes.

The activity on responsibility dovetailed nicely with a lesson on perspective taking.  I used the book What If Everybody Did That?.


This book tells the story of a young boy who thinks it is no big deal to break a rule.  What if everybody did that?  As we read the book we discussed each of the boy’s actions and how it affected others and we tried to look at his actions from their perspective.  Ellen Javernick created this great activity for perspective taking and making inferences to accompany the book.  It is available at

I also found this cute, short video about perspective taking.



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May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month



Better Hearing and Speech Month is a time to help raise awareness about communication disorders.  For more information go to

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Mentoring vs Modeling



We have always used classmates and peers as “social skill models” in our social skills groups.  It has been a wonderful thing.  Recently, I started thinking about peer models as peer mentors.  There is a difference.  As I read Michelle Garcia Winner’s blog post dated 2/5/2013 at, it became clear to me it was time to make a change for some of our students.

Michelle Garcia Winner writes in her blog post that “modeling is artificially setting up a social scenario to demonstrate appropriate behavior.  Mentoring is an in-the-moment social process that mimics more of the qualities of a real-life social encounter and prompts social thinking  as  well as giving attention to the social behavior”.

A parent of one of my students discussed this topic with me last week.  Having a peer mentor in the neighborhood sounds like a great idea for our students who find it challenging to  negotiate play situations.

In the same blog post, Michelle also writes, “Parents are home, teachers are at school, the choir leader is part of the after school program, yet the student moves among them all.  For this reason it makes good sense that the best teachers for our students are select peers who have helpful attitudes and a desire to watch their peers succeed.  We want to identify and guide these socially successful and helpful students to become peer mentors to our students with social learning challenges.

I will have to research this topic and make a plan.

Happy Thursday!


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