Executive functioning (EF) or organization is a crucial component of setting goals, staying on task, and goal completion. It helps one to think prioritization, planning and meeting goals in a logical and organized way. Good EF enables us to keep an eye on ourselves, constantly thinking through what and how we are doing things. This mindful way of execution allows us to slow down and regulate our impulses and actions, thus enhancing attention.
People with ADHD are said to have low EF skills. This means not being able to prioritize, focus, attend to, plan, self-monitor and thus complete tasks. They are often easily distracted and off task. They’re often hyperactive and restless, a vicious cycle. Without this skill of EF, there are many people with knowledge, ideas, and hands-on talent who are not able to apply themselves optimally. They always need to be brought back to focus.
The highly distractible world of media does not help with students flipping from Facebook to e-mail to you tube, to online games and videos. It has become the biggest distraction. This paradox of technology being an imperative part of learning makes ‘putting technology away’ during a project or studies not an option. Cheryl Temple, in a 2013 publication in ‘Perspectives on Language and Literacy’, maintains that technology itself can help teach students executive functioning skills. She outlines how technology can help in areas of prioritization, planning, organizing, self-monitoring, and working memory. These are some of the Apps that can help students.
Prioritization and Planning - There are apps that help with establishing, tracking, and achieving goals. Some organizing apps use graphics that visually represent thoughts and concepts. Relationships between concepts and thoughts are explicitly displayed. This helps the thinking process as connections are made. Through this, memory is strengthened.
*Self-control is an app that allows students to block access to websites, servers and other Internet distractors.
* Habits Pro helps organize goals, tasks and health tracking.
*Priority Matrix helps manage priorities
*ChoiceWorks is a picture-based tools assisting students completing daily routines through good choices.
*iStudezpro and myHomework are used to prioritize homework and projects. These checklists provide valuable reminders and monitoring of tasks to be completed.
*Education World (http://www.educationworld.com/tools_templates/index.shtml).
*Tools4Students have graphic organizers to help with summarizing chapters, writing, and comprehension skills.
Self-Monitoring helps students keep track of their progress and improvement, and helps them charter strategies that work for them. Rubrics are valuable for monitoring.
Working memory technology helps students with recording notes from lectures, lessons, or articles, so that they don’t have to try and remember lots at one go or scramble to handwrite notes.
*AudioNote or SoundNote allow recording of notes for later use. This is linked to written notes for easy and direct retrieval.
*The Smartpen by Livescribe (www.livescribe.com) allows students to combine hand-written notes with audio-recordings.
*The Audio Memo app allows for the recording of short messages.
*Dragon Dictation is a dictation tool that has improved its voice recognition abilities over time, allowing bigger volumes of recorded material.
*Cameras on phones are also great tools for taking pictures of notes, assignments, visuals, and ideas in the classroom.
Technology and apps are in a constant state of change with new and better ways of assisting learning. What’s important is to choose and use what resonates with you, the ones that are most likely to maximize your skills at prioritizing and planning, organizing and self-monitoring.
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