The Executive Function Guidebook: Strategies to Help All Students Achieve Success


Roberta Strosnider & Valerie Saxton Sharpe

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Copyright

    List of Online Appendices

    • Meet Amanda—Case Study
    • Meet Carlos—Case Study
    • Meet Emily—Case Study
    • Meet Fariha—Case Study
    • Meet Jackson—Case Study
    • Cognitive/Metacognitive Strategy Instruction Poster
    • Metacognition Bookmark
    • Sample Executive Function (EF) Planning Chart
    • The Student Game Plan for Elementary Students
    • The Student Game Plan for Secondary Students
    • Sample Selecting a Strategy for the Student While Integrating UDL
    • Student Implementation of Strategy With a Focus on Metacognition and UDL Principles
    • Considerations for Ongoing Data Analysis Chart
    • Sample Template for Final Assessment of the Strategy
    • Sample Student Success Plan for Both Elementary and Secondary Students
    • Sample Student Self-Assessment Tool—Elementary and Middle School


    We have had a variety of experiences in our teaching careers from P–12 to college-level teaching. Most of our professional lives have been spent in school settings where students were having success; however, some students were not finding success. It was the latter for whom we first saw a need for executive function skill training.

    We first had the opportunity to develop and teach executive function training skills to P–12 students through a program we developed, Project Boost. Many people were responsible for helping us make Project Boost happen. We would like to thank Jim Strosnider for his dedicated work as financial officer of Project Boost as well as teaching at the camps. We thank all of our teachers including Kim Hale, Kristy Sharpe, and Kelly Sharpe for helping prepare for and teaching at Project Boost. Kim and Kelly continued to teach at every camp and provided planning for and executive function training throughout the year to students. We would be remiss if we did not mention that Kendall Hale attended every camp offered and assisted in teaching many of the skills. We thank Sophie and Brinkley Strosnider and Kendall and Jay Hale for the helpful videos they made to demonstrate their use of strategies they learned in Project Boost.

    A special thank you goes out to Hannah and the Smith family for being our “first” student and family we worked with on executive functions. Hannah’s success and their ongoing support were instrumental in our search for how to effectively teach executive function skills.

    We thank Friends School, Hood College, Park School, our campers, teachers, and all those associated with Project Boost for giving us an opportunity to offer this program. It would not have been possible without the generous support from friends, family, and organizations such as Green-Walled Garden Club, P. Buckley Moss Foundation, and Leah Johnson with the Frederick County Child Advocacy Center for help with raising money for scholarships.

    We thank our teacher candidates and graduate students at Hood College, Towson University, and Frostburg State University who were trained in and continue to teach executive function skills in their classrooms. We are grateful for your continuing to collaborate with us and allowing us to be a part of your classroom experience. Also, a special thank you to Kim Hale for making us part of her teaching experience in an ongoing partnership.

    We have many colleagues and friends who have been instrumental in our successful completion of this book. We especially want to thank Dr. Debi Gartland for her years of belief in and promotion of our work. We thank Ms. Kirsten McBride, who guided and encouraged us to see our goal of writing this book to fruition. We thank Frostburg State University and Dr. Jamey Tobery-Nystrom for the opportunity to develop and offer a course in teaching Executive Function Methods. We appreciate the collaboration and encouragement we received from Dr. Steven Feifer, Dr. Oma Gail Simmons, and Ms. Jen Weaver for their collaboration and encouragement. We also thank all of the Corwin reviewers.

    We have had the opportunity to present our work to teachers throughout the country. We especially thank the Council for Exceptional Children for including us in their Pre-Convention Workshops and convention presentations, and Ms. Ravae Todd of the Hawaii State Department of Education, Hilo, Hawaii, for opportunities to work with administrators, teachers, and teacher assistants in executive function skill training.

    Publisher’s Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    Bev Alfeld

    Academic Performance Specialist

    Crystal Lake, IL


    Tamara Daugherty

    Third-Grade Teacher

    Zellwood Elementary

    Zellwood, FL


    Sarah Foster


    Colegio Anglo Colombiano

    Bogota, Colombia


    Deborah E. Griswold

    Assistant Professor of Practice

    University of Kansas, Department of Special Education

    Lawrence, KS


    Vicki McFarland

    Director of Federal Programs

    Learning Matters Educational Group

    Glendale, AZ


    Kent McIntosh


    University of Oregon

    Eugene, OR


    Erin Schons

    Assistant Education Director

    Children’s Home Society

    Sioux Falls, SD

    About the Authors


    Dr. Roberta Strosnider, Professor Emerita in Special Education, Towson University, Towson, Maryland, currently works as an educational consultant in the areas of learning disabilities, executive functioning, and teacher preparation. Roberta graduated from Fairmont State University (FSU) with a major in Secondary Education and in 2017 she was a recipient of an Alumna of Achievement Award from that institution. She earned her master’s degree in Special Education from West Virginia University and her doctorate in Special Education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She taught both general and special education classes in P-12 schools. She also taught at several institutions of higher education and holds faculty emerita status from Hood College, Fredrick, Maryland, and Towson University, Towson, Maryland.Roberta received a fellowship to study HIV Prevention Education for Students with Disabilities and served as a national trainer for the Co-Teaching HIV Prevention Program. While at Towson University, she directed an off-campus teacher preparation program and received the Nasim Dil Award for her service to Small Special Education Programs. She has further served her profession as a reviewer and auditor of special education teacher education program reports for the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). In addition, she has made contributions to the field through publications, presentations, and grants. She also served as a consultant to the Maryland State Department of Education preparing materials and online resources to provide professional development.During her career, Roberta has been and continues to be active in advocacy efforts for students with disabilities having served as a board member and advocate for several organizations. Her work with the Frederick County, Maryland, Arc Board was recognized with the STAR Award from the Arc. The Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD) awarded her the Floyd G. Hudson Award for her contributions to the field of learning disabilities. She serves as a representative for CLD to other public policy groups such as the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities.


    Valerie Saxton Sharpe currently works as an educational consultant in the areas of cognitive disabilities, executive functioning, and teacher preparation. Val’s career path started as a special education teacher for a large Maryland school system teaching students with learning disabilities and cognitive impairments. As an administrator, she chaired the Special Education department in a comprehensive high school setting. Lastly, as an instructional specialist, she supervised and provided teacher training.Following her career in teaching and supervision, Val prepared teachers at both Hood College and Towson University. While at Hood College, she played an integral role in the development of an assessment system to measure teacher candidate performance used for program review, reform and for accreditation purposes. As program coordinator for Towson University Elementary Education/Special Education at the Universities at Shady Grove she was known for her innovative methodology used in the preparation of teacher candidates to teach ALL students. Val was instrumental in providing teacher candidates opportunities to gain knowledge and skills in universal design, differentiated instruction, and executive function skills. She developed new Professional Development Schools (PDS) partnerships with the local school system, secured grant funding for the design and implementation of unique teacher preparation projects, wrote manuals addressing co-teaching and mentoring, and presented at PDS conferences.For her outstanding work at Towson University, Val was awarded the Gloria E. Neubert Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Universities at Shady Grove Campus Program Director of the Year Award. She was appointed by the governor of Maryland to serve on the Maryland Professional Standards Teacher Education Board. Val also served as an invited member of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Elementary Education Praxis II test development team.An advocate for students with disabilities, Val has served as a national and state officer for the Council for Exceptional Children and its Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD). For her work with DADD, she received the Special Recognition Award. Additionally, she has served on the Board of Trustees for Service Coordination of Frederick County that assists individuals with developmental disabilities to obtain services. As a member of this Board, Val supported the implementation of transition and employment services for individuals with disabilities in Maryland.


    Roberta Strosnider and Valerie Sharpe cofounded Project Boost, where they wrote and taught a curriculum that provides executive-function skill training for students K–12 by building skills through the 7-Step Model explored in this book. This curriculum has been used throughout the contiguous United States and Hawaii for the professional development of teachers and administrators. The authors currently teach online courses on executive functioning and classroom management at Frostburg State University, Frostburg, Maryland.

    List of Contributors

    Andi Anglin-Alonso, Special EducatorGrade: ElementaryMontgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

    Laura Beck, LMSWHigh School: Executive Function Skills Program Designed for Students At-RiskOxford Schools, Michigan

    Nadya Chacon, General EducatorGrade: 1Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

    Jessica Gray, Special EducatorGrades: K–2Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

    Kimberly Hale, General EducatorGrade: 3Wake County Public Schools, North Carolina

    Elisabeth Halici, General EducatorGrades: Elementary and MiddleMontgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

    Meredith Julius, MAHigh School: Executive Function Skills Program Designed for Students At-RiskBerkley Schools, Michigan; Formerly Oxford Schools, Michigan

    Mychael Moe, Special EducatorGrade: Ka’u High and Pahala Elementary School (KHPES), Ka’u High, and Pahala Elementary Hilo, HawaiiGrade: 8Grade: 6Grade: 9Grade: 10

    Shannon Sullivan, Special EducatorGrades: Middle School Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

    Batya Toso, Special EducatorGrades: K, 4, 5Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland

    Jennifer Cossette Ventura, General EducatorGrade: 1Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland


    To my husband Jim, thank you for all your love, your belief in and work to bring executive function skill training to all students, and for being a source of strength to me as I have worked on this book.

    To my children, Kent, thank you for believing in and supporting me and Kim, thank you for participating as a coach in Project Boost and contributing to this book. I would also like to thank their spouses, Laura and Jamie, for all your encouragement in the writing of this book. To my grandchildren, Sophie, Kendall, Brinkley, and Jay, thank you for your love and participation in Project Boost; you are the best grandchildren ever.

    —Roberta Strosnider


    To my husband Mike, thank you for your never ending love, support, encouragement, and active listening skills during the writing of this book. Your thoughtful, and sometimes humorous comments were a sure sign that you understood the importance of me seeing this project through to fruition.

    To my loving children, Kristy, Kelly, Jeremy, and Alex, you are the best cheerleaders a mom could have. To Kristy and Kelly, thank you for your years of participation as coaches in Project Boost.

    —Val Sharpe


    To all of our P–12 and higher education students, thank you for the opportunity to have a small part in your education.

    —Roberta Strosnider and Val Sharpe

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