Visual Organizers for Self-Evaluation and Planning
Students experiencing difficulty in the classroom often experience breakdown in organization and planning. This is frequently the case for students with social cognitive deficits. The organizers in this section were developed to assist students in meeting the classroom language demands that require the use of executive function skills necessary for organization and planning. The visual feedback they provide assists students when structuring tasks and can provide a cognitive cue to guide student’s thinking process when organizing and self-evaluating. It has been our experience that students struggling with these skills can often lack comprehension of the language concepts being used to facilitate improvements in these areas. For example, we often hear comments from students such as, “Everyone says I need to be more organized.” However, many times, those same students are unable to define the language concept “organized”, let alone identify the steps that are implied within this directive. This can present a significant obstacle when establishing a plan to be more “organized”. Increasing comprehension of language concepts critical to the development of executive functioning skills is clearly important. In addition, many students lack a deep understanding of what role their learning style plays in this process. As a result we have found it beneficial to raise students’ awareness about who they are as learners. By building awareness, students are better able to use language skills to identify and express the strengths they possess, recognize the challenges they face, and establish a plan of action to accomplish their goals. The Learning Line organizer (SR 100a-100b) provides a tool for recording information about personal strengths, interests, and talents, as well as areas of lesser interest or greater challenge. This is an important first step in increasing students’ self-awareness and identifying areas where additional learning support may be beneficial. It can be a helpful tool when collecting information about the accuracy with which students perceive themselves as learners as well as establish a purpose for intervention, an important motivational component of therapy. The Learning Line organizer was intended to be used in a positive, pro-active manner to empower students with general information about their learning patterns. It was not intended to be used as a tool for sharing specific quantitative information such as standardized test scores. For students to achieve a certain level of independence when solving organizational problems, it not only helps that they understand who they are as learners, but that they understand what level of support they need within different stages of the learning process (Learning Zone SR 102). When students can begin to recognize when they need help, and why, it is much more likely that they can begin to establish plans of action for dealing with presented challenges more independently. In order to address these areas, organizers were developed to raise students’ awareness about their own learning, level of independence across a variety of activities (SR 101a-101b; 113a-113b), and their ability to focus on tasks, particularly as difficulty and interest levels across activities change (SR 103a-110b). As previously noted, establishing a sense of purpose behind intervention is an extremely powerful tool when motivating students and increasing their self-advocacy skills; as a result, organizers are included that allow for identification of student, parent, school, and support staff priorities (SR 115a-115b). If students can not identify a potential area of need, then it can be quite challenging for them to independently take action or establish a plan to address the challenge. This is frequently seen when planning for long term assignments, studying for tests (SR 122a-125), or completing a daily assignment sheet and coming home with the appropriate materials to complete tasks (SR 128a-131). The organizers included in this section provide a repetitive visual structure for self-questioning, which helps students use language reasoning skills to make the cause-effect connections necessary for future planning, task completion, and behavioral regulation. Additional organizers are also provided to assist students in monitoring ongoing class performance and work quality, as well as identify successful learning strategies used for meeting academic demands.