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Cognitive Flexibility, a component of executive functioning, is the ability to think about multiple concepts, either at the same time or switching between them. Cognitive Flexibility can, for example, help readers make inferences by incorporating new information as they are reading with their Background Knowledge or help writers proofread a passage by allowing them to attend to multiple aspects of writing, such as structure and spelling, at once. Cognitive Flexibility develops through childhood and has been shown to support both reading comprehension and writing proficiency.
Cognitive Flexibility can also be called attention shifting or task switching, which involves adaptively shifting away from one idea or component of a task and responding or attending to something new. We use Cognitive Flexibility to effectively adapt our behavior as we face changing environment and task demands. In school, students must consider and switch between different rules and strategies to complete learning tasks.
Cognitive Flexibility can allow students to flexibly use different reading strategies, such as re-reading or skimming, based on the goals of the task. It can also support the writing process, for example, to help students find and use a different word to describe something.
Checklists and rubrics help students develop their abilities to self-assess and revise their writing.
As students walk through stations working in small groups, the social and physical nature of the learning supports deeper understanding.
Setting overall goals, as well as smaller goals as steps to reaching them, encourages consistent, achievable progress and helps students feel confident in their skills and abilities.
In guided inquiry, teachers help students use their own language for constructing knowledge by active listening and questioning.
Through short but regular mindfulness activities, students develop their awareness and ability to focus.
Short breaks that include mindfulness quiet the brain to allow for improved thinking and emotional regulation.
Brain breaks that include movement allow learners to refresh their thinking and focus on learning new information.
Research shows physical activity improves focus and creativity.
Maintaining consistent classroom routines and schedules ensures that students are able to trust and predict what will happen next.
Through one-on-one conferences, teachers can provide individual support to each student to deepen comprehension and interest in reading.
When students explain their thinking process aloud, they recognize the strategies they use and solidify their understanding.
Timers help students learn how to self-pace and transition.
Writing conferences allow students to share, reflect on, and receive feedback about their writing, which promotes Motivation for revising.
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