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Cognitive Flexibility, a component of executive functioning, is the ability to effectively adapt our behavior as we face changing environmental and task demands. Students can use these skills to transition between different activities in the classroom or to think about a concept or question from different perspectives. Cognitive Flexibility develops throughout childhood and adolescence, and this flexible and adaptive thinking has been shown to support students' thinking, learning, and math success.
Cognitive Flexibility (also called "attention shifting" or "task switching") allows us to think about multiple concepts, either at the same time or while switching between them. For example, in task switching, it allows us to attend to different aspects of a task depending on a given rule (e.g., sort colorful shapes by color) and then to shift to a new rule (e.g., sort by shape).
When students explain their thinking process aloud with guidance in response to questions or prompts, they recognize the strategies they use and solidify their understanding.
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.
Spending time with new content helps move concepts and ideas into Long-term Memory.
Math centers support learner interests and promote the development of more complex math skills and social interactions.
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.
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