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Inhibition, a component of executive functioning, is the ability to suppress Attention to irrelevant input and to focus on pertinent stimuli or information. Students use these skills to successfully pay attention to lessons and problems. Inhibition is essential for Self-Regulation, allowing students to monitor and suppress inappropriate tendencies and behaviors. By helping students control both their focus and their behavior, Inhibition affects the development of math skills and allows students to move away from strategies that are not effective to support math success.
Inhibition occurs at two levels:
Content that is provided in clear, short chunks can support students' Working Memory.
Providing math tasks with high cognitive demand conveys high expectations for all students by challenging them to engage in higher-order thinking.
As students solve problems in a group, they learn new strategies and practice communicating their mathematical thinking.
Students activate more cognitive processes by exploring and representing their understandings in visual form.
Continual use of foundational skills with different problems reinforces a conceptual understanding of math skills.
10 minutes in each math session devoted to building fluent retrieval of basic arithmetic facts sets the foundation for learning new concepts.
Daily review strengthens previous learning and can lead to fluent recall.
Knowing the language of math is critical because students must use this language to understand math concepts and determine calculations needed.
Thinking of and about patterns encourages learners to look for and understand the rules and relationships that are critical components of mathematical reasoning.
Teaching students to recognize common problem structures helps them transfer solution methods from familiar to unfamiliar problems.
Discussing strategies for solving mathematics problems after initially letting students attempt to problem solve on their own helps them understand how to organize their mathematical thinking and intentionally tackle problems.
Teaching students how to label, identify, and manage Emotion helps them learn Self-regulation skills.
Analyzing incorrect worked examples is especially beneficial for helping students develop a conceptual understanding of mathematical processes.
Writing freely about one's emotions about a specific activity, such as taking a test, can help students cope with negative Emotion, such as math anxiety.
As students walk through stations working in small groups, the social and physical nature of the learning supports deeper understanding.
Adding motions to complement learning activates more cognitive processes for recall and 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.
Practicing until achieving several error-free attempts is critical for retention.
As students work with and process information by discussing, organizing, and sharing it together, they deepen their understanding.
Math centers support learner interests and promote the development of more complex math skills and social interactions.
Math games allow students to practice many math skills in a fun, applied context.
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.
Multiple tables and chairs on wheels allow for setting up the classroom to support the desired learning outcomes of each activity.
By talking through their thinking at each step of a process, teachers can model what learning looks like.
Teachers sharing math-to-self, math-to-math, and math-to-world connections models this schema building.
Brain breaks that include movement allow learners to refresh their thinking and focus on learning new information.
Multiple display spaces help develop oral language skills as well as Social Awareness & Relationship Skills by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens recall.
Providing physical and virtual representations of numbers and math concepts helps activate mental processes.
Visual representations help students understand what a number represents as well as recognize relationships between numbers.
Multiple writing surfaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Connecting information to music and dance moves enhances Short-term and Long-term Memory by drawing on auditory processes and the cognitive benefits of physical activity.
Having students teach their knowledge, skills, and understanding to their classmates strengthens learning.
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.
When teachers connect math to the students' world, students see how math is relevant and applicable to their daily lives.
Students deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning when they explain to and receive feedback from others.
Response devices boost engagement by encouraging all students to answer every question.
When students engage in a dialogue with themselves, they are able to orient, organize, and focus their thinking.
When students monitor their comprehension, behavior, or use of strategies, they build their Metacognition.
When students give themselves positive self-statements after reaching a goal, they acknowledge their progress and reward their small successes.
Incorporating multiple senses with strategies like chewing gum, using a fidget, and sitting on a ball chair supports focus and Attention.
Sentence frames or stems can serve as language support to enrich students' participation in academic discussions.
Using earplugs or headphones can increase focus and comfort.
When students create their own number and word problems, they connect math concepts to their background knowledge and lived experiences.
Transforming written text into audio activates different parts of the brain to support learning.
When students explain their thinking process aloud, they recognize the strategies they use and solidify their understanding.
Students deepen their math understanding as they use and hear others use specific math language in informal ways.
Tossing a ball, beanbag, dice, or other small object activates physical focus in support of mental focus.
Having students verbally repeat information such as instructions ensures they have heard and supports remembering.
Providing visuals to introduce, support, or review instruction activates more cognitive processes to support learning.
Visual supports, like text magnification, colored overlays, and guided reading strip, help students focus and properly track as they read.
Analyzing and discussing solved problems helps students develop a deeper understanding of abstract mathematical processes.
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