Adolescents: Web-based Resources

21st Century Skills

Alliance for Excellent Education

Alliance for Excellence in Education

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Center on Instruction

Classroom Modeling with Anita Archer

Dylan Wiliam and Formative Assessment

The Education Alliance at Brown University

The Education Trust

Marzano’s Instructional Strategies

International Reading Association

International Reading Association’s Position Statement on Adolescent Literacy



Learning First Alliance

Literacy Matters

National Center on RTI

National Staff Development Center

NCTE Adolescent Literacy\

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

PA Standards Aligned System

Reading Next

RTI Action Network

Scholastic Adolescent Literacy Resource Center

SEDL: Building Reading Proficiency at the Secondary Level

Southwest Educational Development Laboratory


Resources for ADHD

Challenging Behavior

Behavior and Lagging Skills

All kids with ADHD have some executive dysfunction, but not everyone with an executive-function deficit has ADHD (Russell Barkley, “ADHD: Executive Funtioning, Life Course Outcomes & Management”). However, almost every student with an executive-function deficit will exhibit some oppositional or defiant behaviors (Barkley).

When you think about it, it’s totally normal: humans are highly adaptive, and we’re going to try lots of ways to avoid doing things that are hard and frustrating. Ross Greene (Lost at School) describes this as:

“. . . demands being placed on a kid exceed his capacity to respond adaptively. Of course, that’s when all of us exhibit maladaptive behavior. The problem for kids with behavioral challenges (and those around them) is that they’re responding much more maladaptively than the rest of us, and much more often. You see, there’s a spectrum of things kids do when life’s demands exceed their capacity to respond adaptively. Some cry, or sulk, or pout, or whine, or withdraw—that would be the milder end of the spectrum. As we move toward the more difficult end of the spectrum, we find screaming, swearing, spitting, hitting, kicking, destroying property, lying, and truancy.”

  “Challenging” Behavior  (from Greene, Ross W. Lost at School. Scribner, 2008.)

    • Difficulty handling transitions, shifting from one mind-set or task to another (shifting cognitive set)
    • Difficulty mustering the energy to persist on tasks that are challenging, effortful, or tedious
    • Difficulty doing things in a logical sequence or prescribed order
    • Poor sense of time
    • Difficulty reflecting on multiple thoughts or ideas simultaneously
    • Difficulty maintaining focus for goal-directed problem-solving
    • Difficulty considering the likely outcomes or consequences of actions (impulsive)
    • Difficulty considering a range of solutions to a problem Difficulty expressing concerns, needs, or thoughts in words
    • Difficulty understanding what is being said
    • Difficulty managing emotional response to frustration so as to think rationally (separation of affect)
    • Chronic irritability and/or anxiety significantly impede capacity for problem-solving
    • Difficulty seeing the “grays”/concrete, literal, black-and-white thinking Difficulty deviating from rules, routine, original plan
  • Difficulty handling unpredictability, ambiguity, uncertainty, novelty
  • Difficulty shifting from original idea or solution/difficulty adapting to changes in plan or new rules/possibly perseverative or obsessive
  • Difficulty taking into account situational factors that would require adjusting one’s plan of action
  • Inflexible, inaccurate interpretations/cognitive distortions or biases (e.g., “Everyone’s out to get me,” “Nobody likes me,” “You always blame me,” “It’s not fair,” “I’m stupid,” “Things will never work out for me”)
  • Difficulty attending to and/or accurately interpreting social cues/poor perception of social nuances Difficulty starting a conversation, entering groups, connecting with people/lacking other basic social skills
  • Difficulty seeking attention in appropriate ways
  • Difficulty appreciating how one’s behavior is affecting other people; often surprised by others’ responses to his/her behavior
  • Difficulty empathizing with others, appreciating another person’s perspective or point of view
  • Difficulty appreciating how one is coming across or being perceived by others

Kids do Well if They Can

“If you know what thinking skills a kid is lacking, you’ll be in a much better position to teach those skills. You’ll also be in a better position to anticipate the situations in which challenging behavior is most likely to occur. If you don’t know what skills a kid is lacking, they probably won’t get taught, it will be much harder to anticipate his worst moments, the kid’s challenges will linger (or get worse), and he will become increasingly frustrated, hopeless, and alienated, just as most of us would if we had a problem no one seemed able to understand and were being treated in a way that made the problem worse.” (Ross Greene, Lost at School)

Treated in a way that made the problem worse? Here Greene is referring to the common adult mis-perception that kids will do well “if they want to.” An assumption made by most teachers, parents and administrators at one time or another. In other words, he is not doing well because he “doesn’t want to.”

This common assumption (usually wrong) causes adults to believe that their strategy needs to be to make the kid want to do well. We then try to motivate him, give him incentives to do well, reward for good behavior and punish bad behavior.

By contrast, the “kids do well if they can” approach assumes our student knows right from wrong, is already motivated, and has had enough punishment. Instead he/she is lacking “thinking” or executive function skills, and our job becomes figuring out what skills he is lacking and teaching those skills.

Now go back up to the list of “challenging behaviors.” Those are the lagging skills we need to teach.

EF Skills by Age

Developmental Tasks Requiring Executive Function Skills

Children and teenagers are required to perform all kinds of skills that require executive skills. The list below describes tasks or behaviors that adults commonly expect children to be able to do in different age ranges (Dawson, Peg and Richard Guare. Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents. New York, NY: The Guilford Press, 2010. Print.).


  • Run simple errands (e.g., “get your book from the bedroom”)
  • Tidy bedroom/playroom with assistance
  • Perform simple chores and self-help tasks with reminders (e.g., brush teeth, get dressed, clear dishes from table)
  • Inhibit behaviors: don’t touch hot stove, run into the street, take another child´s toy, hit, bite, push, etc.

Kindergarten – Grade 2

  • Run errands (two/three step directions)
  • Tidy bedroom/playroom
  • Perform simple chores, self-help tasks; may need reminders (e.g., make bed)
  • Bring papers to and from school
  • Complete homework assignments (20 minutes max)
  • Decide how to spend money/allowance
  • Inhibit behaviors: raise hand to speak, keep hands to self, don’t swear, follow safety rules

Grades 3-5

  • Run errands (may involve a time delay or greater distance, like going to a store or remembering to do something after school)
  • Tidy bedroom/playroom (may include vacuuming, dusting, etc.)
  • Perform chores that take 15-30 minutes (e.g., clean up after dinner, rake the leaves)
  • Bring books, papers, assignments to and from school
  • Keep track of belongings when away from home
  • Complete homework assignments(up to 1 hour maximum)
  • Plan simple school project such as a book report (select book, read book, write report)
  • Keep track of changing daily schedule (different activities after school)
  • Save money for desired objects, plan how to earn money
  • Inhibit & self regulate: behave when teacher is out of the classroom; refrain from rude comments, temper tantrums, bad manners

Grades 6-8

  • Help out with chores around the home, including both daily and occasional tasks (e.g., empty the dishwasher, raking leaves, shoveling snow); tasks may take 60-90 minutes to finish
  • Babysit younger siblings or for pay
  • Use a system for organizing schoolwork (incl. planner, notebooks)
  • Follow complex school schedule(changing teachers and changing schedules)
  • Plan and complete long-term projects: tasks to be accomplished and a reasonable timeline to follow; may require planning multiple large projects at the same time
  • Plan time, including after-school activities, homework, family responsibilities; estimate how long it takes to complete individual tasks and adjust schedule to fit
  • Inhibit rule-breaking in the absence of visible authority


Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, Second Edition: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare

Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare

Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents’ Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning by Joyce Eric-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel.