[semester equivalent = 2.00 credits]



Lori Boll



Teenagers are both incredibly delightful and occasionally frustrating. While that may not be news to you, why teenagers behave the way they do is, indeed, news to many of us. Recent research has helped create a significant body of study and literature that explains the developmental phases our teens go through. Based on recent research on the teen brain, this course helps you navigate the labyrinth of emotions, developmental differences, and entertainment we often call “the teenage brain.”

Reasons for signing up for this class will vary, but one of these might fit you:

  • You have a teenager yourself,
  • You are a middle school or high school teacher,
  • You have heard the term “executive functioning” over and over again and are interested in knowing what it actually is. 
  • You are curious about why teenagers act the way they do.

This course is appropriate for teachers K7-12. Text, Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential, used on Amazon approximately $10 - $15.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Gained an understanding that the teenage brain is not yet fully developed.
  2. Gained an understanding of the frontal lobe or “The CEO of the brain.”
  3. Explored the role of executive functioning and how the frontal lobe controls it.
  4. Learned a variety of strategies to help students improve their executive functioning skills.
  5. Learned how to move from theory to practice.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



Dawson, Peg & Guare, Richard. Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential. 2009. Guilford Press.  SBN# 1593854455

  • Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential
    by Dawson, Peg, Guare, Richard

    Buy from Amazon


Text, Dawson, Peg & Guare, Richard. Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential. 2009. Guilford Press. SBN# 1593854455, is approximately $17 on or another bookseller of your choice. The text may also available at local and school libraries for free.



Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: The Teenage Brain

1. Learn about the different parts of the brain that play a role, especially in teens:  their frontal lobe and the prefrontal cortex.

2. Watch the Teenage Brain Explained, a bit funny and full of facts:

3. View the first two videos of Frontline Episode "The Teenage Brain.".  Teenagers Inexplicable Behavior & The Wiring of the Adolescent Brain.

4. Share in 500+ words:  
a) Describe your professional situation and what you hope to take away from this course.
b) What you learned from the videos that may be new for you or has confirmed existing knowledge.
c) An anecdote from your own teen years or those of a sibling, your own children, or a student you've worked with that illustrates the kinds of issues teens are dealing with.

Assignment #2: Executive Functioning

1.     Read pages 11-20 in Smart But Scattered Teens to gain a greater understanding of the main executive skills, listed below:

  • Response Inhibition
  • Working Memory
  • Emotional Control
  • Flexibility
  • Sustained Attention
  • Task Initiation
  • Planning/Prioritizing
  • Organization
  • Time Management
  • Goal-directed persistence
  • Metacognition

    2.  Take the quiz on pages 51—52 to determine your executive skills strengths and challenges. Take a screenshot of the results and upload them below. 
    3.   Write a 500+ word reflection discussing your findings.
    4.   What are your own areas of executive skills strengths and challenges? How are you accommodating for some of your own challenges?
    5.  How could you use these findings about your own strengths and challenges when working with a student or co-worker with differing strengths and weaknesses.

Assignment #3: Difficulties With Executive Functioning Skills

  1. Download and read Executive Function 101 (Free).
  2. First, read pages 7-9 entitled " Executive Function Around the Clock." As a teacher you may see plenty of students like Josh.
  3. Read pages 2-6 in Executive Function 101, paying attention to the behavioral categories.
  4. Identify two individuals (either students or your own children) you have worked with (do not use their real names), and in 500+ words:
    a) Describe each student and his/her main challenges.
    b) Share what you did that was helpful with these kids.
    c) Express your thoughts on common pitfalls adults fall into in working with this kind of young person.


Assignment #4: School-wide Support

  1. Read User Generated Education, on supporting executive functioning at the school level using technology.
  2. Read this summary,  of the journal article, The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking, about the importance of handwriting over laptops. I encourage you to read the entire journal article if you have access to Sage or other academic journal collections.
  3. At my previous middle school we worked to have the following supports in place. Make a list of the supports you have in your school.
  • We require our students to write in their planner on a daily basis.
  • Students have a time management-planning guide in their planners to help them plan for outside activities, homework, and other events.
  • We color-coded our subject areas and marked our binders and folders with these colors, so supplies are easy to find in the locker.
  • We have periodic locker checks to make sure the lockers are clean and organized. If not, we support the students by giving them organizational systems.
  • Electronic organizational tools are taught in some classrooms.
  • Consistent reading and writing strategies are taught throughout elementary and middle school.
  • We have a Study Skills Integration course for students who have identified weaknesses in their executive skills.

       4. In 500+ words discuss:
           a)  What you have learned that's new to you from the articles and video.
           b)  Identify a particular student and then address some school-wide strategies that could be helpful.     
           c)  Assess how your school is or is not addressing executive functioning in students.

Assignment #5: Additional Reading-Focus on what works

You'll be reading from the text and online articles focusing on strategies that will be successful in working with young people needing to improve their executive functioning skills. Please be sure to take notes as you go along. 

1. Read Part II, Laying a Foundation That Can Help, from the text, Smart But Scattered, and then four chapters in Part III, Putting it All Together. 

2. Watch this video of psychiatrist Edward Hallowell explain how a brain with ADHD is like having "Ferrari Engines with Bicycle Brakes.” 

3. Read about the role of technology in working with kids who are challenged. 

4. Review articles or videos on the course Flipboard for any additional helpful strategies. 

5. Assemble a powerpoint presentation (or if you prefer an HTML web page or MS word doc) which includes your top 20-30 strategies. Submit below. 



In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #6: A student action plan

  1. Identify a student to work with. Make note of what executive skills he/she will need to focus on. Create a plan to teach these skills. Implement your plan with the student.
  2. Write a 250-500 word commentary on what worked well and what could be improved. Include any student feedback or noteworthy student products.
  3. Submit your lesson to your instructor via the lesson tab below.
  4. Share what you've learned with other teachers taking our courses by checking the lesson library box when you submit your lesson.


Option B:

Use this option if you do not have a classroom available.

  1. Identify a student to work with, make note of what executive skills he/she will need to focus on. Create a plan to teach these skills. (Do not implement it.)
  2. Write a 500+ word paper concerning any noteworthy success you’ve had as a teacher with one or more students and how this experience relates to the lesson development for this course.
    The following is encouraged but not required)
  3. Please refer to the guidelines on our blog prior to writing your article.
  4. Please email a copy to Renee Leon ( THI blog curator and media specialist.
  5. Indicate whether or not you are OK with having your article considered for publication on our website.
  6. Subject Line to read: (Course name, Blog)

Assignment #7: (500 Level ONLY)

Please choose ONE of the following options as your 500 level assignment submit as usual. 

(a) Develop a training for parents on how best to improve executive functioning in their teen children. Use powerpoint, text handouts, online videos etc, and submit your materials along with a 250 word description of how and when you would put this training on.


(b) If you are working with teens with learning disabilities (ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, dyslexia), research books online articles that you feel best address how to improve executive functioning of one disorder. List at least ten (10) resources and give a 2-4 sentence description of each. 


(c) Another assignment of your own choosing with the instructor's prior approval. 


Assignment #8: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Lori Boll is an experienced Special Education leader with a personal connection to individuals with disabilities. 

In 2003, Lori’s son Braden was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.  This milestone event changed her focus from teaching elementary students to advocating for all children and all learners.

In Shanghai, China Lori worked as a program director for a school focused on students with special needs and went on to co-found another school, SHINE Academy also, for students with special needs. 

Lori has two graduate degrees; one in Reading Education and the other in Special Education and has been teaching for over twenty years in international schools around the world and in the United States.



Dawson, Peg, and Richard Guare. Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential. Guilford Press, San Francisco, January, 2009, Print.
There's nothing more frustrating than watching your bright, talented son or daughter struggle with everyday tasks like finishing homework, putting away toys, or following instructions at school. Your "smart but scattered" 4- to 13-year-old might also have trouble coping with disappointment or managing anger.
Drs. Peg Dawson and Richard Guare have great news: there's a lot you can do to help. The latest research in child development shows that many kids who have the brain and heart to succeed lack or lag behind in crucial "executive skills"--the fundamental habits of mind required for getting organized, staying focused, and controlling impulses and emotions. Learn easy-to-follow steps to identify your child's strengths and weaknesses, use activities and techniques proven to boost specific skills, and problem-solve daily routines.

"Executive Function 101." National Center for Learning Disabilities (2012): n. pag. Web. Free. (Link)
From the founding partner the National Center for Learning Disabilities, this book explains what executive functioning is and how it impacts kids with learning and attention issues. This e-book also includes an illustration of a day in the life of a child with executive functioning issues.