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Prepare Students for Novel Tasks


Study Skills & Tools 21st Century Skills Universal Design for Learning Social-Emotional Learning/Growth Mindset All Ages Strategy


Flexible Thinking

Prepare Students for Novel Tasks

A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.
— Eeyore

Support students who have difficulty with flexible thinking or novel situations so they know how to adapt rather than getting upset, anxious, or just doing what they would have done in the past.

How To Apply It!

  1. When presenting a new task or instructions prepare them by emphasizing that the task is different but there are similarities to past tasks.
  2. Explain the similarities and differences in as much detail as the student needs.
  3. Read the instructions together or ask the student to re-state the instructions in his own words to ensure understanding.
  4. Break the instructions into smaller chunks. This should make the task feel less overwhelming.
  5. In #4, have the student check in after every chunk to ensure they are on track. This can prevent the student needing to go back and re-do work and avoid frustration.
  6. Discuss what you are doing in the above steps and why. Use the opportunity to show how they can break-down a problem on their own if you aren't available.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Students with weaker flexible thinking can feel uncomfortable when they need to adjust to an unfamiliar situation or process. Breaking down new instructions can lessen their apprehension and help them succeed. The more successful experiences they have handling novel tasks, the less stress they will feel when they face future unexpected circumstances or novelty. Keep in mind that students might not have difficulty in every situation. Use the strategies to support your student as necessary but always follow their cues so you are letting the student make adjustments independently when he feels ready.