About the Executive Function (EF)

©Strosnider and Sharpe, 2021

About the Executive Function (EF) Planner

The Executive Function Planner—Why You and Your Students Need This!

In our years working with students to improve their executive function growth, we have found that many of them have difficulty with planning.  This difficulty leads to their frustration and is shared by parents and teachers as they observe students struggling to “get it all together”. The good news is that we have learned through study, research, and practice that when students use metacognitive planning strategies, the results regarding improvement are shocking.  They no longer start an assignment without thinking about the assignment and what is required for completion.  They set goals to improve and develop a plan to make that happen.  You may have noticed that we have not mentioned homework, just assignments.  That is because, it became clear to us during the COVID-19 Pandemic when so much learning was virtual that all assignments came with the potential to cause students problems in planning, initiating, and persevering to complete and submit their work.

While we used a paper planner for many years and found it very helpful to students, there was a lot of writing involved.  Many of our students found writing laborious and disliked that part of the process.  We used available APPS, but not all students had the device and the APP, or they were not taught to use it properly. It became clear that they would benefit from a carefully designed online planner for assignments.  Recently we were able to have our planner configured on Google Sheets available to students and their teachers.  This has opened a whole new opportunity for teachers and students, and we are excited to get it out on the market available to all teachers and their students.

The Purpose of the Planner and Why it is UNIQUE

The purpose of the EF Planner is to provide students with a tool to support the completion of a task or assignment. This planner is unique in that it is adaptable to meet individual student needs and incorporates the use of metacognitive learning strategies to help the student think about what needs to take place to complete an assignment or task, as well as executive function strategies that facilitate student success.  With this planner, teachers instruct and students learn executive function metacognitive strategies to organize, set priorities, task analyze, manage time, and self-monitor as they complete assignments.

The Executive Function Planner features the following 4 specialized tabs to support student executive function skills:

  1. Planner – this tab is the main frame of the planner and permits the student to virtually record subjects, corresponding assignments, materials needed, due date, an estimate of the time needed to complete the assignment, prioritization of assignments needing completion, start date, strategies to use, notes, and a place to check once the assignment has been complete.
  2. Monthly Goals and Notes – this section provides the opportunity for students to set goals, record helpful strategies, and write notes.
  3. Strategies – this section outlines specific metacognitive strategies to help the student complete an assignment. These strategies address the necessary metacognitive executive function skills of organizing, prioritizing, managing time, task analyzing, backward mapping, and self-regulating. Teachers can choose appropriate strategies from this section as they instruct students in the improvement of these skills and the use of the EF Planner.
  4. Instructions – this section provides a step-by-step guide addressing how to use the EF Planner. Teachers will find this section helpful as they teach students to improve their EF skills and use the EF Planner. Students and parents will find this section helpful as students transition to independent use of the EF Planner.

The last two sections address the EF Planner Overview and Usage Agreement.

The EF Planner may be used as a virtual or paper tool.  Metacognitive learning strategies are provided as a resource for teaching these executive function skills.

Frequent Questions and Answers for Use of the Institute on Executive Functioning Online Planner

A. My students already have paper planners, so why would they benefit from this planner?

This planner is a unique tool in that it incorporates the use of metacognitive learning strategies as students plan for assignment completion.  With this planner, students learn executive function metacognitive strategies to organize, set priorities, task analyze, manage time, and self-monitor as they complete assignments.  Metacognitive learning strategies are included as a resource for teaching these executive function skills.

B. How does this planner differ from other online planners?

Most planners are designed for students to use independently with the assumption students know how to plan.  Planning is an executive function skill that needs to be taught for many students. This is a tool teachers can use to teach their students metacognitive planning skills that support executive function growth leading toward learning and behavior self-regulation.

C. How do I purchase the Planner?

The EF Planner can be ordered two ways: Please, note you will need a Google account to use the planner. 

    1. Pay Pal – click the PayPal logo below. One licensed set costs $19.95 and serves 1-30 students.



2. You may submit a purchase order to jstros@comcast.net

D. Can I print a copy of the Online Planner?

Yes, you can take a screen shot of the planner and print it.

E. What if I have more than 30 students and want a planner for all my students?

Each Online Planner includes directions and a license set for 1-30 students; however, teachers may purchase additional licensed sets if they have more than 30 students.

F. Are these available to parents?

Yes, parents can purchase a licensed set.

G. Do I need to purchase the Planner at the beginning of the school year? 

No, you can purchase the Planner licensed set and start teaching your students to use it at any time.  The Planner is adaptable to meet whatever start date you choose.

The Planner can also be taught during Extended Year or other Summer Programs so that students are ready to plan for assignment completion when school begins in the fall.

H. What if I encounter difficulty while using the Planner?

Each Planner licensed set purchase includes a tab on each online planner with very specific directions on how to use it.