Lesson Three: Executive Functioning

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Now that you have an understanding of the Teenage Brain, let’s discuss the role of the pre-frontal cortex.

This area of the brain is the CEO. It controls your executive functioning which is a set of mental processes that helps us connect past experience with present action. We use these skills all day, every day to plan, organize, keep track of long term projects, work in groups, reflect on our thinking and make changes or corrections in our reading, writing and thinking. When it comes to your executive skills it is important to know your strengths and challenges so you can accommodate your own needs.

Here’s an example: My working memory is poor. For years I would lose my keys every time I set them down. So, we finally developed a system. We bought hooks that we hang right by the door. When I get home I immediately hang my keys (well most of the time). If, for some reason, I forget and place my keys somewhere, I spend the next morning searching frantically for them. My husband, however, is always supportive and helps me look (again, well most of the time).

So here are your executive skills:

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

Some of these are thinking skills, while others are doing.

In this lesson you’ll be reading more about executive skills and discovering your executive skill strengths and challenges.


  1. Read pages 11-20 in Smart But Scattered Teens to get a deeper understanding of each skill.
  2. Take the quiz on pages 51—52 to determine your executive skills strengths and challenges.
    1. Take a screenshot of the results and upload them below
  3. Write a 250-word reflection discussing your findings.
    1. How are you accommodating for some of your own challenges?
    2. You may wish to consider how can you use these findings about your own strengths and challenges when working with a student or co-worker with differing strengths and weaknesses.



Be sure to purchase your copy of Smart But Scattered.  Here are some Amazon purchase options.





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One Comment

  1. Hi Lori,

    What is the tittle of the quiz I have to take? In the kindle app it doesn’t show me the page numbers. Is it the Teen or Parent Version?

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