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Building Executive Function and Motivation in the Middle Grades: A Universal Design for Learning Approach


Susanne Croasdaile



Building Executive Function and Motivation in Middle Grades book cover

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(ISBN: 9781943085002)

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(ISBN: 9781943085019)

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About the Book

"So much of what middle grade students need to do each day depends on their executive function, or the ability to self-monitor and carry out the steps of a plan effectively," writes Susanne Croasdaile in her first book, Building Executive Function and Motivation in the Middle Grades: A Universal Design for Learning Approach.

Using real-life examples, Croasdaile shows educators how to integrate Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to transform the learning experience for their students. She provides a roadmap for anyone who seeks practical, research-based strategies to help their students survive and thrive to become expert learners in the middle grades.

In an easy-to-follow, 8-step process, Croasdaile offers numerous strategies that will enhance instruction and support student social and emotional competency. By highlighting practices related to students' executive function and sustained effort, this book is a useful addition to the toolkit of every classroom teacher, coach, and administrator.

Learn more by downloading a PDF of the Introduction from the book. 

Building Executive Function and Motivation in the Middle Grades is available in print (144 pages, ISBN: 9781943085002) and accessible EPUB (ISBN: 9781943085019) wherever books are sold!

Table of Contents

Praise for Building Executive Function and Motivation in the Middle Grades

Dr. Croasdaile presents a compelling discussion on building expert "middle school" learners through the UDL lens. Her points and examples are relevant and reflect many of the issues teachers often face in the classroom. Her connections to the literature are deep and promote the importance of how the UDL lens correlates with well-designed instruction. A must-read for any educator to understand why we teach UDL - to build that all important learner expertise!

Dr. Fran Smith, Adjunct Faculty, GW University


Croasdaile integrates real-life situations and scholarly research in a well-written book every instructional leader should have and use. This timely and valuable book answers a common question in middle school environments, how do we motivate students? How do you address executive functioning? Those questions, and others, related to engaging students, are in this book. It's encouraging to see a book about motivation and UDL presented in a way that is easy to read, understand, and implement. The institutional calendar is the tool you didn't know you needed until you saw it. This is a must-read if you want to know how to address student motivation.

Phyllis L. M. Haynes, Ph.D., Co-Director, Training & Technical Assistance Center, Virginia Commonwealth University


Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, ‘Building Executive Function and Motivation in the Middle Grades: A Universal Design for Learning Approach’ is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, school district, college, and university library Teacher Education, Educational Psychology, and Behavioral Science collections...

Midwest Book Review, August 2023


About the Author

Susanne Croasdaile, PhD, has been a classroom teacher, instructional coach, professional developer, program specialist, systems change consultant, and associate director of curriculum and instructions for public schools in Virginia and Louisiana. With more than 25 years of experience in K-12, higher education, and educational research and evaluation, she uses a range of roles to support school-based faculty members as reflective practitioners and to lift their voices to the larger education community.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
    • A little about UDL
    • A little about research-based practices
    • The importance of checklists for instructional models
    • Barriers and obstacles to student success
    • Use a checklist to address obstacles and develop expert learners
  • PART 1: Scaffolding Executive Function
    • Scenario
    • What is executive function?
    • Step 1. Always scaffold working memory
    • Step 2. Decide on critical routines to use across the year
    • Step 3. Plan and teach the First 20 Days routines
    • Step 4. Progress monitor and scaffold/reteach the routines
    • Planning steps to scaffold executive function
  • Part 2: Scaffolding Motivation
    • Scenario
    • Building internalized motivation in students
    • Supporting students' perceived feelings of autonomy, mastery, and purpose
    • Step 5. Offer multiple entry points to critical activities
    • Step 6. Scaffold collaborative interactions
    • Step 7. Plan for mastery-oriented feedback
  • Part 3: Pulling It All Together
    • Step 8: Set up and use an instructional calendar
  • Final Note
  • Acknowledgements
  • Appendix: The First 20 Days of School
  • About the Author
  • References
  • Index

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