INTRODUCING: The New Curriculum that Helps Get Middle Schoolers Unstuck and On Target!

Today we’re excited to introduce Unstuck and On Target! Ages 1115: the new middle school version of a highly effective approach to executive function intervention. Read on to discover how this evidence-based curriculum can benefit your students as they tackle the complex world of middle school!

First—why is it important to explicitly teach executive function skills?

Executive function skills underlie all aspects of our lives and are particularly relevant for school and learning settings. As children get older, demands on their executive function skills increase. They’re tasked with increasing amounts of independent work, and they’re also expected to successfully collaborate with their peers. The number of abstract and flexible thinking tasks increases, and by middle school, students are expected to independently generate organizational strategies, such as structuring a paper or presentation, taking notes, and developing approaches for independent learning and studying.

Fortunately, executive function skills can be taught using simple techniques. Unstuck and On Target! Ages 11–15 makes use of research-based educational methods to improve executive function skills in young teens.

How is this version of Unstuck different from the previous one?

While its goals are similar to those of the popular elementary school version, this new version contains all-new lessons specially designed to help middle school students build the strong executive function skills they need to manage more complex independent work. Developed with the input of young teens, this new version of Unstuck is explicitly designed for middle school students, speaks to the challenges of students in this age range, and helps them be flexible, well-regulated problem-solvers in middle school, high school, and beyond.

What’s in this curriculum, and how does it work?

The curriculum includes 24 topics that focus on key executive function skills:

  • Flexibility
  • Big-picture thinking
  • Planning
  • Compromising
  • Self-monitoring

Topics are taught in about 45 minutes each, in small groups of 10 to 12 students. Through catchy scripts, memorable visuals, engaging role-plays, and positive reinforcement, students will stay engaged and learn skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives. Lessons and scripts build on each other, and students get lots of opportunities to practice and generalize their new skills to school, home, and community settings.

Where should Unstuck be taught?

Unstuck topics can be taught in any setting, including general and special education classrooms, pull-out groups, or after-school clubs. The curriculum is ideal for both in-person and virtual settings—it includes digital posters, home extension activities, and digital student and parent workbooks for easy use in online learning environments.

Who teaches the Unstuck curriculum?

Unstuck can be taught in daily to weekly sessions led by a professional (e.g., a teacher, psychologist, social worker, speech-language therapist, occupational therapist, counselor, or highly trained teaching assistant). Those teaching this curriculum should read the entire manual beforehand and have experience working with students with a range of learning needs, as well as an understanding of positive reinforcement techniques.

Which students will benefit most from Unstuck and On Target?

This curriculum is helpful for a wide range of students who struggle with executive function skills, including flexibility, organization, and planning. Unstuck may be especially helpful for autistic students as well as students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, or other related diagnoses. Unstuck is also one of the few curricula tailored to meet the needs of MTSS Tier 2 students who need more focused instruction.

What’s the ultimate goal of Unstuck?

Unstuck helps each student lay the groundwork for the best and brightest future. Middle school students will develop the skills they need to set and reach goals, flexibly collaborate with peers, use organization strategies independently, and more—ensuring that they can meet increasingly complex demands and expectations as they approach adulthood.

Order the new Unstuck and On Target! Ages 1115 for your school today, and prepare your students for success in middle school, high school, and the rest of their lives!

Unstuck and On Target! Ages 1115
An Executive Function Curriculum to Support Flexibility, Planning, and Organization

By John F. Strang, Psy.D., Lauren Kenworthy, Ph.D., Lynn Cannon, M.Ed., Katie C. Alexander, M.S., OTR,
Monica Adler Werner, M.A., Cara E. Pugliese, Ph.D., & Laura Gutermuth Anthony, Ph.D.


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