The teenage brain is designed and wired to learn and grow. As a teenager, you must have experienced that your abilities to learn is way faster than it is now. You can credit this ability to what is called in science as-neuroplasticity-the ability of the brain to continuously adapt to changes. That’s why this ability can be tweaked to use it as a tool for brain-based learning.
Because of teenagers going through several changes in their age, physical, emotional, cognitive centers, taking the steer to build the habit of brain-based learning is essential. It will not only promote better understanding but will also give them a positive direction in school, college and career success.
According to neuroscience, the brain’s prefrontal cortex undergoes significant growth during the teenage years. The prefrontal cortex is that area that is associated with functions such as planning, organizing, goal-setting, decision making, and strategic thinking. Brain-based learning is focused on developing this major portion of the brain through research-based strategies.
THE NEED OF BRAIN-BASED LEARNING
Laurence Steinberg, author of the book ‘Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence’, in an NPR interview, says that ages 12 to 25 can be termed as the period of extraordinary neuroplasticity.
Steinberg said, “Science suggests that it’s important for kids to be challenged and exposed to novelty in order to facilitate healthy development of brain systems that are important for things like self-regulation,”
In order to increase your intelligence, you must understand that neuroplasticity has a lot of potentials. Additionally, it exhibits the power to change your brain’s structure and function through learning. It also provides a foundation for the following two aspects for middle and high school students.
- #1 Students are capable of achieving great milestones in becoming smarter. By the time they reach their early teens, they have already created an image of them as intellectually incapable. This is certainly a wrong perspective to assume things. Students should understand that their past doesn’t determine their future but the amount of hard work they do, will. This is why brain-based learning is so key to develop a smart brain.
- #2 Success in school is not determined by the ability to cram the syllabus or any innate qualities for academics. Rather, it is determined by the strategies he puts in learning and the way he applies it. Brain-based learning provides a flexible yet efficient way to learn more and have a thorough understanding of the subject. By equipping the strategies of brain-based learning, students of all performance can steer their way to improvement and can nudge their grades in a positive direction.
TOOLS FOR BRAIN-BASED LEARNING
As the students progress through middle and high school, they are expected to take the steering wheel of learning. Also, they get more self-dependent with the increasing number of independent assignments, creative homework that requires independent thinking, out-of-class experience and wider application of classroom teaching.
There are several strategies that are based on brain-based learning and forms an integral tool for students to develop new study habits. These strategies are based on the concept of “explaining it to your brain”. Some of the strategies that are proven efficient are listed below. Apply them in your study habits and notice the change.
#1 Metacognition- The Role In Brain-Based Learning
Metacognition in simple terms can be defined as “a tool to drive the brain”. It is a technique that allows you to observe your brain thinking patterns and mold it according to the optimal results you want. This technique is very useful when you use it to produce creative results in order to develop an ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.
The following brain-based learning strategies are very wide i.e. different strategies may suit only a handful of students. Hence, it is crucial to allow students to learn all the strategies can apply them on at a time to learn which works best for them.
As we know, some students learn better in groups, some may require graphics to understand it better or some may need a visual way to learn a new topic. And some by learning and then explaining it to others.
Therefore, it is evident that the strategies should be used as per your own suitability. Try all strategies one by one and understand which suits your brain best through metacognition. That’s why to experiment with different tools is so key in this brain-based learning tactic.
#2 Don’t Just read- Learn
Reading a piece of information is one thing and learning and understanding it, is another. There is a huge difference between learning and mere reading. Moreover, your level of understanding will also depend upon the technique of brain-based learning with which you read a piece of information. To get new ideas on how to apply this strategy, students might get benefits from:
- Representing information by graphics, diagrams, tables, symbols to represent key ideas to take notes.
- Creating a summary in your own words after the completion of the topic, lesson or chapter. Some students find it easy to write the essence in their own personalized way to get a more profound way to digest the information.
- Revisiting the key elements in each chapter or subject. For instance, in textbook assignments, students can go back and revisit the crucial terms, explanations, examples, etc. When reading fiction or poetry, they can identify literary devices such as metaphor, irony, and symbols to gain a deeper understanding.
#3 First Create Then Modify
This technique of brain-based learning enables students to get a ‘head start’. It is a common problem we face while writing down long essays or completing a large assignment. We struggle to write the first paragraph and thus, lose the heat. The alternative approach to this is to first identify, collect and arrange all the pieces of information without figuring out the sequence.
In this way, when all the information is available, it will be far easier to draw a roadmap of interrelation and then connect them with logic. Allow students to first wrote down the content without worrying about the logical sequence. Then guide them to edit or modify their papers not once but twice before submitting it.
#4 Planning and Scheduling
The skill of planning is a very versatile executive function skill that students must develop. It will not only help them in studies but also in their entire life. For instance, if a student is working on an independent study project, tell them to write down the steps to follow.
Allow them to draw a blueprint of the activities that they will perform. They can also make a time table where they will allocate specific hours to each activity. Additionally, they should add some extra allowance hours which can be used during an emergency.
#5 Check And Analyze The source:
While grasping knowledge by following the brain-based learning, it is crucial to gain it from a credible source. This becomes more critical when it comes to online sources of information. The information or research that students cite in their assignment will remain with them for a lifetime. Asking the following questions is crucial executive function skills that students must develop.
- Is the information a fact or an opinion?
- What is the aim of the information, to teach, to experiment or to entertain?
- Are the authors qualified enough to present their views on the topic?
In his book The Adolescent Brain: Reaching for Autonomy, Robert Sylwester terms this approach of checking the credibility of the source as “intuitive, logical, and predictive capabilities that will enhance the resolution of . . . emerging vocational challenges.”
#6 Read Ahead
Encourage students to stay ahead in reading assignments by reading a few pages ahead. Also, allow them to read the text uninterrupted and with sheer focus. This will make them a good reader and also will infuse the skill of deep understanding by reading. It will also improve their understanding of how the information of one chapter can be expanded to the next.