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Transcript of Brain Theory
and its Implications in the Intermediate English Classroom
What is Brain Theory?
According to the Brain Theory the adolescent brain undergoes a major reconstruction that lasts from the beginning of puberty into the early twenties.
This reconstruction causes unused connections in the thinking and processing part of the adolescent brain (called the grey matter) to be
. On a more positive note, other connections are strengthened. The brain is essentially purging and only saving what is being used.
process begins in the back of the brain. The front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is remodelled last. The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making part of the brain, responsible for the adolescent's ability to plan actions, solve problems and control impulses.
Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, teenagers might rely on a part of the brain called the amygdala to make decisions and solve problems more than adults do. The amygdala is associated with emotions, impulses, aggression and instinctive behaviour.
The neuromaturation that happens during the adolescent years causes teens to become sensation seekers and risk takers. Additionally, it causes adolescents to seek acceptance, most particularly, the acceptance of peers.
As Intermediate teachers we must be prudent in warning our students about the dangers that may befall those who take uncalculated risks. The English curriculum encourages the use a variety of media and text, careful selection of materials that raise the topics of peer pressure, the dangers of risky ventures and corresponding conversation will make this task more realistic and engaging.
The changes happening in the prefrontal cortex cause adolescents to have difficulty with; goal setting, self control, paying attention, self-motivation, planning and understanding consequences. The chemical changes that are happening simultaneously, however, make adolescents more responsive to emotionally charged situations
In the Intermediate classroom teachers can ease tasks like planning and goal setting by modeling them and providing students the tools to facilitate the task such as; graphic organizers, lists and/or agendas. It would be additionally appealing if teachers encouraged the use of technology that is geared toward these tasks. Take advantage of the fact that emotion gets a response. If you really want to drive a point home engage their emotions.
"Time to tend the garden of your mind"
As Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor said in her brilliant speech about the adolescent brain, "this is the time to tend the garden of your mind".
The capacity for learning will NEVER again be this high. Not to mention, the student's brain at this age has already fully developed intellectually.
As teacher's of students going through this transition we need to ensure we are providing vast opportunities for students to engage with the Arts. In the English classroom we have to foster a love for reading, writing, orating and media so that all the associated skills and interests survive the brain pruning stage.
I suggest that the best way to do this, again, is to allow for inquiry to drive learning. Also, to use technology where available to make tasks more appealing and effective. For instance, use google docs for collaborative note taking rather than have everyone write their own notes. Have students video tape themselves enacting a scene from their Shakespearean play or encourage them to develop their own narrative using Bitstrips.
The Neuroanatomical Transformation of the Teenage Brain: Jill Bolte Taylor at TEDxYouth@Indianapolis
The Teen Brain: Under Construction. Laci Green, Discovery News
Build a platform for your students to voice their opinions and 'do the necessary work' to encourage their engagement by planning lessons that include their interests. The importance of content that is appealing to students comes up again and again in the curriculum. Ensure your project outlines always have space to grow. The twentieth century learners in our classrooms should be encouraged to share a new platform or follow an inquiry to its end. The inquiry based approach is a wonderful way to ensure students are learning what they want to learn, allowing them to make choices about how they showcase their knowledge is an additional element that will act to motivate the unmotivated teen brain.
Take note of the shrunken 'sense of judgement' gland aforementioned as the inability to calculate risk. Also notable is the miniscule 'peer pressure resistance' gland.
This is a snapshot of the Brain Theory as it relates to students at the age of adolescents and the implications for best teaching practices within the Intermediate English classroom.
By: Kristy Saunders
How has what you have learned about the transformation of the teen brain going to impact your teaching?
Are there any strategies that you have already used and found helpful?
What type of literature would you assign to the risk taking or peer pressure driven teen?
Are there any specific titles that you have used or would like to use in the future to address these concerns?
DNews (Discovery News). Youtube. < 8 December 2013. video. January 2014.
Raising Children Network . "Raising Children Network (Australia) Limited ." 11 05 2010. Article . January 2014 . <http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/brain_development_teenagers.html/context/1152>.
Taylor, Jill Bolte. Youtube . < 21 February 2013. January 2014.
Unknown. The Teen Brain . http://courseweb.hopkinsschools.org/course/view.php?id=1651. Moodle of Danielle Bogucki . 2014 . cartoon .
Watch this quick video to hear more about Brain Theory and what is going on in the adolescent brain.
Can you think of a scenario where you've witnessed a teen struggling with some of the ailments mentioned?
This next video is included to give a more comprehensive look at what happens to the brain from birth through the age of maturity, 25 according to researchers.
The focus on the teen brain begins at the 7 minute mark but the preamble is important to understanding the breadth of change and potential for development that happens in the teen years.