How does your overall lesson designing and planning incorporate knowledge of the teenage brain?
Repetition of information is incredibly important for the teenage brain. I try to provide opportunities for students to repeat and practice certain skills multiple times so that the skill/information will stick will enter into long term memory as opposed to short term. I use group work so that students learn to effectively communicate with peers in an academic environment, but also use individual work for students to make the work personal. I also give students choices during activities so that they can take ownership of their work and feel like they have a say in their education.
How is your overall planning for learning designed to access memory lanes and use what you know about how adolescents learn?
I try to provide opportunities for students to relate learning to their own experiences. To do this, students often journal about personal topics that somehow relate to what we are learning in class. For example, we just finished our memoir unit in which we read the novel Night by Elie Wiesel. Two main themes in the novel are Wiesel's loss of faith and questioning God and Wiesel's changing relationship with his father. Most of the students have been through incredibly difficult and trying situations in their lives, so we have had class discussions regarding why Wiesel is questioning God and how it is possible to lose faith. They have also responded to journal prompts regarding their own opinions of Wiesel's changing relationship with his father and have been able to call upon their own memories of relationships with family members.
How are students engaged in the learning?
Students are engaged in the learning because I try to provide activities that are different from the work they are used to doing. Students can share their opinions on topics without fear that they will be in trouble. In addition, I try to take students' interests into account when planning lessons. For example, I have many artistic students in my classes, so I created a lesson that gave them the opportunity to draw. Just recently, the class participated in a debate where students were encouraged to share their opinions and they were allowed to get up and move around the class to different areas of the room as their opinions changed.