Mr. Joe Ginotti, PLN Director, reviews adolescent research and findings that inform PLN practices and philosophy for secondary schools.

Adolescent learning: What's new? 
Mr. Joe Ginotti, PLN Associate Director, reviews Adolescent research and findings that inform PLN practices and philosophy for secondary schools.

Key Findings in Brain-based Learning: How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School from the National Research Council:

Students come to the classroom with prior knowledge and preconceptions.  If their initial understanding is not engaged (connection made), learning will be superficial or non-existent.
A metacognitive approach stressing regular formative assessments will help students better control, monitor and deepen their learning.

To develop competence in an area of inquiry or study, students must:
(a) Understand the larger context or conceptual framework,
(b) Develop a deep foundation of factual knowledge, skills or strategies,
(c) Organize and reconstruct knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and application of learning.

Implications for Educators:

Teachers must design classroom environments that are:

Learner-centered: engaged and active classrooms that stress student collaboration and cooperative learning.
Knowledge-centered: defining what is taught, why it is taught, and what competence looks like.
Assessment-centered: built around ongoing and regular formative assessment making student thinking visible and accountable and leading to success on pre-designed summative assessments.

Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning from The National Center for Educational Research and The institute of Education Sciences Key Findings and Recommendations:

Space learning over time.  (revisit, review, reapply learning over time. Learning needs a focus on big ideas and larger concepts.)
Combine multiple modalities: graphics, visual auditory descriptions, readings and presentations.
Interweave modeling and problem-solving- Alternate between teacher led and student centered learning emphasizing student centered work over time.
Connect and integrate abstract and concrete representations: concrete examples need to be linked to the prior and experiences of the students and the classroom.

What we know:

To engage students, we must help them see connections between their lives and their work in school.
We must create responsive and inclusive learning environments that offer a choice of texts, opportunities for lively discussion, and many pathways for engagement.
We know a variety of effective teaching and learning strategies: i.e. teacher modeling, teaching literacy skills in context, frequent assessment, and student collaboration.
Enhancing integrated literacy skills will improve learning in the content areas.
The success of any secondary reform initiative depends on leadership, vision, ongoing professional development and the strategic use of resources- time, people, space, and materials.