High school students are qualitatively different from younger students. You can certainly “teach an old dog new tricks” if you understand the cognitive and social characteristics of high school students. Using the right instructional strategies to maximize learning benefits and address high school students’ learning challenges can make a difference in their success.
High school cognitive development
Most high school students have reached the formal operative stage, as described by Piaget. These students can think abstractly and need fewer concrete examples to understand complex thought patterns. Generally speaking, most students share the following characteristics:
- Need to understand the purpose and relevance of instructional activities.
- They are motivated both internally and externally
- Having self-imposed cognitive barriers due to years of academic failure and lack of self-confidence.
- You may be “closed” in certain cognitive areas and you will need to learn how to learn and overcome these barriers to learning.
- Want to set immediate and long-term personal goals
- You want to take individual responsibility for learning and progressing toward goals.
High School Social Development
High school students are experimenting with adult relationships. Generally speaking, most students share the following characteristics:
- Interested in mixed activities
- Desire adult leadership roles and autonomy in planning.
- They want adults to take a leading, supportive role in their education.
- Developing a community conscience
- You need opportunities to express yourself
High school Instructional strategies
To address the special learning needs of students of this age, Teach reading strategies utilizes student goal setting and record keeping. Students take responsibility for their own monitoring of progress. For example, high-interest animal fluency passages provide opportunities for student record-keeping and progress tracking.
High school students are still concerned about the labeling that takes place when one is identified as a recovery reader. Labels and stereotypes are imposed externally (by other students and sometimes by their parents), but they are mainly imposed internally (by the students themselves). Years of academic failure, due to lack of reading proficiency, have damaged students’ self-esteem. Many students have lost confidence in their ability to learn. Students have developed coping mechanisms, such as survival skills in reading, for example, audiobooks or peer / parent readers, or behavior problems, or “Whatever … I don’t care” attitudes to avoid the arduous work learning to read well. . Secondary teachers must be extremely aware of student perceptions. Some talking points may be helpful:
- “Unfortunately, some of your previous reading instruction was lacking; it’s not your fault you have some skills to work on.” aka “blame someone else”
- “You can learn in this class. If you come to class willing to try it every day, you will significantly improve your reading, I promise you.”
- “I know you’ve tried it before, but this time it’s different.”
- “You will be able to record your own progress and see what you are learning in this class.”
- “Some of my previous students were like some of you. For example, ___________ and passed the high school exit exam after finishing this class. For example, ___________ caught up on grade level reading and now he’s in college. ” Personal anecdotes provide role models and hope for recovery high school readers. Any successful alumni will bring “street cred” to the teacher and class.
- “You won’t be in this class forever. As soon as you master your missing skills, you’ll be out.”