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Characteristics of Pre-Teen Learners

Pre-teen learners are qualitatively different than younger learners. Teachers and parents can significantly enhance the learning of students this age by understanding the cognitive and social characteristics of pre-teen learners. Using the right instructional strategies to maximize the learning advantages and address the learning challenges of pre-teen learners can make all the difference in their success.

Pre-Teen Cognitive Development

By ages 9, 10, and 11, most students are able to analytically process information and think for themselves. Piaget classified students of these ages as being in the “concrete operational stage.” Thinking in concrete terms, these students have difficulty with abstract concepts. Generally speaking, most students share the following characteristics:

  1. Willing to try new things
  2. Curious and willing to explore new ideas
  3. Want immediate gratification
  4. Desire recognition and praise for achievement
  5. Like hands-on learn-by-doing activities
  6. Perform well with many brief learning experiences
  7. Have quickly changing interests

Pre-Teen Social Development

At these ages, most students are rapidly developing a social awareness and are exploring how they fit into relationships. Generally speaking, most students share the following characteristics:

  1. Prefer interacting with members of own sex
  2. Feel comfortable in a structured learning environment
  3. Seek role models in older children or in media idols
  4. Demand a system of fairness in the home, in games, and in the classroom
  5. Want to be liked by friends
  6. Desire increasing independence–but want and need adult help

Pre-Teen Instructional Strategies

Although less concerned than older students about the labeling that takes place, when a pre-teen is identified as a remedial reader, the teacher still needs to be mindful of student self-perceptions and those of their peers. A few talking points to address with these young learners may prove helpful:

  • “All students need help in some areas.”
  • “Some students are good at ___________, while others are good at ___________.”
  • “This class is not for dumb kids; it’s for kids who just missed out on some reading skills.”
  • “You aren’t in this class forever. As soon as you master your missing skills, you are out.”
  • “You will learn in this class. I promise.”

Find comprehensive remedial reading resources appropriate for pre-teen learners, fluency assessments and multi-level expository fluency passages on eight CDs, as well as many other reading assessments on two CDs, blending and syllabication activities, phonemic awareness and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, 390 flashcards, posters, games, and more to differentiate reading instruction in the comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies.

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Characteristics of High School Learners

High school learners are qualitatively different than younger learners. You certainly can “teach an old dog new tricks” by understanding the cognitive and social characteristics of high school learners. Using the right instructional strategies to maximize the learning advantages and address the learning challenges of high school learners can make all the difference in their success.

High School Cognitive Development

Most high school students have achieved the formal operational 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:

  1. Need to understand the purpose and relevance of instructional activities
  2. Are both internally and externally motivated
  3. Have self-imposed cognitive barriers due to years of academic failure and lack self-confidence
  4. May have “shut down” in certain cognitive areas and will need to learn how to learn and overcome these barriers to learning
  5. Want to establish immediate and long-term personal goals
  6. Want to assume individual responsibility for learning and progress toward goals

High School Social Development

High school students are experimenting with adult-like relationships. Generally speaking, most students share the following characteristics:

  1. Interested in co-educational activities
  2. Desire adult leadership roles and autonomy in planning
  3. Want adults to assume a chiefly support role in their education
  4. Developing a community consciousness
  5. Need opportunities for self-expression

High School Instructional Strategies

High school students are still concerned about the labeling that takes place, when one is identified as a remedial reader. Labels and stereotypes are both externally imposed (by other students and, sometimes their parents), but are primarily internally imposed (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 reading survival skills e.g., audio books or peer/parent readers, or behavioral problems, or the “Whatever… I don’t care attitudes” to avoid the tough work of learning how to read well. High school teachers need to be extremely mindful of student self-perceptions. A few talking points with remedial high school students may prove helpful:

“Unfortunately, some of your past reading instruction was poor; it’s not your fault that you have some skills to work on.” a.k.a. “blame someone else”

“You can learn in this class. If you come to class willing to try everyday, you will significantly improve your reading, I promise.”

“I know you have tried before, but this time is different.”

“You will be able to chart your own progress and see what you are learning in this class.”

“Some of my past students were like some of you. For example, ___________ and he passed the high school exit exam after finishing this class. For example, ___________ got caught up to grade level reading and is college right now.” Personal anecdotes provide role models and hope for high school remedial readers. Any former students who have been successful will provide “street credibility” to the teacher and the class.

“You aren’t in this class forever. As soon as you master your missing skills, you are out.”

Find comprehensive remedial reading resources appropriate for high school learners, including fluency assessments and multi-level expository fluency passages on eight CDs, as well as many other reading assessments on two CDs, blending and syllabication activities, phonemic awareness and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, 390 flashcards, posters, games, and more to differentiate reading instruction in the comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies.

Reading, Study Skills , , , ,

Characteristics of Adult Learners

Adult learners are qualitatively different than younger learners. You certainly can “teach an old dog new tricks” by understanding the cognitive and social characteristics of adult learners. Using the right instructional strategies to maximize the learning advantages and address the learning challenges of adult learners can make all the difference in their success. This is particularly true with respect to remedial reading programs.

Reading intervention programs designed to differentiate intruction by building on the adult’s prior knowledge and allowing adult learners to move at their own pace have been found to be much more successful than one-size-fits-all canned programs.

Adult Learner Cognitive Characteristics

  1. Generally speaking, most adult learners share the following characteristics:
  2. Tend to be self-directed and want control over their own learning
  3. Have self-imposed cognitive barriers due to years of academic failure and lack self-confidence
  4. Can be resistant to new ideas or approaches–are less open-minded than youth
  5. Under-estimate their ability to learn
  6. Desire pragmatic and relevant instruction that they perceive as valuable
  7. Are intrinsically motivated
  8. Interpret new learning in the context of old learning
  9. Learn at a slower pace than that of youth
  10. Are very concerned about the effective use of their time

Adult Learner Social Characteristics

  1. Generally speaking, most adult learners share the following characteristics:
  2. Can be resistant to group work
  3. See teachers as peer partners in the learning process
  4. Demand teacher availability and easy access
  5. Want flexibility and see learning as secondary to other pre-occupations in their lives

Adult Learner Instructional Strategies

  1. Adult learners need to be actively included in their own evaluation of assessment data. Students set personal goals and use learning activities that directly address assessment deficits and demonstrate incremental progress toward their short-term and long-term goals. Reading workshops can easily be individualized to allow adult learners to work at their own pace.
  2. A few talking points may be helpful to bolster the confidence of adult learners and to provide the motivation needed for their success:

“Unfortunately, some of your past reading instruction was poor; it’s not your fault that you have some skills to work on.” a.k.a. “blame someone else”
“You can learn in this class. If you come to class willing to try, you will significantly improve your reading, I promise.” I will be flexible and work around your schedule.
“I know you have tried before, but this time is different.”
“You will be able to chart your own progress and see what you are learning in this class.”
“Don’t give up. Adult learners can learn. Although they sometimes learn a bit more slowly than children, they learn at a deeper and more memorable level. The pay-off will be huge for you when you complete this class.”

Find comprehensive remedial reading resources appropriate for high school learners, including fluency assessments and multi-level expository fluency passages on eight CDs, as well as many other reading assessments on two CDs, blending and syllabication activities, phonemic awareness and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, 390 flashcards, posters, games, and more to differentiate reading instruction in the comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies.

Reading, Study Skills , , , , , , , ,