Literacy Resources, Teen Brain

The Teen Brain

Teenage Brain Under Construction Workshop

Facts You May Not Know: Their Brains are under construction and not fully formed.

  • Your brain does not keep getting bigger as you get older
  • Your brain doesn’t finish developing and maturing until your mid- to late-20s. The front part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, is one of the last brain regions to mature. It is the area responsible for planning, prioritizing and controlling impulses.
  • Many mental disorders appear during adolescence
  • (schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders—emerge during this time)
  • Teens should get about 9-10 hours of sleep a night, but most teens don’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep makes paying attention hard, increases impulsivity and may also increase irritability and depression.

Recognize that there is an emotional connection in learning.  If students think you care and are invested, then they will care and be invested. Also, be aware that they can’t always control their emotions and don’t always know why they make the choices they do.

•Recognize there is a physical connection to learning. The brain essentially uses glucose and oxygen as food.  Adding kinesthetic activities to instruction circulates oxygen and glucose in students’ brains, increasing the efficiency of student learning. Plus, moving around & talking are WAY more fun than taking notes.

•Teens need more sleep than children and adults

•Although it may seem like teens are lazy, science shows that melatonin levels (or the “sleep hormone” levels) in the blood naturally rise later at night and fall later in the morning than in most children and adults. This may explain why many teens stay up late and struggle with getting up in the morning. Teens should get about 9-10 hours of sleep a night, but most teens don’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep makes paying attention hard, increases impulsivity and may also increase irritability and depression.


•There is another part of the brain that is fully active in adolescents, and that’s the limbic system. And that is the seat of risk, reward, impulsivity, sexual behavior and emotion.

•So they are built to be novelty-seeking at this point in their lives. Their frontal lobe isn’t able to say, “That’s a bad idea, don’t do that.” That’s not happening to the extent it will in adulthood.



References: 

•“The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction.” National Institute of Mental Health. National Institute of Health. 2011. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

•Bruer, John. Frontline Interview. Inside the Teenage Brain. 2002. Web. 2  Jan. 2014.

Dearborn, Grace. “Rebels with Applause: Brain-Compatible Approaches for Motivating Reluctant Learners.” Conscious Teaching. 2013. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.

Giedd, Jay. Frontline Interview. Inside the Teenage Brain. 2002. Web. 2 Jan. 2014.


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