The science of how students learn

GreatSchools Staff | February 9, 2022

Originally published on | View Original

In recent years, the science of learning has discovered many things about how teenagers learn – from their social-emotional needs to their sleep cycles. These stories explore the practices and policies that some high schools have embraced to enable their students to engage deeply with their learning and ultimately thrive.

Student agency – Gives teens more control over their learning. Based on research about how teens become motivated, giving students more agency leads to academic and future success. (Read, 9 minutes)

Brain-based teaching – These teaching practices use the most up-to-date research on how teens learn best. (Read, 7 minutes)

School culture makeover – What happens when a high school realizes that their strict behavior rules are doing more harm than good? One Massachusetts charter school revamped their school culture one relationship at a time. (Listen, 22 minutes)

Navigating the world – How can high schools put student aspirations first? This Rhode Island high school swept aside the old high school model to send students out to explore the world — and even sail the high seas. (Listen, 25 minutes)

The power of giving students voice and choice – When teens can take on leadership roles, and influence what and how they learn, they’re more likely to experience school work as relevant. In education circles, this is called giving students “voice and choice”. (Watch, 3 minutes)

Project-based learning – Students engage in active, hands-on learning by working on real-world projects that interest them. (Read, 9 minutes)

Robust exhibitions – Public presentations in any subject (not just science fairs) help students learn deeply about a topic and demonstrate what they’ve learned. (Read, 8 minutes)

Senior capstone projects – A senior year presentation, product, or performance that shows a student’s deep understanding of a subject of their own choosing. (Read, 7 minutes)

Later start times – To support good sleep hygiene, this growing trend requires schools to start school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. (Read, 6 minutes)

Sampling the future – How can high schoolers sample the future? This public Georgia high school has perfected a pathway program that leads to college, careers, and even stardom. (Listen, 21 minutes)

Blended learning – Combines in-person and online instruction to offer a more customized and flexible learning experience for each student. (Read, 9 minutes)

Scheduling to support teen health – Schools design their days (and after-school activities) to support teens’ needs for sleep and downtime. (Read, 6 minutes)

Advisory – A small group of students meet regularly during one class period with the same teacher or staff member throughout the year, providing students with academic, social-emotional, and future-planning support. (Read, 5 minutes)

Celebrating progress – This Florida high school changed the culture to celebrate the improvement of all students, not just the accomplishments or struggles of a few. (Watch, 3 minutes)

Exceptional educators share what they look for in a high school
Get tips on what to look, listen, and feel for as you tour a potential high school for your child. (Watch, 3 minutes)

How you can support your child in school (video in Spanish only) -In this video, award-winning educators outline key ways parents can support their children’s learning, from helping with homework to encouraging their college dreams. (Watch, 3 minutes)


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