Achievement for All Ch2

Chapter 2: Cognitive-Intellectual Development


Characteristics of Cognitive-Intellectual Development

  • Wide range of intellectual development
  • Ability to think abstractly
  • Faces decisions with sophisticated cognitive and social-emotional skills
  • Curious about a wide variety of topics
  • Active learner
  • Learns while interacting with peers
  • Enjoys learning in real-life situations
  • Sees their abilities clearly but will criticize them in company of peers
  • Sophisticated humor
  • Challenge adult authority
  • Observant of adults

Keeping these in mind, we need to rethink instruction in Middle School.  If you are always in rows of desks lecturing at Students, then you are doing it wrong.  They need activity, projects, conversations about their mathematics so they have the best opportunity to learn.

During adolescence formal, operational thought develops.  They begin to learn abstract concepts and think of possibilities other than reality.  By age 14, they become capable of deductive reasoning.

During these times students will often take unjustified risks due to the rudimentary nature of their analytical thoughts.

Learning slows down during periods of high stress and growth- patterns evident in middle school students.

Most of my students are in a continual state of stress.  Just because they are in school doesn’t mean they forget everything about what is happening at home.  I have had many students call home during the day just to “check up on Mom.”  This needs to be in the forefront of every teacher’s mind


~The ability to establish new neural pathways by forming new habits

Learning potential is increased during this time.  Learning becomes easier, but it can also create patterns that may not be beneficial to students in the long term.  Setting habits early can create a foundation for great learning of students.

It is important to establish routines for students early in the class year, preferably within the first 2 weeks.  This allows students to become comfortable with the classroom atmosphere and anticipate what will happen.  


~The relationship between parts of the brain that work together on a task

The increased speed of making connections and the ability to produce new connections creates great learning potential.  It will allow students to learn faster than they could have in earlier grades.

Middle school students’ minds are growing as fast as they are.  They are capable of great things, most often more than teachers expect.  Push students to increase their limits and produce incredible work they can be proud of, don’t create an atmosphere where they use their creativity to find ways to “cheat” they system.

 Prefrontal Cortex and Limbic System:

~The relationship between the prefrontal cortex of the brain (executive-control) and the limbic (emotional) system.

The two systems do not develop at the same time.  The cognitive control system doesn’t mature until the early 20’s, while the sensation-seeking system develops in your teens.

This explains why students do “dumb” things.  They are driven to experience the rush of thrill-seeking, but are unable to rationally think about or control the situation or consequences.

How is this all impacted by under-resourced enviroments?

  1. Vocabulary: A 3 year old in a professional household had more vocab than an adult in a welfare household
  2. Abstract vs Formal: Students do not have familiarity with printed words and numbers in welfare housesholds. In poverty, time is kept emotionally- in school, abstractly.
  3. Syntactically communicating:Students who can’t ask questions syntactically rarely get past the 3rd grade reading level.

Limit introducing new concepts to 2 -4 things, don’t overflow their memory.  Working memory only has 2 ways to accept information: visual and audio.  Have students outline pre-printed notes or examples.

Identifying Resources:



Having students fill this out as well as filling it out yourself will give you a good idea of what type of interventions the student will need in the classroom.  Never think about what is best for you as a teacher, always think about what is best for the student.

What Interventions Can Help?

  1. Give students step sheets
  2. Use mental models
  3. Make sure every lesson contains the what/why/how
  4. Monitor how much working memory you are asking students to use
  5. Direct-teach vocab using roots, suffixes and prefixes
  6. Make sure students have a future story (future goals)
  7. Form a relationship of mutual respect
  8. Engage each student in thinking
  9. Use the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model: a) I do, b) We do, c) You do
  10. Provide tools, processes and practices to help students critically think and analyze


One thought on “Achievement for All Ch2

  1. When someone first suggested that I should eat steak in the morning I thought they were joking! But, now I swear by it, albeit &#1#86;normal&21287; people think I’m strange. Since I’ve made meat part of my morning routine I have so much more energy all day long and has placated the blood sugar swings I used to experience. It also simplifies things: in the morning I just grab a piece of whatever meat I’ve cooked the night before with some nut butter and a way I go.

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