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ERIC Number: EJ775778
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 20
ISSN: ISSN-0094-0771
Designing Curricular Experiences that Promote Young Adolescents' Cognitive Growth
Brown, Dave F.; Canniff, Mary
Middle School Journal (J3), v39 n1 p16-23, 37 Sep 2007
One of the most challenging daily experiences of teaching young adolescents is helping them transition from Piaget's concrete to the formal operational stage of cognitive development during the middle school years. Students who have reached formal operations can design and test hypotheses, engage in deductive reasoning, use flexible thinking, imagine intangibles, understand proportionality, generate alternative strategies, plan for the future, and reflect on their thinking processes. As much as middle level teachers want their students to engage in advanced cognitive processing, several studies reveal that, at most, one-third of eighth graders reach Piaget's last stage of cognitive development--formal operational thought. Much of middle school curricula requires students to engage in formal operational cognitive processes, even though most students seldom reach the levels of understanding that teachers might expect in each subject area. Middle school teachers must understand how they can specifically help young adolescents move into formal operations. That understanding begins with the realization that the type of curricula delivered to young adolescents affects their opportunities to improve their cognitive processing. The National Middle School Association (NMSA) for more than 20 years has advocated for "curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory." Several middle school teachers at Radnor Middle School in southeastern Pennsylvania have found a way to meet the state curricular standards while simultaneously engaging young adolescents in student-oriented curricula that encourage growth toward formal operational thought and processing. This article describes three alternative curricular programs existing at Radnor: "Crossroads" for sixth graders, "Watershed" for seventh graders, and "Soundings" for eighth graders. All three curricular programs are designed to meet the NMSA guidelines for meaningful curricular experiences. (Contains 3 figures and 1 note.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania