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Teaching Boys: 5 Strategies That Work
posted by: Melissa | March 31, 2017, 07:14 PM   

Over the past decade, there’s been a growing awareness that the way we structure schools is shortchanging boys. When measures of accomplishment and punishment for boys and girls are put next to each other, boys consistently score lower, achieve less, and are disciplined more, despite the fact that they are no less intelligent. Even on supposedly objective measures like grades, boys may end up being judged unfairly. The question is what can schools and teachers do about it?


Redesign the Classroom

Boys are much more physically active than girls and they need more opportunity to move around and wriggle. Classroom design can keep this in mind by giving boys things to do that keep their bodies moving, even when sitting still, like putting foot rockers or stretchy bands for their feet, or giving students a squeeze ball that they can play with. The classroom itself can be redesigned to allow students more choice in seating by including wobble stools or standing desks. Even small things like asking students who are speaking to stand will not only incorporate more movement, but will help the listeners focus on the speaker.


Use Project-Based Learning

Boys tend to focus on one task at a time and become really absorbed. They also have a strong desire to be hands on with their learning. Since many boys respond to having a task to complete, lessons that focus on an end product engage male students. This is especially true if the task allows the boys to move and interact at the same time.


Give Students’ Choice

Some aspects of learning are non-negotiable, everyone needs to be able to read and count, but there are a lot of areas where choice can be included and allowing boys to choose to do things in a preferred way or to focus on a topic they’re interested in is a great way to keep them mentally stimulated. ASCD recommends that at least 50% of reading and writing choices be left to students.


Provide More Time for Play

There are over 200 studies that support the cognitive benefits of recess and down time during the day on student achievement. These studies show especially strong benefits for students that struggle with hyperactivity. Considering that boys are much more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, making play time especially important for them. Not only are full recess breaks important, but so are frequent, short activity breaks during the school day.


Incorporate Games and Competition

Another way to keep boys engaged in learning is by bringing play into the lesson itself. It’s no secret that when playing video games, boys will sit for hours and display an intense focus seldom seen in the classroom. That’s because video games are structured in a way that provides incremental learning and challenges of increasing difficulty. These same strategies can be used to promote academic learning with boys. In fact, teachers have been doing so for years, through activities like spelling bees, math bees, even using sticker charts to mark progress


How do you engage boys in the classroom?

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