Friday, January 18, 2013
For the Boys
I've written posts in the past about my efforts to reach our male students including my all male book club and Brother Reader. This semester our school is really pitching in to address this problem. Before the break my principal allowed me to lead a meeting with our English teachers about helping our boys improve their writing skills. I used the book Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices by Ralph Fletcher as a guide. First I shared a few national statistics on boys and then I shared our school's data. This is very eye-opening, especially for those that feel there isn't a problem. Across all three grades our girls outscored the boys in English and Writing, we have more boys than girls in special education, more boys than girls receiving disciplinary action and significantly fewer boys achieving academic honors. In most cases the percentages were not even close! I'm afraid if you look at your own schools you may see a similar trend.
I am not content with these obvious differences, as a teacher and parent of a son.
In response to this data we are making some changes. I shared advice from the book that includes things like class arrangement, movement, competition, variety of acceptable writing topics, encouraging drawing for brainstorming, allowing students to type as they write and many more. I highly recommend purchasing a copy of that book as well as his new book, Guys Write. However, this is just a first step.
My principal gave me permission to start a boy discussion group with our faculty. I invited any interested staff members to attend and I purchased copies of books that address this issue. I had 8 teachers agree to participate. Over the break the members read one of the books and we met to share the insights and advice we learned.
The books we are using are:
Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School by Kathleen Palmer Cleveland
To Be a Boy, To Be a Reader by William Bozo
The Trouble With Boys by Peg Tyre
Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys by Michael Richert
Boy Writers by Ralph Fletcher
Best Books for Boys by Pam Allyn
After our first meeting to share what we learned we have decided to trade books and meet again. My hope is that we can come up with a plan of action for our school so that we can help our boys be more successful.
I've been collecting resources and reading as much as I can on the topic. I have a Scoop.it devoted to this research and a Youtube playlist. If you know of a book, article or person that I should look into I would love to hear about it.
Do you have any special programs for boys in your school? or library?