That is really not all there is to it..so I thought since tomorrow is a holiday, and I have run low on fodder form my boys for this blog, I will share with you what I know (I am not an expert, but I do play one on TV) about educating boys in a single gender environment. Here is my disclaimer--this is what has worked for ME...take it at face value, and if your school is considering starting a single gender program, email me and I will put you in touch with the gentleman who heads up our program in the State of South Carolina...our , by the way, have the largest number of single gender classrooms in the country.
- Movement- if you are not moving, they will create movement. They think better when they are moving. Some classes have even written grants for yoga balls for the boys to sit on rather than chairs. I have not gotten that brave yet....maybe next year.
- Be Brief- the fewer words, the better, when it comes to instruction. Those of us who are married know that men tune you out after about 3 minutes. But be clear and to the point (even consider writing instructions on the board rather than give them orally)
- Speak loudly- boys hearing is not as well developed as girls so if you are soft spoken, they are going to miss a lot of what you are saying. I don't mean that you have to shout or yell, but speak in a louder voice to be sure that they hear you.
- When you are talking, especially when giving instructions, pause, and make sure they understand. You may need to stop every few minutes and ask them to summarize what you have said.
- Wait a few extra seconds when asking boys to answer a questions. They need the extra think-time.
- Manipulatives, manipulatives, manipulatives....boys like to do, and they process by doing so give them as much hands on time as possible.
- Most boys tend to pick non-fiction books to read...make sure your classroom library is well stocked, and rotate the books every few months if possible. Find out what they like to read, and put this books in your class library. This website is a great resource for finding books for reluctant readers. And this blog shares book reviews and ideas for getting the right book in the hands of boy readers.
- Competition- boys are raised to compete (sports, etc) , and if you make things a competition, you will get buy in from them right away.
- Be careful when using sports themes, analogies or metaphors. Not all boys are into sports, so you want to avoid stereotyping
- Call them by their last name, as in Mr. Barker, Mr. Smith, Mr. Williams...this fosters self-respect and raises the level of responsibility in the classroom.
- Boys are not as good as girls at interpreting non-verbal cues so be careful when using facial expression or signals as non-verbals cues to re-direct them when they are off task.
- If possible, use tables rather than desks in your classroom. Boys need room to spread out, and a desk does not provide that.
- Boys like to memorize facts so use this to your advantage (dates, names multiplication facts)
- Boys can't multi-task effectively so allow them to finish one task ("get out your math book) before starting another (turn to page 24)..wait until the majority of the class has completed task # 1 before giving the information for task # 2.
- Make learning fun---your boys will thank you for it!!
Oh, and that isn't really me in the picture, haha!!