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Teaching Boys

Discussion in 'Australia - Staffroom' started by Chrisite111, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Chrisite111

    Chrisite111 New commenter

    Hi Colleagues,

    I'm looking for some advice in engaging boys in English. I work in a co-educational high school, however due to the values of my school, boys and girls have separate classes. Since working in this environment, I have noticed a significant difference in the way boys and girls learn. I never noticed this while working in a public school!

    I have found that the girls are more willing to engage in class discussions and group work, while the boys much prefer to work independently. This can be challenging as an English teacher, as I believe that in order for my students to develop a thorough understanding of the concepts in the curriculum, discussion is really necessary. As a result, I often find that my female students out-perform the boys! I'm really hoping someone has some ideas or experience in encouraging boys to deeply engage in rich discussions about texts.
    ViolaClef likes this.
  2. Marisha

    Marisha Occasional commenter

    My experience of single-sex teaching is based on my time working in Scottish secondary schools. Over the years, I have had some all-male classes - these were usually 'challenging' groups.

    There's probably not much I can tell you - other than the usual: if you're lucky enough to find a text that boys enjoy, then they will be happy to discuss it.

    An old standby that worked well for me was the short story 'Flowers for Algernon' by Daniel Keyes. If you don't know it, use Google and you'll find PDF copies available on American school websites. From a language point of view, there are some very obvious things that boys can comment on. As we read through the story, I would get the boys to explain things which the first-person narrator was unable to grasp.

    There is a novel which Keyes developed later, but I prefer the short story version.The novel, however, makes it clear that the author wants us to see the allusions to the Genesis. When I taught the short story, I'd wait until after we'd read It all, and then give the boys a potted version of Adam's fall. I'd then get them into groups and ask them spot the links between Keyes' story and Genesis - honestly, it's not as dry as it sounds.

    You don't *have* to tackle that aspect of the story, but it does enrich the kids' knowledge. You can, of course, just look at the characterisation and the treatment of certain members of society as examined in the story.

    If you use film in your class as well, there are two film versions which are useful for comparison purposes. (I recall that the earlier version is called 'Charlie', while the newer version with Matthew Modine is called 'Flowers for Algernon'. I've never shown all of the first version to a class - some of it's possibly not suitable for schools. There is once scene in the newer version that you might want to skip over if you decide to use it.)

    For what it's worth, I've used that text with really 'tough' classes and it's gone down well - there's a great deal that the boys can discuss. I'd say it works with able thirteen year olds, but I usually used it with 14-16 yr olds.
  3. tomcutts

    tomcutts New commenter

    Have you tried 'Holes' by Louis Sachar?
    Marisha likes this.
  4. Northern_Miss

    Northern_Miss New commenter

    Firstly, find an entertaining author. Some suggestions for upper Primary, early Secondary:
    Roald Dahl's autobiography Boy (or for older boys, Going Solo)
    David Walliams e.g. Grandpa's Great Escape
    Rick Riordan e.g. Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief
    The Maze Runner by James Dashner
    Eragon by Christopher Paolini
    Harry Potter series
    Alex Rider series
    Marisha likes this.
  5. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    I think you are absolutely right. Girls and boys do learn differently, and they have different strengths and interests.
    Finding a text which the boys would find interesting or which would draw them in would be the first task. Whereas girls will happily sit and discuss/talk in groups, maybe the boys need different ways into thinking about the text/plot/characters. Maybe something more competitive like a debate (many boys enjoy competitive situations), drama - where they have to work together to create something, especially if it’s a scene with some action, or an activity/game which is timed and they have to work in a team to come up with answers/questions/solutions/problems. Having a winning team is an incentive to boys.
  6. Marisha

    Marisha Occasional commenter

    Oh, yes - that goes down well. Another good one for boys is 'Hatchet', by Gary Paulsen.

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