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Mind the Gap: Notes M I N D T H E G A P

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Presentation on theme: "Mind the Gap: Notes M I N D T H E G A P"— Presentation transcript:

1 Mind the Gap: Notes M I N D T H E G A P Teaching for Reading and Writing Success to the Male Brain By Kenneth Odle Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

2 Mind the Gap: Notes Background Middle school is when we start to lose students, especially boys, as readers. There is often a presumption that reading is a more “female” activity — boys aren’t supposed to like reading. There are biological reasons why girls, especially at a young age, can be better readers than boys. Presumption exists among students, parents, teachers, school board members, society. May not be highly prevalent, but it affects those students affected by adults who believe this. Boys can be good readers, however. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

3 Biological Differences - Intro
Mind the Gap: Notes Biological Differences - Intro More pronounced at younger ages. Still affect middle school students (and high school students, as well). Some effects carry over into high school, depending on the student. Should be taken into account at all ages. Usually necessary to put the brakes on here. Many people have assumptions about these differences, but do not do the research to find out what impact these differences can have and how to work with them. Can have carry-over effects into higher grades. E.g.: “I’m just not a good reader, so there’s no point in trying.” Carry-over effects can be physiological and/or psychological. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

4 Biological Differences 1
Mind the Gap: Notes Biological Differences 1 Frontal Lobe Less developed in boys. (In elementary schools, the difference may be one to two years.) Makes boys more impulsive. Boys less able to sit still and read. (Boys tend to fidget.) May cause students to be misdiagnosed as learning disabled. Being mislabeled can have emotional impact on self-image. Again, this can carry over into upper grades. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

5 Biological Differences 2
Mind the Gap: Notes Biological Differences 2 P Cells and M Cells (optical and neural) Males rely more on type M ganglion cells, which detect movement. Females rely more on type P ganglion cells, which are sensitive to color. Boys tend to rely on pictures and moving objects. Girls excel in describing color and other fine sensory information. This may be a reflection of hunter/gatherer roles in early human history. (I.e., men were hunters, and had to be sensitive to movement while being quiet, whereas women were gatherers who had to be sensitive to gradations in color and could talk while they worked.) Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

6 Biological Differences 3
Mind the Gap: Notes Biological Differences 3 Verbal/Spatial Differences Boys’ brains have more regions dedicated to spatial-mechanical functioning. Girls’ brains emphasize verbal-emotive processing. On average, girls use more words than boys. Girls tend to think more verbally. Boys tend to think visually — they see pictures or movies in their minds. (American Born Chinese is full of examples.) I often start working through a problem in words, and then pictures or movies take over. I have another presentation on American Born Chinese that explores this. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

7 Biological Differences 4
Mind the Gap: Notes Biological Differences 4 Cross Talk Between Hemispheres Girls’ brains have more communication between hemispheres — better multitasking. Boys’ brains tend to compartmentalize thinking in one or the other hemisphere — prefer logical A-Z focus. Boys can become more irritable when moved quickly between activities. This can carry over into later grades. Corpus callosum is the connection between hemispheres. Carry-over can be physical, but is often physiological. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

8 Biological Differences 5
Mind the Gap: Notes Biological Differences 5 Neural Rest States Boys’ brains “spin down” more readily between activities. Boys fidget to keep their minds active. May be mistaken as ADD or ADHD. “Spin down” is a computer analogy. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

9 Biological Differences 6
Mind the Gap: Notes Biological Differences 6 Natural Aggression and Hormones Boys are more competitive. “Aggression Nurturance” — the playful hitting and “dissing” that boys engage in can be supportive. Less reliance on “bonding malleability” (less desire to comply in order to please others). Related to lower oxytocin levels in the body. (Oxytocin is the “bonding hormone.”) “Bonding malleability” important in teaching strategies. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

10 Techniques 1 Spatial-Visual Representations Storyboarding Cartoons
Mind the Gap: Notes Techniques 1 Spatial-Visual Representations Storyboarding Cartoons Graphic Organizers Use of sticky notes or index cards to organize thinking about a text. Boys like to move things around, like Legos or Lincoln Logs. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

11 Techniques 2 Book Choice
Mind the Gap: Notes Techniques 2 Book Choice Boys often regard in-class reading and writing as irrelevant. Boys prefer books with action (sports/war). Boys prefer books with pictures (history/how-to). Many boys are drawn toward different types of books than girls. (N.b.: But not always!) Alternate between canonical texts and personal choice books. Use multicultural texts. Curriculum may be an issue. It is important to be involved in developing curriculum. See what Nancy Atwell has to say about this. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

12 Techniques 3 Books Boys Like: Comics or Manga (Graphic Novels)
Mind the Gap: Notes Techniques 3 Books Boys Like: Comics or Manga (Graphic Novels) Fantasy and Science Fiction Series Books (alas! – see Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle) “Choose Your Own Adventure” Books Nonfiction (history, natural science, archeology) How-To (car repair/maintenance) Books with maps (think Lord of the Rings) Go to a comic book shop to get a good idea of this. You can also go to a book store or library and see which sections the boys hang around in. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

13 Techniques 4 Single-Gender Learning Environments
Mind the Gap: Notes Techniques 4 Single-Gender Learning Environments Has been used with girls in math and science classes (girls now outperform boys in these areas). Alternate reading/discussion groups between all-boy/all-girl and mixed gender. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

14 Techniques 5 Make Reading and Writing More Concrete
Mind the Gap: Notes Techniques 5 Make Reading and Writing More Concrete Suggest a specific person as the audience for reading and writing (remember “bonding malleability”). Provide opportunities for sharing their writing (magazine, book talk, workshop, readers’ circle, writers’ circle, presentation, web site, etc.). Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

15 Techniques 6 Incorporate More Technology
Mind the Gap: Notes Techniques 6 Incorporate More Technology Create an interactive website about a book. Power Point, Prezi, or other electronic presentations. Electronic editions of texts, such as Plucker or Kindle, (but be aware of money issues). A play + a camera = a movie (yea!) (aka “Digital Storytelling”). Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

16 Techniques 7 Seek Out Male Role Models
Mind the Gap: Notes Techniques 7 Seek Out Male Role Models More male teachers in the earlier grades. Ask dads (not just moms) to volunteer in the classroom. Seek out more male guest-speakers. Encourage dads to read to their kids. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

17 Political Implications 1
Mind the Gap: Notes Political Implications 1 There is a higher percentage of female than male teachers in elementary and middle schools. Recruitment and public acceptance is an issue. Schools are under-funded and there is often little money for recently published titles. (Teachers may have to dig into their own pockets to provide a rich reading environment.) Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

18 Political Implications 2
Mind the Gap: Notes Political Implications 2 There is a reluctance, at many levels, to move outside the established canon. Standardized testing can be an issue. The established canon is not usually considered “risky” (i.e., not as subject to censorship issues or parent complaints). Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

19 Mind the Gap: Notes Problems Teachers tend to teach the way they were taught — regardless of training. Teachers tend to teach toward those students who learn the way they do — and most teachers in lower grades are women. Teachers cover books they like — regardless of any relevance to their students. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

20 Impact on Classroom Instruction
Mind the Gap: Notes Impact on Classroom Instruction Techniques aimed at boys can also improve results for girls. Boys are more likely to view reading and writing as something that enhances their lives. Encourages teachers to become research-based teachers. We can conduct research in our own classrooms. Boys can gain a broader definition of “literacy.” Explore the cultural implications. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

21 The Ultimate Goal: We don’t want to pit boys against girls.
Mind the Gap: Notes The Ultimate Goal: We don’t want to pit boys against girls. What we want is to create in our classrooms an environment in which both boys and girls can succeed, recognizing that “boy[s]…have unique strengths, quirks, and weaknesses that every thoughtful practitioner or parent will want to be aware of” (Fletcher 7). Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

22 Value for Educators Fewer behavior problems. Increased on-task time.
Mind the Gap: Notes Value for Educators Fewer behavior problems. Increased on-task time. A more equitable classroom — all students can contribute and their views are valued. Students appreciate literacy as something beyond just “reading books.” Most importantly, students achieve more. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

23 Resources 1 “Guys Read” website
Mind the Gap: Notes Resources 1 “Guys Read” website By Jon Scieszka (author of The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs) Suggests books important to boys. Interactive. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

24 Resources 2 Gurian Institute
Mind the Gap: Notes Resources 2 Gurian Institute Trains teachers and parents in gender science. Promotes practical applications. Offers books, DVD’s, training. For-profit site. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

25 Resources 3 Read-Write-Think
Mind the Gap: Notes Resources 3 Read-Write-Think A collaboration between the International Reading Association and the NCTE. Many lesson plans, searchable by grade level. Keyed to NCTE strands. Lots of lesson plans incorporate technology. Completely free. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

26 Mind the Gap: Notes Resources 4 Watch D.O.G.S. Encourages men (fathers, grandfathers, uncles, step-fathers, father figures, etc.) to volunteer and mentor in schools. Primarily active in urban schools. Offers training and support. Volunteers serve at least one day each year. A program of the National Center for Fathering. A member of the PTA Coalition. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

27 Resources 5 Donors Choose
Mind the Gap: Notes Resources 5 Donors Choose Teachers can post projects that need funding. Donors can choose which projects to support. Donors can fund with as little as $1.00. Teacher and student feedback is expected. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

28 Resources 6 Students What kind of books do you like?
Mind the Gap: Notes Resources 6 Students What kind of books do you like? What kind of books turn you off? Which books do you wish teachers would talk about? Use surveys, reading journals, focus groups. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

29 Resources 7 Parents What are your kids currently reading?
Mind the Gap: Notes Resources 7 Parents What are your kids currently reading? What kind of books did your kids like or not like reading in earlier grades? Do you discuss books/reading/literature with your children? Value their input. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

30 Resources 8 Colleagues Which books are you teaching now?
Mind the Gap: Notes Resources 8 Colleagues Which books are you teaching now? How do your students like these books? What strategies do you use, and how successful are they? What is going well for you this year? What are you going to do differently next year? Ask the school librarian. Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

31 Mind the Gap: Notes Works Cited Doiron, Ray. “Boy Books, Girl Books: Should We Re-organize Our School Library Collection?” Teacher Librarian 30.3 (2003): Fletcher, Ralph. Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices. Portland: Stenhouse; Markham: Pembroke, 2006. King, Kelley, and Michael Gurian. “Teaching to the Minds of Boys.” Educational Leadership 64.1 (2006): Sullivan, Michael. Connecting Boys with Books 2: Closing the Reading Gap. Chicago: American Library Association, 2009. Von Drasek, Lisa. “Boy, Oh, Boy — Books!” Teaching PreK (2002): Wilde, Jack. “Learning From Fantasy.” Voices From the Middle 5.2 (1998): Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain

32 Contact kenneth.odle@gmail.com
Mind the Gap: Notes Contact Teaching for Literacy to the Male Brain


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