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Debra Austin Resources

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1 Boys and Girls Learn Differently based on the research and writings of Michael Gurian
Debra Austin Resources The Boys and Girls Learn Differently Action Guide for Teachers (AG) Michael Gurian ISBN This PowerPoint was developed using information from the Action Guide for Teachers. Page numbers are listed in the notes pages.

2 Background Brain Stem Limbic System Four Lobes at Top of Brain
where fight-or flight responses reside Limbic System where emotion is processed Four Lobes at Top of Brain where thinking generally occurs Different sensory stimulants are processed in each lobe Top of Brain Left Hemisphere verbal skills – speaking, reading, and writing Right Hemisphere spatial skills – measuring, perceiving direction, and working objects Child who thinks something is too hard may have her emotional response trigger the limbic system to slow or shut down most of the thinking occurring in the top of the brain by limiting the blood flow. AG – p 7-8

3 Female Brains vs Male Brains
Female brains mature earlier and more quickly than male brains Girls acquire complex verbal skills earlier Corpus callosum is the bundle of nerves that connects the right and left hemispheres Up to 20% larger in girls than boys Gives girls better cross talk between hemispheres Myelination, a process of coating nerves around the brain shaft with myelin, allowing electrical impulses to travel down each nerve quickly and efficiently, is complete earlier in women than men AG –

4 More Structural Differences
Girls take in more sensory data than boys Hear and smell better Take in more information through their fingertips and skin Girls have better verbal abilities and rely heavily on verbal communication Boys rely heavily on nonverbal communication, being less able to verbalize feelings and responses as quickly as girls Boys have more development in the right hemisphere, providing them with better spatial abilities AG – 11-12

5 Chemicals and Hormones
Boys Male brains secrete less serotonin than female brains, making males more impulsive and fidgety Testosterone is the male growth, sex-drive, and aggression hormone Males receive 5 to 7 testosterone surges per day, beginning around age 10, and these can cause moods that vacillate between aggressive and withdrawn AG 10-11

6 Chemicals and Hormones
Girls Oxytocin is more constantly stimulated in females, making them capable of quick empathetic responses to others’ pain and need Progesterone is the female growth and bonding hormone

7 Hormones and Learning When females have high estrogen, they score higher on tests When testosterone is high in males, they perform better on spatial exams, but worse on verbal tests AG - 11

8 Female Brain has Learning Advantage
Resting female brain is as active as the activated male brain Ruben Gur brain imaging techniques Female brain uses its resources quickly, often, and in more places Areas of Greater Functioning Females are memory and sensory intake Males are spatial tasks and abstract reasoning AG – 11-12

9 Considerations for Teachers
Because girls can hear better than boys Boys need a louder voice Boys may need to be near the front of the room Females can see better than males in a darkened room and males see better than females in bright light AG-12

10 Emotional Processing Girls Boys
Process more emotive stimulants and more completely than boys More likely to process hurt and talk about it with others Emotionally tougher – they talk or cry about distress Boys Move information to limbic system and brain stem This response short-circuits intellectual and academic learning This emotive process takes longer and involves less reasoning Males are more emotionally fragile than we think they are because they make take hours to process emotively. A boy who has had a crisis at home may come to school with a higher stress hormone (cortisol) level than his sister because he has held in, not processed, the emotional stress of the crisis. He may be unable to learn for much fo the morning. AG - 13

11 10 Brain-based Differences
Deductive/Inductive Reasoning Boys Deductive Start reasoning from general principle and apply it Have advantage in fast multiple-choice tests such as SATs Girls Inductive Begin with specific, concrete examples and build general theory, adding to their base Have advantage in verbalization, writing, and giving an example AG-17

12 2 – Abstract/Concrete Reasoning
Boys Better than girls at calculating something without seeing it Abstract is explored more by the male brain, than the female brain Boys like abstract arguments, philosophical conundrums, and moral debates Architecture and engineering, which rely on abstract design principles, are attractive to male brains Girls Better when math is taught with manipulatives AG - 17

13 3 – Use of Language Females Males Groups Produce more words than males
Prefer ideas conceptualized in normal language with concrete details Males Use fewer words and often work silently Find jargon and coded language more interesting Groups Parity in word use in female groups 1 or 2 dominating males speak more AG - 17

14 4 – Logic and Evidence Girls Boys
Better listeners, hear more, and receptive to details Boys Hear less and ask for clear evidence to support another’s claim AG – 17-18

15 5 – Likelihood of Boredom
Boys Bored more easily than girls Need more & varying stimuli to keep them attentive Once bored, likely to give up on learning and may act out Girls Better at managing boredom AG - 18

16 6 – Use of Space Boys Spatial brains require more space
Need more physical space when they learn Especially when younger May use more of a table than a girl, which teachers consider impolite or aggressive AG - 18

17 7- Movement Males Girls Tips Movement stimulates male brains
Helps manage impulse behavior Girls Do not need to move around as much while learning Tips Give boys something to touch, chores, modeling clay, or encourage doodling Movement included in lessons – physical representations Breaks – stretch breaks – change locations in room AG – 18-19

18 8 – Sensitivity & Group Dynamics
Cooperative Learning Easier for girls Girls can learn while attending to a code of social interaction Boys focus on performing the task well, without sensitivity to those around them AG – 19-20

19 Pecking order Important for boys and they are fragile learners when low in the pecking order Less popular girls perform better than less popular boys Males at lower end of pecking order secrete more cortisol (stress hormone), which can sabotage the learning process. It forces the brain to focus on survival rather than the intellectual process. AG – 19-20

20 9 – Use of Symbolism Both boys and girls like pictures, but boys often rely on them in their learning because they stimulate the right hemisphere, which is where many boys are more developed. Boys like symbolic texts, diagrams, and graphs because of the coded quality Girls prefer written texts AG - 20

21 10 – Use of Learning Teams Both genders benefit
Boys create structured teams Boys spend less time than girls in managing teams Boys pick leaders quickly and focus on the goal Girls form looser organizations AG - 21

22 Academic Performance Girls study harder than boys
Girls choose harder courses in middle and high school at a higher rate than boys Girls get 60% of the As and boys get 70% of the Ds and Fs 62% of the top 1/5 of high school performers are girls AG 23

23 Classroom Behavior Boys are louder, more physically aggressive, more competitive, and prone to attention-getter behavior than girls Boys are less mature Girls are more quiet, passive and sendentary than boys During puberty/adolescence boys seek outward dominance and girls seen inward excellence Girls have longer attention spans than boys AG

24 Reading & Writing Competence
Girls are approximately 1.5 years ahead of boys in reading and writing competence at all school levels Boys are dominant in certain aspects of math and science due to brain structure Improved instruction is necessary for boys in reading and writing, as well as for girls in math and science AG 24

25 Test Scores Boys score slightly higher on SATs
Males are slightly better at storing single-sentence information than females Male brains have a visual advantage in working with and making quick deductive decisions on lists (such as multiple choice) Female brains think more inductively and need substantial information to make a decision Females have the advantage on essay questions AG 24-25

26 Psychological, Learning & Behavioral Disorders - Girls
Girls experience overt depression and eating disorders in their teens For every 1 suicide attempt by a boy, there are 4 attempts by girls Females are less likely to experience learning, psychiatric, or behavioral disorder Not as many attention problems Use more cortical areas for more learning functions Secret more serotonin than males so less inclined toward hyperactivity AG 25-26

27 Psychological, Learning & Behavioral Disorders - Boys
Male brain lateralizes activity, compartmentalizing it in smaller areas of the brain, therefore suffering more learning disorders 2/3 of the learning disabled and 90% of the behaviorally disabled are boys Boys have 80% of the brain disorders and 70% of the substance-abuse problems For every girl who actually commits suicide, 4 boys do. AG 25-26

28 Psychological, Learning & Behavioral Disorders
Because girls use more cortical areas of the brain for learning, if they experience a slight defect, another area makes up for it Because the male brain lateralizes, a defect in one area of the brain may affect the only area in which a particular learning function is taking place Many boys are misdiagnosed with learning disorders, ADHD, or ADD AG 25-26

29 Psychological, Learning & Behavioral Disorders
For Boys - create classrooms to help them deal with their natural impulsiveness, lateralization of brain activity, left- hemisphere disadvantage, and learning styles For Boys & Girls – create bonding and attachment communities in our classrooms/schools AG 25-26

30 Maturity, Discipline & Behavior
The maturity gap between boys & girls, especially teenagers, “is one of the most pronounced brain-based gap and may be the most profoundly disabling feature of classroom life. It is the root of many behaviors labeled ‘defective.’” The Boys and Girls Learn Differently Action Guide for Teachers, p 26 AG 26

31 Maturity, Discipline & Behavior - Sex
Female hormones, maturing earlier, guide girls toward long-term emotional attachments at a time when Immature male hormones may guide the boy toward short-term experimental attachments Teen pregnancy may lead the girl to drop out of school and the boy to abandon the girl and child AG - 26

32 Maturity, Discipline & Behavior SCHOOL
Boys, with more impulsive and less mature brain Get into far more trouble in school Cause 90% of the discipline problems Are 80% of the dropouts Garner the majority of punishment for behavior Discipline that works for girls in middle and early high school Often inconsistent, friendly, and lacking profound authority Often doesn’t work for boys Elder dominance systems with intense bonding and authority best manage boys until they learn to manage themselves AG – 26

33 Educational Aspirations
Both boys and girls fear failure (boys more than girls) due to parent demands to compete in school and workplace On average, 8th and 12th grade girls have higher educational aspirations than boys 60% of college grads are female and college graduation is the most consistent indicator of stable future income AG 26-17

34 Athletics and Extracurricular Activities
Boys tend to choose interactive social activities that de-emphasize verbalization and emphasize spatial and physical aggression Boys participate more in sports (and have better funding) – only 37% of HS athletes are girls Girls tend to choose interactive social activities that emphasize verbalization Girls are the majority of student-government officials, club leaders, and community liaisons AG - 27

35 Cultural Gender Bias - Boys
Boys are at the most gender-based disadvantage in our schools K-6 teachers are 90% women Teachers have not received training in male brain development and performance Most systems rely less on kinesthetic and male-brain appropriate educational strategies needed by boys Early writers, eager to deal with anti-female bias in the workplace, may have been eager to prove similar bias in schools Although boys are called on more than girls, much of the attention boys get in school is punitive, not rewarding AG – 27-28

36 Cultural Gender Bias - Girls
Boys may dominate discussions in some classrooms resulting in loss of voice for girls Role modeling and heroes in literature are more often male Good-old-boy networks in some schools teach males they are inherently privileged and bestow advantages on them, especially in access to employment networks AG

37 Cultural Gender Bias Student Coping
Girls are more likely to express and detail negative feelings and experiences Boys are reluctant to share feelings about any experience or details about a painful experience Girls are only slightly more likely than boys to express feelings about bias AG - 28

38 Sexual Abuse and Violence
Because males primarily victimize other males, boys are 3 times more likely than girls to be victims of violence on school property Girls are more often victims of sexual abuse or harassment at the hands of teachers, parents, coaches, school staff, and other students AG - 28

39 Protecting Boys and Girls
Create a different school culture Closer bonding, smaller classes, more verbalization, less male isolation, better discipline systems, more authority, more attention to male learning styles Anti-bullying curricula help students deal with their internal systems for expressing angry, sad, and hurt energy AG - 28

40 Benefits of Experiential Learning
In learning-by-doing, students internalize the content Content is less likely to be perceived as the teacher’s As students engage in activities, they are more apt to ask questions and make inferences AG – 147

41 Benefits of Experiential Learning
Many projects are group-based Safety of group encourages introverted students to verbalize understandings and conclusions Group work allows students to experience, observe, and learn about group processes and dynamics Listening, cooperating, and competing AG-147

42 Benefits of Experiential Learning
Learning is retained when students can practice their new skills and talk or reflect about their new knowledge soon after the learning experience Coaching and feedback is especially important in the process AG

43 Resources
Boys and Girls Learn Differently! A Guide for Teachers and Parents ISBN The Boys and Girls Learn Differently Action Guide for Teachers ISBN The Minds of Boys: Saving our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life ISBN

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