Improving Boys' Literacy
Many teachers realise that some boys’ underachievement is entirely due to their underdeveloped literacy skills. However, what they also need to realise is that some teachers and schools address this issue successfully, and get boys to achieve very highly both in reading and writing, both at primary and at secondary levels.
The skill-sets of these teachers and schools have been studied extensively, both in New Zealand and overseas, and show conclusively that the best teachers:
- Convince boys that reading and writing is relevant to their interests and aspirations.
- Have equally high expectations of both girls and boys with regards literacy
- Link the reading and writing to the core identity of boys as learners
- Recognise that some boys are more interested in content rather than style
- Are aware of the preference of many boys for humour, action and adventure in non-fiction, and provide plenty of books and writing topics of this nature
- Understand that many boys (and some girls) are system thinkers, who prefer to read and write manuals rather than romance novels
- Motivate boys by having the class or groups discuss and debate about why, what and how things should be written
- Provide clear goals, milestones, structures, matrices and exemplars which enable boys to identify, measure and recognise their progress
- Use competition and challenges to engage and motivate boys
- Identify the practices which lead to success, and actively teach these
- Use boys and girls as peer leaders which role model good literacy habits
- Treat every boy (and girl) as an individual learner, and encourage them to be independent, self- reflective and confident learners
During the seminar I will share, in detail, the practices which have inspired so many teachers to raise the achievement of boys, as well as girls, and I trust that you also will be inspired in the same way.
Joseph Driessen BSc TTC MEdAdmin