Do a quick Google search on “Why boys are failing in school,” and you’ll see headlines and articles addressing this issue from some of the top news outlets in the world. It’s an issue that has the education world buzzing, and one that needs action in every school in order for our young men to find academic and personal success.
As an educator, we know how important your students are to you. You know better than anyone that boys and girls learn differently, and we understand your urgency to support your disengaged, unmotivated, but incredibly bright male students. How do boys learn best? What are some teaching and classroom strategies that will benefit male students?
Here are four boy-centric teaching methods we’ve utilized to increase the performance, progress, and engagement of our male students:
1. Increase the use of visual aids.
According to Pearson, a leader in education publishing and learning, 65% of the population are visual learners. That means, when lessons and concepts are taught by way of lecture and other auditory methods, less than half of your students are engaged and retaining information.1
By utilizing charts, photos, graphs, diagrams, videos/movies, and visually appealing PowerPoint presentations, you’ll energize more male students and help them absorb information better.
2. Promote tactile-kinesthetic learning.
Learn by doing and moving – that’s the underlying principal to tactile-kinesthetic learning. When we discussed the different learning styles in a previous blog post, we highlighted some daunting data:
- Only one-third of students remember 75% of what they hear in class2
- Tactile or kinesthetic learners are the main candidates for failure in traditional classrooms2
- 50-60% of students identify as tactile-kinesthetic learners3
When boys are encouraged to get out of their desks and move, interact, get dirty, create, and compete, they begin to transform into eager, enthusiastic learners. Tactile-kinesthetic teaching methods include, but are not limited to:
- Hands-on science experiments
- Math lessons involving food
- Story board creation
- Drawing or painting ideas and concepts
- Nature walks
- Computer or video games
- Classroom debates
- Field trips
To ensure your efforts follow your students outside class hours, let parents know how they can promote engaged learning at home.
3. Allow your students to choose what they read and write.
Every teacher wants his or her students to read and write more. That’s why it’s beneficial to allow students to choose what they read and write.
Assign your students to read a chapter or article each night from a literature source of their choosing. Then ask them to write a summary explaining what they learned. They’re more likely to enjoy and retain what they read in a comic book, a novel that aligns with their specific interests, or a sports magazine. Giving them the freedom to choose will lead to improved skill mastery, competence, and grades.
4. Rearrange your classroom.
Rearranging desks and reconfiguring a new layout will breathe a fresh perspective, increased awareness, and raised curiosity into your classroom. Don’t be afraid to rearrange often and according to the activity you’re guiding.
- Reading activities work best when desks are arranged in a circle.
- Partner math lessons work best when desks are moved side-by-side.
- Group projects work best when desks are arranged in a square to maximize collaboration space.
- Highly energetic activities work best when desks are moved against the wall, allowing for an open floor plan to emerge.
There are several reasons why boys and girls learn differently, and boy-centric classrooms ensure the needs of the male brain are met. Your male students want to learn and achieve, and with the right support, energy, and engagement, they will realize their potential and rediscover success.
1 Vakos, Patricia. Pearson. “Why the Blank Stare? Strategies for Visual Learners.” Accessed February 10, 2016. http://www.phschool.com/eteach/social_studies/2003_05/essay.html.
2 Dent, Maggie. Maggie Dent. “What Boys Need Most.” Accessed November 16, 2015. http://www.maggiedent.com/sites/default/files/articles/17_What_boys_need_most%5B1%5 D.pdf.
3 Winebrenner, S and Kiss, L. (2014). Teaching Kids with Learning Difficulties in Today’s Classroom. pg. 48. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.