A middle school teacher told us recently, “Boys in a classroom should be one of the most fun things in life. Boy energy can be contagious, after all. But in my school, we talk mostly about difficulties we’re having with boys. We need help understanding and teaching them. We’ve got to stop losing that boy energy from our schools.”
Everywhere around us, boys want to learn, but they aren’t learning as well as girls are. Teachers know or sense the statistics: boys get the majority of Ds and Fs and the minority of As; they are behind on state tests in all 50 states; and they drop out of high school at higher rates than girls. Many boys feel that they are inherently defective in today’s education world.
Over the last two decades, we have developed professional development systems for solving boys’ low achievement in school. We first tested these solutions in a successful two-year pilot study in six Missouri school districts. Over the last decade, we’ve trained teachers in more than 2,000 schools and districts, developing a Logic Model for teaching boys effectively. This “boy-friendly” model focuses on improving learning for boys so that they no longer feel defective as learners, which increases motivation and diminishes rates of acting out and failure; the model increases girls’ achievement and performance, as well.
A number of schools in our research base have closed gender gaps, raised student performance, and made adequate yearly progress within a year of instituting the Teaching Boys Effectively Logic Model. Among the practical strategies in which their teachers have been trained and coached, these 10 constitute both a research and performance baseline for success.
- Teachers increase the use of graphics, pictures, and storyboards in literacy-related classes and assignments. When teachers use pictures and graphics more often (even well into high school), boys write with more detail, retain more information, and get better grades on written work across the curriculum.
- Classroom methodology includes project-based education in which the teacher facilitates hands-on, kinesthetic learning. The more learning is project-driven and kinesthetic, the more boys’ bodies will be engaged in learning—causing more information to be retained, remembered, and displayed on tests and assignments.