Creating the “Write” Impression – On Boys


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Farah Najam

Farah Najam has considerable experience of teaching children at different levels. She has worked as a coordinator and has supervised and guided teachers at various levels. She has completed various online courses from such leading American Universities as Harvard University, UCLA and San Diego, where she received high grading. She has appeared on radio programmes (FM 101) as an educational expert. She also develops lesson plans for schools.
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Image courtesy: www.ilmgate.org

Anyone who has watched little boys can say what they are up to. When you observe a group of girls play there seems to be a tactical game going on beneath the surface unlike boys who are so much easy-to-read in their behaviour. Most boys don’t value school. It’s more about getting credentials than getting knowledge. Most boys neglect or reject homework because it’s too intrusive, destructive and ultimately unachievable without letting go of a more valued aspect of their lives. A school doesn’t offer the courses that majority of boys want to do, namely courses and coursework that prepare them for employment .

Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well

Reading aloud by the teachers, guest readers and students is a precious classroom activity to which substantial amounts of time should be allotted. It is especially beneficial for boys who may not be reading at other times and need to be introduced to the delight that reading provides. 

Boys learn to read at an older age than girls. They take longer to learn and comprehend narrative texts less easily. Boys also don’t give importance to reading, and see reading as a way to get information rather than as a recreational activity. They are generally more interested in books and periodicals about hobbies, sports and activities they might engage in and informational resources. They are fond of escapism (science, fiction, adventure, and fantasy) and humour more than fiction and poetry, and they like to collect series of books.

Reading choices made for boys often do not reflect their preferences, since girls are clearer and more vocal about what books they want. Elementary school teachers are predominantly women, and mothers rather than fathers select reading materials for their children. Boys like all other kids like to see characters like themselves sometimes. Therefore, materials must feature people of different ethnicities, races and backgrounds who live in a variety of homes and communities.

Reading aloud by the teachers, guest readers and students is a precious classroom activity to which substantial amounts of time should be allotted. It is especially beneficial for boys who may not be reading at other times and need to be introduced to the delight that reading provides. Teachers can capture boys’ interest by associating the material to be read with on hand knowledge. Extra time for silent reading promotes the independent development of skills and enjoyment of reading. Learners can review the content, purpose, and presentation of particular type of books and how they differ. They are able to use their imagination to recast a story using characters of a different gender or ethnicity. Schools can help out parents to promote their children’s reading by communicating that it is important to read to their sons (every day if possible)

Ways Boys See Writing

Using imagination, using a computer to record ideas; using punctuation and capitalization properly – a surprising perception and putting ideas into written sentences is usually rated as the simplest part of writing. The items most often rated tricky were writing neatly in cursive, thinking about the subject and putting ideas into logical order. The work of girls tends to be neater and well presented while that of boys is untidy and poorly presented. Grade six students would turn every story assignment into a sports related story since that is what they know and love. That is okay for a while. Ultimately though, they need to branch out. Typical female abilities such as organization and typical female qualities such as empathy, cooperativeness and verbal agility are highly cherished in schools. The male strengths namely physical vigour and competitiveness are overlooked.

Creating the ‘Write’Conditions

A method that is helpful is to have boy students write Thought Books. Thought books persuade students to think and articulate their thoughts, make their learning personal, support self-exploration and self- discovery and this reflection will improve writing. First thing each morning the students put in writing about whatever they want to. They can clarify their ideas and experiences, compose stories, describe events and respond to reading. At the end, nearly every student shares thoughts with the class – something that is encouraged and lasts three to five minutes with a questions period.

Thought books persuade students to think and articulate their thoughts, make their learning personal, support self-exploration and self- discovery and this reflection will improve writing.

Focus on Paragraph Writing

The quality of boys writing especially the way they write in paragraphs increases when guidelines are given. The paragraph begins with a topic sentence that tells what the paragraph is about. Body sentences give more information about the topic sentence. Every sentence should end with proper punctuation. Words should be spelled correctly; check words you are uncertain of.

Encourage Written Retelling

Written retelling is a powerful method for checking understanding. It is different from answering specific questions after reading, retelling requires students to reprocess large segments of text, to think about the sequence of ideas and events and their importance. For both the teacher and the student retelling is a versatile tool. For students, retelling gives an opportunity to share what has been read in writing, as well as practice in reviewing the story or body of information and presenting it in sequence. It also assists in writing skills. For the teacher, retelling serves as an essential type of informational assessment, it can determine how much students understood the text.

Schools; The Engines of Social Change

Hope is what drives improvement, and improving schools and in the end, student’s performance is what we are hoping for the future. A century ago the president of Harvard University turned down women enrolment because he feared they would waste the precious resources of his institution. Schools should present an oasis of hope for students. The academic and social challenges that are faced by our boys suggest an urgent need for programmed intervention on the part of the educators. Schools should centre themselves on helping our boys develop the attitudes, skills, behaviours and values they need to perform at optimal level both in school and in society.

A teacher therefore should set high expectations and assist each student rise to meet them. The classroom environment should be such that it should give equal educational opportunities to every student.

The material in this article is based on a workshop conducted by the writer for mothers and teachers.

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