confessions of a SLMS

Monday, December 05, 2005

Researchers from the University of Maine looked at boys' reading habits inside and outside of the classroom. In this year-long study of sixth to twelfth grade boys, there was a dramatic contrast between their 'school' reading and their 'life' reading. School readings were classified as 'assigned, too long, too hard and not connected to interests.' The researchers recommended that teachers expand their views of what counts as worthwhile reading, along with better efforts to integrate outside intersts with 'school' literacy. Good advise for all of us!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

There's an interesting article in the January issue of American Teacher. Citing Michael Gurian's latest book, _The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life_, the article looks at boys' struggles to achieve scholastically in mostly 'girl-friendly' schools. Gurian, who has also authored _The Good Son_ and _Wonder of Girls_, suggests incorporating some classroom changes to better accommodate the more physical and visual learning styles of many boys.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Another good fiction read a lot of my fifth grade boys like--Gordon Korman's _No More Dead Dogs_ The protagonist, Wallace Wallace, will make you laugh outloud. Read excerpt here.
Chet Gecko, Private Eye series, by Bruce Hale, is also a favorite among some fourth and fifth graders. Fun, with a little mystery thrown in for good measure. See what Chet's about...

Friday, November 25, 2005

In the October 16th edition of the New York Times, David Brooks writes about how the information age has changed the tools required for success and power. According to the article, "Mind Over Muscle", the gateway to present-day success is education, not physical strength. Women are generally better students than men, scoring higher on reading and writing tests throughout their school careers and graduating from college at a higher rate than men. A wake-up call for all of us who serve and care about boys! As Michael Sullivan says, "Without an active reading life, boys are almost destined to fall behind and stay behind in the acquisition and effective use of language."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

There's an interesting article in the April 2005 issue of _Teacher Librarian_ about encouraging boys to read. In "Addressing the Gender Gap in Boys' Reading," author Christine Wellden writes about the boys-only "Cool Guys Reading Club" she started at her school. She also includes some websites with booklist recommendations. Check out this one from Wamego High School in Wamego, Kansas.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

My third grade classes are almost finished writing their collective biographies. For this project, I had student pairs interview each other using a set of simple questions. The results of the interviews were then used as writing prompts for two written paragraphs about their classmate. A simple crayon portrait was then added. I know the students quite well and tried to pair up those that are not best friends. Many boys ended up with girls as partners, much to the boys' disappointments. I am in the process of typing up the written paragraphs and will bind these with the portraits into class books. What is revealed in the interviews is often thoughtful, funny, and interesting. When asked to name something special about himself, one boy said it's because 'he has more strength in his foot than his arm'. Another said it's because 'he knows how to be a really good friend.' In addition to soccer, baseball and hockey, several boys listed dancing and singing as favorite activities.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Some excellent book recommendations for boys (and girls) are offered on the Education Oasis web site. Educators, reading specialists and boys suggest a variety of titles for primary, intermediate and high school readers. Included in the mix is Carl Hiassen's _Hoot_, which I'm currently doing with my fifth graders-great read. The book has prompted all sorts of side discussions--what constitutes vandalism, bus bullies and being the new kid in school. These discussions seem to spring up naturally, without prompting from me. I am often touched by the honesty and depth of feelings revealed by many students during these discussions. The other day, one boy shared that this is the sixth town and elementary school for him. (remember, these are fifth graders).