Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Boys Learning - Going That Extra Mile

I have a real passion for boys' learning. I think that for me, as a tomboy and not exactly the easiest student at primary school, that perhaps my own learning style matched the way of many boys' learning. Noisy. Always moving. Constantly physical. Typically messy. Yup - that was my school life from 5-18 years old. And yup - that's how I see so many boys as they learn. They are like a volcano, constantly boiling beneath the surface, desperate to explode into action, but often smothered by the constraints of the class programme.

I have group of awesome boys in my class, but I also have a small group who would have been called 'underachievers' at the beginning of the year. Boys that you know have the knowledge, but they really struggle to still their bodies and minds for long enough to let it out! They are the sort of lads who really live for their 3 favorite times of the day - morning tea, lunchtime and any opportunity for sport, P.E, cross country practice or Jump Jam! They have a ball at their feet from the moment they arrive at school and use every opportunity to be moving.

Three of them became my target group for writing early in the year, and a friend who is a teacher came in 1-2 times a week for about 6 weeks to give them all a boost in their writing. She worked on brainstorming and then organising their ideas. This was a great programme, tailored directly to each of their needs and giving them 1:1 support - unusual when they are not children with specific learning needs but needing, rather, a boost. It worked a treat and by the end of the time, they had all made tremendous gains and were suddenly among the most confident writers in the class. A far cry from the reluctant writers that they started off as.

You may ask what made the difference? I think it was more the fact that they didn't believe in the themselves. Oh, they have egos on the sports field, but each of them seemed to think that being great readers or writers was just for other students and not them. Their attitudes have changed and their faith and confidence in what they know and what they can do.

Today, they wrote a factual report about our gold medal rowers. They planned and brainstormed. They co-constructed the success criteria with me and set off to create a catchy opening paragraph which they all achieved. They then organised each new idea into a paragraph, adding lots of important details and completed the writing with a closing statement that encapsulated what their report was saying. Impressive. Then they shared their work enthusiastically with our deputy head when she visited the room and they proudly read their work to her, explaining in details what they had done and why. They self assessed and reflected on what they had done. Who could ask for more?


They are know affectionately by me as the Fab 4. And that's truly what they are. Long may their love and passion for learning last!







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