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Flicking the Switch

There has been a lot of research into the reasons why boys are not as motivated and don’t achieve as well as girls. Even though this research has taken place and advice has been offered, there does not seem to be much change. Is this because it is too hard for teachers to make the changes that they need? Is the change in progress but we have not heard the success stories? I can’t answer these questions in this blog post so I have decided to see what changes I can make with my own male learners. The TED video below explains some modern influences on boys and why it may be harder to enagage and motivate them.

What is important (and therefore worth spending time on), given where my students are at?
I would like to investigate strategies that will help engage and motivate my male learners. I would like to think that this will lead to better results.

What strategies (evidence based) are most likely to help my students learn this?
This article , from Teachthought, gave me some helpful information and also affirmed some of the strategies that I already employ. Many of the ideas are covered in Project Based Learning which I am a staunch advocate of and have been doing for the past couple of years. PBL results in an end product, allows boys to address unsolved problems or questions, can encourage competition and teamwork, and includes independent discovery and realisation. The strategies that I now need to try are including games and competition.

Teaching and Learning

Video Games

My year 10 class have just finished watching Little Miss Sunshine and I asked the class to create a sequence of events. I deliberately made the task quite general to allow for choice and creativity. I banned the use of Keynote/PowerPoint to encourage my learners to try a new app. Some used Pages and used the shapes to make their page more visually appealing, some used PicCollage, some used pen and paper. A group of 4 boys asked whether they could used Minecraft and I immediately said yes. All of them downloaded and signed into the same Minecraft game and were fully engaged. They talked excitedly about who would do what and I even overheard one say that it was fun. This is the result:

Games and Competition
My Level 1 Internal class had a class quiz on film techniques. The class split into teams and got 100 points per correct answer and lost 50 points for an incorrect answer. The class were engaged and seemed to enjoy the quiz. I also used it to manage behaviour by deducting points for a team that had their devices out when they weren’t supposed too – bonus!

Another competition that I run is a blog competition to encourage my students to take pride in their blogs.

What happened as a result of the teaching, and what are the implications for future teaching?

The result of incorporating video games and competition was higher engagement, motivation and enjoyment for my boys. However, it did take the boys a while to get into the blog competition because the girls seemed more motivated to make their blogs look pretty. I made it a boys only competition for one period and after this I have had more boys making an effort. These 3 activities were very successful and my goal is to continue to incorporate them into future learning opportunities. Any time that students say that learning is fun is always a good time for me as well as for them.


 Reading and Viewing


One thought on “Flicking the Switch

  1. Love the use of Minecraft. Enables adolescent males to use something they’re actually into (rather than something teachers think they’re into) to apply their learning.


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