Friday, July 15, 2011

Surprise! Boys and Girls Learn Differently

Here is a quick survey about Boys and Girls. See the table of results at the bottom. Correct answers will show in green. Incorrect in Red. Newest responses will show at the bottom of the spreadsheet.



If males and females really are the same, why are they so different?

Boys are falling behind. This is not an "American" problem. Research is showing it is a global issue.

If we are truly the same and equal, why are boys being diagnosed for learning disabilities at a much higher rate?

A spattering of research:
  • one of the underlying beliefs in our culture is that we have fabricated these gender stereotypes. This is probably more appropriate for girls and their self-image. Women's right has actually made it harder on women socially and emotionally. However, it is more than just culture. We are wired differently:
    • the brain, even with the naked eye, looks different in males and females. They are different!
    • men who has a stroke on the left lose more speech functions than men who stroke on the right. But that is not true in women, they use both sides for speech. The joke that men only use half of their brain is sort of true (in speech at least)! Look at Congresswoman Gifford and her recovery.
    • Girls hear better than boys - the distinction has even been observed in newborn babies continuing through development. Girls will often complain that a teacher "is yelling".
    • Girls are better at reading facial expressions. Studies done as early as the day of birth. Gender was not known by researchers. The newborn girls tended toward the face of a young woman rather than a mobile. Boys have more cells in their eyes to make them sensitive to movement. Girls have more "P cells" and are sensitive to soft colors.
    • Boys and girls approach direction differently. Girls give direction by landmarks. Boys are more procedural.
    • part of the brain that deals with feelings develops much more quickly in girls. Do not confuse "emotion" with "feelings". Boys will show emotion, but asking "how do you feel about that" isn't as appropriate.
    • Risk taking - Boys take more risks than girls (sometimes to their own detriment). 
    • Boys are more into rough and tumble play. Very healthy for boys. Some say this is a cultural thing, but it has been observed across cultures. There are always exceptions, of course. Boys will "duke it out" then be friends 2 hours later. Girls tend to hold grudges.



Classroom Techniques: An Overview
Science is confirming what we all knew already...Boys and girls are different. There is a growing movement of single-gender education. If there are truly differences, we can better target classroom instruction in a single-gender environment.

Just splitting them up...does that make a difference in and of itself?
The presenter wrote his dissertation on it. His research showed teachers didn't do much different in terms of teaching techniques based on gender. He expected there to be no real difference because instruction wasn't being changed.

Surprisingly, all subjects except Social Studies showed differences, and male classes caught up to girls...even with no instructional modifications based on gender.

Some observations from the classroom:
Girls typically draw pictures of people, flowers, and trees with colors, neatly arranged using warm colors (red, green, yellow, brown). Boys tend to draw action in 3rd person perspective using "cold" colors (blue grey silver and black). Girls draw nouns, boys draw verbs. 95% of kindergarten teachers are women. Teachers tend to encourage students to draw the pictures they like. Students are intuitive and boys find that their "action" pictures are not pleasing to the teacher and quickly label themselves as "not good at art". In a modern, 21st century, "gender-neutral" classroom, the boy quickly transfers his "inability" in art to many areas of the classroom.

In single-gender schools, boys get more involved in art, drama, and the like. Our co-ed system has created the cultural differences we see because of a lack of awareness of gender differences. The difference isn't the culture, it is the biology.

Classroom Strategies for boys:
  • single-gender classes
  • put the boys in the front (but explain why...they can't hear)
  • Boys need action
  • use primary colors for organization (if you use a table for papers/organization in that is color coded)
  • Boys should use Blue or Green when highlighting
  • Move around when you talk (boys are stimulated by motion/action)
  • use visual cues
  • Try to speak only when you are facing the students - Don't talk with your back to them
  • Make sure boys are looking at you
  • Give wait time - especially for boys
  • after a student does answer a question - before you indicate right or wrong - ask a student to summarize and judge whether it is right or wrong
  • Spread out boys' desks as far as possible - allow opportunities for rough & tumble play
  • teach boys how to identify serious injuries
  • have boys take notes word-for-word because they are not good [tendency] auditory learning
  • small boys do better with several shorter recesses in a day
  • break skills into smaller bits
  • make handwriting exercises into fun games - grade handwriting randomly from ALL work, not just handwriting practice
  • break long-term projects into concrete steps with deadlines
  • if students can't write in their books, let them use sticky notes in their books
  • let them memorize things (boys)
  • break up lectures by stopping every 5 to 10 minutes and ask for a synopsis
  • Talk for 5 minutes and then have them write down what they remember
  • Have students work math problems twice - specifically the 2nd time on a fresh sheet of paper
  • have a variety of literature choices so boys and girls can choose (Michael Gurian's website has a list of "boy friendly" books"
  • Encourage boys to go into non-typical careers. Encourage their passion!

Classroom Strategies for girls:
  • give girls more risk-taking opportunities
  • start with thebig picture and comprehensive discussion. Then head to the details.
  • math/science - begin with written materials and describe each step
  • a soft voice is better
  • have them stand when they're answering a question
  • be careful of facial expressions - girls read into them and can get discouraged
  • concept mapping works well
  • journaling and question journals
  • pair girls up and have one explain while the other DRAWS it
  • make her explain how she would solve it FIRST, before solving
  • Don't present alternative ways of solving problems until they have mastered one way


Presented at IICSE by Dr. Doug Roth - Dean of the College of Education at Southeastern University. 7/14/11

Basic Tools of the Digital Classroom

Presented at IICSE by David McVicker (@DavidMcVicker)- Assistant Principal of Elementary at Ben Lippen School, 7/12/11 Columbia International University, Columbia, SC

Tools of the Trade
The following is a list of pretty standard resources. I will not include a real summary of each. There are plenty of descriptions, tutorials, how-tos, etc. all over the internet/blogosphere. A simple Google search will provide [way too] many resources on each item listed below.

There are SO many, we must have good discernment to find the things that work well in your classroom to provide consistency for the students.

Pushing for a computer lab is 15 years too late. Internet must be in the classroom.

Online Content - Part of active learning - not a replacement to instruction
Khan Academy - 2400 video content lessons - Math, science, and more. AWESOME!
TED Talks - every talk is limited to 18 minutes - cutting edge talks by experts in various fields.
iTunes U - 350,000 videos from high schools and universities

Search

Time is the most limited resource in the classroom. Do everything you can to use it wisely.

Memorization by itself is not bad. You must ask yourself WHY you are memorizing.

Communication
Gmail - a bit passe for students
Twitter - great for open discussion.
Facebook - this is where most students are spending time
Skype - many uses beyond just video chatting with grandma

Writing - Just because it's not pen and paper doesn't mean it's not important
Google Docs - Online writing collaboration
Blogger - blogging site
Word Press - another blogging site
Kidblog.org (Primarily for elementary and middle grades students)

Choose new technology in bite-sized pieces. Be intentional with the tools you use to encourage thinking. Don't have so many balls in their air that if one drops, they all fall.

Feel free to comment and add more tools. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. I just wanted to point out what he talked about in the session.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Basic Tools of the Trade

The following is a list of pretty standard resources. I will not include a real summary. There are plenty of descriptions, tutorials, how-tos, etc. all over the internet/blogosphere. A simple Google search of any tool will provide [way too] many resources on each item listed below. This list is intended for someone looking to get started.


There are SO many, we must have good discernment to find the things that work well in your classroom to provide consistency for the students.

Inserted thought: Pushing for a computer lab is 15 years too late. Internet must be in the classroom.

Online Content - Part of active learning - not a replacement to instruction
Khan Academy - 2400 video content lessons - Math, science, and more. AWESOME!
TED Talks - every talk is limited to 18 minutes - cutting edge talks by experts in various fields.
iTunes U - 350,000 videos from high schools and universities

Search
Google
Bing
Yahoo!
YouTube

Time is the most limited resource in the classroom. Do everything you can to use it wisely.

Memorization by itself is not bad. You must ask yourself WHY you are memorizing.

Communication
Gmail - a bit passe for students
Twitter - great for open discussion.
Facebook - this is where most students are spending time
Skype - many uses beyond just video chatting with grandma

Writing - Just because it's not pen and paper doesn't mean it's not important
Google Docs - Online writing collaboration
Blogger - blogging site
Word Press - another blogging site
Kidblog.org (Primarily for elementary and middle grades students)

Choose new technology in bite-sized pieces. Be intentional with the tools you use to encourage thinking. Don't have so many balls in their air that if one drops, they all fall.


Presented by David McVicker - Assistant Principal of Elementary (also AP Physics teacher) at the Ben Lippen School. 7/12/11 Columbia International University, Columbia, SC

Developing Thinking Skills in a Digital Age

My 3-year-old is able to think at a high level. He can take a set of criteria (at his age it is given by me) and evaluate his own behavior and the behavior of others. For example, the other day he saw a young boy interacting with his parents. He watched for a few minutes and turned to me and said, "Daddy, that boy is being disrespectful." He was using a given criteria for behavior, analyzing another's behavior, and evaluating and labeling that behavior based on that criteria.


But what does it mean to teacher students in a classroom?

These are my notes from a session at IICSE. Presenter info at the bottom.

Two Key Components:
1. Teaching Students to think
2. Understanding the digital learner

The need to cultivate a student's ability to think is not new...but the setting has changed...because a shift has occurred.

The shift has an impact on how students find and live their calling.

Defining Thinking Skills
The cognitivie processes that enable us to make meaning from and create with information.

The ability to:

  • Form ideas and opinions based on reason and evidence.
  • Evaluate the worth of ideas, opinions, and evidence before making a decision, formulating opinions, or taking actions.
  • DO something with information or concepts


Thinking skills form the foundation upon which the decisions making capacity and predispositions that direct a student's life are built.

Why is it so difficult to develop thinking skills in our students? (class responses)

  • takes more time
  • curriculum not written that way
  • curriculum too broad - teachers must cover too much as the sacrifice of depth
  • teachers not aware of their own critical thinking skills
  • teachers not aware critical thinking needs to be taught
  • such a variety of learning styles and student needs, it is difficult to get to it all
  • can't force someone to think


You have to have a target at which you are aiming if you are going to be intentional in your planning.

The 21st century student has a different schema...different presuppositions, beliefs, and values...
Their scheme is NOT of reason, rather experience.

"They think with their feelings and listen with their eyes." Their thinking is not based on "is it reasonable" or "does it make sense". They decide based on "is it good for me and my beliefs?"

The do not connect face-to-face as much, yet they want/crave/need relationships.

Nothing in their daily lives challenge them to "go deep" into ideas and concepts.

The world tells them to think for themselves because you can't rely on others. However, unchanging truths do exist.

We must train/disciple/mentor them to be independent thinkers who recognize:

  • they do not exist on their own
  • they cannot control their destiny
  • they cannot simply "look to themselves" or set their own standards if they expect or desire to be a child of God.


To understand who they are in Christ (and who they are without Him), they must be thinkers who can interpret, compare, extrapolate, analyze, evaluate, differentiate, etc...

Reflection Time: I agree that a student must develop who they are as an individual. That can only be done through thinking skills. A student can then make a conscious decision to follow the Lord or a purposeful choice to not trust Him. To be an "independent thinker" from a Christian worldview is different than "independent thinker" from the secular world's perspective. Independence to the world generally places the person at the center of all things. Whereas Christians, though independent, still recognize God not only at the center of Truth, but as Truth himself. A person who "thinks" searches for truth.


Presented  at IICSE by Dr. Helen Boen, Westar Educational Services (www.helenboen.com) and Elementary Principal and Assistant Headmaster at the Ben Lippen School. 7/12/11 Columbia International University, Columbia, SC

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My New Role: No Longer "The Young 'Principal'"

Well that didn't last long. No I wasn't fired (yay!). My new role (and title) are very exciting to me. I am now the "Dean of Instruction". This is part of our school's restructuring the create more efficiency and effectiveness as the administrative level. I've created a Prezi to try and explain it as simply as possible. (I recommend viewing it in full-screen, found at the bottom right under "More" after you have clicked "Play" [the triangle].)