Sunday, November 18, 2012

What Boys Need

I came across this terrific article by Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail. She spoke with Ontario educators about Boys and their Boyness. Here are 7 of the highlights.
  1.  Boys need to have a good relationship with the teacher.
  2. Boys will only stay engaged as long as the work interests them.
  3. Boys need purpose, to make a difference, to know they measure up.
  4. Boys need challenge, above all, a need for a meaningful vocation.
  5. Boys need purposeful work.
  6. Boys long for to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
  7. Boys love rituals, trophies and tradition.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tech Class - Motivating Boy Writers

As a part of our province's professional teacher magazine, a new feature article will appear in each and every issue. The question: "How do we use technology to encourage and support our student learners."

In the first article "Tech Class" the OCT asked southwestern Ontario writer Gerry Blackwell to interview me on how I use writing and stop motion to motivate boy writers. Mr. Blackwell spent time at my Minds-On-Media station last fall and then conducted a follow-up telephone interview. Then Kevin Hewitt visited the classroom and spent the morning snapping professional shots of the kids in action with all means of technology.

On the day of the photo shoot, it dawned on me. The students really do have all manner of technology to assist in their learning. In one corner of the room sits what we call "The Mac at the Back", in another corner is a static animation station. There is a SMART board at the front and another computer attached to it. As well, we just crossed the 1to1 threshold a week or so back as all students, with school provided devices and BYOD, have their own device.

It just seems all so "natural" for the grade 6 students I teach every Day 2 to use technology. After all, technology support has been my vocation for the last 12 years or so. So why wouldn't it be a natural fit to use technology for all things in the classroom.

I'm a big believer in having students create an original artifact where none existed before. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

As Alan Luke has said, "Give the kids the gear, a webcam, a laptop and have them create".

Friday, January 13, 2012

Top Tips for Boys Writing - Lately

January is a month for planning and reflection as we look back on writing successes and look ahead for what will be.

In a previous post I summarized 23 Top Tips for Boys Writing from the 98 page Me Read? And How! document which has been the most popular post on this blog for months.

Since I'm back in the grade 6 classroom once a week for media literacy and technology instruction, I thought I'd list the top tips I've used during the first term, September to December 2011.

1. Boys who were allowed to choose writing topics showed increased motivation and engagement. Page 10

I've been a little conservative on this one but on occasion I've let boys, and other students in the class choose their own topics. To be fair, I come up with the structure of the writing during my day with the grade 6 students and the students provide the content.

4. Boys planned their writing using graphic organizers both individually and in pairs. Page 17

We have used SMART Ideas graphic organizer software on many occasions to brainstorm and pre-write our particular topics.

10. Boys use of debate to discuss authentic and relevant issues transferred into their non-fiction persuasive writing. Page 35

We did one debate in the classroom during first term. This is one the students enjoyed. I'll need to plan for another this term.

16. Boys like to write about exaggerations, humour, silly writing, rap songs, procedural writing, short scenes. Page 51

We had several of these types of writing assignments during first term including writing a step by step, "Teach Me Something" piece, a two-voicer radio commercial and some short scenes for anti-bullying videos the students created.

17. ICT in the form of computers, blogs, wikis, and digital voice recorders have been used with boys to reinforce writing skills. Page 53.

We use blogs, digital voice recorders and computers every day for our writing. In particular, we used Audacity voice recording software and recording headsets to record many of our writing assignments including our radio commercials and memoirs.

20. Boys who design and play video games develop sophisticated operational, cultural and critical literacy skills. Page 57

We started a video game design, review and evaluation unit just before the break. This is new ground for me. The students of course, love it.

So these are the top six that jump out of the page as I write this post. I'll need to incorporate more of the 23 top tips during my planning for second and third term.

How many of the top tips have you been using?