Language Arts and Adolescent Boys

So it has been awhile since I blogged and I am ready to get back at it. It is amazing the impact that writing can have on your life, especially when you don’t get time to do it.

Friday I had a unique opportunity to present at the Michigan Council of Teachers of English(MCTE). My presentation was about boys and literacy, mainly writing. I was very surprised at the number of people who attended my session. I think there may have been 5 or 6 seats open and that was it. I only write about this particular point because it was my first time presenting at this conference and i have heard from other colleagues that they didn’t have a lot of participants. Needless to say, I felt humbled.

I asked my participants to shout out some words that described boy writers. Those words included insecure, unmotivated, and reluctant. After hearing all of the words thrown at me, I proceeded with my presentation and before I knew it, my time was up. I received a round of applause and it was time for me to pack up and attend other sessions. As I have reflected on this past Friday’s opportunity, some thoughts have come to mind.

First, there is still a very real need to reach our boy readers and writers. I wouldn’t have had almost 40 people in my session on Friday if there wasn’t this need. How about we give them some choices when it comes to reading. When October 1st arrived, I put out all the books I could possibly find that dealt with Halloween, ghosts, and goblins. My favorite thing to do is to carry around a book or my kindle and have my kids ask me what I am reading. I love having a conversation about books and authors with kids.

Second, boys are feeling insecure about writing because we aren’t doing enough for them to not be insecure. This week I am going to try a boys writing club once a week during lunch time. If I give them an environment where they feel comfortable, perhaps they become more positive about writing.

Third, if you use technology in your classroom and in any of your lesson plans, you aren’t going to reach the boys in your classroom. The students in our classrooms are digital natives and their world is about cell phones, video games, and computers.

Finally, be open to the ways boys write in your classroom. I got a chuckle out of the people in my session on Friday and the look on their faces when I told them I let my boys write about guns, violence, and humor. Obviously there is a fine line, but at least let your boys be boys and write what is in their world.

Now, I know these aren’t all the answers, but at least give something a try in your classroom to help the adolescent boys resist the urge to put their pencils down.


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