What Schools Can Do

The evidence from case studies on performance suggests that there are classroom strategies which can help underachievers - particularly boys. 

  • Sit under-achievers with high achievers.
  • Offer clear targets for each lesson.
  • Give information in bite-size chunks.
  • Organize tasks step by step.
  • Build in challenge rather than completion as a goal.
  • Provide opportunities for group work, active involvement, practical work.
  • Offer more discussion, role play, story writing.
  • Provide models and frameworks to support different kinds of writing.
  • Don't single out individuals for praise or criticism in front of peers - do it privately.
  • Make homework tasks focused and brief, mark it and return it quickly.
  • Use homework for extension and enrichment of class work.
  • Take in and mark extended coursework in sections
  • Teaching of writing closely linked to teaching of reading

To increase boys’ skills and confidence in school

  • Provide confident teachers who:
    • Have good knowledge of texts
    • Provide texts that grab boys
    • Offer choices of writing format when giving a task
    • Adopt flexible teaching approaches
    • Motivate and support
    • Understand when to break the rules
    • Give effective oral feedback on progress as well as written feedback
    • Develop a classroom culture that encourages children to justify opinions
    • Accept the humorous responses and language play often evident in boys' writing
    • Provide opportunities for class and group discussions, with a focus on vocabulary choices in  writing - "getting at what works best"
    • Share own reading and writing
    • Manage behavior effectively by minimizing disruption, accepting restless behavior as long as boys are on task, building physical activity into instruction, accepting interjections in the whole-class sessions, and using praise to get attention
  • Same teacher for grades 5 and 6