This article is the eighth in a series that summarizes and reflects upon the Ontario Ministry of Education 2009 document Me Read? And How!
The eighth strategy advocated for improving boys’ literacy:
Read Between the Lines
The “Make it Real” strategy is closely related to “Read Between the Lines” because making world and literary connections involves critical thinking, but making it real can involve other ‘real’ situations. “Authentic learning” goes a long way to engage boys and thus getting them reading.
Ideas for making it real:
- a procedural writing task, i.e. a series of instructions
- family time with games, outdoor experiences, and reading a wide variety of books
- personal literacy interest, i.e. choosing books of personal interest
- course materials that reflects the school’s student population
- giving students choice over their reading
- creating assignments that allow the focus on topics that are divergent from the usual, i.e. cars, snowboards, video games, physical survival, drugs, gangs, musicians, war, humour, sports, and rap songs
- increased focus on real world (community), non-fiction, and hands-on experiences
- solve real-world problems (or in a book) – real problems, real audiences, and real products (48)
- creative projects—write the next book in a series, posters, murals, sculpture, wall hangings, written reports
- technology, i.e. blog writing, photo essays
- encourage student collaboration
When devising a learning activity that is ‘real’ to the students, backwards plan from the desired final product; ensure that the students are aware of the achievement goals and allow them to reflect on their performance in the task. The teacher should help the students to learn how to self-evaluation and to provide feedback to the students in a timely fashion all along the way, so that they can adjust their practices to be more focused on achieving the goal(s) of the learning activity.
Do you allow your students to share their interests? Do you allow boys to write in their preferred styles and forms? What could you do to make your classroom learning more focused on the ‘real’ world?
Next Boys’ Literacy Strategy: #9 – Get the Net