Supporting Struggling Boy Readers

By Mechelle Abney

“If reading is about the interaction between reader and text, if making sense of print demands background that can shape our interpretations and understanding of the authors intent and words, why would gender not be considered a significant factor?  We bring everything we are to a text, struggling to fit what we read into our world picture.”

Even Hockey Players Read, David Booth

Did you know?

  • Boys often speak their first words later than girls and develop clear speech about a year and a half later.
  • Girls have more practice with words right from the beginning.  Parents talk more to their daughters than to their sons.  Girls’ friendships seem to continue that practice, as they share intimacies and decode emotional responses.
  • Boys’ fine motor skills lag behind those of girls by about a year.  As toddlers, boys may show greater interest in exploring the environment.
  • Boys are two to five more times likely than girls to have a reading disability.   They also have a greater time overcoming it.
  • Boys are more prone to some speech and language difficulties.  Four times as many boys than girls stutter.
  • Boys are more likely than girls to be placed in a remedial reading class or to be held back a grade.
  • Girls do better on standardized tests of reading comprehension, writing, spelling, and grammar.  They speak more fluently, think of words they want to say more quickly, and make fewer grammar, and pronunciation errors.

Factors Related to Motivation

  • Self-efficacy
  • Successful processing
  • Engaging texts
  • Appropriate text level
  • Shared understanding through talk
  • Social motivation

What can we do in the classroom?

  • Determine all students’ reading levels
  • Provide small group instruction at the readers instructional text level
  • Include opportunities for independent reading at students independent reading levels
  • Create a rich classroom library that includes a range of reading levels and interests
  • Teach minilessons that are relevant to the needs of the readers
  • Create a supportive social environment where risk taking and individual selections are valued
  • Present both higher and lower level books in your book talks
  • Pre-select books for students that have limitations
  • Use individual conferences to support student reading and help students “rehearse” what to write or talk about relative to their reading
  • Keep daily/weekly notes on individual readers and use these notes to drive your instruction

Resources:

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