SINGLE-GENDERCLASSROOMS “You don’t have to be sick to get better.” Why? What the research says Evidence Takhini’s plan
Purpose of Education: • The primary purpose of education in the Yukon is to “encourage the development of students’ basic skills.” (Ed. Act, 2002) • Literacy • Numeracy • Critcial and creative thinking • Science and Technology • Creative arts • Physical development and fitness
Can Single Gender Classroom Groupings help achieve these goals? We believe so…
By recognizing that the brain is organized differently in boys than in girls; • By understanding that different sections of boys’ and girls’ brains develop at different times and at different rates; • By realizing that these differences are “hard wired” so that…
Girls and Boys… • Play differently; • Fight differently; • Hear differently; • See the world differently; • Learn differently…
We can, by grouping students by gender for instruction, • design our classroom environments, • apply teaching strategies, and • provide learning experiences • appropriate for each gender, helping both boys and girls have more success in meeting the academic and social objectives of the school system.
“female and male brain tissue are ‘intrinsically different,’ as a result of females and males having a different complement of sex chromosomes;” “females get more from their X chromosomes than males do, and the Y chromosome in men is directly responsible for differences in the brain;” “…sex differences, then, are genetically programmed…” (Sax, 2006) What the Research Says:
Play • Boys and girls play differently—boys are far more likely to engage in risky behaviours than are girls. • Boys enjoy taking risks, because they are dangerous. • Generally, girls don’t take the same kinds of risks, and need frequent support from other girls to try new things (Miller, 1997; Pickett, 1998; Olafsdottir, 1996).
Aggression“The surface of a girl fight can be as silent and smooth as a marble.” Rachel Simmons, 2002. • Boys tend to fight a lot, in physical scraps, but often end up as good friends afterwards. • Girls tend not to fight much, but when they do, it is more often with words, and the bad feelings last. Aggression between girls destroys friendships. • (Lever, 1976, 1978; Blum, 1998)
BOYS Choose violent stories and fairy tales Often feel excited and energized when exposed to threat and confrontation Prefer rough and tumble play Use teasing and aggressive behaviours to make or confirm friendship. GIRLS Choose warm and fuzzy fairy tales May experience nausea when exposed to threat and confrontation Prefer nurturing play Do not appreciate teasing behaviours as part of making friends.
Hearing: Researchers have discovered that girls of all ages hear better than boys do, sometimes significantly so, “especially in the 1000 to 4000Hz range, which is so important for speech recognition.” (Cassidy and Ditty, 2001; Cone-Wesson, et. al., 1997)
In the classroom situation, this means Boys may not actually hear the teacher if she is speaking at a level comfortable for girls; Girls may perceive the teacher to be yelling at them if the teacher is speaking at a level comfortable for boys; Girls “are distracted by noise levels about ten times softer than noise levels that boys find distracting” (Elliot, 1971)
There are differences in the anatomy of male and female vision systems that lead to differences in how boys and girls “see” the world. As a result: Sight Differences:
BOYS Respond to movement—location, direction, and speed; Draw ‘verbs’—pictures full of action; Prefer “cool” colours such as black, gray, silver, and blue; Use few colours in their drawings—typically fewer than 6 Use third person perspective in art—looking at the action from outside the picture GIRLS Respond to colour and texture—”what is it?” Draw ‘nouns’—pictures of people facing the viewer; Prefer “warm” colours such as reds, browns, oranges, flesh tones; Use many colours in their work—typically 10 or more; Use first person perspective, placing themselves in their pictures
Geometry and Navigation Researchers have found that males and females use different parts of their brains for work involving geometry and navigation. (Saucier, et.al., 2002; Kersker, 2003; Gron, 2000)
BOYS Use the hippocampus, which processes spatial information; Use absolute directions (north, south, etc.) when navigating. GIRLS Use the cerebral cortex, which processes visual information; Use landmark directions (stores, gas stations, colour of buildings along the way, etc.) when navigating.
Feelings Researchers have found that in young children, feelings are processed in the primitive amygdala, away from the cerebral cortex, where language is processed. There is no connection between these areas of the brain…
It makes little sense, then to talk to a 7-year-old about why he or she is feeling sad or distressed… In adolescence, brain activity associated with feelings moves up to the cerebral cortex… “BUT ONLY IN GIRLS—in boys the locus of brain activity associated with negative emotion remains stuck in the amygdala.” (Kilgore, 2001) So asking to teenage boys to talk or write about their feelings will make them feel very uncomfortable.
Typical Learning Differences Because of the ways in which young female and male brains differ, both structurally, and developmentally, boys and girls tend to learn in different ways. Some of these are outlined in the following slides.
BOYS: tend to start their reasoning from a general principle and apply it to an individual case such as fast multiple choice questions. GIRLS: tend to favor specific concrete examples and build to a general theory. Reasoning
BOYS: tend to be better at calculating something without seeing or touching it; they often excel when math is taught abstractly on the board. GIRLS: find math easier with manipulatives and objects. They prefer to begin from the concrete, then move to the abstract. Abstract and Concrete Thinking
BOYS: will often work silently and use fewer words during the learning process. “side by side” work and play GIRLS: tend to use more words than boys; tend to understand concepts by using them in everyday language. “face to face” work and play Use of Language
BOYS: tend to hear less and need clear evidence to support a claim. GIRLS: tend to be better listeners than boys and able to work through things that might not have a logical sequence. Logic and Evidence
BOYS: are bored more easily than girls; often require more variety to stimulate their learning. may exhibit problem behaviours. GIRLS: are able to tolerate less variety in learning tasks. Boredom
BOYS: tend to need more space than girls when they learn; tend to spread their work out more, appearing messy, and quite often intruding into someone else’s space. GIRLS: are generally tidier with their work, and manage to work within their own spaces. Use of Space
BOYS: tend to need more movement to stimulate their brains; movement to boys is natural. GIRLS: do not need to move around as much while learning. Movement
BOYS: tend to focus on individual performance and are more task oriented, preferring simply to “get the job done” well. GIRLS: tend to work more cooperatively in a group and are generally concerned with the dynamics and relationships, as well as the overall group outcome. Sensitivity in a Group
BOYS: often rely on pictures in their learning because pictures stimulate the right hemisphere of the brain, which is often more developed in boys. GIRLS: tend to prefer to read written text rather than to use diagrams and graphs. Use of Symbols
BOYS: tend to create more structured teams pick leaders quickly and focus on the goal thrive when the task is competitive. GIRLS: form looser organizations spend a lot of time managing the process before working toward the goal Thrive when the task involves positive, cooperative relationships. Use of Learning Teams
BOYS Typically motivated by need to affiliate with other boys; Will complete school work and homework only if it is intrinsically motivating—interesting to the boy himself; Overestimate competence GIRLS Typically motivated by need to affiliate with adults; Will complete school work and homework because it will please the teacher or other adults; Underestimate competence. Motivation
Anticipated Outcome: It is anticipated, from evidence received from other schools grouping students by gender, that student academic success will increase. In a similar school to ours, in fact, students’ academic performance in the single gender classrooms increased significantly over their performance prior to being grouped by gender.
Unanticipated outcome: An unanticipated outcome of single gender classes at a similar elementary School in Trail was a total absence of office discipline referrals from the single gender classrooms during the school year.
Takhini’s Plan • As a Pilot Project, for the 2008-09 school year, we intend to group several of our grades as single-gender classrooms; • The groups involved will include Grades 1 and 2, Grades 4 and 5, and Grade 6; • All staff will receive training in classroom organization and strategies most effective for teaching boys and girls; • We will monitor our implementation success and keep data to provide evidence for review at the end of next year; • We expect to make adjustments as necessary, and continue the pilot into a second year….
Thank you for your time today.Kelly Collins, April, 2008 “If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.”