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Single Gender Education in Public Schools: Not Like When Grandpa Attended School. School District of LaCrosse Dr. Steve Salerno
School District of LaCrosse
Dr. Steve Salerno
(Based on presentations from Dr. Leonard Sax, author of Why Gender Matters, Mr. David Chadwell, Director of Single Gender Initiatives for South Carolina,and the Somerset Public School District)
According to Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys, The Good Son, and The Mind of Boys:
distinguished by sex,
but cannot be by race.
boys and prefer quiet setting
which permits focus
that help people.
louder and less restricted.
Are less distracted so they can focus on learning.
Can practice social skills more comfortably.
Participate more often and more freely.
Ask more questions
Do more hands-on-work
Take more leadership roles
Learn moreIn Single Gender Classrooms…
In single-gender classrooms, girls have increased confidence in academic ability. Academic confidence leads to higher aspirations.
Get together to talk
Friendship focuses on each other
Friendship is central to relationship
Hierarchies destroy friendship
Self-revelation is the most precious badge of friendship
Girl friends must be equal
Get together to do stuff
Friendship is peripheral to relationship
Hierarchies organize the camaraderie
Self-revelation is to be avoided at all costs
Boys have friends cross all equality lines. Teams work for boys as boys sometimes value team affiliation above friendship.Suggested Best Practices: Classroom Management
Being friends with the teacher enhances your status with other girls
Teacher is considered an ally and friend
When encountering difficulties will consult teacher at the initial encounter with difficulty
(so encourage girls to work on own – DO NOT SPOON FEED)
Use first names to address girls
Being friends with teacher lowers your status with other boys
Teacher is assumed to be adversary
When encountering difficulty will consult teacher as a last resort
Use last names to address
boysRelationships with Teachers
Arrange chairs in circle.
Position your spot randomly – move often.
Tables are problematic as they promote cliques and apathy.
Explain that they will need to sit with these people for a set amount of time.
Do not allow them to choose partners as some will be excluded.
Make sure you have no favorites!
Widely spaced rows and aisles
Establish teacher authority. Allow no personal questions until authority is established.
Humor raises your status in the eyes of boys. Use it to establish your authority.
Learn better in cooler classrooms (69 degrees).Suggested Classroom Arrangement
Make and keep eye contact
Sit and listen, don’t talk
Nod head affirmatively
Show unconditional positive regard.
For most girls to feel motivated to work, she has to believe you care about her.More Suggested Best Practices
ask for help.
time is severely restrained,
group work has a narrow
target/topic, and work is
organized along team lines.
for boys to keep on task
Create class rules together
Discuss and negotiate agreements
Post the agreement
Identify the ringleader
Assign ringleader and victim to work together. By compelling them to work together we give them a way out and still save face.
Communicate who is top dog – you
Alpha is one who doesn’t smile
1st week you have to be tough, no nonsense, lay down rules, never turn your back.1st Week With the Students
Start in the middle of things at the precipice of the climax to engage them, then back up to beginning to inform them
Begin with history rather than social studies
Middle school boys like technical details
Tell stories of individual men making choices
Avoid how would you feel questions
Start with similarities between people now and then
Begin with life of girls in that era
Avoid long stories about dead white men
Girls are not interested in women who are famous because they were married to famous men until they can make connections to what life was like
Encourage “how you feel” questionsSocial Studies
WKCE test results show gaps in three areas, one of which is the area of gender. Results show that in some subjects girls perform better than boys while in other subjects the reverse is true. A goal of our school is to work to close this gender gap. With this in mind, our sixth and eighth grade teams met and decided on the following reasons for studying gender differences:
What happens if it wasn’t working out or if a child didn’t like being in a gender specific classroom?
When a student struggles in a certain academic area will the pressure of same gender peers be more harmful than helpful?
If the pilot goes well, will gender-specific classes be implemented throughout Marshall Middle School?