Why giving choice supports reluctant writers.

Effective approaches to motivate and engage reluctant boys in literacy.  Nicole Senn 2012 The Reading Teacher Volume 66 Issue 3

This reading really gave me some insights into areas of my practice that were working for boys and why and also areas that I need to reconsider, think about and possibly change.

Things I do well – offer choice, offer an integrated approach where writing is meaningful, offer a range a reading material and time for free reading.

Things to look at – do I give my boys enough time to move? do I restrict their writing by measuring appropriateness to quickly?  Can I allow more time for drawing and allow time for students to come to writing on their own?

What can I do? – Senn gives a check list of action steps that I like and will implement in my program.  She gives me the reassurance that my choice to ignore some content in creative writing is actually providing my male students with an opportunity to do more and to try more in their writing.

1. Invite male role models into the classroom.

  • Guest readers—Family members (your own or those of

    your students), friends, other staff members

  • Writing mentors—Family members (your own or those of your students), friends, other staff members to teach students about the writing they do in their jobs
  • Male authors and illustrators—Highlight examples in author or genre studies.
    2. Consider your read-aloud selections: Will they be appealing to the boys in your class?

    3. Maintain a balance of fiction and nonfiction in your classroom read-alouds. 4. Assess your classroom library:

  • Is there a reasonable amount of nonfiction about a wide variety of topics?
  • Does your fiction collection contain books with male characters?
  • Do you have books that are part of a series that may help to hook some of your reluctant readers?
  • Is there access to reading material with visual appeal? ❒ Interesting cover art
    ❒ Books with large print/easy-to-read text
    ❒ Photographs or frequent illustrations

    ❒ Magazines, newspapers, comics, graphic novels
    5. Allow the boys (and girls!) in your class to choose what they read and to read with their peers.

    6. Allow your students to choose their own writing topics and formats whenever possible. Encourage them to illustrate their work.

    7. Provide time to share, collaborate on, and celebrate writing.
    8. Incorporate technology whenever possible.
    9. Remember that boys need opportunities for frequent movement.
    10. Keep an eye and ear out for your boys’ humor. Let them be funny, and enjoy it yourself!


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