Sunday, November 27, 2011

Objects through space

From Shea at WSJ ... I still have to check the source, but more information on some basic differences that could impact classroom interactions.

From his column

Gender: Why Boys Keep Trucking

Innate fascination with propulsive motion may explain why boys gravitate to toys that move, like trucks.

After watching videos of adults cradling and striking balloons, male but not female 6-to-9-month-olds began to hit balloons more often. This suggests that males have an innate fascination with "propulsive movement," researchers say.

After getting acquainted with a toy balloon, 45 children—too young to label themselves by gender—watched split-screen video clips: On one side, a man or woman cradled a balloon; on the other, the same man or woman hit the balloon.

Boys tended to watch the people striking balloons more than girls did. After watching, they batted their own balloons more than before, while girls didn't change behavior.

There were no sex differences in how children handled the balloons before the videos started and no evidence that the parents of boys had promoted this play style.

If an innate fascination with propulsive motion exists, it may explain why boys gravitate to toys that move, such as trucks, without parental encouragement, researchers said.

"Male More Than Female Infants Imitate Propulsive Motion," Joyce F. Benenson, Robert Tennyson and Richard W. Wrangham, Cognition (November)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

ACLU in Missouri

Their attack continues. Make no mistake, the ACLU is launching an attack and they are using recently issues political pieces dressed up in Science magazine for support, claiming that there is no scientific evidence. If you are looking at single gender education, make sure you have clear rationale and support of your school board.

Single gender in Texas

Austin School District taking the lead on public single gender programs

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Interactions in a Coed Classroom

After one week back in an 8th grade coed classroom, the first observation is that most of the disruptions come from interactions between boys and girls.  Not all, but most.  Easily 80% of the disruptions come from flipping someone's hair, taking a binder or pencil, moving something, or saying something to get their attention.  There are certainly distractions that come from side conversations as well.  Boys and girls are more equal on this I think.  In both cases, I plan on keep track for a week (after I put together a simply recording sheet.)
Do you have any observations or gut reactions?

Positive Article on Single-Gender from Ithaca New York

An elementary school is having success with single-gender classes in Ithaca, New York.  If you are interested in starting a program, articles like this would be good to share with board members and parents.

Florida School District to Consider Single-Gender due to Competition with Charters

Interesting that the drive is to respond to competition from charters and private schools (

Perhaps this is within the realm of increasing choice (which is part of the federal regulations).

Study on SAT and Answering Questions

An interesting study looking at the SAT, answering questions, risk-taking, guessing, and penalties.  From the abstract:

We nd that when no penalty is assessed for a wrong answer, all test-takers
answer every question. But, when there is a small penalty for wrong answers and the task is
explicitly framed as an SAT, women answer signi cantly fewer questions than men. We see
no differences in knowledge of the material or con dence in these test-takers, and differences
in risk preferences fail to explain all of the observed gap. Because the gender gap exists only
when the task is framed as an SAT, we argue that differences in competitive attitudes may drive
the gender differences we observe.

Do you this in your own classroom?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Imbalance in Honors Class

I return to the classroom tomorrow, in coed classrooms.  In reviewing my class list, I noticed that in my honors course, 7 of the 25 students are male in one class and 8 out of 28 are male in the other class.  My regular classes have 5 out of 16 males and 3 out of 13 males.  Overall, this is the AVID team, so there may be some criteria for being on the team itself.  If this were the case, then it might mirror national stats about overall achievement and success of males in school.  If this isn't the case, then what brought out such an imbalance?  Random computer function?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

College Course on Gender Differences

University of Vermont offering an education course on difference. Hopefully more colleges will start preparing preservice teachers in the area of gender.  At least they can be aware of the debate.  I taught an on-line graduate course for two terms last year and half of the teachers taught in coed classes.  All found the information and discussion useful.  The time has come to prepare teachers, not avoid the issue or get caught in political wrangling.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stress and Voice

Researchers surprisingly found a gender differences in stress responses during a study dealing with voice responses. Again, differences seem to be around us, what will educators do with them in the classroom. The issue of stress is critically important in the classroom.

Heading back to classroom - and coed classes

A personal note. I will be heading back to the classroom on November 11, 2011. And it is a coed classroom. I am thrilled to reconnect with students and have a chance to practice what I have been talking about for so long. More on what happens will follow.