Takeaways: Boys & Literacy

arts-graphics-2008_1128618aAt the conclusion of our course with Tom Newkirk at the University of New Hampshire Literacy Institutes, our class collaboratively created a list of implications from our learning.  Following a reading of Misreading Masculinity, a viewing of the documentary Raising Cain, and more, we used Google Docs to list the implications of our course for application in our classrooms.

Please add your own wisdom about boys and literacy in the comments!

  1. Provide choice: lots of options in topic, genre, etc. – Allow for different styles of storytelling
  2. Incorporate more visual literacy – Using mentor texts like Knucklehead, comics, etc.
  3. Encourage the writing of fiction as a fantasy outlet
  4. Acceptance of the content they bring/the choices
  5. Conversation: Ask about choices that seem uncomfortable – build trust
  6. Teachers: Recognize the difference between uncomfortable and threatening
  7. Respect that students can differentiate between fantasy and reality.
  8. Pay attention to the context of the violence in boys’ writing
  9. Encourage collaboration in writing and reading
  10. Make space for movement and conversation – too often, boys must sit and listen; reverse that
  11. Incorporate humor in the classroom and content/curriculum
  12. Grant students more autonomy in the classroom
  13. Use the note response method we used to have students respond to each other’s work
  14. Support social interactions between boys around literacy
  15. Question our own motives, preferences, and restrictions as we teach
  16. Create a place for non-fiction – demonstrate that non-fiction does not have to be boring
  17. Use technology as an alternative medium for both expression and sharing
  18. Learn the identities and passions of your students
  19. Recognize the importance of listening to students
  20. Realize that posturing is okay – it is “trying on a personality” in order to discover one’s own
  21. Provide positive role models of masculinity so male students don’t get caught in a bad one
  22. Encourage nurturing responsibilities in (ie, provide opportunities for) boys
  23. Have a wide diversity of types of male protagonists in available literature – celebrate the same strengths we applaud in female characters when we see them in male characters
  24. Be aware of the gender implications of language
  25. Open up the genre of analysis beyond literature, eg, new video game
  26. Allow and encourage drawing at all levels
  27. Expand your repertoire – having a team helps
  28. Encourage positive competition occasionally

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5 thoughts on “Takeaways: Boys & Literacy

  1. Celia Cardinal March 18, 2019 at 3:48 am Reply

    Great describe! it is not an easy topic. actually, I am a writer and I have already covered up about Literacy topics and also suggested to students for getting best and affordable writers online.


  2. […] 2014, then growing with our reading of Minds Made for Stories, and growing some more when we took a class with Tom Newkirk at the UNH Literacy Institute. We hope you’ll join us in St. Louis for more thinking about […]


  3. […] I know.” I met Tom at the UNH Literacy Institute when Shana, Jackie, and I took his class on Boys and Literacy. He is caring, kind, and oh, so brilliant. When I read his books, I feel his passion for literacy […]


  4. […] literacy, based on their learning this summer at the UNH Literacy Institute. Check out the post of their takeaways and recommended titles for boys, then read Jackie’s explanation of why humor–even fart […]

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Erika B. August 7, 2015 at 11:19 pm Reply

    #26. Allow and encourage drawing at all levels

    Stay tuned, much reflection on the learnings from Contagious Creative Concentration and Penny Kittle during #UNHLIT15 coming next week! (Tuesday, August 11th)

    Liked by 1 person

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