Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Boy Writers

Boys. Historically speaking, they are your squirmers and your doodlers. They laugh uncontrollably at anything having to do with bodies or bodily functions. They are your movers and shakers, your mathematicians. Historically speaking, are your boys your most prolific writers? Ralph Fletcher thinks the answer to that question is NO.

Mr. Fletcher has written a book called Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices. In this short, easy to read gem, Fletcher outlines the general differences between boy and girl writers and what we can do to pull boys in and engage them.

Here, in a nutshell, is his advice:
1. Just let them write. Give them time and choice.

2. Take the long view. Mr. Fletcher makes a fantastic analogy here. He says that a soda before a big soccer game may give a child energy, but in the long run, soda drinking does not create a good, healthy, strong athelete. Similarly, test prep may bump up scores in the short run, but it does not create a good, strong, healthy writer.

3. Consider pleasure. If we enjoy something, we will do it more often. Make your writing classroom a fun place to be.

4. It's all about relationship.

If you are struggling with engaging your boy writers, I highly recommend this book. Fletcher includes whole chapters on violence in boys' writing, humor, handwriting, conferences, teacher language, and using drawing in Writers' Workshop.


  1. I agree whole-heartedly about boy writers. They are usually slower to progress, but boy, when they do start to write, they really take off. Sometimes it takes until the end of a school year, but as a teacher, I get the most satisfaction out of the progress made by a boy as he finds he can enjoy and excel as a writer.

  2. I love the way technology offers us fun ways for boys AND girls to publish right now. Masher, PhotoPeach, Comic Life...there are so many avenues for them to reach out to an authentic audience.

  3. The free resources that are available to us for all students are amazing! I was not excluding girls-- it's just that in my experience they are more naturally inclined to write. The boys, on the other hand, need different motivation. I think differently now that I've read this book!