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.