Boys are multiliterate – engaging with classics through YA parallels and pairings

twilight v dracula

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As a teacher of English I’ve been spending time thinking about how popular culture texts can be more explicitly utilised in engaging boys to read and for them to enjoy doing so. A starting point is to consider the Literature strand of the Australian Curriculum which “aims to engage students in the study of literary texts of personal, cultural, social and aesthetic value.” It includes exposing students to so-called enduring “classics” as well as those that attract contemporary attention. The rationale for such engagement is to enrich students’ lives by expanding the scope of their experience and because of the literary merit of the texts. Selecting texts and engaging boys with them can be a challenge because of boys’ preference for digital, connected engagement as opposed to reading print texts. In this blog I’m interested in exploring ways “contemporary” (popular culture?) texts in the form of Young Adult (YA) fiction may be used to draw boys to some literary classics. Continue reading

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Boys are competitive – learning through gaming

gaming v gamification


Tweet from last week’s National Boys’ Education Conference  – “How do you get a boy to do something? Time him. Boys love to gamify tasks“, captures a critical motivational force in the lives of boys. According to Dixon (2015) gaming is one of the “secrets” of boys’ learning, the others being boys’ need for movement, boys’ love of humour, their responsiveness to challenge, boys’ desire for mastery of something if they understand its usefulness to them and, the need for boys to understand the purpose and meaning of what they are learning. 

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Boys are story-tellers and viewers – learning through youtube, video, movies and digital storytelling



The BYOD 1:1 program recently implemented at my school has forced a change of atmosphere, attitude and practice in the classroom. These days few boys seem to want to hear what I have to say from the front of the room and that’s a pity because I know quite a lot of stuff (admittedly from a limited number of topics it has to be said). While I stand and deliver, the boys are on their devices.  Continue reading

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Boys are social – learning to create, contribute and share academic content through social media

social media icons

                                                                 (Image: http://www.reachingutopia.comcategory/social-networking/)

This year I set up a Diigo acccount, logged on to Twitter for the fist time, set up a Google+ login, developed a Weebly and an Edublog and Skyped for the first time. Last month I set up this WordPress blog, my first ever blog. This week I set up a Facebook account. Yep, you read that right. This week! I’ve been teaching for more than three decades. I can see social media’s attraction for people and am keen to learn about its application in providing for boys, authentic, real-life, constructivist learning. So, here goes…….. 

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Boys are visual – learning with manga, comics, graphic novels & picture books



As a baby-boomer I don’t relate all that well to hybrid texts such as graphic novels, and specifically manga, of which it is an example. My finding them complicated to decode means I generally consider them to be not much more than time-wasters. But that’s me. Continue reading

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21st Century Literacy – Issues and Challenges in Boys’ Education

Dickens quote


Dickens knew what education was all about! A man of his time! Hard Times indeed. From his time to now spans three centuries. How many of us have moved on? How many of us reduce the great enterprise of educating boys to just this sort of attitude?  Continue reading

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Welcome to Connecting Boys’ Learning

Welcome to the Connecting Boys’ Learning blog. Whether you teach in an all-boys environment or in a co-ed school, experienced teachers will be aware of the challenges some boys face in negotiating their way through school. Increasingly for some boys there is a dis-connect between the way they live their lives and spend their spare time and what goes on in the classroom. This is not just a socio-economic or socio-cultural issue. It’s an issue to do with the power of popular culture in the lives of young people and the perceived and actual sense that many have that school is irrelevant to life, impractical and of no real use to their future. It’s in everyone’s interest to have boys connected to learning.

In this blog I want to explore some of the challenges teachers face in bridging the gap between the demands of the formal curriculum and the lives and interests of students. I want to explore some of the ways in which popular culture texts and activities can motivate boys to learn in ways that they may find appealing.

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