Boys will be boys, part 1: the differences are real

Those of us who have taught in a single-sex environment for more than a few years have often been asked some variation of the following:  Does a single-sex classroom really make a difference? Aren’t there more similarities than differences between the ways that boys and girls learn? Don’t’ single-sex schools, particularly boys’ schools, just reinforce negative gender stereotypes?  What is really different about the way that boys (or girls) learn that validates the existence of single-sex schools and classrooms?

Advances in brain imaging, and the corresponding rise in “brain-based” educational approaches, have in some ways only added fuel to the fire.  Any discussion of differences in the structure and function of male and female brains can quickly take on political overtones that muddy the picture. As with many other issues in research, one finds opposing camps, the first stating that innate distinctions between male and female brains have been documented and can account for differences in learning preferences, and the other averring that such distinctions are learned constructions stemming from the differences in how we treat boys and girls from infancy forward.  Each camp has produced a significant body of literature, and each takes swipes at the research of the other, most often claiming faulty methodology or overreaching in conclusions.  Both sides, it often seems to me, are pandering to the Dr. Phil and Oprah crowd, exaggerating this and that to pump book sales and speaking fees.

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Why I Teach Graffiti as an Art Form

The reason I like to teach graffiti art has a lot to do with connecting with a boy’s rebellious nature, and the way that graffiti, at its roots, connects the artist to a particular place, often ones that are forgotten or abandoned. The hall we’re working on is lower north, also known as the “ghost hall” contributing to the theme down there of ghosts, goblins and monsters.

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What We Gained When We Opened Our Home to an International Student

Opening our home two years ago for the first time to an international student over the holidays was a blessing to our family. Jaab, a BRS international student from Thailand, has visited our family over the holidays for the past two years. He will always be welcome in our home because he is considered part of the family.

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Tech in the Classroom: How History Teacher Pete Bonds Is Using Twitter to Teach Current Events

As a history teacher, I think it is really important to make time during class to discuss what is happening around the world, and how it connects to the history that we study in class. This was especially true in the fall as the US Presidential election unfolded.

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The Challenges of Feeding Boys

Feeding teenage boys has several benefits and challenges.  We enjoy connecting with the boys and getting to know them.  Jonathan and I can relate to them pretty well being “younger guys” our self.  We learn their food preferences and allergies pretty quickly as we feed the same community each day.  They are at the age where they are both full of opinions and feedback (both positive and negative).

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Four Things You Will Notice on a Walk through BRS’s Academic Hall

Small Classes. The average class size at Blue Ridge is 8, and our teacher to student ratio is 6:1. This means that in every single class students must be on top of their game and engaged every day. There is no hiding in the back row of the classroom because most classrooms have their desks arranged in a circle or in only two rows. Not participating in class is simply not an option. The smaller number of students per teacher allows our faculty to get to know students’ strengths and weaknesses, and tailor instruction to their student’s interests.

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