[Guest Blog by Shetal Shah, a teacher from Atlanta Girls School, Atlanta, Ga. Shetal is a member of the Edward E. Ford Fellowship Program. She participates in a yearlong cohort of Atlanta Public School and independent school teachers studying what we know about teaching and learning from a neuroscience perspective.]
I think I just completed most of my research for my topic…finally! It took me longer than expected. I should be able to catch up, however, before I roll out and implement some of these strategies in my classroom after spring break.
My action research project is to identify and determine the effectiveness of gender-based pedagogical strategies aimed to improve memory, recall, and engagement of students in an all-girls classroom environment.
In order to identify gender-based pedagogical strategies, I read various articles and books written by experts in the field. The most helpful pieces of research came from those who observed single-gender classrooms to identify the most effective strategies (motivation and engagement seem to be the key indicators). The brain-based rationale was interesting for each pedagogical strategy, as well.
Some of the most common trends of strategies I found were:
- Incorporate abstract arguments, philosophical conundrums, and moral debates
- Use movement (this one came up the most frequently)
- Use symbolic texts, diagrams, and graphs instead of sentences/texts
- Have them do three quick activities versus a long-term project
- Traditional tests
- Competitive games (this one also came up frequently)
- When giving directions, use less words and get to the point quickly
- Classroom Environment:
- Horseshoe arrangement
- More space between students so they can spread out
- Natural and bright light
- Less cluttered and organized
- Mix up seating arrangements and a variety of a seating arrangements (tables, desks, an easy chair, rug area, etc.)
- 69 degrees
- use outdoors
- can be loud (teacher should be loud)
- Incorporate cooperative learning
- Assign long-term projects
- Allow for verbal expression (written/spoken)
- Assign projects and writing stories
- Provide opportunities to discuss what’s been taught
- Note-taking and reading
- Provide opportunities to read fiction
- Classroom Environment:
- Cozy, comfortable room
- Tables for collaborative work
- Cozy nooks for reading
- Loving and supportive (put up signs of motivation and encouragement)
- Quiet, calm, organized
- 74 degrees
Since it would be unrealistic to test every strategy, my initial thought is to try the following strategies in my action research project:
|Boy-Friendly Strategies||Girl-Friendly Strategies|
|Activities that require movement (i.e. tossing a ball, walk & talk)||Less movement (i.e. stretch breaks)|
|Quick activities that can be done within one or two lessons||Long-term project|
|Diagrams/graphic organizers when presenting content||Text and note-taking when presenting content|
|Non-fiction (reading and reporting)- can be tied into activities||Fiction (reading and writing)- can be tied into activities|
|Environment: rearrange seating, bring a rug, 69 degrees and lots of bright light||Environment: warm, cozy, 74 degrees, natural and warm lighting, signs of motivation|
Do you think this is too much? Should I pair it down even more? I would love your input on this research study or any thoughts you might have.
My next step is to plan my next units with these strategies in mind. I will teach Latin American Revolutions using Girl-Friendly Strategies and the Industrial Revolution with Boy-Friendly Strategies in all-girl classes and use data collection tools to uncover how girls respond to the effectiveness of these different pedagogical strategies to engage them as learners.
I am currently earning my teaching certificate. I am curious to know what were your findings. How can I learn more?
This was an action research project. So the data here came from the teacher’s research in her classroom. While not an extensive nor scientific study, it was data collected through her work with students.