Handling Gender Differences in the Classroom through Instruction

To actively engage students in the classroom, it is necessary to avoid gender discriminations. This article discusses an instructional approach to eliminating discriminations within the classroom.

Differentiated instruction is a key instructional strategy that addresses bias-related issues. Differentiated instruction refers to lesson planning and curriculum design that focuses on students where they are, rather than the standardized one-size-fits-all approach. Teachers are proactive in arranging varied approaches to the material to be learned. Differentiated instructional strategies are student-centered and focus attention on how students learn and how the learning will be evaluated. This approach involves giving students choices for their projects, essays, and other assessments. It may involve designing different forms of a test. On the front end, in the preparatory stages, it looks like more work for the teacher, but giving students some advocacy in their learning method often produces more active learners, with more investment in the outcome.

Teachers who use a gender-differentiated approach to instruction incorporate inclusive language and consciously call on a variety of students to respond to questions. They structure student groups to encourage cooperative and collaborative learning rather than a girls-versus-boys competitive approach. They involve as many students as possible in class discussions. When possible and practical, teachers give students choices for reading, research, and other projects. Teachers may also guide students toward topics that will help emphasize students’ strengths, interests, and preferred modes of learning. For reluctant male readers, books about the natural world might be suggested, as a means for encouraging them to read more. Ripley’s Believe It or Not and the Guinness Book of Records are also appealing to boys. Boys will likely appreciate high-adventure stories that include daring male characters. Other options include stories with historical military leaders, high-achieving athletes, and stories with unique entrepreneurs.

When teaching mathematics, teachers using a gender-differentiated approach develop math problem-solving activities that involve real-life application—such as planning, organizing information, and estimating costs—so that skills other than calculation are needed. They may use manipulative mathematics (beans, marbles, etc., for hands-on use) and may use think–pair–share, a strategy that gives students a chance to discuss and validate their answers or opinions with a partner, before the pair shares their answers with the larger group.

Use these suggestions the next time you are creating your lesson plan. Not only will you avoid any type of discrimination in your classroom but your students will be engaged and participatory, eagerly awaiting the next class session.

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