Teaching the Female Brain: How Girls Learn Math and Science

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Incorporate brain-based research to empower girls in the classroom!

As any classroom teacher can tell you, there are discernible differences in the way girls and boys learn. This engaging, practical guide examines how girls' unique sensory, physical, cognitive, and emotional characteristics affect their performance in the classroom, and shows you how to adapt classroom experiences to assist girls' learning, particularly in math and science.

Abigail Norfleet James provides research-based findings to build your understanding of how females learn differently, whether in coed or single-sex settings, and clarifies assumptions held by both teachers and students about themselves. Inside, readers will find

Specific instructional techniques and practical applications for differentiating instruction in math and science

Ways of dealing with girls' stress

Up-to-date findings on styles of learning and math anxiety

Resources, figures, and charts, as well as quizzes in each chapter that introduce the topic and challenge preconceived notions of learning differences

Teach in ways that complement the female brain and give girls the best education possible!

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Editorial Reviews

Patricia D. Parisi
"I haven't been this excited about a book in a long time. James combines sound, up-to-date scholarship with effective, practical advice. Whether you teach girls or boys or both, this book is an invaluable resource for classroom strategies and professional growth."
D.E. Tanner
"Informed by extensive experience in same-gender school settings, and a good deal of introspection regarding her own tendencies, her suggestions are informative and practical. The author moves from helping students deal with stress, to teaching science and mathematics to girls—making suggestions along the way for what might be helpful in everyday classroom situations. "
Patrick F. Bassett
"A worthy successor to James’ groundbreaking book,Teaching the Male Brain. This book complements and builds upon other seminal works rooted in brain-based research. However, the point of view is that of an expert practitioner, and each observation about how girls’ brains work and how girls learn is accompanied by voluminous and practical examples that teachers can use daily in their classrooms. This book should be required reading for all who teach girls in both single-sex and coed settings.Reading it will optimize the experience of girls in America’s classrooms."
Kate Broadley
"James’ text is a wonderful resource for teachers and parents of girls. The practical suggestions for math and science teachers are an absolute highlight. If educators read and follow the encouraging suggestions in this book, more girls would be empowered to succeed in math and science."
Mark W. Ellis
"Teaching the Female Brain offers research-based insights for educators and administers to recognize and develop strategies that better meet the preferences of female learners.You are certain to learn something from this book that will inform how you approach your work as a mathematics educator."
Alyson Civita
"Lesley Roessing presents a practical, user-firendly guide to developing reader response journals that encourage reflection and deepen comprehension. It's a toolbox of usable materials that help build the connection between reading and writing."
D. E. Tanner
"Informed by extensive experience in same-gender school settings, and a good deal of introspection regarding her own tendencies, her suggestions are informative and practical. The author moves from helping students deal with stress, to teaching science and mathematics to girls--making suggestions along the way for what might be helpful in everyday classroom situations."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412967105
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 188
  • Sales rank: 806,394
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Abigail Norfleet James taught for many years in single-sex schools and consults on the subject of gendered teaching to school systems, colleges, and universities. Her area of expertise is developmental and educational psychology as applied to the gendered classroom. Prior to obtaining her doctorate from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, she taught general science, biology, and psychology in both boys’ and girls’ schools.

Her previous publications include reports of research comparing the educational attitudes of male graduates of coed schools and single-sex schools, research describing the effects of gendered basic skills instruction, and a report of academic achievement of students in single gender programs. In addition, she has written on differentiated instruction at the elementary school level. She has presented workshops and papers at many educational conferences and works with teachers and parent groups in interpreting the world of gendered education.

Her professional affiliations include the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, the Gender and Education Association, the International Boys’ Schools Coalition, and the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education (Advisory Board Member).

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Table of Contents

Foreword Monica M. Gillespie ix

Acknowledgments xi

About the Author xiii

Introduction 1

Quiz 2

The Problem 6

How to Help 6

1 The Influence of Cognitive Gender Differences 9

Quiz 10

Part I The Brain and Senses 12

What the Brain Looks Like 12

Sensory Differences 16

Part II The Mind 22

Verbal Skills 23

Analytic Styles 29

Brain and Cognitive Differences 31

2 Differences in Learning Approaches 33

Quiz 34

Learning Modalities 35

Auditory Learning 35

Verbal Learning 37

Kinesthetic Learning 37

Visual Learning 39

Group Size 42

Fairness 42

Learning Disabilities 44

Dyslexia 44

Dysgraphia/Dyspraxia 45

Dyscalculia 47

Synthesizing Versus Analyzing 48

Learning Differences and the Classroom 49

3 Dealing With Stress 51

Quiz 52

Stress 52

Management of Test Anxiety 54

Math Anxiety 57

Ability Versus Effort 58

Self-Handicapping 60

Focus 62

Management of Distractions 64

4 Teaching Math to the Female Brain 65

Quiz 66

Performance in Math 67

Testing Differences 67

Why Girls Don't Like Math 72

Lack of Confidence 72

Lack of Skills 72

Differences in Problem-Solving Approaches 75

People Orientation Preference 78

Manipulatives 79

Exact Solutions 80

What Can be Done to Help? 81

Early Introduction 81

Attitude Change 83

Clearer Instruction 85

Focus on Process, Not Product 86

Peer Influence 87

Math and Girls 88

5 Teaching Science to the Female Brain 91

Quiz 92

Why Girls Don't Like Science 93

Access (or the Lack of It) 93

Science Is Uninteresting 95

Collaborative Learning Style 96

Science Background 97

Spatial Relationships 100

Other Sensory Differences 103

Why Girls Should Do Well in Science104

Study Skills 104

Self-Discipline 104

What Can Be Done to Help? 106

Encouragement and Mentors 106

Methods to Change Girls' Minds 106

Science and Girls 113

6 Teaching Math and Science to Girls in a Coed School 115

Sociocultural Issues 116

History 116

Families 116

Other Teachers 117

Role Models 118

Verbal Versus Visual Approach 119

Single-Sex Classes or Programs 123

Practical Applications 125

Final Words 128

7 Gendered Instruction 129

Virginia Standards of Learning 130

Differentiated Instruction 131

Components of Differentiated Instruction 132

Multiple Intelligences 136

Tasks for Each of the Intelligences 137

Learning Modalities 138

Unit Design 142

Empowering Girls as Learners 152

Test-Taking Strategies 152

Beginning Strategies 152

Strategies for Specific Item Types 154

Final Words 157

8 Resources and Other Help 159

Math Techniques 159

Verbalizing Math 160

Box the Operator 161

Books 162

Books With Interesting and Simple Science Experiments 162

Books With Interesting Approaches to Math 163

Web Sites 163

Engineering Web Sites for Girls 163

Science Program Web Sites for Girls 164

Web Sites With Good Materials for Math and Science 165

Learning Style Assessments 166

Elementary School 167

Secondary School 170

References 173

Index 185

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