breaks— frequent, brief opportunities
Strategy 2: Build on the Visual
When I explained to my students that
Heather Peter, a language arts teacher
Ofthe 38femalestudents, 35chosea
© STefAnIe felIx
How Boys and Girls Learn Differently
n Verbal/graphic differences. Boys’ brains tend to have more cortical areas,
mainly in the right hemisphere, wired for spatial/mechanical processing than
do girls’ brains; girls’ brains generally have greater cortical emphasis on verbal
processing (Baron-Cohen, 2003; Halpern et al., 2007).
n Frontal lobe development. A girl’s prefrontal cortex is generally more
active than a boy’s of the same age, and her frontal lobe generally develops
earlier. These are the decision-making areas of the brain, as well as the reading/
writing/word production areas (Baron-Cohen, 2003; Brizendine, 2010; Halpern
et al., 2007).
n Neural rest states. Boys’ brains tend to go into a more notable rest state
than girls’ brains do. Because the brain’s first priority is survival, it scans its
environment for information that would alert it to any threat, challenge, or infor-
mation crucial to its survival (D. Amen, personal interview with M. Gurian, July
15, 2008). If the classroom is not providing any stimuli that the brain perceives
as important, the male brain tends to more quickly slip into a rest state (which
manifests itself as boredom, or “zoning out”). In the classroom, boys often try
to avoid these natural male rest states by engaging in activities like tapping their
pencils or poking at classmates (de Munck et al., 2008).
Baron-Cohen,S.(2003).The essential difference: The truth about the male and female
Brizendine,L.(2010). The male brain.NewYork:BroadwayBooks.
alphabandpower,heartrateandfMRI.Neuroimage, 42( 1),112–121.
Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 8( 1), 1–51.