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Writing the Playbook

Writing the Playbook
A Practitioner’s Guide to Creating a Boy-Friendly School

Foreword by Michael Gurian, Author of The Minds of Boys and Boys and Girls Learn Differently!

Additional resources:

April 2013 | 216 pages | Corwin
You've seen it in your school: boys struggling to master basic literacy skills, sitting outside the principal's office, collecting labels like "hyperactive," getting failing grades. Checked out, kicked out, or dropped out, they're benched when they should be scoring goals on the academic playing field.

As a school leader, Kelley King has walked the talk: she successfully led her own staff to close the gender gap in reading and writing in just one year. In her step-by-step, research-based leadership plan for jump-starting boys' achievement, she shares:

Critical insight into the brain-based differences between boys and girls

First-hand leadership and classroom experiences

Ready-to-use activities and resources for leading a successful gap-closing initiative

With tips, anecdotes, and more, Writing the Playbook provides educators in all roles with a blueprint for creating schools where boys (and girls!) thrive.

Foreword by Michael Gurian
About the Author
1. Making the Call: Is There Really a Boy Crisis?
Final Buzzer

2. Getting Your Head in the Game: "Need-to-Knows" about the Male Brain
Laying the Groundwork

Why Do These Sex Differences Exist?

Our Beginnings

Does That Mean That Our Abilities Aare Fixed?

The Male Brain 101

Is There Such a Thing as an "Extreme Male Brain"?

The Male Adolescent Brain

It's Nature AND Nuture

The Final Buzzer

3. Chalk Talk: A Game Plan for Moving Your Team down the Field
School Climate and Culture - What's the Difference?

Activities for Your Professional Learning Communities

Got Data?

Getting Teacher Buy-In


Developing an Action Plan

School Improvement and Teacher Growth

Developing a Yearlong Professional Development Plan

The Final Buzzer

4. Leveling the Playing Field: School Policies and Procedures That Don't Squeeze Boys out
Expectations and the Stereotype Threat


Time, Place, and Manner

Grades and Homework

Banning Aggression Themes

The Final Buzzer

5. Touching Base: Relationship-Building to Guide Boys on Their Journey
The Social-Emotional Lives of Boys

Forging Positive Relationships With Boys

Male Mentoring and Role Models

The Final Buzzer

6. The Ground Game: Setting up Classrooms That Help Boys Succeed
Physical Arrangement of the Classroom

Classroom Procedures

The Final Buzzer

7. Hitting It out of the Park: Game-Winning Instructional Strategies for Boys (and Girls!)
Lecture Strategies

Movement Strategies

Student Interests Strategies

Real-World Learning Strategies

Student Choice Strategies

Visual-Spatial Strategies

Technology Strategies

Competition Strategies

Single-Gender Grouping Strategies

Music Strategies

Test Preparation Strategies

Test Administration Strategies

The Final Buzzer

Sticky Teaching Graphic


"As I read this book, I am thrilled Kelley King is speaking out on behalf of our boys! While they sit motionless in the traditional classrooms and feel abandoned by education, she makes the case for justified changes. We owe it to them to acknowledge the differences and to design an educational experience that honors them. No longer can we, as citizens of this country, allow those so-called experts to claim that boys and girls are the same, and ask our schools to ignore the obvious differences. Enough! Bring on the strategies for our boys that will allow teachers to inspire them to greatness!"

Kim Bevill, Director of Gray Matters
Educational Consultant

"This book should be required reading for every teaching credential candidate and educator. Its neurobiological approach to learning and behavior is not rocket science; it's long overdue common sense. Bravo!"

Joe Manthey, Education Consultant

"As a lifelong feminist and the grandmother of three boys just starting school, I am passionately interested in boys being taken 'as they are' and taught in ways that will help them develop. For a long time we worried about girls, who are presently thriving in school and beyond. It's boys' turn now! Yes, men still 'rule' out in the world, but in school many boys are falling behind. For a strong America, we need both genders to thrive and to lead. King's book will help us get to that America."

Dottie Lamm, Columnist, Denver Post
Former First Lady of Colorado

"This is a must-read for school leaders. King, an expert on bridging the gender gap in schools, asks them to try to see things through 'the boy lens,' which is absolutely necessary today when so many boys aren't coming close to reaching their full educational potential. She offers practical advice for making schools 'boy-friendly,' which works just fine for girls too. I applaud her passion, dedication, and expertise. Here's a book that can truly make a positive difference for our society and its future."

Mark Sherman, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, SUNY, New Paltz
Editor of Boys and Young Men: Attention Must Be Paid blog

"In my heart, I believe that our husbands, sons, and brothers can write and read as well as their female relatives. They all have the ideas and the brilliance. Kelley's book is a guide to support all educators in making those ideas become reality. If we collaborate as educators and as parents, we can make sure that both boys and girls are challenged and supported in schools so that their dreams all become reality."

Cynthia Stevenson, Superintendent
Jeffco Public Schools, Denver, CO

"There is widespread consensus that our young males are not achieving to their full potential. We know the problems. It is time we tackle them, and it is time we foster leadership among those in positions of authority who can make change happen. Kelley's book is an important step in this direction—by calling on school leaders to become engaged and by giving them the tools to make change happen."

Dennis Barbour, Co-Founder and CEO, Boys Initiative

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452242989

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