News / USA

Maryland Public School Experiments With Single-Sex Classes

Segregated groupings cater to the different learning styles of boys and girls

Multimedia

Audio

Teacher Michael Bair emphasizes teamwork, reading, writing, computer skills and public speaking in his 9th grade English class for boys.
Teacher Michael Bair emphasizes teamwork, reading, writing, computer skills and public speaking in his 9th grade English class for boys.

In public high schools across America, large classes containing a mix of both boys and girls are the norm. However, in a move that's drawing high marks from students, one public school in Maryland has decided to buck that tradition.

Class experiment

At Boonsboro High School in the small, rural town of the same name, an experiment in education is under way.

Although most classes have a mix of boys and girls at varied academic levels, high-achieving students in 9th and 10th grades are placed in single-sex classes for their core subjects of English, math, science and social studies.

"What we really want to do is take that top group of kids and take them to the very highest level they can achieve here so that they're prepared for college," says Rebecca Brown, a student achievement specialist at Boonsboro High. She selects the students who participate in what the school calls the Academy. "By keeping them together in the single-gender classes, they eliminate some of the distractions, if you will, that occur in a typical high school."

Incoming middle school students with high grades and test scores, strong teacher recommendations, and involvement in extracurricular activities are invited to join. But participation in the Academy program is optional, with parents having the final say.

"This is something we don't have to push. This is something people are interested in," says Peggy Pugh, principal of Boonsboro High. "We invite them. We'll have people call and ask questions and they have the right to say 'No, I don't think that's right for my child' or 'That's not an experience I want,' and there are other people who say 'Okay, that sounds like an interesting opportunity for my student.'"

For his 9th grade same-sex English class, teacher Michael Bair selects reading material that deals with the male experience.
For his 9th grade same-sex English class, teacher Michael Bair selects reading material that deals with the male experience.

Tailored teaching

Some 347 students have taken advantage of that opportunity since the Academy began in 2004. The program is run by Michael Bair, who's been at Boonsboro for 20 years and has taught single sex classes of both genders. His 9th grade English class for boys revolves around five books he believes will appeal to boys.

"The novels they're reading now, for lack of a better phrase, they're very manly novels," says Bair. "They're novels that deal with the arrogance of man and the pride of man which is ultimately man's downfall."

Boys in the class work together in small study groups. Vincent and Logan are drawing pictures that relate to the book "The Call of The Wild" by Jack London, the classic story of a dog stolen from his home and sold as a sled dog in the Klondike Gold Rush in northwestern Canada.

"Part of the story, the main character, Buck, he gets abducted and they send him off to the Yukon in a train," says Vincent. "So I'm drawing part of the story where he's in the train. It gets you to visualize the setting of the story and gets you to think more about what's going on in the story, the important events of the story."

Logan agrees. "Instead of just doing worksheets about it, this is a lot more fun."

Close by, two of their classmates are writing an essay together.

"We're each writing a sentence," explains one. "We're taking turns writing sentences for a paragraph to say the strengths and weaknesses of the stories."

Seniors Sarah Hull and Cody James are back in mixed classes after having completed the Academy single-sex class program.
Seniors Sarah Hull and Cody James are back in mixed classes after having completed the Academy single-sex class program.

Fewer distractions

Senior Morgan Van Fleet's Academy experience is behind her. She preferred the single-sex approach because she finds coed classes too distracting.

"People [boys and girls] just act differently when they're put together," says Morgan. "To me, it almost seems like it's hindering your chances at developing yourself because you're more focused on 'Oh I wish they'd shut up, oh what do they think of me' - instead of focusing on what's the homework or what's going on in this class, what's the lesson."

Her classmate, Sarah Hull, also liked the Academy program, and feels there's a difference in the learning styles of girls and boys.

"Boys are more hierarchal - like to talk out and show what they know," says Sarah. "But girls are more quiet and like to take things in before they actually voice their opinions."

Cody James, who took the all-boy classes, thinks a more diverse group of kids should be invited into the Academy program. "Maybe instead of just putting the top percentile in there, you should probably focus more on who you're putting in, because it just ends up such as in government with just one huge argument the whole class."

Academy students aren't completely segregated. Aside from taking non-core classes together, some also meet when the school day is over - to tutor students struggling with English, math or other subjects.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid