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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:

February 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


"This is a highly practical and highly relevant book. Two thumbs up!"

Eric Jensen, Author of Teaching with the Brain in Mind

"Finally, some practical advice from an experienced educator on how to make boys into successful students. King's credentials—mother of both a son and daughter as well as a principal who successfully addressed gender gaps at her school—are unbeatable."

Richard Whitmire, Author of Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That’s Leaving Them Behind

"Kelley King is both impassioned and level-headed, and she starts a conversation that we desperately need to have in our country."

Michael Kimmel, Author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men
SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology

"This book isn't just theory—it provides the answers for why things work and how to lead a change process collaboratively. Principals, superintendents, and teacher leaders should pick up a copy of this book if they are interested in engaging their communities in leading change, getting results for all students, and making teaching fun."

Jonathan Wolfer, Principal
Douglass Elementary School, Boulder, CO

"This book contains profoundly creative and engaging approaches to looking at equity in new ways as part of staff training and attaining school improvement goals."

Virginia E. Kelsen, Principal
Rancho Cucamonga High School, CA

"This book is well written, timely, and filled with practical examples and suggestions for school leaders to create a school environment conducive to educating both male and female students. It is a great book for use by a professional learning community and should be required reading in all educational leadership courses."

Judy Brunner, Clinical Faculty, Missouri State University
Consultant, Instructional Solutions Groups

"Writing the Playbook provides an in-depth look at the gender differences found in schools. It provides a plethora of strategies aimed at leveling the playing fields between the sexes."

Tanna Nicely, Assistant Principal
Sarah Moore Greene Magnet School, Knoxville, TN

"This is a must-read for school leaders and teachers. Based on both research and the 'wisdom of practice,' it offers a wealth of teaching strategies to boost the achievement and happiness of boys in school. A new contribution is how to use the Web to find 'boy-friendly' activities. If you can only read one book about how to reach boys, this is it."

Judith Kleinfeld, Director of the Boys Project
Professor of Psychology Emeritus, University of Alaska

"Writing the Playbook is an incredible resource that students love, teachers appreciate, and administrators are learning from. It provides the solutions that school systems globally are desperately searching for regarding the behavior and academic performance of boys. It is written in a way that is engaging, empowering, and inspiring to those in all levels of education. If you've ever desired a positive educational atmosphere, this book provides the blueprint!"

Chris Cannon, Author of Winning Back Our Boys

"Boys and girls can differ vastly in how they most effectively learn. As educational leaders, it is critical that we create school environments that clearly reflect and demonstrate this understanding. This insightful book will inform, guide, and transform the way you lead in schools. This is a great resource that will definitely produce results!"

Don Haddad, Superintendent of Schools
St. Vrain Valley School District, Longmont, CO

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Kelley E. King

Kelley King is a twenty-five year veteran educator, international speaker, author, and mother. Kelley is currently the Associate Director and a Master Trainer at the Gurian Institute. She travels widely to deliver keynotes, teacher workshops, and consultations to educators and parents. She also develops and facilitates cutting-edge training curricula for online teacher education. Previously, Kelley has worked in various roles within elementary, middle, and high school levels, including positions in regular education, special education, and gifted and talented programs. Kelley has served schools with diverse racial, linguistic, and... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781452242989

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