Getting Boys to Go “All In” on Reading


Excited to share this article by seasoned educator, Stephanie McKew, on how she engages boys in reading and vocabulary learning.

McKew states, “We formerly thought reading struggles were primarily due to weak decoding skills, which is also a factor, but research supports that below grade level vocabulary impacts reading success across all grade levels, K-12. When students don’t understand why they’re struggling, frustration compounds and the struggle perpetuates.”

Vocabulary Instruction

It has been proven that having students look vocabulary words up in the dictionary is not an effective way to provide vocabulary instruction. There are a variety of best practice instruction options that offer more depth in understanding of vocabulary words. In addition, a tool like InferCabulary can help to teach words at a faster rate. InferCabulary has been prove 3-4 times faster than business as usual instruction. That means not only are students able to understand vocabulary words with more depth, but that students can also learn more vocabulary words than with business as usual instruction.

Boy vs Girl Breakdown

According to McKew, “Research indicates that young girls are typically more language-based and often excel earlier in language-based activities. Boys have the same ability, but tend to be more reserved in sharing their language.” This new understanding of language development, paired with the understanding that boys’ attention span is roughly 20-30 minutes before a break is needed, changed the way McKew and her colleagues provided literacy instruction.

Celebrating Success

McKew also uses InferCabulary to differentiate her vocabulary and reading instruction, ensuring that all students feel successful. She also notes that utilizing InferCabulary to introduce vocabulary words that may appear in the text. Students call out, “Ding! Ding!” in the classroom to identify when they see a word they have learned within their text. Celebrating students’ success in reading is, “affirming and infectious”, in the classroom!

We know that all learners would benefit from increased reading engagement. Check out our InferCabulary demo here to learn more about Semantic Reasoning and how this process helps all kids to feel successful. We love to hear about all of the amazing successes that teachers, parents, and specialists are having with InferCabulary!


Read Stephanie’s full article on reading engagement, specifically for boys, here.