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This article considers the use of an inquiry learning approach and choice or agency and their potential to inform and reconceptualise literacy learning for boys in middle school. Using the Understanding by Design model, current research on best practice pedagogy for boys in middle school, and years of teaching experience, this paper discusses the way in which we revised and evaluated the Year 10 English program at an all-boys school. Our findings suggest that agency is a powerful motivator and that boys respond positively to purposeful work, choice, significance through positive collaboration and real time achievement. The Understanding by Design model served as a reliable vehicle to meet our curricula and pedagogical needs. Boys' willingness to extend their own learning was positive and rewarding. Individual choice of text selection deepened the boys' engagement and developed their insight, which was clearly demonstrated through their writing and speaking. This study provides understanding about the pedagogical practices we found both effective and rewarding, and suggests that all students can benefit when teachers apply Understanding by Design and choice of texts in the middle school English classroom.

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Journal Article

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