This past year, I had the opportunity to implement all boys reading clubs with the assistance of the Mable Wyche Grant. The year started with two separate groups of high school boys group and 8th Grade boys group. Overall, the year was quite successful with the 8th-grade group. The high school group ended after Christmas Break. The 8th-grade group all year was a consistent group of ten students and the high school group was a solid group of ten.
The focus of the initiative was to provide a safe place for students to feel comfortable reading and expressing themselves while increasing Lexile scores and incorporating character education lessons.
The books initially I wanted to purchase for the groups were all great realistic fiction YA novels that I felt would have a great impact on the students. However, the increasing buzz over The Hate U Give or (THUG) movie trailer over the summer spark some interest and provided the perfect recruitment tool to get the students motivated in signing up for the club knowing that reading the book and be able to attend the movie was going to be the first endeavor. So, the high school group started with THUG while the middle school group started with the critically-acclaimed, Ghost by Jason Reynolds.
The middle school students continued with the Track Series by Jason Reynolds and we made it a marathon to be able to complete the entire series by the end of the school year. I know it might sound strange to think why would be a problem with trying to complete four books in a school year. However, the boys created the rules for the club and with that being said. They only read on Tuesday and Thursday during character education block which is about 55 minutes long. We had a few challenges with ensuring use our time appropriately and as well being able to enjoy the stories. In their opinion, an entire series was not needed only Ghost story matter the most. But nonetheless, they took reading the series as a challenge and took it on head-on.
The funds provided by this grant of $500 was utilized to purchase physical books for the group to utilize. School funds were supplemented to purchase movie tickets for the students of both the high school and middle school groups and chaperones to attend a viewing of THUG.
So the question is did the club make a difference? I can truly say that the Reading Club was a place a time where these young men could bond, hang out, and talk out their social interactions away from their female classmates in a comfortable space. The characters of the stories that we were able to follow throughout the year have had a long-lasting impact on how my students view themselves and their peers now. They were able to relate to the characters ages, ethnicity, challenges/struggles, and that they were involved with a sport.
Academically, out of the ten students who were involved in the Book Club eight of the students scored passed the Spring EOG ELA/Language Arts Assessment. The extra attention to comprehension skills we work on and stamina reading helped the students stay focus and ace the exam. Five of the students had an overall 85 or better average by the end of the school year in all subjects. One particular student of the group was the what we call “Scholar 3” of the class by ending his middle school career with the third highest GPA among his peers, and to mention having the highest GPA among the boys. Discipline wise, out of the ten students only one of the students received referrals that led him to in-school suspension and out of school suspension. Our focus in the club to make good decisions impacted them greatly because if you were in trouble or if you were slacking in class you couldn’t participate in the club activities. To ensure the students comprehend what they were reading, the students took Accelerated Reader Comprehension Tests.