Gamers Club is one piece of a broad after-school program that helps us to serve our kids for more time and in more ways than the regular school day allows. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 97% of boys aged 12-17 reported playing electronic games at least occasionally. At our schools, we've got indoor soccer, basketball, hiphop dance, geography bee, theater, and Future Business Leaders of America, to name only a few.
by Bob Hassett or one afternoon every week our middle school li- in more ways than the regular school day allows. It pro- brary becomes a gamer’s paradise. Free snacks, vides a space where we can meet kids in their own ex- loud music, Guitar Hero, and Dragonball Z: Bu- perience, on their own terms, and open up real conver- dokai Tenkaichi. sations about what matters to all of us. We supply the snacks and the games, but the kids Our focus in the library is always on student success. mostly run the program themselves, rotating players, Just recently I met with the school’s instructional coach switching games, settling their own disputes, even to take a close look at some disaggregated data from cleaning up after themselves. … OK, for the last part last year’s standardized test results. She was able to they need a little prodding from the grown-ups. They show me specific curriculum objectives in targeted con- are, after all, middle schoolers. tent areas where our students performed below district But even though it’s very much about gaming and averages. With this information, we’re going to depart- hanging out, there’s so much more to it than that. ment chairs and individual teachers to discuss ways we Gamers Club is one piece of a broad after-school pro- can collaborate on lessons to address those specific gram that helps us to serve our kids for more time and shortfalls—and bring some AASL standards too. > March/April 2009 MULTIMEDIA & INTERNET@SCHOOLS 27 TECHNOLOGY @ SCHOOLS But, as crucial as academics are, there are more a result, there are no late buses. We’re a suburban facets to children’s lives. Children’s school experiences school located on a busy road in a commercial strip. Al- must include more than what can be done in the class- most all of our children ride the bus. So even on the rare room. We want to be here for our kids whenever and in Monday when we don’t have a meeting, it’s just not whatever way they need us. We can’t be with them at practical to offer anything after school. home; that’s not our place. But we use our website and Tuesday is always academic day. That means any- our Blackboard site to make sure our services are avail- body who stays after school, in the library or anywhere able to them during the off hours. And the after-school else, has to have something school-related to work on. program allows us to engage with them face-to-face for If they’re struggling or behind in their work in a par- many additional hours each week. ticular class, typically they’ll stay with a classroom Not only that, but our kids love it. Recently the head teacher. For group work, projects, or research, or for librarian from one of the high schools our students feed kids who just want to get their homework out of the into told me some of our former students had been ask- way, the library is the place to be. It’s quiet, spacious, ing when they’re going to have after-school programs and comfortable. There are plenty of comp
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