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