There are chess clubs, dance clubs, and clubs for students interested in technology. But, at Woodbridge Elementary School, one of the newest clubs is a spin on an old favorite.
Called Guys Read, the new club is similar to a book club. During its launch this fall, students participating in the club read books such as “Ghosts Don’t Eat Potato Chips” by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones, “Geronimo Stilton, Secret Agent” by Geronimo Stilton, and “Mission Unstoppable” by Dan Gutman. But, while Guys Read let the students discuss these works with each other as they would in a book club, it also did something else.
“Guys Read made reading cool and fun,” said Andrea Gibble, a Grade 5 teacher at Woodbridge.
Responsible for helping Principal Lori Phelps and the school’s reading committee bring Guys Read to Woodbridge, Gibble said the club is part of an international initiative. Involving hundreds of classrooms and libraries around the world, the initiative aims to increase boys’ interest and success in reading. At Woodbridge, it’s supporting that goal by supplementing daily instruction.
“Our data shows a gap between girls’ performance in reading and boys’ performance in reading,” Gibble said. “Although we are addressing the issue during the regular school day, we wanted to create a program that addressed the issue outside of class.”
To do that, Gibble said the school’s faculty members divided boys in Grades 2-5 into five groups. After selecting books suggested for their reading levels, the groups met for an hour each week to talk about them with male staff members, caretakers, and community members.
“The groups discussed what they read the week before and at home since the last meeting, made predictions and inferences, and read together,” Gibble said. “Each group leader was provided with comprehension questions and discussion prompts.”
For the month that the school hosted the club, between 30 and 35 boys attended the weekly meetings. According to Gibble, all of the students benefited from the experience, regardless of their reading levels.
“Struggling readers were provided with extra practice and support,” she said. “Younger students who were stronger readers were challenged because they were placed at their independent level and read books that their grade-level peers don’t normally read.”
To continue offering reading support and challenges, Gibble said Woodbridge will hold the club again in March. Inviting new and old members to join, the school expects that more than 40 boys will participate in the second session.
But that’s not to say Woodbridge has forgotten about its female students. In fact, Gibble said the school is launching a club just for them this month.
“Because of the positive response we’ve had to this club, we are starting a girls’ club,” she said. “It’ll be called G.E.M.S., or Girls Excited about Math and Science.”
As Woodbridge works to expand its unique clubs over the next few months, you can be sure there will be something for everyone!
For more information about the Guys Read initiative, go to www.guysread.com.