THE ADVENTURERS’ GUILD:
Student literacy is an issue we all face and getting students to read sometimes feels like an insurmountable task. But, if there’s one thing that many students absolutely love it’s playing games. And through that love of games, we’ve been able to engage many students in reading and, through both quantitative and qualitative analysis, have shown significant increases in their reading skills and scores.
The Dungeons & Dragons Club at Breathitt High School was created to share our passion for fantasy roleplaying games with students. Most students had never played D&D upon encountering the club (with two exceptions) but within a year, our club had grown to two full weekly games of 10-12 students each. They embraced the game enthusiastically and, when they weren’t scouring the internet for more rules and information, were begging to borrow handbooks and manuals so that they might perfect their characters, find the right magical items or spells, or even begin to write their own games for their friends.
At first, we had to rely solely on our own personal materials. This was a severe hindrance for many students and we felt that a library of manuals and handbooks would be essential to keeping the students engaged as well as growing their love for the game.
Through an ARI grant, we were able to compile a substantial library of D&D manuals including multiple copies of Players’ Handbooks (enough for almost every player in each game), enough copies of the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual for the handful of students who want to design their own worlds, create their own adventures, and run their own games for their friends, and a copy of each sourcebook and campaign book published for the newest edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Students are already checking the books out to take home and work on their characters or design their own worlds and the handbooks are seeing regular use in games. Students are reading and learning complex rules and game mechanics as well as developing creative backgrounds and stories for their characters. It’s exciting to be a part of this process and to see their excitement when the boxes arrived and the students tore into them like Christmas morning. For many of them, it might be the first time they’ve ever been that excited over a book.
Data is still coming in but the picture is clear: reading scores among club members are increasing dramatically both on the MAP and ACT standardized tests. Quantitative evidence from interviews and surveys has backed up this trend as students report increased interest in reading, better social skills, developing leadership abilities, and even stronger quick math skills. Overall, it has been a success and I look forward to presenting the final data at the Fire Summit next month.