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Grace Diggs

Teacher Bio
Grace Diggs, a Boston Public Schools (BPS) teacher for 23 years, has taught at West Roxbury High, a Massachusetts Service Learning Leader School, since 1985. She has taught biology, and served as a housemaster, softball coach, cheerleading coach, and peer advisor. Also active in Westie's Service Learning program, she has belonged to IMPACT II TeachNet for five years, and brings several talents to school and community. Grace is part of the BPS Science Fair Committee, and in her spare time, volunteers at Rosie's Place. No wonder this active teacher received a BPS Service Excellence Award in 2002!

Subject Areas
Peer Leaders, English Language Arts

Grade Levels
9 - 12

High School girls and younger students


Go Girls Book Club


Key Question How can high schoolers promote literacy and begin a dialogue on the role of women in society?

Overview Returning from a visit to the Boston Women's Memorial, high school girls in a Peer Leaders class select poet Phillis Wheatley as their literary role model. They organize a Go Girls Book Club (GGBC) concentrating on stories of young women who deal with personal and social challenges. The students, including some reluctant readers, discuss books that reflect their backgrounds and interests. Their goal is to share ideas with the school community through book talks, newsletter reviews, and library exhibits. Connecting the power of literacy to their own experiences, they plan a "Shout out" for their favorite books. At the schoolwide Service Learning Festival, they describe the joys of reading to young children from neighboring schools.

Active Exploration + Applied Learning + Adult Connections
Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Arrange visit to Boston Women's Memorial.
Discuss how reading influenced Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley & Lucy Stone.
Agree on Phillis Wheatley as literary role model.
Schedule weekly meetings for Go Girls Book Club (GGBC) where peer leaders select titles about women.
Record journal reflections & reactions to books.
Produce rules & sign out forms.
Create posters with Wheatley images & poetry excerpts.



Integrate book club activities with students in English class.
Share GGBC progress with family & peers.
Distribute posters advertising the power of reading throughout school.
Arrange exhibit of favorite books in school library.
Assemble book exhibit & posters featuring Phillis Wheatley at Service Learning Festival scheduled for Women's History Month.
Show & describe books to young visitors at festival.
Write article about GGBC for school newspaper.
Discuss how BWM sculptor Meredith Bergmann read several books to verify Phillis Wheatley's dress & appearance.
Invite school librarian to GGBC meeting for discussion on library careers.
Invite older female neighborhood leader to address GGBC on the importance of women's involvement in community activities.
Hold GGBC conversations with English & Reading teachers on ways to promote lifelong literacy for all.

Academic Rigor

Learning Standards English Language Arts and Social Studies
Understanding and express different points of view.
Make effective presentations.
Use agreed-upon rules for informal and formal discussions in small and large groups.
Facilitate discussion groups independent from the teacher.
Develop fluency, accuracy and understanding when reading different texts.
Select books for independent reading.
Use before, during, and after reading strategies.
Understand and use the writing process effectively.

School to Career Competencies

Develop Communication and Literacy Skills.
Communicate and understand ideas and information.
Use technology.
Initiate and complete entire activities.
Act professionally.
Take responsibility for career and life choices.


There are no tests or quizzes in the GGBC. Oral and written reflections of the peer leaders demonstrate an increased interest in literature and in women's rights. The adviser's observations confirm that frequent discussion defines reading for pure pleasure. With a bit of luck, this process will encourage friends, relatives, and younger children to start their own book clubs.

Software or Materials Used For technology: digital camera, Internet, Microsoft Office, clip art; for GGBC literature: List of Selected Books; for curriculum on Boston Women's Memorial and Phillis Wheatley: Resource Guide from Teaching Boston History Workshop: "Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, Phillis Wheatley ~ Patriotism, Poetry and Persistence"; "The Boston Women's Memorial Curriculum Writing for Change: The Power of Women's Words" (contact BWHT for availability and ordering information); Boston Women's Heritage Trail Guidebook; for posters and exhibits: display boards, books and book jackets, art supplies.

Teacher Developed Materials Permission Slips to BWM; List of Selected Books.

Student Developed Materials Journal Reflections, Sign-out Forms, Posters, Oral Book Reviews, Book Displays.

Web Sites Halala African American Books and Authors, Literature Lesson Plans ~ Resources for School Librarians, Perspectives on American Literature Phillis Wheatley, Teen Book Club teenreads.com, Women in History Phillis Wheatley

Final Words Students enjoy reading and openly voicing opinions within the privacy of a girls' book club. Their improved reading and conversational skills are only exceeded by their growing love for reading.

Teacher Tip Continue to motivate and encourage students to participate in activities that bond us as a community. Society has become so complex that individuals must do what they can to make a difference. E Pluribus Unum / From Many, One ~ is a result of the Go Girls Book Club.

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