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March 10, 2022

Do your students give up too easily on projects demanding online research because there’s just “too much out there” to know where to begin? Simple tips and tricks from Y4Y’s new Click & Go on digital literacy can help them recognize that, with some basic principles and skills, the information avalanche contains a wealth of real treasure — once you learn how to find it.

We all remember with dread the assignment of a big research paper.

  • How will I choose a topic?
  • What information will my teacher want me to include?
  • How will I organize my information?
  • How will I get this giant paper written?!

Education has come a long way in guiding students through each of these steps, and your program can be a great resource to them during homework and tutoring time. To help with organization, check out Y4Y’s Goal Setting Activities, Games and Templates, and Research-Based Techniques and Practices for ideas. More writing guidance is available through Y4Y’s literacy course, including tools for Pre-Writing Activities, Revision Conference Planner, Writer’s Workshop, and Peer Editing Checklist. Tools like Guiding Content Creation and Presenting to Different Audiences can also help students with age-old questions like “What information will my teacher want me to include?”

But let’s take a step back and talk research! Students today face a whole new set of questions. They’re unlikely to step into a brick-and-mortar library and head over to a card catalog where nothing but reliable sources are conveniently organized by subject. Instead, they’re probably doing all of their research online. So, the questions they might be asking themselves are

  • How do I narrow down all of my “hits”?
  • Which sources are reliable?
  • Why can’t I use just the information that validates my ideas?
  • Who’s even going to know if I just copy and paste text?

Y4Y is here to help navigate many of these dilemmas of the information age too!

How do I narrow down all of my “hits”?

To begin, there are some simple tips for yielding smart lists of hits.

  • Orient students to internet research with Y4Y’s relevant terms around digital literacy.
  • Use more than one search engine, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
  • Use several terms to narrow the search. For example, if a student is writing a paper on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, encourage them to not simply search on Dr. King’s name, but also on “Million Man March,” “civil rights,” “famous orators,” and “I have a dream.”
  • If they need to further narrow their search, add .org, .edu, and .gov to the list of terms.
  • Check out Y4Y’s Searching Safely podcast for tips on how to search thoroughly and safely. Have students take the Y4Y Youth Digital Literacy Self-Assessment to be sure of that safety.

Which sources are reliable?

After you’ve introduced students to the basics of finding information, consider these tips:

Why can’t I use just the information that validates my ideas?

Help your students understand that the best argued points are those that recognize the strengths of an opposing view and counter that view. 

Who’s even going to know if I just copy and paste text?

This might be a rhetorical question, but educators today have access to many resources to discover if a student has plagiarized someone else’s work. It’s OK to copy and paste if a student is properly citing a reference, so be sure to align with the school day on citation practices. It’s also possible that the project your student is engaged in isn’t meant to be a formally researched report, and there’s room for creative license. Help them have some fun with those projects! Just ask Andy Warhol: Some of the best art is born of imitation.

 



March 10, 2022

Recruitment is a full-time job of your 21st CCLC program. Reaching the students you need to reach and staffing your program with dedicated members of the community are tied for first as your top priorities. With tools from the Human Resources course and Recruiting and Retaining High School Students Click & Go, as well as other tips and tricks from Y4Y, those prized people up and down your organization will vote YES with their feet.

The Role of Prized Partners

Reaching the students who need you most could range from small obstacles in getting the word out up to students “disappearing” at the beginning of the pandemic. Meanwhile, school-day teachers are beyond exhausted, and may not be your ideal “go-to” hires for out-of-school time. Like everything you do in your program, community partnerships can ease the way. Check out Y4Y’s Involving Community Partners Checklist to start thinking about fresh ways those partnerships can help you recruit students and staff. Some other tips include:

  • Reaching out to your school counselors. Share a bit about your program and leave them materials to distribute to families they feel might need you the most. Also ask them about services in the community they have been connecting families with, and whether you can share in those efforts — both to avoid duplication and to make new connections.
  • Connecting with faith-based organizations. Ask if they’d be willing to run a blurb about your program in their bulletin. For example, “The local grant-funded afterschool and summer program is inviting students of King Middle School to participate in a fun, academic-based enrichment environment. They’re also recruiting passionate community members to work with students directly, or to partner in new ways, according to you or your business’s strengths. Email the program’s director, Jane Doe, at [insert email address here] today. Thank you!”
  • Performing an internet search. Use key words and phrases like “social services for children and families,” “foundations supporting children and families,” and supports for children and families,” and add “near me.” You might be surprised at the resources you’ll discover, especially in urban centers. Rural communities can search “foundations/services/supports for students and families in my state.” There may be organizations in your nearest urban centers or university towns that are eager to partner with rural programs. Ask these new partners if they have a volunteer or donor base they can reach out to for your staff and volunteer recruitment efforts.

Upper Grade Challenges

Most elementary programs have little or no difficulty recruiting students. You may be among those many programs having to turn students away! Recruiting for upper grades, however, can be challenging. Some tips include:

  • Checking in regularly with your students to assess their ever-changing interests and to be sure your activities and program emphasis reflect those interests.
  • Viewing current students as your ambassadors; try offering incentives for a “bring a friend” day, such as entering a drawing to choose the theme for your culminating event. Related Y4Y tools include the Youth Ambassador Action Plan Template and Job Description Template.
  • Checking out Y4Y’s Click & Go on recruiting and retaining high school students, which offers further guidance and additional tools for reaching the older students that need you most.

Winning Recruitment of Prized Staff

Your program is in fierce competition to attract qualified and enthusiastic people. A few ideas include:

  • Reviewing the Y4Y Human Resources and Managing Your 21st CCLC Program courses, especially tools like the Human Resources Planning Checklist, to help choose your recruitment team and work together to identify candidates.
  • Starting with families. Many family members will jump at the chance to work around their child. They can also get the word out to trusted neighbors and friends, which offers a little instant confidence in those recommendations.
  • Setting up a job-sharing child care co-op or looking into whether one already exists in your community. If parents who are interested in joining the program have children at home too young to be in school or in your program, but have no means to pay child care, connect them with other parents in the same boat. You’ll also be amplifying their program buy-in!
  • Dialing up the college engagement. Look into setting up a table at your local college activities fair and sell the program! Bring sample activities and event photos, and post a list of majors that relate directly to the job, such as education, social services, ethnic and women’s studies, all things STEM, city/urban planning, and management and communications, just to name a few.

Even before the pandemic, the spirit of prizing people and relationships was at the center of your 21st CCLC program. Keeping that spirit alive for adults and students alike is more important today than it’s ever been. And when new people discover the value you place on community through that process of recruiting them to your program, they’ll be invested in helping you maintain that sense of community. Retaining those you recruit will be your ultimate prize.

 



March 8, 2022

This year, your Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Program will be reporting on new Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) measures that were published on July 1, 2021. If you’re a program leader, it’s important to consult with your state coordinator to ensure you understand the new measures and how your state wants data presented. Also, you might want to catch the upcoming LIVE With Y4Y webinar: Knowledge Is Power: Leveraging Data to Improve Program Quality. Webinar guests will offer research- and experience-based tips on your data’s importance, collection, and use. Meanwhile, review the comprehensive Y4Y resources discussed below to ensure that your program’s collection, reporting, and use of this year’s data ultimately wins the top prize: grant renewal!

Understand What You Need: Data for Design

Y4Y’s update of the Introduction to 21st CCLC course could not have come at a better time! If you’re looking for information about the new GPRA measures and the legislative background, check out the course’s Learn More Library. At this point in your program year, you should be implementing activities based on needs assessments you performed at the beginning of the year — congratulations on that successful initial collection of data for design! But if a review of the measures reveals that a data point was overlooked, you can reach out to partners immediately. If you're not sure you got this step right, then do the following:

Work With Your Prized Partners

Our culture seems to be waking up to the fact that everything comes back to relationships. If your program needs a little advice in strengthening those school-day partnerships to ensure efficient data sharing, check out these Y4Y resources:

Talk About Data Types

It isn’t just leadership that needs to understand types of data. Your frontline staff will be critical in answering some data questions before and after activities, and when it’s time to report at the end of your program year. Make the most of these Y4Y resources to ensure staff understand data types and why each type is so important:

Train on Collection

Different types of data mean different types of data collection. Y4Y offers resources to address this important step in the full data picture:

Analyze and Organize Your Data

Again, you’ll want to check with your state coordinator to understand exactly how your data are analyzed and presented at the end of your program year. Your state may have a database you are directly uploading information into, so be sure to clarify those procedures and deadlines. Y4Y offers tips on this step, including how to responsibly handle your data:

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Your goal this spring is to keep your eyes on the prize of grant renewal by demonstrating how effective you’ve been at serving the students in your program. Keep in mind that this year’s end data might be used as next year’s beginning data: in some cases, for students who are continuing with you, and in other cases to inform activity and program design decisions as part of your continuous improvement cycle. Your state coordinator is your partner in this, so remember: Nobody wants you to win more than they do!

 



February 10, 2022

More than just a word, “resilience” is a measurable area of growth. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of threat.” According to research, two thirds of any given human population demonstrates resilience through a continued ability to function after traumatic events such as 9/11. Maybe some resilience comes from a natural tendency or family culture to be optimistic — it’s not totally clear yet. But professionals have little doubt that you can build resilience, in young people especially, by adopting a growth mindset. Tools from Y4Y’s Trauma-Informed Care Click & Go, and courses in Stages of Child and Adolescent Development and Social and Emotional Learning, can help your program be intentional in nurturing resilience in your students.

A Foundation of Understanding

Your staff members probably have amazing insights and observations about child psychology after working with students in your program and previous jobs. But what kind of formal training on this topic has taken place to ensure your program offers the best individualized approach to building resilience? Here are some useful Y4Y tools and short trainings to start conversations around understanding what makes students tick:

Time to Implement

Use these Y4Y tools to put interventions into practice within your program space:

Measure Success

Some of your success in nurturing resilience will be evident. The child who lost a beloved grandparent begins to smile and laugh again. The child who was in a car accident realizes that playing out his experience gains him attention and awe from peers who ask questions. Maybe he even shares his fears out loud, building his skills of self-awareness and his peers’ skills in social awareness and relationships skills through empathy. Be sure you’re noting these observations with Y4Y tools and planning for ways to measure the resilience more formally that you’ve nurtured in students.

Turn to Nature to Nurture Resilience

Just as those picture book characters show students different ways to persevere, you can turn to nature to nurture resilience in your students. Consider forest fires. In our limited view, we think of fire as needless destruction, and in many cases, perhaps it does have unnecessary human causes. However, even before forests became a habitat for humans, they had adapted to fire. They depend on a cycle of fire and regrowth to remain healthy. Every student, whether they’re living with mild stress to full-blown crisis, can remember this: From the ashes comes new, stronger growth.

 



February 10, 2022

Part of overall wellness is moving our bodies. This bit of obvious wisdom should play a role in everything you do in your program. Whether you’re offering alternatives to screen time, incorporating stretch breaks into your tutoring sessions, or building dance parties into your virtual programming, Y4Y has tips and tools to remind you to encourage students to “keep bouncing” to bounce back.

Get Aligned

Y4Y created an entire Click & Go on strategies for partnering with the school day in your health and wellness efforts. Your program would never offer academic supports without first checking with the school day about needs, content, and methods of delivering those supports, so why should health and wellness be any different? Check out tools to start those important conversations and initiate a partnership with your host school or district, learn about health and wellness standards that impact out-of-school time, assess your students’ specific needs, then select appropriate activities. You’ll want to be sure to get buy-in from students. After all, you’re helping them to set a lifelong habit of moving their bodies — you want to be sure it’s fun for them! Download and customize the elementary or secondary student interest inventory according to what your program can offer! Give families a voice in this partnership too with the Family Satisfaction Survey, which you can customize to fit your needs.

Take a Page From Transitions

Transitions may be those little windows in your program day when you’ve been extra intentional in building in movement. Y4Y offers a tool on transition strategies that guides you through some practices of consistency and predictability so that students can move onto something different with renewed focus. Consider using these same principles to build stretch or wiggle breaks into the middle of an activity. When there are predictable rules around those breaks, they don’t have to be an interruption, but a reset with physical and mental benefits.

Re-Create Recreation in Out-of-School Time

At the secondary level especially, recreational activities can be unique opportunities to help students bounce back. Karyl Resnick of Massachusetts shared her state’s practice of infusing social and emotional learning into sports activities. She notes, “We’ve explored research that says developing relationships can enhance student outcomes, and we’re building that finding into our sports and recreation activities. We’re doing the same with movement and mindfulness activities. To help programs infuse social and emotional learning into activities, we’re developing short videos to help grantees understand what it is, what it looks like in practice, and strategies for making it part of their activity design.” And 21st CCLC grantee Simone Miranda of Schenectady City School District noted that her program was a saving grace during school closings: “During the pandemic, students shared with staff that they needed more physical activities and to share their feelings and emotions. The program used this information to develop a sports club and art lessons to meet the students’ needs. The sports club incorporated virtual physical activities designed by the sports specialist, which included yoga, Zumba, fitness challenges, and other physical activities. In addition, literacy was embedded in the sports club by using books written by male, female, and diverse sports athletes.” Even with programs reopened, Ms. Miranda acknowledges that physical activities are the greatest draw in her popular and successful high school program.

Allow For Bouncing Differently

Just as students have different interests when it comes to how they move their bodies, they also have different strengths and abilities. Be sure the students who might need the most bouncing back have the opportunity to bounce to their greatest ability. Helpful tools from Y4Y’s Including Students With Disabilities course include an activity planner and environmental checklist. A strengths-based approach should be considered for all students. Some students are at their best in agility activities. Others may be drawn to activities that emphasize speed or strength. You don’t have to offer 100 physical activities to find something that will work for everyone.

Show the Parallels

As you’re using physical activity in your program to help students build resilience, help them to understand that’s what you’re doing! When a student falls after attempting a layup shot, applaud them for getting back up. Challenge them to think of a time they “got back up” from something that felt like an academic failure. If a student calls out a friend to spot them while attempting a new trick on the bars or lifting a heavy weight, challenge them to think of when they leaned on a friend through heartache. You can help them frame their thinking so that not only are they bouncing out negative feelings, but they are also discovering a mind-body connection they can use to bounce back for the rest of their lives.