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January 21, 2016

Guest blogger: Patrick Duhon, consultant and former director of the Providence After School Alliance

This is the second of two articles on planning for summer programming. See part 1, on budgeting, in the December 2015 newsletter.

Now that you’ve lined up funding, you can start planning your summer learning activities. Focus on these five Rs: Leverage and deepen your relationships with students by providing relevant and rigorous programs that get them more excited about learning, which will also help you recruit and retain youth throughout the summer.

Blend the best of informal and formal education to deepen summer learning:

Positive youth development: Make this your starting point. Establish a primary focus to get positive impacts on social, emotional and academic outcomes. Think about how to develop the whole child through recreation, civic engagement, service and leadership opportunities, academics, creativity and fun. 

Inquiry and “habits of mind”: Consider which of the state’s college- and career-ready learning standards you can advance. Your best targets are probably the habits of mind, which you can support through project-based learning and activities that help youth apply and extend their academic skills. Discuss these with school and district instructional leaders to determine how your program can build in essential 21st century skills.

The “sweet spots” for out-of-school time: Some areas are especially suited to the relaxed, hands-on learning environment of summer and afterschool settings (watch the video “This Is Dan”).

STEM learning: Helping youth explore their interests through hands-on inquiry can unleash amazing potential. Science and math move from just “subjects” to critical tools for understanding the world. Integrating art and design into activities can engage youth and wrap the learning in fun. Connecting applied mathematics and literacy to activities in STEM, the arts and other areas expands learning rather than replicating the school day.

Career and technical education: Exposing students to these areas helps them explore careers they probably didn’t know about. Give them a taste of work in science and technology to add relevance and motivation to those academic areas.

Students with special needs: English learners, students with IEPs and students who struggle with other issues can all build skills and experience success through hands-on learning. Providing tailored, expanded learning activities for these and other students makes learning more fun and relevant.

Partnerships between formal and informal educators: Many certified teachers who work in summer programs say they have built new pedagogical practices through partnering with community-based experiential educators. Have your summer program staff lead cross-training sessions. Perhaps district staff can help build shared understanding around learning standards, and informal educators can lead sessions on hands-on ways to meet standards. This supports more collaboration, and helps to shape effective school-community alignment for summer and year-round partnerships. For resources and videos from programs that have strong models for summer learning, see the Providence After School Alliance and Boston AfterSchool & Beyond.

Data and measurement: Work with staff and partners to review your data from past summers and discuss how to build stronger this year. To measure the impacts of your summer program, use tools that address a broad set of youth outcomes, including development of 21st century skills. The Every Hour Counts network, the National Institute on Out-of-School Time and Harvard University’s PEAR program offer resources and tools that can provide guidance.

July 17, 2015

The laid-back days of summer are perfect for getting young people outside to explore the neighborhood, talk with community members, and think of ways to improve the places they live, play and learn. In fact, student-generated civic engagement projects can provide powerful lessons in “how society works” and how groups and individuals of all ages can make a positive difference.

For example, the students in your afterschool program might decide they’d like to turn an unsightly vacant lot into an obstacle course or community garden. They’d need to find the property owner (which might require a visit to City Hall or the County Courthouse), ask permission, develop a detailed plan and rationale, solicit advice and participation from local business and community leaders, obtain any necessary permits (another trip to City Hall) and work together to make it happen. By encouraging them to dream of what could be, and to turn dreaming to doing, you can help young people develop meaningful civic knowledge, skills and dispositions. 

The “Civic Learning and Engagement” materials on Y4Y make it easy for you to get started. This special section of the Project-Based Learning training module includes examples of civic learning and engagement in action, a process for helping students generate and act on their own ideas and tools for successful civic engagement projects.

Opportunities for civic learning and engagement are especially important for low-income and minority youth served in 21st CCLC programs. Researchers have found that low-income youth are less likely to become politically engaged than their more affluent peers. Results from the 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress show that a persistent civic achievement gap persists among racial and ethnic groups. Less than a fourth of those taking the assessment (22 percent) said they had worked on a group project, and only 2 percent reported going on field trips or having outside speakers.    

You can make a difference by opening the door to active involvement in local civic projects that interest your students and helping them reflect on their experiences.   

July 13, 2014

The Y4Y team recently visited South Dakota and met with practitioners around a variety of topics. During a discussion of Civic Learning and Engagement, participants discussed ideas to engage students as active members of the community and help students develop entrepreneurial skills.   This led to a discussion of healthy eating programs.  One participant—Christopher—shared resources that help teach students business skills through gardening and farming. You’ll find links to the program examples that were shared at the bottom of this article. Thank you to Christopher and to all of our participants from South Dakota for sharing with us and with one another!

December 9, 2013

Join us for our next Coffee Break webinar, Training for CLE Projects with Y4Y, on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. (EST). Explore how Y4Y can help you train your team to effectively facilitate Civic Learning and Engagement (CLE) projects. This hands-on webinar will allow you to collaborate with your afterschool colleagues across the country as well as Y4Y team members as we design a CLE training using one of the Y4Y Training Starters.

Registration is free!

As with all of our Coffee Break webinars there will be plenty of time for Q&A with the Y4Y team so bring your questions, bring your coffee, wear your holiday sweaters, and join us on December 12.

Register today!  

September 9, 2013

Back to school is an exciting time of year for everybody! It’s a time of familiar faces, new friends, lots of things to do, and so many new opportunities for learning. And that includes the Y4Y community! We have two webinars in September that are custom designed to address specific needs in the field.

First up is our next Coffee Break Webinar, Sustainability with Y4Y, on Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern). Join us for an informal talk about how you can use Y4Y resources to support your program’s sustainability efforts. Coffee Break webinars are designed to give you more opportunities for interaction with the presenters, so bring your questions and your curiosity.

Next is our latest Quarterly Expert Webinar, Connecting with Civic Learning and Engagement, on Monday, September 16 at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern). Our guests will be Felicia Sullivan, Senior Researcher at the Center for Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, and Jill Bass, Director of Curriculum and Teacher Development at the Center for Action Civics/Mikva Challenge. Join us as we explore the newest content on the Y4Y portal and understand what civic learning and engagement is, why it’s a priority for the Department of Education, and how you can use Y4Y to enhance civic projects in your program.

As always, registration for both of these webinars is totally free! Click the links above to register today. If you can’t make the scheduled times, remember that all Y4Y webinars are archived online and available any time and on virtually any device – even on your tablet or smartphone!