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March 22, 2018

The  term “well-rounded education” occurs 24 times in federal education law (the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA). What does it mean, and how is it related to 21st CCLC activities? 
 
A Well-Rounded Education Includes Many Subjects and Experiences
First, let’s see how ESSA defines the term: 
 
"WELL-ROUNDED EDUCATION — The term ‘well-rounded education’ means courses, activities, and programming in subjects such as English, reading or language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, career and technical education, health, physical education, and any other subject, as determined by the State or local educational agency, with the purpose of providing all students access to an enriched curriculum and educational experience.’’ 
 
The ESSA list of subjects includes many that are already part of 21st CCLC programming, and it opens the door to potential areas of collaboration with schools. As you work with the school to identify high-priority student needs, look for ways to enhance what the school is already doing. Could your program use music and arts to explore mathematics, or use Reader’s Theater to expand students’ knowledge of history and other subjects? Could your students increase their own knowledge about exercise and nutrition by organizing a community health fair? Y4Y courses and resources offer many possibilities. Here are links to just a few:
Every Student Deserves a Well-Rounded Education
The title of the federal legislation (ESSA) refers to “every student,” and the definition of “well-rounded education” includes “all students.” That means every ethnicity, every socioeconomic group and every ability. An intentionally designed 21st CCLC program targets specific academic needs within specific grade levels. In many cases, students with disabilities will be among the students with the greatest needs and you can encourage these students to apply. They can benefit from the academic enrichment and social development experiences your program offers. Including students with disabilities can be easier and more rewarding than you might imagine. See these Y4Y resources: 

User-friendly, topic-focused guides and webinars provide strategies and best practices from experts and practitioners.

Start Planning Now
Add the above Y4Y resources to your current favorites, and use it as you plan student recruitment, projects and activities for your next program session.


February 23, 2018

Guest blogger: David Mazza, Y4Y Educational Technology Specialist

Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, MapQuest, Snapchat Stories, Skype, Google Hangouts, Google Duo, Periscope, Vine, Peeks Social — these are a few of the many apps available today. I’m often asked, “Should we use these apps for educational activities?” It sounds like a yes-or-no question, but it’s not. Here are two important follow-up questions that can help you decide.

Will technology enhance your activity, or be a distraction?

The first thing to consider is whether technology is appropriate for the activity you’re planning. Sometimes it seems that young people, not to mention adults, stare at screens or use mobile devices day and night. On city sidewalks, it’s common to pass one person after another who’s texting or talking on their phone. Hopefully you’ve avoided getting run over by these distracted pedestrians! On elevators, have you ever responded to a “hello” only to realize the stranger next to you wasn’t talking to you, but was on a cell phone? In restaurants, have you noticed families or groups sitting together at a table but interacting with their devices instead of with each other?

Technology is part of our lives, but as these examples show, there are trade-offs. What are we missing when we bring technology along as we walk outdoors, engage in everyday activities, and visit with friends and family? You can apply this question as you consider whether to make technology part of any activity you’re planning for students. What benefits might technology bring to the activity? What might students miss by bringing technology along? Will it enhance your activity, or be a distraction?

If your goal is to have students learn about forest management, and you plan to engage a forest ranger from a remote location to provide expertise, the answer could be Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype. (See this Y4Y blog post for ideas on videoconferencing.) If your activity is a walk in the forest, however, and the goal is to help students sharpen their observation skills, it might be best to leave technology behind and have them “take pictures” mentally.

What are the options for apps that will enhance the activity and be enjoyable for students to use?

A multitude of free apps are available, but if you don’t know about them or haven’t used them, how can you determine which ones might work well? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Ask around. You can always do a Google search to get started. First, though, ask family, friends, colleagues and students about their favorite apps and their uses. Most people love sharing their favorites. Asking students can help you learn about apps they already like and use. Here are a few of my favs for skywatching:

  • MyScript Calculator
  • Meteor Shower Calendar
  • Phases of the Moon
  • Sky Map
  • EQInfo

Play around. Start with a suggested app that looks interesting to you. Download it and spend some time playing with the app. Consider possible ways to integrate it into an activity. For example, could students use Facebook Live or Periscope to present a project they’ve done, or to let a homebound family member watch as they perform an original skit, song, dance or story?

Try it with your students! If your students are struggling with mathematical concepts, you might use Skype to have a local carpet installer show how they calculate the area of a room to make sure they order the right amount of carpet. Or an auto mechanic might show how they calculate angles for pipe bending. These examples show real-world applications of concepts taught in math classes. Skyping with experts from various fields can also introduce students to careers they otherwise might not consider.

I’d be happy to discuss more about using apps effectively with students. I’d also love to hear about your favorite apps and how you use them. Leave a reply below!



September 21, 2017

A new school year has started, and your students are that much closer to making decisions about the future. You can help them be ready!

Did you know that when ACT analyzed 2016 test results, it found only one in four U.S. high school seniors are college and career ready?By focusing on a mix of academics and employability skills,2 your 21st CCLC program can provide fantastic opportunities for students to learn and apply knowledge and skills, interact with others to identify and solve problems, and develop workplace skills such as communication and resource management — all skills required for college and career success. Y4Y is here to help you kick-start your efforts! Here are three things you should know before diving in:

1. College and career readiness has importance for all age groups — yes, even the youngsters!

In elementary school, responses like “I can do that!” and “Let me try!” are common as students engage in hands-on activities. These attitudes will serve them well as they get closer to entering college and careers. So give them opportunities to work and play with ideas and materials related to various careers (for example: robots!). 

Consider using career stations for grades K-5. For grades 6-12, use the Y4Y Exploration Toolkit to help students explore careers that match their interests and strengths. 

2. Projects offer a powerful way to prepare students for college and career success.

This is all about tapping into young people’s natural excitement and curiosity to help them gain academic and 21st century skills connected to possible college and career paths. Try these project ideas to start: 

- Service learning. Connect youth to projects that have positive impacts on local communities.

- The arts. Give students opportunities to work with teaching artists, to connect with local arts organizations, to lead or join a project team, and to showcase what they learn (in music, theater, dance or visual arts) for the larger community.

- Citizen science. Students can support real projects by becoming citizen scientists and using the skills professional researchers use, such as observing and recording data. For example, they can help map the surface of Mars by joining NASA’s Be a Martian project.  

Use Y4Y’s Tips for Programs for more ideas.

3. Families want to know about low- and no-cost ways to help children succeed in school and beyond.

Nature walks, snack preparation, trips to the library, late-night talks about the trials and tribulations of playing team sports — through simple activities like these, families can help their children explore their world. Every day offers hidden opportunities to use and practice reading, math and other skills! Tell families about simple things they can do to prepare their children for college and career success. 

Use Y4Y’s Tips for Families for 10 practical ideas to share with families.

As a 21st CCLC practitioner, you can use program activities to help young people see and imagine career possibilities, understand how to prepare for those careers, and gain and practice skills they will need to pursue their dreams. Y4Y is here to help. Start with the tools linked in this blog, and be sure to visit the Y4Y College and Career Readiness Course.

References:
1. ACT. (2016). The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2016. Available at https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/CCCR_National_2016.pdf 
2. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career and Technical Education. (n.d.). Employability Skills Framework: What Are Employability Skills? Available at http://cte.ed.gov/employabilityskills/index.php/framework 


November 21, 2016

Monique McDowell-Russell, Y4Y Lead Education Specialist

“Every little step” is more than a song lyric. It can be a mantra for high school students making the transition into the “world out there.” In 21st CCLC programs, we have the challenge and pleasure of helping students develop a path to what they want to do after graduation. While the new Y4Y course on College and Career Readiness can help us set high expectations for students of all ages, this is especially urgent for students who are nearing the end of their K-12 experience.

So, how do we plan? Here are some tips for ways to get — and keep — your teenage students on track for postsecondary success.

 

What we can do as professionals:

- Create a one-page document, with your program logo, that provides information on where to get help with financial aid and other services (both in and out of state) for high school seniors and college students.
- Collaborate with the high school to promote an event for families that explains how to apply for financial aid.
- Post flyers about job fairs and help students explore job opportunities.
- Identify tour opportunities for vocational and technical schools, colleges and universities, and help to arrange field trips for students and parents.
- Invite staff and students from vocational and technical schools, colleges and universities to speak at your programs. Don’t worry; it’s free. Invite parents and guardians to come, too.
- Help to develop or implement transition plans and services for students with disabilities. Parents can invite you to join the planning team, so consult with them about being included and ask them to suggest ways your program can support their child’s dreams for the future.
- Work with the district’s special education office to understand the diploma options available for students with special needs.
- Always keep your door open for a conversation!

 

What students can do:

- Create a list of interests and activities they enjoy doing, then reflect on how these connect to college and career choices.
- Create a list of vocational and technical schools, colleges and universities they may be interested in.
- Write down their questions and raise them during group discussions. There are no wrong questions!
- Keep parents and guardians in the loop.

 

What we can do together:

In a word, communicate! Try to meet once a week during program hours either in a group or one-on-one. Focus discussions on student questions and concerns. Hold some sessions at convenient times for parents, so they can become more knowledgeable.

 

More Y4Y resources to consult:

College and Career Readiness Tips for Families

Guiding Questions for College and Career Readiness Partnerships 

College and Career Readiness Research Brief

 

Graduation is a big step for high school students, but remember: every little step to get there counts, too!



September 30, 2016

Y4Y Showcase Webinar: College and Career Readiness
Thursday, October 13 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. ET

How does college and career readiness fit with 21st CCLC programs? Learn more through this Showcase event highlighting You for Youth's new course, College and Career Readiness. During the Showcase you will discover resources and real life 21st CCLC program examples to help you design enriching activities, develop key partnerships and engage families in college and career readiness. Our guest expert, Jennifer Kobrin, Director of myPLACE & Digital Initiatives for the Mayor's Commission on Literacy in Philadelphia and former content specialist for the You for Youth website, will be joining the discussion. Jennifer will share her expertise on effective college and career readiness programming and building partnerships with families and communities.

Get Registered here!

 


Project-Based Learning
Wednesdays from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. ET
October 19 through November 9

Engaging students through exciting activities, aligning with school-day standards and training inexperienced staff can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, project-based learning can help you plan for success.

This free, four-part learning experience, featuring Y4Y Education Specialists Monique McDowell-Russell and Allyson Zalewski, combines online webinars and discussions with offline activities and explorations.

We encourage 21st CCLC program directors, site coordinators, academic liaisons and instructional directors to attend. Registrants will commit to attend all four webinars and to participate in online discussions and other activities. For participating in at least three of the four webinars, you can earn a certificate of participation to provide to your district, state or employing organization.

Don't miss this opportunity to build a strong instructional foundation for your program. 

Register Now!