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June 18, 2019

Do you feel like your 21st CCLC summer program is already in a good place, with funding secured, partners and stakeholders engaged, staff and students recruited, SMART goals set, activities planned, and logistics figured out? Congratulations!

Are you ready to take your program to the next level? Let’s talk data.

If you look at the Y4Y Continuous Improvement Process Diagram, you’ll see data collection plays a key role in helping you make improvements. As your summer program gets under way, think about data collection as a three-dimensional launch pad into the continuous improvement cosmos. Dimension one consists of qualitative and quantitative data, dimension two includes short- and long-term data, and dimension three includes formative and summative data.

Qualitative and Quantitative

Any good program design is going to look at quantitative data (“the numbers”) as well as qualitative data (important information that can’t be expressed in numbers). For example, your quantitative measure of attendance can tell you in concrete terms whether the program was successful in engaging the targeted number of students, but a parent survey question can help you understand why those students wanted to be there. Academic assessments can provide quantitative data on whether students are improving in a particular subject area, but student survey results can give you qualitative data on which methods or projects your students believe helped them improve. Be faithful about finalizing your end-of-program survey of staff and parents. Record your own recollections of projects or activities that seemed the most impactful. Use these data to help you make next year’s program even better!

Short and Long Term

Taking the program’s pulse at every opportunity is crucial to short-term improvements. Regular check-ins with parents at pick-up time give them a chance to share any concerns, and it’s also a way to solicit insights into their children’s interests, challenges and progress. You can use these insights to make adjustments where needed. Also, keep your finger on the pulse of everyday routines. Today’s observation that students left the room messy after an art activity might lead to tomorrow’s introduction of a new clean-up routine. A mid-program academic assessment might tell you that your students are ahead of the curve on math, but behind on reading comprehension. This discovery could prompt a change in your approach. Don’t scrap your ideas at the end of the summer — keeping notes on all successes and challenges, however small they may seem, will give you a head start in planning for the long term. “Future you” will be delighted with “past you” for providing such helpful information!

Formative and Summative   

You collected a lot of data to design your summer program: school-level data, student-level data, student voice data. These types of data are considered summative because they “summarize” students’ progress or results at the end of an extended period of instruction. The data you collect midway through your program, or at the end, are also summative. These data tell you whether your program is reaching its goals and help you decide if adjustments are needed. No doubt, your program design already incorporates opportunities to gather data to support program improvement (see the Y4Y Continuous Improvement Planner).

To make sure you and your students stay on course day-to-day or week-to-week, you’ll need to collect formative data. Formative data help you identify and understand problems as they occur so that you can “form” effective solutions. For example, let’s say when you designed a new summer math program, the students’ summative academic assessment results informed your program design, but a mid-summer check tells you that you’re not on target with your goals, and you’re not sure how to get back on track. You might decide to add a formative assessment tool, like journaling, where you ask students to show their work on a specific set of problems, reflect on their approach and raise questions. Even if journaling wasn’t part of your original design, using it to collect qualitative data can help you see where gaps in comprehension may be. This information can help you make adjustments that target the reasons behind students’ difficulties. That way, you can get your summer math program — and your students — back on track while there’s still time to make changes.

With data as your launch pad, the quality of your school year program as well as next summer’s will get a boost. It’s all part of the continuous improvement cycle.

For more ideas on continuous improvement, catch the replay of Y4Y’s Summer Learning Webinar installment, The Right Outcome: Ready for Summer. Also, visit the Continuous Improvement section of Y4Y’s Summer Learning Initiative page for survey and observation tools, sample focus group questions and more. 



May 22, 2019

With initial design of your summer learning program complete, you’re ready to recruit staff and partners, then cultivate skills and knowledge so your gardeners can deliver activities that help students grow and prevent summer learning loss. You may have a core team in place but probably need to fill some gaps. Where do you start? Here are some tools and tips from Y4Y resources.

Select the Right Gardeners

To nurture strong, successful students, plan staff and partner recruitment to identify candidates with qualities you need.

  • Recruit staff. Some will be school-day teachers, who understand academics and know how to support student learning. Others will be school-day paraprofessionals, college students and community volunteers. You want candidates who reflect your students’ diversity, can support social and emotional learning, and bring skills and knowledge that will enrich the learning environment. Create a recruitment structure by developing job descriptions and preparing for interviews. See the Y4Y Sample Human Resources Packet and the Identifying and Recruiting High-Quality Staff tools for help with those processes.
  • Recruit partners. Use Y4Y tools to put two things in place: a community asset map that identifies potential resources, and an elevator pitch that explains your 21st CCLC program and its goals for summer learning. These resources help you prepare the soil for successful collaborations.

Fertilize and Water Frequently

Start by including everyone — your staff and appropriate partner staff — in orientation training, so everyone knows the garden design. As the summer session progresses, follow up with group and individual coaching. To ensure that everyone thrives, use the Y4Y Observation Checklist and Summer Learning Training Planner tools to focus ongoing coaching and professional learning activities. For ideas from 21st CCLC colleagues, listen to the podcasts on recruiting staff and leading your organization in the Organizational Culture Click & Go.

A Little Weeding and a Lot of Joy

Your summer learning garden can produce glorious blooms — just be sure to use your continuous improvement process to weed out ineffective practices. See the Y4Y Continuous Improvement Planner and the Continuous Improvement Process Diagram for more information. At the end of the summer session, bring everyone together to celebrate your garden’s bounty!

Other Y4Y Resources

Summer Learning Initiative. Get inspiration, ideas and tools from this two-year Department project.

Summer Learning Course: Implementation Strategies. See Step 4: Logistics, Planning Professional Development.

Managing Your 21st CCLC Program Course. Find the information and tools every program director needs.



May 22, 2019

A 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 17 percent of teens “often” or “sometimes” can’t complete homework assignments because they don’t have access to a computer or the internet. This situation is so common that it has a name: the homework gap. The students most likely to have this challenge are Black teens and those from lower-income households.

Students with no computer or internet access at home might depend on your 21st CCLC program for access. Here are three ways your program can help bridge the homework gap:

  • Pinpoint technology needs. Survey students and teachers to identify technology needs. Computers, a printer and internet access are “givens.” But what if a biology assignment calls for an original, illustrated presentation? Can your program provide access to presentation software and a digital camera? What if a future engineer wants to join a live online study group moderated by a NASA scientist? Do you have an internet-connected computer in a quiet area so the student can fully participate? There may be other needs, like access to a graphing calculator or a handheld GPS unit.
  • Use strategy and collaboration to meet identified needs. If you find technology needs beyond the reach of the program budget and resources, look elsewhere. Might the school provide access to its technology lab? Have you checked your local library? Some libraries loan digital cameras, video cameras, tripods, telescopes, microscopes and other hardware. Might a local business or community organization loan or donate new or used items to your program? You might be surprised at people’s willingness to help, once you tell them what you need and why.
  • Make technology part of your program activities. Make sure your students don’t “sit on the sidelines” when it comes to technology. If you have limited tech abilities yourself, invite a tech-savvy parent, college student or volunteer to coach. Your students will love watching you make mistakes as you learn along with them! Robotics and coding are popular activities in many 21st CCLC programs. Creating a blog or a podcast is a great way to integrate technology into project-based learning. Maybe your students can help you set up a videoconference with a professional geologist or weather forecaster as part of a citizen science project. Building skills and confidence with technology is important to students’ future success.

Visit the Y4Y website for more ideas on making technology part of your program and providing homework help.

 

Reference

Anderson, M., & Perrin, A. (2018, October 26). Nearly one-in-five teens can’t always finish their homework because of the digital divide. Pew Research Center Fact Tank.



February 14, 2019

You might have heard that Earth’s magnetic north (where compass needles point) is shifting at a faster rate than usual. Unlike “true north,” which doesn’t change, magnetic north is affected by changing currents in Earth’s magnetic fields.

Similarly, your students’ academic needs can shift over time as new topics and circumstances arise. Maybe Jayden and Lisa were doing fine in math until fractions came along. Sarah, who won the poetry slam, might struggle to develop cohesive paragraphs in English. Noah may have fallen behind in several classes after weeks in the hospital due to a serious accident.

Even if your program is on a good path, pausing now and then for a compass check can keep things headed in a good direction. Have you noticed students struggling with certain concepts or behaviors during program activities? Have you asked the school-day staff lately about specific academic skills or content where your students could use extra support or enrichment?

It’s possible that tweaks to your planned activities could address your students’ shifting needs. Or you might decide a new or different kind of activity could target an area where multiple students need help. The Y4Y Activity Planner can help you organize your thoughts and work through the activity design process. See the Y4Y Continuous Education course for other tools and ideas for connecting program activities to school-day learning.

Remember, even if needs and circumstances shift, the “true north” of student growth and success doesn’t change. Checking your compass and adjusting course as needed keeps your students and your program on track.



August 21, 2018

According to the National Science Foundation, humans have somewhere between 12,000 and 70,000 thoughts each day. Sad to say, up to 80 percent of those thoughts are negative — but we can do something to change that. Educators hear a lot about positive youth development, character education, positive behavior interventions, social emotional learning and positive program climate. Programs that formalize these practices can contribute to building confidence, resilience and happiness for the youth we serve. With or without a formal program, you and your out-if-school time program can immediately implement practices that will start harnessing the power of positivity.

Positive Self-Talk

In Kathryn Stockett’s book, The Help, a little girl learns this mantra: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” This is exactly the kind of positive self-talk we want to encourage in our students. How often have you heard a student say, “I’m not good at…” or “I can’t…”? Make a conscious effort to help them rephrase those thoughts more positively: “I’m getting better at…” or “I’m learning how to…” When you take the time to restate something in a positive way, you help a child train their brain to think more positively. You might ask students to develop a positive mantra for the program and individual mantras for themselves. Devote a quick minute each day to repeating those mantras and further developing their positive self-image.

Gratitude

Students can get caught up in the game of comparison: someone else has fancier belongings or is more skilled at a sport. Help students realize their natural abilities and identify their strengths. Consider having students start gratitude journals. Processing thoughts for a few minutes a day can build important cognitive skills, and capturing them in a journal develops writing skills. You could start a gratitude sharing practice during snack time. Ask students what they are thankful for that day or what they are looking forward to in the program. Helping students learn to identify and focus on positive things in their world builds a positive world view.

No Complaining

How many complaints do you hear in a typical program day? It’s time to issue a no complaining challenge! We can help students — and ourselves — learn how to respond more positively and effectively to whatever life throws at us. In his book, A Complaint Free World, Will Bowen describes his complaint-free challenge. He uses a 21-day cycle, during which participants wear an arm band and move it from one arm to the other each time they complain. This creates a physical reminder to think more positively. You might have your students create positivity friendship bracelets and try the same challenge. The goal is to keep the bracelet on the same arm for a full 21 days. Students can remind each other not to complain and help each other rephrase thoughts to be more positive.

Norman Vincent Peale said, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” You can help students change how they view themselves and their world, and lower the percentage of negative thoughts in their day. Try one of these positivity practices and watch the impact on your students and the overall climate of your program. For a ready-to-use professional learning session on positive youth development, download this Y4Y Training to Go. For a quick one-page reference, also grab The 5C’s of Positive Youth Development.