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September 11, 2015

The levels of excitement and chaos may seem to rise out of control when the school and program years get started. Not to worry, because Y4Y can help you “nail” the right combination of both elements to engage students and take advantage of their desire for free exploration. You create the framework through project-based learning, then tap gently to facilitate student learning and development.

Real-Time Virtual Learning

Your peers across the country have made Project-Based Learning the most popular course on Y4Y. Because of that, the Y4Y project team continues to work on new ways to extend your professional learning around this effective strategy. We call our newest offering a real-time virtual learning series; our first cohort started September 1 and will complete their experience on September 25. Virtual cohort members agreed to attend at least three of four live webinars, to participate in online discussions, and to conduct offline activities and explorations. The series will provide certificates of completion to cohort members who meet the participation requirements.

If you missed the enrollment window for “Project-Based Learning: Hands On, Minds On,” we can let you know about future real-time virtual learning events. Give us your e-mail address, and we promise to be in touch.

Here’s a glimpse into the first week’s webinar, where discussion included ideas about how to incorporate student voice into project planning. Activity leaders may start the process with a student brainstorming session that defines which topics students want to explore. If you don’t regularly give students opportunities to conduct such sessions, the “Planner for Brainstorming” tool on Y4Y will help you establish a structure, conduct the session and reflect on results.

Focused Podcast

As you begin a project and help students form work teams, you’ll consider how to group students. The first podcast produced for the learning series is titled “Who Are They?” It discusses how personality types play out in team settings, and can help program staff think about creating teams and assigning tasks in ways that help students develop both social and academic skills and knowledge. 

Online Course

If your program wants to help students grasp the big ideas of school-day academics and develop the 21st century skills they need to succeed in college and career — while you also create a fun and engaging environment for learning — try project-based learning. Research shows that this instructional approach, also called inquiry-based learning, helps students master core content, increases motivation to learn and improves attitudes toward learning. Get more details about these and other benefits in the Project-Based Learning Research Brief, one of the tools in the Y4Y course.

You may choose to start project-based learning through one of its close cousins, such as service learning or civic learning and engagement. Projects in these areas can connect students to their community and civic life in fun and fulfilling ways.

Wherever you start, look to Y4Y for learning resources and helpful tools. Most of all, get ready for the controlled chaos of busy teams of students who get totally engaged in pursuing answers to their driving questions.

 



October 7, 2013

Speaking of handbooks, the Y4Y team recently had the pleasure of participating in the Multistate Conference in Indianapolis, IN where we heard excellent examples from the field of 21st CCLC. One middle school educator shared with us a great idea for creating student handbooks for incoming sixth grades: let the experts do it – the 7th and 8th graders!

Her veteran middle school students made a project out of creating informative and engaging handbooks that were then distributed to incoming sixth grade students at orientation. Who better to create a handbook on navigating the waters of middle school than the students themselves?

Thanks for sharing your ideas with us, and please keep them coming!  



July 22, 2013

In case you missed it, the U.S. Department of Education has officially unveiled an exciting new guide to Civic Learning and Engagement on the Y4Y portal! Civic learning and engagement affords students the opportunity to make a real difference in the world through collaborative projects that address real-life issues that concern them. Empower your students to be engaged members of their community, and to know that their opinions and ideas matter. Get started with a civic learning project now, and the youth in your program will be learning by doing, while gaining 21st Century skills and becoming good citizens.

You’ll find the new Civic Learning and Engagement content integrated into the Project-Based Learning module, because when it comes to hands-on learning one of the best examples is civic engagement. Come visit the Learn section of the Project-Based Learning module to see how your program can incorporate practical strategies that draw students into becoming more active and involved in their communities, all while gaining academic and 21st century skills.

Get staff on board with the new content by checking out the Trainings To Go and Training Starters related to Civic Learning and Engagement, and get started with Civic Learning and Engagement activities and projects using the specially designed planning and implementation documents in Tools.

Stay tuned for more guidance from the Y4Y team on this exciting topic! In the meantime, if you have any Civic Learning and Engagement examples or ideas you’d like to share, you can post them to the Discussion Boards.  



May 3, 2013

In the summer it is even more important than during the school year to “complement, not replicate” school-day learning. What does that look like? Take a look at the Complementing vs. Replicating tool for some ideas to spark your creativity as you plan for summer. Then think about how those strategies for engaging youth interest can be beneficial to your program, to the youth you serve, and to your community.

While you’re thinking about how to most effectively “complement, not replicate,” try one of the challenges on Y4Y. What would you say to encourage a staff member to try a dynamic, motivating activity instead of a worksheet? How could the math, literacy, science, and history concepts typed out on a worksheet be transformed into fun summer activities?



April 19, 2013

One critical way to support program families is to provide opportunities for parents and other family members to gain useful skills for their own professional advancement and personal growth. Check out this list of Adult Development Activities in the Learn / Family Involvement section of Y4Y. Do you see a need for any of these initiatives or similar ones in your program families?

By starting an English as a Second Language class or hosting parenting classes, everyone wins. Families benefit from their new skills, their children receive more support because parents may feel more confident and prepared to provide it, and your program reaps the rewards of establishing stronger bonds among families and between the families and your staff.

Remember, too, that if offering a GED course or a résumé-writing workshop is beyond the capacity of your small staff, you can always be connectors.