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June 14, 2016

Help students hold on to their literacy skills by trying some or all of these easy tips:

During a summer program:

- Build literacy into your summer program. For example, if your curriculum has a STEM focus, use the Y4Y STEM Vocabulary Builder. It can help students learn math and science language and reinforce understanding of the concepts. Get other ideas from the Literacy Everywhere tool.

- During one day of the program, hold a “book swap.” Invite everyone to bring used books and take different ones home.

Outside a summer program:

- Hold a family literacy event. Use this Y4Y checklist to help you organize.

- Enlist family members to lead read-alouds several times a week. One way to structure this is with a “family book review” activity. Learn about it on the Reaching Out to Families tool. 

- Partner with your local public library to help students sign up for library cards. Families get free access to books (including digital ones that download to a tablet or computer) and a professional librarian to help readers select ones they’ll enjoy.

- Find a local partner to help you send books home to your students and their family members.

For more ideas, visit Read Where You Are and keep learning alive all summer long!



August 31, 2015

The Summer Institute (July 27-29) rounded up plenty of learning opportunities for out-of-school time professionals. Topic strands included family and community engagement, STEM, literacy, improving program quality, serving students with disabilities and more. Whether you were “back in the saddle” with us in Dallas or home at the ranch, you can review Y4Y sessions and get handouts and other materials. Find the Y4Y training team’s three presentations (in PDF) and associated handouts on the 2015 Summer Institute page.

Y4Y Session: Empowering Youth to Actively Participate in Prevention

This session — available as a video recording — describes how to use Y4Y resources to enhance implementation of afterschool drug and alcohol prevention programs. Learn how drug and alcohol use affect student achievement, explore interactive activities that are designed for grades K-12, and develop strategies for engaging families and building partnerships around prevention. 

During the session, participants learned how to find their state’s drug control update (see the “Texas Drug Control Update” handout for an example) to get a snapshot of local drug and alcohol issues that programs can use to focus their prevention efforts. To access the update for your state, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp and click “Policy and Research” and then “State and Local Information.”

Participants also brainstormed ideas for project-based learning and explored K-12 activities they could use right away to engage students and their families around prevention. “The Amazing Brain” and “Protecting Your Brain” are two of the Brain Power modules from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. These address elementary-age students and incorporate learning in both science and prevention. The modules for middle school students combine short, informative student “magazines,” such as Weeding Out the Grass, with games that check their understanding, such as “Marijuana Bingo.” For high school youth, “Heads Up: Real News about Drugs and Your Body” provides fun activities that provide openings for deeper discussions about drug and alcohol prevention.

Y4Y Session: Investing in Family Engagement

Building family engagement in your program is easily worth the investment of time, energy and resources when you see the value in terms of student success. Use the materials from this session to explore best practices for improving and developing relationships with families.

During the session, participants watched the “Benefits of Family Engagement” video, then discussed what they already do and what they would like to do. After brainstorming about common challenges to family engagement, they used the “Overcoming Challenges” tool to identify possible underlying causes and potential solutions. Participants also used Y4Y tools to reflect on strategies to develop a more welcoming program environment for all families and begin some action planning around ways to support families and focus staff training on specific family engagement goals.  Find all the tools and resources from this session onon the Summer Institute page.

Y4Y Session: Building Literacy Through Fun and Games (Grades K-5)

Literacy after school can incorporate play that helps students gain critical academic and 21st century skills. This session helped participants see how to improve understanding of the building blocks of literacy and implement engaging literacy activities such as a vocabulary parade, finger play, poetry and song, and a picture walk.

Participants watched the “What is Literacy” video and discussed what it means to be literate in this technological age. As they reviewed the five components of reading, participants tried out phonemic awareness and phonics activities (from “Phonemic Awareness Activities”) and took part in a “Vocabulary Parade,” using Tier 2 words from the Word Up Project Lists as inspiration for their costumes. Participants viewed The True Story of the Three Little Pigs “reader’s theatre” example from Y4Y and shared how they practiced reading fluency in their programs. The session ended with a review of different Before, During and After activities to support comprehension (from “Comprehension Activities”) and effective questioning strategies. Participants were encouraged to think about how to incorporate literacy learning throughout the program day (using “Literacy Everywhere”).  Find all the tools and resources from this session on the Summer Institute page.

 



February 13, 2015

In your afterschool and expanded learning programs, you try every day to fit in as much fun and learning as you can, balancing all the competing demands. Y4Y staff know how busy your days are. Luckily, literacy can be worked into a program in many ways, big and small. Let’s go through the key building blocks of literacy to demonstrate some ways.

Reading

Many programs have found success with book clubs. Beyond providing risk-free space to practice the mechanics of reading and strengthen comprehension skills, book clubs boost motivation, which is critical for developing readers. To get everyone on the same page, visit Y4Y’s Book Club hub for ideas that will help your students become detectives or space explorers, visit other countries, travel to the past or future, and meet people who are very different but very alike, too.

Writing

In the special space of afterschool, writing needs to be more than sitting down and working in silence. Get your students super-charged about writing by involving them in fun and thought-provoking Pre-Writing Activities from Y4Y. They’ll be engaged in a topic and brimming with ideas, ready to write! To add another level of motivation, bring in a local writer or offer books written by people from your city or state.

Speaking and Listening

Speaking and listening skills are gateways: they help students become better readers. One strategy that’s common in early childhood education works for all ages — it’s the Interactive Read-Aloud, which mixes a teacher reading to a group, students interacting with the teacher about the text, and students talking with one another to dig deeper into the content.

Language

It’s easy to incorporate language skills into any program activity or project. Try some of the strategies on Y4Y’s Vocabulary Development page to reinforce language learning while your students are accomplishing other goals. Several strategies, like those that foster word consciousness, take very little preparation time and can be fun and casual to add into transition times or snack time. Some of the more formal strategies, such as a Vocabulary Collage or the Frayer Chart, would pair perfectly with a new thematic unit or a project you are already doing in your program. 

Tip: Engaging families in literacy events is also a great way to build your literacy programming and make a positive impact on your community.  Consider hosting a fun family literacy event. Use this checklist to ensure it’s well planned!

For more ideas to incorporate the key building blocks of literacy into your program, check out the Learn More Library’s wealth of resources. 



September 8, 2014

Back to school is a very exciting time of year for everybody. It’s a chance to get back to basics while also getting a fresh start and a chance to meet new people and learn new things. In that spirit, we here at Y4Y are very excited to announce the release of brand new content on Y4Y, which was rolled out over Labor Day weekend just in time for back to school!

First up is the new Literacy content module. It includes a full Learn section (Introduction, Implementation Strategies, and Coaching My Staff), a Teach section (Trainings to Go and Training Starters), Tools, and a Glossary. In total there are over 60 new pages of content including 9 new videos and over 100 tools and resources.

Next is the whole-site content refresh! That’s right -- each of the other five modules has been enhanced and updated with new content, new and revised pages, new or updated tools, and new external web resources. The refresh incorporates new materials to keep the existing modules relevant and up to date, while reorganizing the information slightly for improved consistency across the entire portal.

All of the new and refreshed content was designed with busy afterschool professionals like you in mind, so you’ll find it just as accessible, just as useful, and just as time saving as you’ve come to expect from Y4Y.



September 8, 2014

The new Literacy module was designed with the needs of your program’s youth foremost in mind. It helps you explore how crucial literacy is to learning and suggests how you can incorporate literacy activities into your programs in ways you may not have considered before. 

For example, after you learn about the Five Components of Reading and about the Six Developmental Stages of Reading in the Introduction to Literacy, you can choose from a variety of tools to put these ideas into practice.

One such tool is the BDA Lesson Planner, which will assist you in the fifth component of reading, Comprehension. The lesson planner guides you through the steps necessary to help your students think about what they are about to read “before” they start, to read actively “during” the exercise, and to summarize and synthesize what they read “after” they finish.  BDA – Before, During, After.

In addition to the lesson planner you’ll also find a BDA Training Starter, and even a completed Sample BDA Lesson to help you create your own. Take a look at the new Literacy module today and see what ideas you can find to help support and enhance the literacy skills of the youth in your programs.