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May 18, 2017

Holding a celebration at the end of a project or program session can accomplish several things:

•    Give staff and students something fun to look forward to.
•    Provide an opportunity to review, reflect on and demonstrate the learning that occurred.
•    Make meaning from the learning by planning a celebration that’s also an authentic assessment for students — and for your program.

What does “authentic” mean in this context? Perhaps you’re more accustomed to a similar term: “real world.” You hear that term a lot in the out-of-school time field. Real-world learning is the complement to traditional, classroom-based learning. Instead of listening to lectures and reading text, real-world learning generally has students construct their own learning paths in response to real-world problems or situations. Rather than passively receiving information compiled by experts and educators, students become explorers and experimenters. 

Does your program use project-based learning, STEM explorations, citizen science or other active approaches to learning? These authentic learning experiences can be celebrated in authentic, real-world ways. Successful celebrations happen when they’re tied to learning goals and planned accordingly. 
 
The following tips can help you provide meaning and rewards for students, while also gathering valuable information to inform your program’s continuous improvement process. (See Five Steps to Continuous Improvement for more information.)

  1. Design early, and plan with the end in mind. This party has a purpose: tie the celebration to the learning goals of your major theme or activity. 
  2. Give students choice and voice. Whether they work individually or in teams, guide students to appropriate demonstrations of learning that also reflect their interests. For some students, this may be making a video. For others, it may be writing and performing a play, creating a diagram that teaches others about a process, or contributing to a project conducted by professional scientists or historians. 
  3. Get input from parents and program partners. Know about the community needs and values your activities should address.
  4. Market your event. A real-world audience for the culminating event has value for your students, the community and your program. Plan the event’s timing and content to encourage participation. 
  5. Make it an opportunity to reflect. Your staff and students will do a lot of hard work during the program term, so help them see the value of that work in the demonstration of results.

The Y4Y Project-Based Learning course offers examples of ways to structure culminating events and ideas about marketing your event. Also, the Y4Y Summer Learning course has tips for planning a culminating event. (Go to the Implementation Strategies section, click on “Menu” in the top-right navigation bar, and select Step 8.) 

Here are other resources to explore for ideas about celebrating student learning:

•    Culminating Projects at Reading Rockets
•    The FUN Factor: Culminating Events in Physical Education 

 

Y4Y Discussion: Learning Celebrations
What has your program done to celebrate the completion of learning events?

•    Maybe your students prepared a meal for a family open house at the end of nutrition/cooking project.
•    ​Perhaps students wrote and performed a play about the life cycle of monarch butterflies after your summer citizen science program.  

Please share your celebratory stories with peers and the Y4Y team on this discussion board. Our team members will check in, respond and prompt during the week of May 18 to May 31.



May 18, 2017

As you wrap up your school year or summer program, you will surely have plenty to celebrate. (See Six Tips for Celebrating Program Success for ideas about planning that special event.) Chances are, you also have ideas about things you want to improve, and applying a continuous improvement process can help. Not sure what that might look like? Get the Continuous Improvement Process Diagram from Y4Y.

Routinely following a continuous improvement plan will ensure your work goes smoothly. See the Y4Y Summer Learning course for guidance and tools to help (they work for the regular school year program, too). If you don’t have your plan and process designed yet, now is a great time to start. Here’s a preview to get you thinking — it includes links to tools that can help you organize for sound planning.

Step 1. Define What You Will Do
This step involves developing a purpose, goals and a logic model, which will be an important living document as you design, deliver and reflect on your program’s success. The logic model outlines these components:input: 

•    Inputs (your resources).
•    Outputs (your activities).
•    Intermediate outcomes (your benchmarks for progress).
•    Long-term goals (the impacts you want to make on student success).

Get the logic model tool here. 

Step 2. Implement With Fidelity
The best plan in the world may fail if it’s not carried out as designed. That’s why you’ll want to pay attention to how you implement program activities. Everyone on staff needs to understand the design and help monitor fidelity of implementation. Use the Observation Checklist to help with this step.

Step 3. Collect Data
The Y4Y Continuous Improvement Planner helps you track what and how to measure, who will be responsible, and when the measurements will take place.

Step 4. Analyze
Examine your data and reflect on results. How did each activity contribute to the results? What might you delete, tweak or add to get better results?

Step 5. Improve
As you plan for a new semester or summer, consider ways you might want to adjust your activities and your logic model to fit the next group of students you serve.

To become savvy about continuous improvement, take time to build your skills and knowledge right here on Y4Y! 



October 17, 2016

Congratulations – you’ve completed the first month of the new school year! By now, you’re probably settling into a program routine. Maintaining consistency is great for educators and students alike — as long as it supports your program goals. To get the best results for students, think of consistency as an element of program fidelity. Fortunately, you can achieve fidelity in many ways, including using project-based learning or specific approaches that support literacy. Whatever path you choose, staying true to program design helps students gain proven benefits backed by years of research.

If you’re pressed for time, check out Y4Y’s Click & Go 3 for a mini-lesson covering the key concepts of fidelity of implementation. It also provides tools to help you plan for success and measure progress, answers to frequently asked questions and more. For an in-depth presentation from Y4Y experts, watch the Y4Y Showcase: Implementing Your Program With Fidelity. You’ll learn more about using Click & Go resources to train staff and stay on track, and hear what successful 21st CCLC programs have done to maintain fidelity of implementation.

Don’t let your good intentions and careful planning blow away like fall leaves. Stay true to program content to give your students the quality experiences they deserve.



May 13, 2016

So, you finished your first school year as a new subgrantee of the 21st CCLC grant — whew! Now what? Start by giving yourself a pat on the back, then applaud your success and smile. For some of you, though, it’s on to the summer program!

To look at your successful first year, you might start by focusing on how you were able to engage the participants in their setting. How were your classes, clubs, programs, activities? By providing a wide variety of activities, 21st CCLC programs foster social skills, build and enhance communication, and support the intellectual development of participants. Your and your colleagues can ask this question: “Did we provide exceptional opportunities for both academic and social growth?” Gather some information to answer this question by working as a group to complete the Follow-Up and Supervision Checklist available in the Y4Y Tools.

After assessing the participants’ experience, take a look at the staff experience. Ask this: “As professionals, did we take full advantage of our abilities to meet the goals and objectives of our program?” The Y4Y tool on Determining Program Needs can assist with this particular exploration. 

Your talented team members have knowledge and skills that can help you offer powerful and engaging programs, so you can capture the imaginations and interests of every participant. These abilities help to create activities that align with program goals and objectives as well as important college- and career-ready learning standards. 

When 21st CCLC practitioners guide young people through hands-on activities that include the opportunity for conversation and learner-centered study, you embed the potential for positive development. This first year, you brought to life new topics of interest and facilitated learning that occurs outside of the formal school setting. One result is a fun and expressive learning experience that impacts everyone involved. For more about the benefits of active learning, see the Project-Based Learning Research Brief and look into the Project-Based Learning course.

So celebrate the scholarly standards and enrichment activities! Move forward, and continue to prepare. Summer is right around the corner, and everyone is ready for it. 

If you are new to the 21st CCLC world, please explore these Y4Y resources as you work to provide a high-quality program this summer and during the coming school year:

Guidance for New Programs Webinar for Replay

Follow-Up and Supervision Checklist

Program Implementation Planner

Summer Planning With Y4Y (Coffee Break #2) Webinar for Replay



July 13, 2014

Join us on Tuesday, July 15, at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern)/10:00 a.m. (Pacific) for an expert webinar on Program Evaluation with Y4Y. Our guest speakers will be Angela Hernandez-Marshall, Team Leader, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, U.S. Department of Education; Dr. Lisa St. Clair, Assistant Professor at the Munroe Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center; and Jane Sharp, an Evaluation Consultant at Sharp Ideas, LLC. Your host for this event will be Monique McDowell-Russell, Y4Y Training Specialist.

We’ll learn more about the overall purpose of program evaluation, understand how evaluation data can lead to continuous improvement and sustainability, learn how to put evaluation into practice in your program, and see some examples of how the Y4Y portal can support your evaluation efforts.

All Y4Y webinars are free so register today!