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September 23, 2022

Y4Y is excited to introduce a new online professional development option for 21st CCLCs. A Quality Program Quickstarter, or QPQ, is a self-paced learning module you can complete in about an hour. Each one highlights an essential practice for high-quality programs and includes a bundle of practical tools to take away and use. You can complete one module or all of them, in any order — and you can earn a certificate of completion for each one!

Keep reading to learn about four QPQ modules that are available right now. Find one that sparks your interest, sign into the Y4Y portal at y4y.ed.gov, and get professional development that fits your needs and your schedule. Here’s your menu of QPQ choices:

Building a Program Team

This module helps you consider who all your stakeholders are, how they’ll be represented on your team, and the different roles each can serve. Y4Y knows that sometimes this “jumping-off point” in 21st CCLC programming can feel like arm-twisting, so Kathleen and her buddy, Michael, offer tips on identifying and recruiting the right people for an effective program team.

  • Tip: Create a communications plan that includes meaningful orientation and regular, planned meetings in a setting that’s conducive to getting work done together. Transparency, a shared calendar, and attention to social components are smart strategies.
  • Top reason to complete this module: By helping you keep team engagement top-of-mind, the hour or so you spend in Building a Program Team will help you assemble a diverse chorus of voices that will make your program sing.

Developing a Needs Assessment

This module walks you through the steps for conducting a comprehensive needs assessment that draws on a wealth of data. You’ll consider the purpose and benefits of conducting a needs assessment, strategies for an effective process, timing, and what types of data to include.

  • Tip: An effective needs assessment offers valid evidence to help you identify pressing needs. That way, you can focus on what matters most. But don’t stop there! Go beyond identifying weaknesses to identify strengths as well, like highly engaged partners and families. This helps you use asset-based thinking (rather than deficit thinking) as your problem-solving lens.
  • Top reason to complete this module: You’ll know how to develop a comprehensive needs assessment tailored to your program. Your findings will help you and your program team set priorities and determine next steps.

Community Asset Mapping

Are you looking for an effective way to identify, assess, and mobilize community resources to meet student needs and reach program goals? Community asset mapping may be the answer. This module guides you through the process and helps you uncover “hidden treasure” in your program’s own backyard.

  • Tip: Use your program team to help you map potential assets like local businesses and nonprofits, experts, and school and family partners. Then use your needs assessment results, program goals, and other criteria (like cost and ease of use) to zero in on assets that are a good fit and can add value.
  • Top reason to complete this module: You’ll learn an effective process for mapping available assets so that you don’t overlook hidden treasures like local expertise and nonprofit programs. You’ll also get tools and ideas to help you secure, engage, and respect program partners to ensure a sustainable program.

Intentional Activity Design

You can use the intentional activity design process to align your program’s activities with student needs and interests, program goals, and school-day learning.

  • Tip: Use a variety of learning and engagement strategies like student choice, meaningful projects, experiential learning, field trips, social interactions, individual and group components, and makerspaces to design activities that delight students and help them discover new interests, skills, and strengths.
  • Top reason to complete this module: You’ll be inspired to take a fresh look at your current approach to planning and designing program activities. Chances are, a few tweaks can yield big payoffs for you and your students.

Certificates? Yes, please!

As with Y4Y’s courses, completion of each QPQ module comes with the opportunity to download and print a certificate to demonstrate your professional growth and development. Of course, the results in your 21st CCLC program will be an even greater demonstration of all you’ve gained!



May 13, 2022

A teacher and three of his female pupils planting seedlings in a raised bed in the school garden. All three girls are using small gardening equipment to help plant.The sun is out, fruits and vegetables are in season, you have the luxury of time, and happy moods abound! How will your summer program be intentional in addressing students’ health and wellness? What pieces of a healthy summer can be carried into the next school year? Start with your school partnership and intentional program design to be confident you’re putting health first.

Be Ambitious

When it comes to student health, your program can afford to be ambitious this summer because you’re not in it alone! Your community is invested in your students’ well-being too, so bring them along. With those high ambitions in mind, assess the greatest health needs among your students.

Make Your Intentional Plan

Box checking can be exhausting, and each year it feels like there are more boxes to check. When it comes to health and wellness, take advantage of out-of-school time’s flexibility to lean into feel-good activities that boost spirits and by extension, student well-being.

You Are What You Eat

Nutrition can play a big role in your summer program. Last summer in a Y4Y Voices From the Field podcast, Simone Miranda of the Schenectady City School District shared how her program’s partnership with a local farm led to fresh fruits and vegetables — and career exploration opportunities — for her students. Renee Starr and Megan Grubb from Brooklyn Center Community Schools took this idea one step further by braiding 21st CCLC funds with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Every region has some form of agriculture that students can take important life and career skills from. And with a strategic partnership in place, maybe they can even take home some fresh food!

  • What are your community assets? Dig deep into what organizations you can partner with by using Y4Y’s Mapping Needs to Partners, Mapping Community Assets, and Community Asset Mapping tools.
  • As you reach out to new partners in your community, it’s helpful to create an elevator speech about your program. Adapt your speech for existing partners to emphasize the health and wellness needs of your students, especially those that have crept in as a result of the pandemic.
  • With partners in place, consider all the ways good nutrition can be part of your summer. Cooking with students is a great opportunity to practice reading, math, and general problem solving as well as conversations and lessons around what constitutes healthy foods and portion sizes.

Our Friends the Neurotransmitters

Chief among the natural ways of boosting neurotransmitters associated with mental and emotional wellness are exercise, mindfulness, gratitude, novelty, goal setting, and time in the sun. Your summer program is the perfect setting for all of these, and Y4Y has tips, tools, and resources to guide you:



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.