RSS | Go To: afterschoolalliance.org
Subscribe to the Afterschool Advocate newsletter
Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
Afterschool Donation
Afterschool on Facebook
Afterschool on Twitter
Blogs We Read Afterschool Snack Bloggers
Select blogger:
Recent Afterschool Snacks
APR
14

IN THE FIELD
email
print

In case you missed it: A recap of the Building Literacy in Afterschool webinar

By Nikki Yamashiro

A geography quiz bowl set in the style of the game show Jeopardy, field trips to cultural institutions, and teaching playwriting while building communication and leadership skills—these are just a few examples of the ways three afterschool programs featured in our webinar earlier this month are engaging their students in literacy and helping to develop their students’ reading, writing and critical thinking skills. 

The Simpson Street Free Press afterschool program located in Dane County, Wisconsin; Positive Direction Youth Center from Terrell County, Georgia; and the 2015 Dollar General Afterschool Literacy Award winner, New American Pathways’ Bright Futures Afterschool Program from Atlanta, Georgia, shared everything from tips on how to build on—but not replicate—what their students are learning during the school day to components of quality instruction to how to engage parents and families in their child’s education.  Speakers on the webinar also answered questions from the audience on how to foster and sustain student engagement in literacy building activities, how they worked to develop partnerships and relationships with their students’ schools, and how and why they provide targeted support to their students who are struggling in school.

If you missed the webinar, visit our webinar archives page where you can watch the recording; download the PowerPoint slides; and access resources that were included in the webinar from Simpson Street Free Press, Positive Direction Youth Center and New American Pathways’ Bright Futures Afterschool Program.  You can also read more about the important role afterschool programs are playing to help develop their students’ literacy skills in our latest issue brief, “Building Literacy in Afterschool.”

share this link: http://bit.ly/1arHtWc
learn more about:
Comments: (0)
APR
10

FUNDING
email
print

Development of non-cognitive factors and out-of-school STEM priorities in new round of i3 grants

By Erik Peterson

The Department of Education has issued a notice seeking applications for Investing in Innovation (i3) Development grants for fiscal year 2015.  Two of the five priorities specifically emphasize programs where we know afterschool providers excel: programs that emphasize the development of non-cognitive factors and hands-on, inspirational programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.  Non-cognitive factors can emphasize a range of skills and behaviors including academic behaviors, academic mindset, perseverance, self-regulation and socio-emotional skills. The notice describes the intent to identify solutions to support the growing body of research that suggests interventions enhancing student’s non-cognitive skills can help lead to success in the classroom and later in life.  The Department of Education is also interested in how to measure and evaluate social and emotional skills in order to offer programs that best support students. 

In addition to applications supporting non-cognitive factors, the Department also invites applications supporting out-of-school STEM.  Citing the greater and greater need for students proficient in STEM skills to fill jobs in the American economy, the Department of Education seeks applications for projects that will reach students beyond the school day, give them opportunities to get hands on learning experiences in the STEM fields, and inspire them to pursue STEM career paths.  Programs can extend the day, week or year, and occur before-school, after-school or during the summer.  

In addition to non-cognitive development and STEM, i3 Development grants can cover three other priorities.  The Absolute Priorities all together under which the Department of Education seeks applications are:

share this link: http://bit.ly/1CzBeGL
learn more about:
Comments: (0)
APR
10

RESEARCH
email
print

Getting to work on summer learning

By Rachel Clark

With the summer fast approaching, families are searching for summer learning programs to keep their kids safe and inspire learning throughout the break.  To help meet this need in your community, The Wallace Foundation has put together a host of summer learning resources to make a strong case for the importance of summer programs and to plan a program that will help kids in your community for years to come.

  • Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning” makes a compelling case for the importance of summer learning opportunities, particularly in terms of their critical role in closing the achievement gap.  The report offers recommendations for districts, providers, policy makers and funders to help overcome cost barriers and extend summer learning opportunities. 
  • Getting to Work on Summer Learning: Recommended Practices for Success” illustrates a variety of best practices to create strong summer learning programs that will promote achievement and help avoid “summer slide.”  The comprehensive report offers guidelines for planning, curriculum and instruction, teacher selection and training, enrichment activities, attendance, academic time, and program costs and funding sources—whether you’re launching or just improving a summer program, this resource can help every step of the way.
  • Ready for Fall?,” released in December, presents student outcome findings demonstrating how summer learning programs can improve educational outcomes for low-income students.  The report also highlights best practices associated with student success and offers recommendations for programs.  For more details about “Ready for Fall?,” check out our blog coverage of the report release.

Though the Foundation recommends getting started with summer program planning in January, there’s plenty of time to incorporate some of their findings into your preparation!  Start exploring the resources now.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1JvSD98
learn more about:
Comments: (0)
APR
9

RESEARCH
email
print

Guest blog: Congress should follow the research and support after-school programs

By Nikki Yamashiro

Deborah Lowe Vandell is a distinguished education researcher and founding dean of the School of Education at the University of California-Irvine.  This blog post was originally published in The Hill.

Effective afterschool programs can improve students’ academic achievement, work habits and personal behavior. They serve kids at a critical time—the hours after 3 in the afternoon when they would otherwise be out of school and on their own. 

Now, it’s a critical time for these afterschool and summer programs.

Congress is considering the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—the leading federal legislation that funds primary and secondary education. 

Among the many decisions that Congress will make is whether to maintain funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. These federally funded afterschool and summer programs serve some 1.6 million students a year, primarily students from low-income communities. These programs offer high-quality, hands-on activities under the supervision of caring, specially trained staff.  Most studies agree that high-quality afterschool programs are making a huge and helpful difference in youngsters’ lives.  

But now these programs are in danger of being cut back or even closed down, depriving poor kids of crucial opportunities to learn and develop during the non-school hours. Unless this initiative is preserved as a dedicated stream of funding, these afterschool programs offered in collaboration with local partners including public schools, community organizations such as YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs, and faith-based organizations will be seriously jeopardized. 

share this link: http://bit.ly/1apTADx
learn more about:
Comments: (0)
APR
8

NEWS ROUNDUP
email
print

Weekly Media Roundup  April 8, 2015

By Luci Manning

Thorp Discovery Lab Learns Drums (Ellensburg Daily Record, Washington)

Each Thursday, ten students from kindergarten to fifth grade learn to play half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes on an upside-down bucket. Afterwards, they move onto body drumming, which includes foot stomping, shoulder slapping, clapping and tap dancing. The students take classes four days a week through Discovery Lab at Thorp School, an afterschool program focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). According to Discovery Lab founder Tosha Woods, the art component is crucial. “Studies show art is incredibly important and supports all of STEM,” she told the Ellensburg Daily Record.

A New Kitchen and Organic Garden to Teach Healthy Cooking (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

Students in the twice-weekly afterschool cooking class at Philadelphia Montessori Charter School recently learned to prepare baked chicken wings with potatoes, carrots and parsnips as an alternative to less-healthy fast food. They trimmed and separated the wings, washed and sliced the potatoes and prepared a marinade. Most of the students signed up for the class to learn to eat healthier or help around the kitchen at home. “I want to express myself through cooking and have people enjoy what I cook,” 11-year-old Beinushi Jean-Pierre told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Over the next few months, the school is building an upgraded teaching kitchen to house the program and planting an organic garden for the students to tend.

Newton’s Attic Teaches Kids Engineering through Hands-on Fun and Games (Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky)

Bill Cloyd was inspired to become a mechanical engineer through his childhood of building go karts and mini bikes from spare parts. Now, the former high school physics teacher runs Newton’s Attic, a five-acre facility that offers summer, spring break and afterschool classes that allows kids to learn engineering, physics and technology by creating their own toys. Last week, kids ages six to 18 were using a giant catapult to hurl pumpkins, building and flying drones, creating robots and learning about gravitational force by riding an enormous bungee-powered roller coaster. “The whole idea is fun with physics,” Cloyd’s wife Dawn told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Play is the ultimate learning tool.” 

Cabrillo High Launches Ivy League Mentorship Program (Long Beach Press-Telegram, California)

Cabrillo High School recently began an afterschool program called Reach to the Stars, which aims to generate student interest in attending Ivy League schools and other top universities. According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the program “organizes visits from industry leaders in science, technology, literature and the arts to the West Long Beach campus.” One recent guest was MIT alum John Underkoffler, who spoke to the students about how technology is used in films. Underkoffler has been a science and technology advisor on films such as “Minority Report,” “Hulk” and “Iron Man.”

share this link: http://bit.ly/1FCtUOX
learn more about:
Comments: (0)
APR
7

POLICY
email
print

Take action to support afterschool and summer learning!

By Erik Peterson

On April 7, 2015, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced a bipartisan agreement on fixing “No Child Left Behind.” While the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is currently not included in the bipartisan draft bill, dubbed the Every Child Achieves Act, it is expected to be proposed as a bipartisan amendment during the mark-up of the bill beginning on April 14th at 10 a.m. EDT. The mark-up could last three to four days.

The newly proposed, bipartisan legislation is the result of Chairman Alexander and Senator Murray working together over the past six weeks to develop an Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization bill that continues to measure the academic progress of students but restores to states, local school districts, teachers, and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement.

Friends of afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs can take action now by reaching out to Senators, particularly if they are on the Senate HELP Committee, in support of a bipartisan 21st CCLC amendment that would ensure quality afterschool and summer learning programs continue to be provided to more than 1.6 million students.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1HNLnEg
learn more about:
Comments: (0)
APR
7

RESEARCH
email
print

Promoting family engagement in afterschool

By Nikki Yamashiro

Study after study confirms the importance of family engagement in a child’s development.  A new article in the April issue of Phi Delta Kappan, “Engage families for anywhere, anytime learning,” shifts the focus of the conversation from if family engagement is important to how to better engage families.  Written by Heather B. Weiss, founder and director of the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) and M. Elena Lopez, HFRP’s associate director, the article discusses the need to look to the out-of-school time hours to help promote family engagement efforts. It also focuses on three principles to create a “more equitable approach to family engagement based on family strengths as well as the shared responsibility assumed by families, schools, and communities for children’s positive academic and social development across time and the many settings where children learn:”

  1. Shared responsibility:  Families, schools and communities coming together and working together to create a learning environment that helps students grow and thrive. The authors include the example of Makeshop, an exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh that works with a variety of partners—including schools, a library and a university—to create a space where children and their families can work together to tinker and learn about new objects using a mix of materials and technology—from circuit boards to wooden toys. 
  2. Connection:  Connecting children to a variety of learning opportunities in and out of school, where parents, schools and communities find ways to facilitate, encourage and sustain participation in afterschool and summer learning programs.  The Greenwood Shalom afterschool program, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is included as an example of an afterschool program that not only provides targeted support to their students, but to their families as well.  The program offers parent empowerment seminars, information sessions on college enrollment and voter registration, and helps facilitate meetings between families and school day staff. 
  3. Continuity:  Leveraging the collective support of families, schools and communities to ensure that students have afterschool and summer learning opportunities available and of interest to them as they grow and move through elementary, middle and high school.  The example provided is Comienza en Casa (It Starts at Home), a program serving migrant preschoolers and kindergarteners in Milbridge, Maine, that offers support to children and their families as children transition from learning at home to a kindergarten classroom.  The program works closely with their students’ school, as well as a local library, to help with the transition, and also creates individualized learning goals for parents to work on with their child at home.

To learn more, read the full article in the Phi Delta Kappan.  If you’re looking for additional examples of the ways in which afterschool and summer learning programs are helping support parent engagement efforts, you can also read our issue brief, “Afterschool: A Key to Successful Parent Engagement.”

share this link: http://bit.ly/1Cip2tQ
learn more about:
Comments: (0)
APR
2

RESEARCH
email
print

New resources: Explore afterschool quality

By Rachel Clark

Recently, the National AfterSchool Association published a series of focus briefs describing the state of afterschool quality. High quality afterschool programs can help close the achievement gap and show significant promise for improving long-term outcomes such as high school graduation and post-secondary enrollment rates, as well as college and career readiness.  Parents want to know their children are learning and safe afterschool—NAA's new resources offer the tools for afterschool programs to meet the high expectations of parents and community members.

The briefs highlight why afterschool quality matters and reveal the progress made by the afterschool field in identifying, measuring and implementing quality practices, as well as in promoting professionalism among staff.  In addition, the series offers strategies for all programs to boost quality to help fully realize afterschool's potential to inspire learning and keep kids safe and healthy, and calls on public and private funders to invest in efforts to improve program quality and professional preparation.

After you dig into these new resources, be sure to spread the word!  NAA has created a toolkit to make sharing simple.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1IVxAMN
learn more about:
Comments: (0)