Guest blog: Why the afterschool learning context matters when using technology with at-risk students
Kamila Thigpen is the Digital Learning Policy and Advocacy Manager at Alliance for Excellent Education.
The nation’s 23.8 million minority students comprise nearly half of the school population, and many of them are underserved by their school systems. Try walking into one of these schools and you’ll notice very little changes in modern classrooms and those from more than a century ago. Although SMART Boards may have replaced black boards and a handful of computers may be visible around the room, in most cases there are few differences in the actual teaching and learning process.
After the school day and school year ends, disparities in access to technology are further compounded. Only 3 percent of teachers in high-poverty schools agree that “students have the digital tools they need to effectively complete assignments while at home,” compared to 52 percent of teachers in more affluent schools. As students get older and afterschool participation decreases, opportunities to engage in high-quality digital learning are few and far between for high-school aged students who need it most.
As you gear up for your Lights On Afterschool event this week, be sure to keep in mind the great photo opps you’ll have with your students, families and event guests—it could earn you $2,000!
Bright House Networks is once again helping us shine a light on the afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire learning and help working families with the Bright House Networks Photo Contest on Facebook.
From dancing to designing robots, we want to see all of the cool ways that afterschool programs engage kids. All you have to do is submit a photo of an afterschool activity that engages youth in your community. The photos with the top votes at the end of the public voting period will be eligible to win up to $2,000.
By Jodi Grant
For every child enrolled in an afterschool program, two more would enroll if they could, according to parents. That’s among the findings from our new survey, the 2014 edition of America After 3PM spanning 30,000 American households.
In all, 10.2 million children are in afterschool programs, up from 6.5 million in 2004. But the unmet demand for afterschool—parents who want to enroll their child in a program but say they don’t have a program available—has increased over the last decade as well, with the parents of a projected 19.4 million children now saying they would enroll their child in a program if one were available to them. Demand is especially high among low-income, African-American and Hispanic families.
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, founder of After-School All-Stars, spoke with reporters about the data and commented:
“Due to the fact that most students come from homes where both parents are working, we have a duty to provide safe havens for our children during the crucial hours from 3-6 pm. Afterschool programs do remarkable things for our children, families and communities. Reams of data show it, and I’ve seen it in my own work. These programs help kids with homework, teach them teamwork, engage them in community service, pair them with mentors, help them to be physically fit, involve them in activities like rocketry and robotics, and much more.”
“Afterschool is a wise investment but, unfortunately, we’re not investing nearly enough,” Schwarzenegger added. “America After 3 PM shows that we are meeting only about one-third of the demand for afterschool programs. We need federal, state and local governments, philanthropies, and businesses to step up and provide the resources that will put us on the path to making afterschool available to all.”
Highlights from the new survey:
Guest Blog by Reinaldo Llano, director of corporate outreach and special projects at Bright House Networks. Reinaldo leads community relations at Bright House Networks, one of the nation's largest cable and Internet providers.
Do you know a high school student whose creative genius is aspiring to unfold?
It’s been said that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. They’re also tomorrow’s innovators and inventors. They are OUR future. They are the ones who can help create new opportunities for our local economies to prosper and flourish.
We are proud to support Bright Ideas STEM from Today's Youth, a multi-state competition where students dream up the coolest inventions to make their own life, community or even the world more awesome and show how STEM—that's science, technology, engineering and math—can bring their idea to life!
By Luci Manning
Teen, Mentor Are ‘Prefect Match’ (The Free Lance-Star, Virginia)
13-year-old Aaron Johnson already has the experiences of a world traveler, even though he rarely leaves his hometown. Thanks to his “big brother” Gerald Fennemore and the Rappahannock Big Brother Big Sisters program, Johnson has met people from every continent except Antarctica. However, Johnson is gaining much more than cultural experience. “If you have a big brother, the family is like a second family, and a second home, so you’ll have two homes, and they can support you and help you with anything you have issues with,” Johnson told The Free Lance-Star. Fennemore has not only been teaching and mentoring Aaron, but the duo also love watching football and playing games together. “If you could find at least one other caring adult to make a difference in a kid’s life, that’s all it takes. Another adult might be able to find a spark to nurture something in your child that maybe you don’t see,” Johnson’s mother told The Free Lance-Star.
Computer Science First Opens New World, Opportunities to Students (The Post and Courier, South Carolina)
High School Freshman Monica Washington had no idea what she was in for when she enrolled in the Google After-School Program. Through the afterschool and summer computer science program, Washington has learned how to use Scratch, a fashion design program, and has taken classes on cyber security, yo code and an introduction to computer networking. After discovering a passion for cyber security during the summer, Washington tells The Post and Courier, “I am so thankful that I have the chance to get involved in learning about technology. It’s exciting… It is my hope that many more girls will take advantage of these awesome programs.”
Our Bridge Program Offers Classroom Aid to Immigrant Children (The Charlotte Observer, North Carolina)
Thanks to a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, Our Bridge, a nonprofit afterschool program in South Charlotte, was able to re-open to provide immigrant and refugee children with a safe and welcoming place to learn English. Our Bridge provides meals and transportation for the kids and celebrates their cultural holidays to make them feel at home, while still learning a whole new language in an unfamiliar country. Program Director Andrew Eastwood told The Charlotte Observer about a recent project on frog hibernation in which students made edible tadpole-winter hibernation exhibits of whipped cream, blue jello, chocolate pudding and gummy worms. “The kids loved learning about it and eating it,” Eastwood added.
Lights On Afterschool, the nationwide celebration of afterschool programs on Oct. 23, is fast approaching! And this year, we're adding a very exciting component to the celebration—a partnership with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) to offer STEM programming in science centers around the country to celebrate Lights On Afterschool.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Noyce Foundation, we were able to work with ASTC to offer mini-grants of $1500 each to 20 science centers around the nation to form partnerships with afterschool providers in their communities. They will work together to design and implement an afterschool STEM programming experience as part of their Lights On Afterschool event. There will be a wide range of programming offered, from physics experiments to family star parties to environmental clean-up efforts. This initiative reflects our ongoing partnership with ASTC in support of our Commitment to Action made at the Clinton Global Initiative America, an annual event focused on finding solutions that promote economic recovery in the United States, bringing together leaders from various sectors to advance a number of domestic objectives, including education and skills development. Our commitment aims to increase partnerships between science centers and afterschool providers as a means to expand the quality and amount of informal STEM education.
By Luci Manning
Wake Forest Parents Cheer Transportation to Boys & Girls Club (News & Observer, North Carolina)
Parents in Wake Forest burst into applause at a recent meeting when they learned that their children would continue to have bus service to their afterschool program. For years the option for children to be dropped off at the Wake County Boys & Girls Club had become routine, but this year, due to a drop in 100 bus routes and 4,000 stops to speed up service, the stop had been eliminated. “Families had to wait for several weeks beyond the first day of school to find out whether they would have service, leaving parents anxious about their children’s after-school plans,” the News & Observer reports. Families had to apply for stop reassignment and the routes are now being altered on a first-come, first-serve basis, with no guarantees. Leaders at the Wake County Boys & Girls Club are looking into long-term solutions to ensure families have transportation.
Students Restore Atrium in Memory of Librarian (Idaho Press-Tribune, Idaho)
Afterschool students in the West Middle School Leo Club, an offshoot of the Nampa Lions Club, cleaned up the atrium in the middle of the cafeteria and dedicated it to the memory of a librarian and mentor to the students who died in 2010. The students raised funds with candy and bake sales, car washes, and dances. Sebastian Griffin, an eighth-grader at West who is hoping to be the Leo Club’s president this year, said he has enjoyed being in the club for the past year, “It’s a fun after-school activity that you can do with your friends and help the community at the same time,” the Idaho Press-Tribune reports.
Students On Track To Graduate Thanks To Success Program (WNCT 9, North Carolina)
The Student Success Academy is helping hundreds of at-risk students in Pitt County get on track to graduate with high expectations—and they’re only in middle school. Thanks to a $1.27 million grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, graduation rates have increased from 50 percent to 82 percent because students are actually excited about school, thinking farther ahead about their exciting future careers. “It’s about beginning with the end in mind,” student Javante Mayo tells WNCT 9. “It helps me set goals and talk about how I can achieve my goals.” Pitt County Schools predict the graduation rate to keep increasing each year, now that this program is in place.
State Rep Promotes After-School Fitness (Cleveland Daily Banner, Tennessee)
Russell Cliche, a representative from The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, spoke to 30 people from afterschool and extended learning programs about how to help students become more physically active in afterschool programs. Cliche told the Cleveland Daily Banner that increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain help the brain’s ability to concentrate, “When you’re moving and learning, you’re creating brain cells.” This is the first year that 21st Century Community Learning Centers and state-funded Lottery for Education Afterschool programs are required to incorporate physical activities into their programs.
Cognizant is now accepting applications for the 2015 Making the Future afterschool and summer program. Developed in partnership with the Maker Education Initiative and the New York Hall of Science, the program provides grants to community organizations to run hands-on, Maker-Movement inspired programs in an afterschool or summer-camp setting. Cognizant believes that Maker activities not only engage and excite kids but can spark interest in STEM and the arts, as well as develop their creative capabilities. Maker programs include a diverse range of STEM topics, including electronics, robotics, computer programming, digital fabrication, 3-D printing and wearable technology.
Child-serving U.S. nonprofit organizations wishing to run afterschool, in-school and summer Maker programs can apply from now through Nov. 15, 2014. Making the Future grants can cover costs for tools, materials, instructor fees, and other expenses essential to meeting the needs of the children participating in the program.
Want to learn more about making? The Maker Education Initiative is a fantastic resource for getting started in making, facilitating programing and more. You can also watch our webinar series on making in afterschool—part 1, part 2, and part 3.
Cognizant is a leading provider of information technology, consulting and business process outsourcing services, dedicated to helping the world's leading companies build stronger businesses. Their education initiatives in the U.S. focus on expanding and enhancing STEM education by increasing exposure to, and interest in, STEM learning activities.