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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.
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In the Field Snacks
MAR
4

IN THE FIELD
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Badges in afterschool: thinking big, starting small

By Jen Rinehart

Last month the Afterschool Alliance joined MacArthur FoundationMozilla, and HASTAC in a commitment to incorporate badges into our work and help optimize the spread and scale of open digital badges for learning at the 2014 Summit to Reconnect Learning

We committed to work with five statewide afterschool networks to offer badges to youth in afterschool and summer programs and/or to offer badges to afterschool professionals.  We are excited to dig deeper into the potential of badges to bring greater recognition to the learning that happens in afterschool and summer programs and to connect in-school and out-of-school learning. 

By the end of this year, new badge systems will be piloted in at least five states.  We will have lessons learned and ideas for how to make sure that the broader afterschool community can benefit from these pilots and are equipped to bring more badge opportunities to youth and staff in afterschool and summer programs. 

In the meantime, there are interesting related badge initiatives already underway.  Below are just a few.  Stay tuned for more throughout the year.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Events and Briefings Inside the Afterschool Alliance
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FEB
26

IN THE FIELD
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First lady announces two new commitments to healthy eating and physical activity afterschool

By Erik Peterson

Yesterday at a Miami-area afterschool program, first lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America announced that two more of the largest afterschool program providers have committed to create more healthful environments for five million kids in their programs through adoption of the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards.

Over the next five years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) have committed to encouraging a combined 5,400 sites and clubs nationwide to adopt strong standards for nutrition and physical activity.

In remarks at the event, the first lady applauded the announcement, “Between today’s announcement and our work to serve better food and get more activity into our schools, we’re now ensuring that more and more of our kids will be staying healthy throughout the entire arc of their day.” She added, students “… are getting active through the day, whether that’s during recess, or PE class, or during an exercise break between lessons.  And when the school day ends, they’ll head to an afterschool program like this one, and they’ll get even more nutritious food and even more opportunities to get active.”

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learn more about: Events and Briefings Health and Wellness Media Outreach Nutrition Obama
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FEB
21

IN THE FIELD
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Strong partnerships for strong afterschool programs

By Alexis Steines

Strong community partnerships are vital to the long-term sustainability of all afterschool programs. With local and state budgets including sharp cuts to education and youth development programs and federal policy challenges threatening the integrity of afterschool programs, community support is more important than ever. Partnerships between schools and afterschool programs also play an important role in Common Core implementation and other activities to help students improve academically.

Last week, I addressed this topic in breakout sessions at the Beyond School Hours Conference, hosted by Foundations, Inc. The sessions focused on the key ingredients in forming successful community partnerships. These components include:

  • Establishing consistent and honest communication from the start of the partnership;
  • Allowing ownership of issues for all partners;
  • Matching the strengths of each partner with an identified need;
  • Valuing and respecting all partners, no matter the size of their contribution to the partnership;
  • Ensuring coordination and communication with teachers and school administrators.
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learn more about: Funding Opportunity Sustainability Community Partners
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FEB
14

IN THE FIELD
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A valentine for afterschool

By Jodi Grant

Read the original post at momsrising.org.

Valentine’s Day is all about showing the people you love how much they mean to you. It’s about expressing how you feel to those who make your life richer and more meaningful.

This year, moms around the country are sending Valentines to their afterschool programs.

It’s no wonder that afterschool programs hold a special place in the hearts of many busy parents. As a mom myself, I know how important it is to be sure that when they are not with me, my children are safe, supervised, learning and engaged. Afterschool programs do all that—they provide a space for children to expand their horizons, learn new skills, have new experiences, and explore their potential—all in a safe environment with adults who care about their success in school and in life. For moms in the workforce in particular, they are a life-saver.

Every day at the Afterschool Alliance, we hear from mothers who tell us how important afterschool programs are to them. They are impressed with the dedication and commitment of afterschool staff and volunteers, who work so hard to create opportunities for their kids to explore their interests. They say their children enjoy the programs, talk about what they learned there, and participate in exciting activities – from judo to robotics to dance to creative writing.

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Media Outreach Working Families
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FEB
12

IN THE FIELD
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A conversation about the Common Core that's 'a breath of fresh air'

By Nikki Yamashiro

Patrick Riccards, co-host of the #CommonCore radio podcast on BAM Radio Network, described the episode that included our own Vice President of Policy and Research Jen Rinehart as a “breath of fresh air.”  Riccards was impressed that the interview—which also included Jennifer Davis, co-founder and president of the National Center on Time & Learning—focused on learning, rather than testing.  He also pointed out the value of conversations centered on what learning means for students, and how can we best ensure that our students succeed not just under the Common Core, but in school, career and life. 

Jen spoke about the integral role afterschool programs can play in supporting students and teachers around the Common Core State Standards: 

“ We know that afterschool programs are working to provide very engaging learning environments for kids where they have the opportunities to be active learners, to collaborate and communicate with peers in a low-stakes type of setting where they can feel free to try things out and not be concerned about failing…and that sort of environment aligns very nicely with the habits of mind that underpin the Common Core—the kind of thinking skills that you want kids to develop to be able to succeed under the Common Core.”

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Education Reform Inside the Afterschool Alliance Media Outreach State Policy
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FEB
7

IN THE FIELD
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Digital learning as a social responsibility

By Kamila Thigpen

Without a doubt, digital learning has been a buzzword in education circles for a while now. Some call it 21st century learning, some call it common sense and others call it a fad.  There’s a general consensus, however, that our education system struggles to keep up with the rate of change in the world around it.  For every innovative school and afterschool program, there are countless more with inadequate access to technology and with a limited understanding of its potential.  The task of modernizing our education system may seem somewhat daunting, but I must say that this year’s Digital Learning Day and Pres. Obama’s recent remarks about plans for ConnectED left me feeling pretty hopeful that we’re on the brink of a real shift in how we think about what it takes to expand access to digital learning opportunities.

Unsurprisingly, funding is often viewed as a road block to progress.  It takes money to build the infrastructure, more money to buy the technology, and still more money for maintenance and professional development.  Let’s face it—digital learning is expensive, and increased funding is not necessarily the easiest thing to come by.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Equity Federal Funding Issue Briefs Obama Community Partners
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FEB
7

IN THE FIELD
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A vision for expanded learning in California

By Nikki Yamashiro

The California Department of Education’s After School Division (ASD) recently released their 2014-2016 strategic plan, “A Vision for Expanded Learning in California.”  In collaboration with a strategic implementation team of 80 teachers and afterschool program providers and supporters, and after close to two years of planning; surveying the field; gathering and analyzing data; meeting with key stakeholders; and developing objectives, activities and indicators of success, four strategic initiatives were identified:

  1. System of Support: providing a comprehensive and coordinated system of support and accountability to maintain and improve program quality when encouraging creativity and innovation in the field.
  2. Grant Administration and Policy: developing and maintaining clearly defined guidelines, program requirements, and processes supporting efficient program administration.
  3. Communication/Information Systems: communicating with the field in a clear, timely and transparent manner
  4. Expanded Learning/K-12 Integration: championing expanded learning as a vital and integral part of the education process.
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learn more about: State Policy
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FEB
7

IN THE FIELD
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The truth about the best Super Bowl ad

By Ursula Helminski

What was the best Super Bowl ad?  That’s not really the point, if you ask afterschool teens who participate in The LAMP’s (Learning About Multimedia Project) media literacy program. They might ask back what those ads reveal about us and our culture, and how ads might be manipulating viewers.

At the Break the Super Bowl event last Sunday night, teens from the McBurney YMCA remixed and deconstructed Super Bowl commercials as they aired, ultimately creating original works of video criticism.  The “broken ad” pieces were created with a budget of $0, on a regular laptop computer, in less time than half a football game.  Yet they raised important questions about the marketing techniques we are exposed to every day.

Check out their YouTube channel for all of their videos.

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Digital Learning Events and Briefings Marketing Media Outreach
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