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.
By Shaun Gray
Bill Albert is the CEO and owner of STEMfinity. STEMfinity offers thousands of hands-on academic enrichment kits with curriculum to teach PreK-12 students science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), robotics, electronics, alternative energy, rockets and beyond.
This October, STEMfinity is proud to join more than one million Americans and thousands of communities in celebrating Lights On Afterschool, an annual event that helps to raise awareness about the need for programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.
Supporters of Lights On Afterschool believe that schools can’t do it alone and that meaningful, active collaboration with out-of-school programs are critical. We know that access to an array of quality, informal STEM learning opportunities can make a huge difference in the lives of youth. We also know that strong partnerships between informal learning institutions can help to maximize the use of shared resources and foster creative solutions to community needs.
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!
Guest Blog: After-School All-Stars youth leaders from across the nation converge on Washington, D.C.
Guest blog by Alyssa Plotkin, national program assistant for the After-School All-Stars.
“Because of After-School All-Stars, I feel like I’m important, that my opinion matters. I’m so fortunate to have been chosen to be a yabbie. I feel happier, more social and more knowledgeable.” – Citlali of ASAS Los Angeles
After-School All-Stars (ASAS), a leading national provider of comprehensive out-of-school-time programs that serves more than 90,000 children in 13 cities across the U.S.—brought 40 extraordinary 8th grade leaders and staff to Washington, D.C., in July for a week-long leadership summit. Each chapter, from New York to Hawaii, selected an outstanding student-based on their leadership abilities, strong attendance, academic performance and unwavering commitment to community service.
Guest Blog: Afterschool programs addressing healthy living and food insecurity through HEPA standards
Pam Watkins is the vice president of youth development services at YMCA Youth Development Services in Kansas City, Kansas, and a 2013-2014 Afterschool Ambassador.
The YMCA of Greater Kansas City is one of many afterschool programs nationwide that has embraced the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards. Recently, at one of our afterschool sites with a high rate of students receiving free or reduced-priced lunch, we had a family that had just moved here from California and enrolled four of their children in our program. The oldest child, Juan (name has been changed to keep anonymity), was ever-watchful over his siblings and was constantly correcting them if they were doing something inappropriate. After about a week the site supervisor overheard Juan tell his siblings that they needed to eat a snack because their mom had said she wasn't sure whether they would have dinner that night or not. When the site supervisor pulled Juan off to the side, he told her that his dad had still not found a job and his mom was working two part time jobs—but it still wasn't enough and they usually didn't have money for food.
Wendy Broderick is Chief Development Office of the YMCA of Columbia, SC, and a 2013-2014 Afterschool Ambassador
In August 2011, the YMCA of the USA adopted the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards (HEPA Standards) for their afterschool and summer day camp programs. The HEPA Standards outline goals for 1) the nutritional quality of the foods and beverages provided in afterschool programs and those foods and beverages consumed in summer day camps and 2) the amount of physical activity children accumulate while attending these programs.
The YMCA of Columbia and personnel from University of South Carolina partnered together to create strategies to meet the HEPA Standards. A collaborative workgroup met monthly from September 2011 to May 2012 to identify areas where the programs could be modified, without substantial monetary investment, to achieve the HEPA Standards. The result of these meetings was the development of a comprehensive and coordinated set of strategies called STEPs to HEPA (Strategies To Enhance Practice). STEPs to HEPA were adopted January 2012. Evaluation before the strategies were implemented took place during July, September, and October 2011. Evaluation of the impact of the strategies took place April 2012 through August 2013.
This post was written by Amy Grack Nelson, an evaluator and researcher in the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Department of Evaluation and Research in Learning.
Teamwork and collaboration are essential 21st century skills and becoming increasingly vital to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Afterschool programs are important environments for youth from diverse backgrounds to develop the teamwork and collaboration skills they need to enter and prosper in the STEM workforce. To help evaluators and practitioners evaluate the development of these skills, the University of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota are conducting research to develop surveys to measure teamwork and collaboration skills in STEM out-of-school-time (OST) programs. Both institutions have a long history in their commitment to STEM and afterschool education and will be working closely with STEM OST programs throughout the research process to ensure the final surveys are useful and relevant to the needs of a broad range of programs.
Before we can create surveys to evaluate these skills, we need to understand how STEM OST programs define teamwork and collaboration and how they are teaching these skills. We are inviting STEM OST educators to participate in an interview with a member of our research team about the teamwork and collaboration skills addressed in their program. The interviews will last up to an hour and will take place over the phone. Educators will receive a $25 VISA pre-loaded card in appreciation for their time.
We are looking for educators from a wide range of STEM OST programs that reach middle and high school youth. If you are interested in participating in this research, please fill out an interest form. We’ll then choose a sample of educators from those that express interest to help ensure we talk to a diversity of STEM OST programs. Please fill out an interest form by Friday, Aug. 15.
If you have any questions about the study, please contact Amy Grack Nelson, Senior Evaluation & Research Associate at the Science Museum of Minnesota at 651-221-4575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you in advance for your help!
George Garrow is the executive director of Concerned Black Men National.
This week, the CBM Summer Camp Experience comes to an end. Concerned Black Men National sponsors a “camp” for low-income elementary school kids in the nation’s capital every year. The children who attend the five week, day-long sessions come from families whose parents otherwise might not be able to afford to send their kids to a summer program that offers free meals, safety and structure, and equally important, a quality out-of-school-time experience. The young people in our program are wide-eyed and curious about the world like those who attend summer camps throughout the country. They join the tens of thousands of children who attend a variety of camps or similar events during the summer months.