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 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.
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.
On Sept. 17 the U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan resolution S. Res. 552 celebrating afterschool programs in honor of upcoming Lights On Afterschool Day on Oct. 23, 2014. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, authored the resolution, which was co-sponsored by Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
Lights On Afterschool is celebrated by thousands of parents, students, leaders and educators around the country, who will join together in October to celebrate the power of afterschool programs to improve the lives of young people. A large and growing body of evidence demonstrates improvements in school-day attendance, behavior, academic achievement and more among children who participate in afterschool programs. Researchers have also found that afterschool programs encourage increased parental involvement—an important building block for student success.
By Dan Gilbert
Mozilla has teamed up with the Afterschool Alliance to celebrate afterschool programs this October by creating the Lights On Afterschool Webmaker Challenge . The Webmaker Challenge is a simple activity that gives you and your afterschool youth a chance to unleash your creativity—and learn some coding—by making your own digital afterschool posters.
As an added bonus, six participating programs will be chosen at random to win $500!
On Oct. 23, more than 1 million people around the country will take part in the 15th annual Lights On Afterschool, and the Lights On Afterschool Webmaker Challenge is a great way to engage youth and the community while teaching kids valuable coding skills. Digital media and technology are constantly changing the way that children learn and interact with the world around them, and it’s vital that we give today’s youth the skills and know-how required to read, write, and participate effectively on the web.
Nobody is better suited to help teach young people to be digitally literate than Mozilla. Mozilla is the global, nonprofit organization behind Firefox, a free browser used by over half a billion people around the world. Mozilla works with a worldwide community to create open source products and programs in the belief that the Web is a shared public resource to be cared for. Their mission is to teach the world to be web literate through proactive exploration of digital tools and hands-on making, teaching and learning.