About 120 students come every day to the before-school or afterschool programs in Murtaugh. The vast majority of those students who are eligible attend “because our kids don’t have anywhere else to go,” Michele Capps, superintendent of the Murtaugh School District, told the Times-News. The afterschool program kicked off October 1 after it was awarded a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. Thanks to the new funding, the program is open four days a week instead of only two.
“The Kyrene School District has been trying to incorporate new after-school programs to keep students intrigued, and the Community Education Road Crew has just the thing with a new sewing program,” the Ahwatukee Foothills News reports. The afterschool students are working on a long-term group project where they will be sewing their hand prints to be put together in one giant quilt. The program’s afterschool sewing teacher Fariba Nowtash believes that working in a group setting not only helps youth learn how to sew properly, but also improves their social skills.
The White Plains Youth Bureau has launched a new afterschool initiative to get students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects. Dr. Priti Tiwari told the White Plains Daily Voice, “The lack of interest and skill in STEM fields is huge in the elementary going into middle school level. We want to use attractive, hands on activities as experiments - so we can monitor their progress." The White Plains Youth Bureau plans to partner with local companies like Microsoft and Regeneron for future programs.
Last week, George Lucas, famed Star Wars director, announced that he was giving $25 million to After School Matters, the arts and education afterschool program. The funds will be used to reinstate the stipend that After School Matters pays to all 22,000 participating teens. Two years ago, After School Matters was forced to discontinue stipends for young people participating in the fall and spring programs. After School Matters Board Chair Mellody Hobson, and wife of Lucas, told the Chicago Sun-Times: “What I felt — and what we saw happen — is teens who love our programs, want to be there, want to fulfill and explore all of their interests unable to come because of basic economics. Don’t have bus fare. Don’t have money when they get here to even buy a snack. Then maybe, their families need them to actually work. Restoring these stipends from the day that I started as board chair has been my No. 1 goal because I knew we have an unbelievable program. Yet, not having those most in need show up because of bus fare just didn’t seem right to me.”
Why computer science? Technology is everywhere today. But only a tiny fraction of students are learning how to create technology. The Hour of Code is a campaign to prove that every child can start learning the basics. Code.org will provide tutorials with options for every age, every device, and even “unplugged.” No prep from teachers needed.
While tutorials are still under construction, we invite you to check them out - featuring Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Angry Birds.
2,000,000 students and growing
More than 2 million students are already planning to participate in the Hour of Code across 144 countries! See schools participating in your area here.
This amazing milestone proves that the demand to catch up to the 21st century with relevant computer science education knows no boundaries.
Let’s open up a new world of opportunity for today’s generation of students. Join us now.
Are you “Speaking Up” about digital learning this year? If not, you're missing a unique opportunity to have your views—as well as the views of your colleagues, students, their parents and the local community—included in the increasingly important U.S. national and state discussions on digital learning policies, programs and funding.
The Afterschool Alliance is proud to announce a special partnership with Project Tomorrow this year to encourage participation of afterschool organizations in their online research project Speak Up. The Speak Up National Research Project annually collects and reports on the authentic, unfiltered views of K–12 students, parents and educators about critical digital age education and technology issues. Since 2003, more than 3 million K–12 education stakeholders have shared their ideas about ed tech through the Speak Up online surveys. And we need your ideas too!
This year, for the first time, Project Tomorrow will be providing an additional online survey for community members. Local employers, after school providers, school board members and homeowners without children in the local schools can now provide their views on the role of technology in preparing students for the jobs and careers of the 21st century. This new set of data will provide valuable insights for the participating organizations as well as state and federal policymakers on the importance of digital tools and resources for college and career readiness.
The online survey is open to students, educators, parents and members of the community now through Dec. 20, 2013. There's no cost to participate; no limit on the number of surveys that can be submitted; and all data collected is 100% confidential. Plus, every participating organization gets back their own stakeholder data from the online surveys to use for grant writing, ed tech plans, budgets, professional development and community engagement. No need to create your own surveys—Speak Up does all the work for you!
Survey question topics include but are not limited to: learning and teaching with technology, 21st century skills, games, STEM career exploration, online and blended learning, flipped classrooms, mobile devices, digital and online textbooks, writing with technology, professional development for educators, school-to-home communications, digital citizenship, and preparing for the 2014/2015 online assessments.
Take the survey today at: www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2013 and share your thoughts and views on the importance of education within your community and specifically, the role of technology in preparing today’s youth with the skills they need to be successful in the future. All community members will access the survey through a school in their local community or if registered afterschool organization.
If you're interested in collecting your organization’s stakeholder’s data and receiving an online report of your local data in addition to the state and national data, please contact Jenny Hostert on the Speak Up Team to register your organization for participation. Jenny can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 949.609-4660 ext.17.
Speak Up is an initiative of Project Tomorrow, the nation's leading education nonprofit organization focused on empowering students to have a greater voice in their education. To learn more about Speak Up please visit the Project Tomorrow website at www.tomorrow.org/speakup
The reports gives an unusual public glimpse into decisions such as how tweens decide what to try, what to stick with, and how their friends and family influence their decisions–the kind of consumer research businesses spend millions of dollars on but rarely release.
Tweens and teens were clear about what they want in afterschool arts programs. Interestingly, researchers found that their preferences align with what experts say make for great arts programs. Based on interviews with youth development and arts practitioners, researchers, and administrators and observations of exemplary arts programs, the researchers developed 10 principles for effective, high-quality arts programs:
Instructors are professional, practicing artists, and are valued with compensation for their expertise and investment in their professional development.
Executive directors have a public commitment to high-quality arts programs that is supported by sustained action.
Arts programs take place in dedicated, inspiring, welcoming spaces and affirm the value of art and artists.
There is a culture of high expectations, respect for creative expression and an affirmation of youth participants as artists.
Programs culminate in high-quality public events with real audiences.
Positive relationships with adult mentors and peers foster a sense of belonging and acceptance.
Youth participants actively shape programs and assume meaningful leadership roles.
Programs focus on hands-on skill building using current equipment and technology.
Programs strategically engage key stakeholders to create a network of support for both youth participants and the programs.
Programs provide a physically and emotionally safe place for youth.
To learn more, visit The Wallace Foundation’s website.
Santa Fe’s public radio station, KSFR, reported on the award-winning Project GUTS program. The Afterschool Alliance presented the Santa Fe Institute with an award for its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related afterschool program for middle school students at its Lights On Afterschool event over the weekend. The Santa Fe Institute’s Irene Lee told KSFR the rigorous computing program allows middle-schoolers to design and develop test models simulating real-world questions.
Hundreds of students in Grand Rapids gathered together to celebrate Lights On Afterschool last week.
Carrie Teer, site coordinator for the Grand Rapids Public School’s LOOP afterschool program at East Leonard Elementary, said if not for the programs, many students would be going to empty homes after school because their parents still are at work. “That's the other message stressed by the nationwide celebration, the need for resources so more children can attend safe, structured environments. Due to funding cuts, Grand Rapids has gone from 34 to 25 sites, leaving 600 kids without programs,” MLive.com reports.
Deputy Speaker Upendra Chivukula was the keynote speaker at the Raritan Valley YMCA’ Lights On Afterschool celebration last week. At the event Chivukula said, “Investing in enrichment programs is extremely valuable to our youth; they keep children safe and improve academic performance and school attendance,” the Star-Ledger reports. “These benefits are not just restricted to classroom performance, but improve behavior and promote a healthy lifestyle… Parents can rest easy knowing their children are being cared for responsibly while involving themselves in fitness activities and enrichment programs.”
Chadron Public Schools celebrated the success of its afterschool program last week with a Lights On Afterschool event at the primary, intermediate and middle school sites. Libby Uhing, who took part in the Lights On Afterschool event with her daughter Eliana, told The Chadron Record that the afterschool program is “a little more laid back, but [the students] get so much academic enrichment,” and that the afterschool program provides a safe place with enthusiastic staff for kids to spend time at.
The Spirit of Innovation Challenge is an excellent way to help your students channel their creative thinking and demonstrate their knowledge. The annual program is a multi-phase, business and technical plan competition, free and open to students ages 13-18 from around the world. The program invites teens to work in teams of 2-5 students and use science, technology, engineering and math skills along with creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship to develop innovative products and services to benefit humanity and address global sustainability.
The first round submission can be completed in less than five hours from start to finish. The deadline for the 2013-2014 one-page abstract qualification round is this Thurs., Oct. 24.
Not sure you have all the tools needed for your team to be successful? The Spirit of Innovation Challenge provides free access to mentors, webinars and forums to answer all your questions. Join today! www.ConradAwards.org
In Selma, Alabama, today, students in the Police Athletic League afterschool program will participate in a talent contest and community leaders will act as judges.
In Belfast, Maine, the 4-H Afterschool RSU20 program will hold an “All Things that Glow” event highlighting science, technology, engineering and math activities students have engaged in.
In East Boston, Massachusetts, students will exhibit artwork and share short stories about superheroes they created.
In Portland, Oregon, students at the Jackson Club will screen their summer film project, “The Quest of Illinois James.”
These are just a few of the more than 8,000 Lights On Afterschool events that will take place in nearly every community in the country, and at U.S. military bases worldwide, this week. The events—which run the gamut from showcasing science experiments to dance recitals to computer animation demonstrations to sports contests—are all part of the only nationwide rally for afterschool programs. Lights On Afterschool is now in its 14th year. More than a million people are expected to participate.
For the seventh year in a row, the Empire State Building will be lit up in yellow in support of afterschool programs. Earlier this month, the PBS program POV began airing the award-winning documentary film “Brooklyn Castle” to kick off the 2013 Lights On Afterschool. The film chronicles the story of a Brooklyn afterschool chess program, which has created the nation’s most winning chess team.
The Afterschool Alliance organizes Lights On Afterschool to draw attention to the many ways afterschool programs support students by offering them opportunities to learn new things—such as science, community service, robotics, Tae Kwon Do and poetry—and discover new skills. The events give youth a chance to showcase the skills they learn and talents they develop at their afterschool programs, and to send the message that millions more kids need quality afterschool programs.
Afterschool programs have increasingly come to be accepted as important allies in STEM education improvement efforts. There's growing acceptance that schools are crucial but only one part of a learning ecology and that other partners are required to help with the end goal of young people becoming successful adults. This holds true in STEM education as well, where academic proficiency is only one of several factors required for longer-term engagement and retention in these fields.
However, most federal policy initiatives and federal legislation introduced on the topic of STEM education tend to focus on school-based initiatives that promote academic outcomes. The Afterschool Alliance has been actively working for several years now to advocate for a greater role for afterschool and summer programs in STEM education improvement. We believe that our efforts have made a big difference and the pieces are in place to press for some legislative action.
We've partnered with the STEM Education Coalition, an influential advocacy group for broad-based STEM education reform, to address this issue in Congress. As a first step, we circulated a letter that urges Congress to support a broad-based agenda around afterschool STEM issues. The letter articulates a number of recommendations that include:
Raising the profile of afterschool and summer programs as partners in STEM education by convening briefings and hearings.
Requiring partnerships with afterschool or other informal science education providers in broad-based STEM education reform efforts.
Including afterschool programs and informal science education providers as partners in existing federal programs that provide or improve STEM education.
Integrating afterschool educators into federal professional development programs.
Explicitly including afterschool as an eligible activity or strategy and/or afterschool providers as partners in federal STEM education programs.
We were very gratified that more than 70 diverse groups from across the country signed on in support of this letter.
The letter was delivered to Congressional offices as part of a national gathering of the statewide afterschool network leaders late last month. We also discussed these recommendations during a visit with staffers from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of Management and Budget, and the Domestic Policy Council. When the government is open again, we'll follow up with both the Adminstration and Congressional offices that expressed interest in the issue to identify champions for afterschool STEM and specific initiatives and legislation that can advance this issue. Stay tuned!