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MAY
19
2016

STEM
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Webinar recap: A new vision for STEM with the Framework for K-12 Science Education

By Erin Murphy

Last month, in partnership with the Research + Practice Collaboratory, we hosted a webinar discussing the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education and what it means for afterschool. The following speakers shared their expertise:

  1. Bronwyn Bevan, Senior Research Scientist at the University of Washington
  2. Katherine McNeill, Associate Professor of Science Education at Boston College
  3. Emily McLeod, Director of Curriculum at Techbridge
  4. Tracy Truzansky, Project Manager for Training at Vermont Afterschool

Bronwyn started the webinar off by introducing the Framework for K-12 Science Education, a report that articulates a new vision of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education needed for the 21st century. Its goal is to spell out exactly what all students need upon high school graduation in order to apply science to their daily life, critically consume science in the public sphere and go into the careers of their choice. Building on current research on how people best learn science, the Framework defines three key dimensions of STEM learning:

  1. Disciplinary Core Ideas: These include broad topic areas within the sciences, engineering and technology, such as chemistry, physics and earth sciences. There are fewer content areas, allowing students to delve deeper into each one.
  2. Cross-cutting themes: These themes, such as patterns, energy, and structure, connect across fields of science and are taught as part of all the disciplinary core ideas.
  3. STEM practices: These practices focus on sense-making from investigations, which entails using evidence from investigations to develop the best explanations.
MAY
18
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 18, 2016

By Luci Manning

Students Jump into Club (Norwich Bulletin, Connecticut)

Earlier this year, Sterling Community School students were treated to a visit from a jump-rope expert who inspired them to start their own afterschool jump-rope program. The students have done all the work to make the club a reality – they put together a proposal, made flyers, created permission slips and developed a schedule. Principal Shari Ternowchek said the club is a great way for students to stay healthy and build a sense of camaraderie. “It really opened the doors to the quiet, shy kids,” she told the Norwich Bulletin.

NYC Teens Head to Flint to Bring Relief to Water Crisis (Newsday, New York)

When New York City students in the YMCA’s afterschool program learned about the Flint water crisis, they decided to hold a water drive that would eventually collect 300 bottles of water and donations for filters. But for six teens, that wasn’t enough – they personally made the trek to Michigan to deliver the donations themselves. Sixteen-year-old Fahme Ibrahim’s family struggled without water after Superstorm Sandy, so he said he could relate to Flint residents as they deal with their contaminated water supply. “Knowing that Flint was out of water for a longer period of time, it was unimaginable,” he told Newsday. “I wanted to make sure we could give back.”

Future Docs Go to Cooking Class (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)

Medical students from Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School are trying to mitigate diseases like obesity and diabetes by bringing their medical knowledge to an afterschool cooking class in New Brunswick. RWJ encourages its students to participate in community service, and after seeing the role food choices play in many of these diseases, three students – Sally Vitez, Jaclyn Portelli Tremont and Melissa Villars – decided this was the best way they could start to treat the next generation. “With the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country, we felt an obligation, as future physicians, to try and teach kids how much the food they eat is directly related to their health,” Vitez told the Philadelphia Inquirer. The class gives students lessons in moderation and a plethora of healthy recipes to try at home.

Refuge for Refugees (Tucson Weekly, Arizona)

For two hours every Wednesday, documentary filmmaker Özlem Ayse Özgür teaches filmmaking techniques to refugee teenagers as part of the Owl and Panther Youth Film Project. The art therapy program hopes to give these students a set of valuable multimedia skills while building a community of friends and mentors for teens who may feel out of place in their new country. Over the course of the four-month program, each student creates a short self-portrait as well as a longer film about the meaning of “home.” Owl and Panther administrative manager Abby Hungwe said the program has helped students build their confidence and take on leadership roles. “I think with any work that you do with kids, the reward is seeing their growth and seeing them push through something that may have begun as a weakness and converting that into a success,” she told Tucson Weekly.

MAY
17
2016

IN THE FIELD
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Afterschool Spotlight: Innovation Zone

By Robert Abare

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present this Afterschool Spotlight, part of a series featuring the stories of children, parents and providers of summer and afterschool programs. Click here to view the previous installment. Have a story to share? Email Robert Abare at rabare@afterschoolalliance.org.

For Levi Myers, a 16-year-old 10th grader at Greenbrier East High School in Lewisburg, WV, life revolves around music. He’s started bands with his friends—playing everything from punk to reggae—and he has a dream of becoming a professional music critic one day.

Levi didn’t initially think that his high school’s afterschool program, SPARC (which stands for Spartans Collective), could help him further explore his love for music. “When I first heard about the program, I thought it would be sitting around and staring at books,” he said.

One of the guitars designed by students in the Innovation Zone afterschool program.

Instead, through SPARC’s classes in guitar building, Levi found his initial assumption was far from accurate. “The guitar classes were really fun,” he said. “They also taught me about the inside mechanics of guitars, soldering, circuitry and how to get stuff done on time.”

The SPARC program is part of a larger afterschool program of Greenbrier County Public Schools, funded by the West Virginia Department of Education’s Innovation Zone program. The afterschool program, which operates at two middle school and one high school, has two focuses: academic achievement and entrepreneurship. The Innovation Zone afterschool program is in the process of seeking additional support from the federal government’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative.

The Innovation Zone program supports students’ academic achievement through tutoring, ACT and SAT preparation, and credit recovery for struggling students. Last year, 37 students successfully graduated thanks to the credit recovery and failure prevention aspects of the program.

Vicky Cline, Director of Technology and Testing for Greenbrier County Schools and a leader of the program, explained that the programs’ entrepreneurial focus allows students to discover practical ways to apply the lessons they learn in school. “The goal is for students to gain business and interpersonal skills that they can use later in life,” she said. “We want our participants to realize that they can become major contributors to West Virginia’s economy, and that they can help our community become more self-sufficient.”

MAY
13
2016

RESEARCH
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Can the U.S. reach 90 percent high school graduation by 2020?

By Erin Murphy

High school graduation rates have continued to grow over the last decade, reaching a record high of 82.3 percent. This graduation rate is 10 percent higher than at the turn of the century; however, over the last year the rate of increase has begun to slow. If the graduation rate continues to slow, we will not be on track to reach the goal of 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.

Earlier this week, America’s Promise Alliance, with support from Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, released the 2016 Building a Grad Nation Report, which explores strategies to reach this major graduation goal as part of the GradNation Campaign.

Where does your state stand? This map shows how well states are progressing toward the goal of 90 percent high school graduation (or Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, AGCR) by the year 2020.

To introduce the findings from this report, America’s Promise Alliance hosted a webinar where expert speakers and co-authors discussed the progress and challenges in ending the high school dropout epidemic and achieving a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020. Speakers included:

  • John Bridgeland, CEO and president, Civic Enterprises
  • Jennifer DePaoli, Senior Education Advisor, Civic Enterprises
  • Robert Balfanz, Director of the Everyone Graduates Center, School of Education at John Hopkins University
  • Tanya Tucker, Vice president of Alliance Engagement, America’s Promise Alliance
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learn more about: Education Reform School Improvement
MAY
12
2016

CHALLENGE
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Q&A: How I pulled off a successful site visit at my afterschool program

By Robert Abare

Congressman Tom Cole meets with kids at Crooked Oak Elementary School in Oklahoma City.

Kim Templeman is an Afterschool Ambassador, principal of Crooked Oak Elementary in Oklahoma City, OK, and director of Success Through Responsive Enrichment and Mentoring (STREAM), a 21st CCLC afterschool program. Last month, the program hosted a visit by United States Congressman Tom Cole, who represents Oklahoma’s 4th district.

Want to plan a site visit to your program? Take the Afterschool for All Virtual Challenge today!

Q: How did you lay the groundwork for Congressman Cole’s visit to your program?

A: I contacted the Congressman’s office through standard means: through the contact information provided on his website. I first called his office and left a message, and then followed up with a few emails. I also reached out to our other representatives at the state and national level, but I found Congressman’s Cole’s office was most receptive.

Initially, we hosted an visit with Congressman Cole’s field representative Will McPherson from his regional office in Norman, OK. After his visit, Will said he would try his best to arrange a visit with the Congressman.

Q: How did you kick off your site visit with Congressman Cole?

A: I started the site visit by providing the Congressman with some information about the state of afterschool programming in Oklahoma, which I found through the Afterschool Alliance's America After 3PM website. I explained to the Congressman how we rely on a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and how we use these funds to provide a number of services to our students, parents and community four days per week, like hands-on academic enrichment that supplements lessons from the school day.

Q: How did the students respond to Congressman Cole’s visit?

A: I explained to the students how lucky they were to receive a visit from a United States Congressman—I certainly never had an experience like this when I was their age! During Congressman Cole’s visit I also quizzed the students on their recent lessons regarding the legislative branch and Congress, which was a great way for the Congressman to see the students’ learning in action, and also for the students to see their lessons come to life.

MAY
11
2016

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup: May 11, 2016

By Luci Manning

Waterbury Children Spend Day at Half Moon Farm (Meriden Record-Journal, Connecticut)

Kids in the Almost Home afterschool program recently spent a day riding horses around Half Moon Farm with their friends and family members. This is the second year the afterschool program, which serves 40 children each week, has visited the farm, although for many of the students, it was their first time ever riding a horse. The riders were assisted by members of the Cheshire Horse Council, according to the Record-Journal.

Bird Street Students Proudly Finish 5K Race (Oroville Mercury Register, California)

Thirty Bird Street School students crossed the finish line of their first-ever 5K race last week while being cheered on by their peers in an afterschool running club. The club, organized by teachers Kristi Theveos and Kathy Pietak, trains elementary school students for the 3.1-mile race throughout the spring, encouraging them to be proud of participating in the race in the first place rather than worrying about coming in first. “It’s a big deal for them because most kids this age have never run that far,” Pietak told the Oroville Mercury Register.

Village Ambulance Program Training Young Members to Save Lives (Berkshire Eagle, Massachusetts)

Village Ambulance Service’s Explorer Post 911 is teaching kids as young as eight years old how to be lifesavers. The program teaches the basics of emergency medical services, like CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, and prepares students for future careers as health care providers. It’s also a way for kids to find their self-worth and stay safe during the after school hours. “Being part of this has built my confidence and I think more kids should get involved,” high school sophomore Brianna Harris told the Berkshire Eagle. “It feels good to know that I have the skills to save a life.”

Greenhouse After-School Program Sparks Adventure for Ridgeview Elementary Students (Craig Daily Press, Colorado)

Ridgeview Elementary School students are subtly learning about science through the plant-based Greenhouse Afterschool Program. Last week, students worked with flowers like marigolds and petunias to prepare the perfect Mother’s Day plant, while also learning about the plants’ vascular system and the difference between plant and animal cells. The program is sponsored by the school’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC), which also runs afterschool programs in art and languages. PAC president Mindy Baker said the afterschool atmosphere makes learning fun and less of a chore for students, and lets them explore fun topics they don’t have time for in the regular school day. “It gives you the opportunity to offer (students) something outside of what they normally have in their classes,” she told the Craig Daily Press

MAY
9
2016

IN THE FIELD
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#GirlsAre campaign inspires girls to live active lives

By Robert Abare

Girls today in the United States are far less likely than boys to achieve recommended amounts of physical activity. By age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys. The Afterschool Alliance is joining the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Clinton Foundation in a national effort to shine a light on the disparities between girls’ and boys’ physical activity rates—and inspire a new generation of strong, active women.

In coordination with National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, the #GirlsAre campaign launched on Mother’s Day and runs until May 31. The campaign asks girls and women across the country to demonstrate the myriad ways girls show their strength using the #GirlsAre hashtag. You can chime in on social media by sharing who you think #GirlsAre, like #GirlsAre Strong, #GirlsAre Bold, #GirlsAre Leaders, or #GirlsAre Fearless.

"Between the ages of 6 and 17, the total number of minutes girls participate in vigorous physical activity drops by 86 percent, providing fewer opportunities for girls to get healthy, be healthy, and feel confident and empowered,” says Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation and Board Member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “This sharp decline is staggering and absolutely preventable—and we must work to do all we can to support more opportunities for girls to engage in meaningful and fun physical activity throughout childhood and adolescence."

Visitors to the campaign website, www.girlsare.org, can find tools to raise awareness of this important issue, take interactive quizzes, and add their own #GirlsAre adjective to join the nationwide conversation.  

Here are more ways to get involved!

MAY
6
2016

RESEARCH
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School's Out New York City afterschool program fosters success in middle schoolers

By Erin Murphy

A new evaluation of School’s Out New York City (SONYC), supported by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), finds that the initiative offers New York City middle schoolers a pathway to success through high-quality afterschool programming. Their program connects youth to supportive adults who provide engaging and educational activities to help achieve SONYC’s five main goals: fostering holistic youth success, encouraging youth to explore their interests, building skills to support academic achievement, cultivating youth leadership and community engagement, and engaging invested individuals in supporting these goals.

Through Mayor Bill de Blasio’s expansion initiative, enrollment in the SONYC programs more than tripled from 18,702 youth in 143 programs during the 2013-14 school year to 58,745 youth in 459 programs during the 2014-15 school year. NYC DYCD contracted with American Institutes for Research (AIR) to evaluate and better understand the impacts of the program’s increased reach.

Afterschool expansion an overwhelming success

The evaluation made it clear: program quality is high. Principals, teachers and program staff report the SONYC expansion had overwhelming success and view programs as a positive addition to schools across the city. They also report that youth in the initiative have experienced improvements, particularly in their social and emotional development and leadership skills.

Youth attended nearly 13 million hours of SONYC programming throughout the 2014-2015 school year, averaging to 236 hours for each participant. This time was split into four areas of focus. Participants spent one-third of their time completing enrichment activities in areas such as STEM, English and language arts, and the arts. Additionally, they spent 18 percent of their time in academic support, 27 percent of their time on physical activity and healthy living and 22 percent on leadership development. This program model allows students to develop the skills necessary to be successful in all components of their life.