Month: January 2019

Change is coming to rural Jefferson, Iowa. It’s the kind of change that Linc Kroeger hopes will spread to more communities across the middle of the country in the very near future. “My passion is turning around rural. It’s devastating for me to visit these rural communities that are just drying up,” says Kroeger. “Everyone is moving to urban centers. Many say, ‘I would love to live rural, but what would I do?’” Kroeger leads the R3 initiative for Pillar Technology, a Columbus, Ohio-based coding and software development consulting firm. R3 stands for Revive. Rebuild. Restore. and its mission is bringing tech jobs to rural America.

Peek inside your average classroom these days, and you are likely to see teachers using apps, websites and software that borrow elements from video games to connect with students living technology-infused lives. By all accounts, they are fun to use, and studies have found that some can be effective. But there is also skepticism about how often students who use them are better educated or just better entertained.

Fall 2018, children attending grades four through six at schools in Mantua, Powelton and West Philadelphia learned about science not at their chairs or desks, but outside in parking lots, gardens, playgrounds and other spots in their neighborhoods. The students examined and recorded the biodiversity of their community, taking their evidence and creating posters to present their evidence-based solutions to promoting biodiversity in the area.

High school seniors build confidence by documenting their growth and learning in a speech presented to their families and the school community. The most important thing from an educator’s perspective is to create opportunities for teachers to know children well and understand what they are experiencing. So, we need a school environment in which the children are being listened to and their experiences are being lifted up and sought out. The more we allow rich experiences and affirming relationships to be part of the educational environment, the more people’s brains grow.

The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development unites leaders to re-envision what constitutes student success in school and life. With the help of teachers, parents and students across the country, the Commission explores how schools can fully integrate social, emotional and academic development to support the whole student, culminating in the new “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope” report. The report asserts that community partners, including afterschool and summer learning programs, are critical to accelerate efforts to support the whole child. In addition to citing the importance of “provid[ing] access to quality summer school and afterschool programming for each young person,” the report makes topline recommendations.

It is time to ramp up STEM in early childhood education, according to the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE). CADRE is a network for STEM education researchers funded by the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research preK-12 program. A new science brief has suggested that quality STEM experiences in pre-K through grade 3 can offer a “critical foundation for learning about these disciplines in ways that facilitate later learning.”

The new survey study “2018 Out-of-School Time Report” released by the National Recreation and Park Association, highlights the multitude of ways that local park and recreation before school, afterschool and summer programs are positively impacting the lives of children and their families. With nine in ten park and recreation agencies offering afterschool services, millions of children across the country are benefitting from safe and supportive places to spend time outside of school.

Public housing is increasingly taking a role in supporting kids’ education, according to Megan Gallagher, senior research associate at the Urban Institute. Such supports include afterschool and summer learning programs, tutoring and mentoring. “So many schools are grappling with parent engagement,” she said. “A lot of educators are thinking about how to reach children and parents at the same time and you can reach them where they live. Afterschool programming in housing is an important area to make people aware about. It’s about understanding the value of healthy and supportive housing,” Gallagher said.

Nearly a decade ago, Keysha Gomez and her husband opened the doors of their home to a few local kids in their neighborhood. What started as a somewhat informal afterschool program for area youth has since expanded in both size and scope, from a solely youth-oriented focus to one that offers intergenerational enrichment. Gomez spoke with 90.5 WESA’s Elaine Effort about how H.O.P.E. for Tomorrow aims to serve both young people and attendees’ parents.

Most of an average student’s waking hours are spent somewhere other than school. That means out-of-school activities offer a powerful opportunity to either mitigate or exacerbate gaps in student achievement. Historically, wealthier students have had greater access to enriching out-of-school experiences, compounding their privilege. The Chicago Learning Exchange supports out-of-school programs that are trying to change that, particularly those using technology to offer innovative opportunities for kids in Chicago who historically haven’t had them. The new nonprofit helps programs take advantage of the time before and after school, as well as over the summer, to level the playing field for the city’s disadvantaged youth.

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