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Summer programs that focus on academics, often geared toward underperforming students, draw little interest from parents and students, and therefore low enrollment and attendance, says a new report-slash-toolkit on summer literacy programs from EAB, an education research and consulting group.

Rebranding these programs, from summer school to summer camp, the report found, could help them attract more students. Some districts Maria Wahlstrom, an EAB consultant, spoke with saw boosts in engagement by adopting classic summer camp vibes, starting with the nomenclature. “The districts that did transform their summer programs into more fun-like summer camps actually saw a huge increase in the enrollment of kids, getting them super excited,” Wahlstrom says.

There is no perfect educator out there. Everyone has flaws. Everyone has biases, learned over time from the people we are surrounded by and from our experiences. Biases can slip into your decision making in the classroom or into the culture of your building (if you are an administrator).

You can begin confronting your bias by reflecting on your actions as an educator. Ask yourself: What happens when a Black or Latino male student doesn’t exemplify characteristics of what I deem a “good” student? How is he being treated by me and my colleagues? Where do I see him going in the future? How empathetic am I to his needs? How much confidence do I have that he can be a great student?

Having empathy will give you what it takes to turn any student around. Are you that one caring adult that your students need to hear from daily? Are you speaking success into your Black and Latino male students? Claim your students as your success stories and they will never forget it or you. Treat them like they are yours and they will follow you and believe in you.

What perfect timing! On the heels of Remake Learning Days comes an exciting announcement. Inspired in part by all those fab labs, robotics and creative sessions, 12 Pittsburgh programs have been selected to present their inventive ideas at the annual HundrED Innovative Summit in Finland.

Pittsburgh is the first US city invited to introduce education innovation by the global non-profit HundrED, which seeks out and shares inspiring ideas in K-12 education to an international audience. HundrED plans to document the programs this summer in preparation of the summit this fall.

For more than 20 years, schools and libraries have been able to access funds for broadband connectivity from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) through the E-rate program. Now, the FCC is considering making a major change to the E-rate program that has the Consortium for School Networking and the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition concerned. Under a May 31 notice for proposed rulemaking, the FCC outlines a plan to consolidate the four programs under the Universal Service Fund into a single spending cap.

Recently, teachers at the John Thomas School of Discovery (JTSD) in Nixa, Mo., brought the timeless board game “The Game of Life” to life during a math class simulation, allowing students to have fun while learning about the realities of adulthood. Students at JTSD learned all about budgeting, taxes and interest during the unconventional activity.

Sixth grade teachers created the game as a way for students to learn about how adults continue to utilize math skills far after school ends. JTSD educators say they will continue to use the math lesson in the future, to allow students to have fun while learning math during the summer portion of the extended school year.

While teenagers sometimes act as if they know everything and do not need anyone, they probably need a champion more during these trying years than ever before. Teens today face a great deal of pressure and distractions that steer them away from meaningful connections. If I put no limits on my 15-year-old son’s use of technology, he may just game himself into oblivion.

Relationships and connections are powerful. They create the space to be vulnerable, learn about yourself and others, express emotions, and share dreams and fears safely. While relationships with peers are often incredibly meaningful to teens, having a “champion” adult in their corner who is not their parent or caregiver can make all the difference.

Some 28 years ago, the George Lucas Educational Foundation set out on a mission to celebrate and encourage K-12 innovation. The Foundation ultimately blossomed into what is now Edutopia, as well as a research arm.

In the last 10 years, Edutopia has evolved into a pretty strong web presence. It has about 13 million visitors a month across all platforms — social media, email and web.

The research group is newer; it is a second division of the organization. The division is doing multiple research projects that look at the differences and capacities for a rigorous project-based learning approach to instruction. The Foundation has several projects in elementary, middle and high school underway.

When boys and girls were asked to draw a scientist in a study several decades ago, the results revealed a stunning bias: 99.4% of the drawings depicted a male scientist. Out of 5,000 drawings collected between 1966 and 1977, only 28 were of female scientists, all of which were drawn by girls.

Since then, nearly 80 studies have repeated this experiment with more than 20,000 students across all grade levels, and the results of all these studies were reviewed in a meta-analysis published last year.

Today, more than half of girls draw a woman when asked to draw a scientist, a number that is risen steadily since the 1960s.

21st CCLC Cohort 10 Grant Awards Announced

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is pleased to announce the completion of the competitive grant review process for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Cohort 10 grant and the awarding of 74 new grants for a total of more than $22 million in 21st CCLC grant funds for 2019-2024. This includes 18 school districts, seven charter schools, three colleges and universities, four intermediate units, two faith-based and 28 community-based organizations, which also includes two nationally affiliated service organizations.

The 21st CCLC program is authorized under Title IV, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015. Funds are intended to provide students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools with additional services to meet state and local standards in core academic subjects; to offer students a broad array of activities that can complement their regular academic programs, and to offer literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.

PDE established the following state priorities for 21st CCLC funding for 2019-2024:

• STEM/STEAM education
• Workforce, career readiness and college readiness
• Planning for transitional vocational/technical services
• High school credit recovery
• Underserved geographic locations
• CSI and/or ATSI designated schools


At a “codeathon” for high school girls hosted in April by e-commerce company, actress and activist Laura Dern offered one hypothesis. There is a misconception that professional coders work only at stereotypical technology companies, she said in an interview. In reality, teaching girls coding at early ages opens career doors even beyond STEM fields.

“Coders and girls in STEM are women learning a language to allow them to be in every industry,” she said. “They are artists. They are inventors. They are going to cure diseases. They are in the world of AI. They will be cinematographers with a whole new concept of film and computer-generated imagery and motion capture. They’re fashion designers – they’re everything.”

PSAYDN at Center for Schools and Communities
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