Illinois Quality Afterschool Resource Bulletin

Fall 2021

The Illinois Quality Afterschool team at the American Institutes for Research has compiled this list of resources to help you and your staff provide high-quality 21st CCLC programming. This Resource Bulletin brings you the latest information on afterschool research, best practices, tools, conference proceedings, policy briefs, professional development tools, and activities. We hope you will share this list of resources with your staff.

Program Management

New 21st CCLC Leaders Academy

The U.S. Department of Education’s You for Youth (Y4Y) technical assistance team has created a four-part webinar series for new 21st CCLC leaders. Topics in the webinar series include an overview of the 21st CCLC program, intentionally designing activities, program management, and hiring and onboarding staff.

Diverse Learners

Dismantling Barriers for English Language Learners

English language learners (ELLs) bring unique experiences, skills, and needs to their learning environment. This article from Edutopia outlines strategies educators can use to create an equity-driven setting where all students can thrive. Strategies include being familiar with any accommodation plans students might have for school-day learning, accessing students’ prior knowledge, and being prepared to adapt instruction.

Learning for Justice Classroom Resources

Learning for Justice, an organization that aims to be a catalyst for racial justice, provides free resources to educators who work with students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Educators can use the materials to supplement curriculum, inform practices, and create inclusive school communities where all youth are respected, valued, and welcome. Resources include lesson plans, student texts, teaching strategies, and film kits. There are also professional development resources for educators.

An Educator’s Guide to Expanding Narratives about American History and Culture

PBS LearningMedia has collaborated with educators to curate learning resources that showcase ideas, achievements, and contributions by American people of all backgrounds across different eras. Collections include The American Canon Reimagined, Protests and Riots in American History, 1920s Literature and Culture, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics), and Business and Entrepreneurship. There are also links to lesson plans, worksheets, and professional development opportunities.

Images of Women in STEM

Students are more likely to pursue a subject or career if they see themselves represented in that field. The IF/THEN Collection is working to increase representation by providing a free digital library of authentic and relatable images of real women in STEM. The library includes photos, videos, and other assets depicting women in STEM fields. Users can browse the library by discipline and media type.

Making Afterschool STEM Learning Accessible to All Learners

A new report from Afterschool Alliance explores STEM offerings in expanded learning programs. The report finds that STEM programming in expanded learning has increased and that parents increasingly see afterschool as important for STEM learning; however, the report also finds that there is not equitable access to STEM programming and barriers remain.

Social and Emotional Learning

How Building Agency and Addressing Social and Emotional Needs Can Address the COVID-19 Learning Gap

A new blog post from American Youth Policy Forum examines the role of addressing adolescents’ social and emotional needs and helping them build agency in closing the COVID-19 learning gap. The blog post explains how fostering a sense of belonging and well-being among students and allowing them to make decisions about their educational path can enable them to take ownership of their education. The blog post also provides examples of how schools have implemented these practices.

Tools for Supporting Emotional Well-Being in Children and Youth

In response to the challenges that youth have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has developed a suite of tools to help them manage feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness. The tools include a series of graphic-novel style PDFs and videos targeting specific thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that cause stress in the lives of children and youth. The tools are available in English and Spanish.

Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health

The U.S. Department of Education has released a new publication that provides information and resources to enhance children and students’ mental health and social and emotional well-being. The resource highlights seven key challenges to providing school- or program-based mental health support in early childhood, K–12, and higher education settings, and it presents corresponding recommendations. There are also real-world examples of how advocates can implement the recommendations.

Building a Better Check-In

Checking in with students can provide a way to engage with them and understand how they are feeling. “Building a Better Check-In,” an article from Edutopia, lists strategies for check-ins that foster a greater sense of community and wellness among students.

Bullying Awareness and Prevention

Bullying and cyberbullying threaten students’ physical and emotional safety. A recent webinar from the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse offers information on bullying awareness and prevention, including the different types of bullying; their impact on school violence; and the relationship between bullying, suicide, and the wellbeing of school-age youth. The webinar also includes resources, tactics, and strategies to create safer learning environments.

Afterschool Enrichment

Harnessing the Power of Afterschool and Summer Programs to Support Recovery and Reengagement

A growing evidence base suggests that afterschool and summer learning programs can have a positive influence on young people under the right conditions. A new brief from American Institutes for Research offers a potential pathway to understanding how learning and development happen in quality programs. This pathway emphasizes three key competencies—relationships skills, a sense of agency, and identity development—that research suggests can facilitate learning and development in other areas, including academic subjects.

Academic Enrichment

Citizen Science

Citizen science is the practice of public participation and collaboration in scientific research projects where volunteers and scientists work together to answer real-world questions. National Geographic has compiled a collection of citizen science resources, including articles, videos, and activities. Educators can browse the resources by grade band and subject.

Structuring Successful Homework Help and Tutoring

Is your 21st CCLC looking to make the most of your program’s homework help and tutoring time? A new professional development resource from Y4Y helps afterschool practitioners establish and manage effective, student-centered homework sessions that actively engage and support them in learning. Materials include an overview of the topic, podcasts, tools, frequently asked questions, and links to external resources.

College and Career Readiness

Career Pathways for Students

Y4Y has a new professional development course to help afterschool practitioners support students in exploring career pathways. The course is divided into four parts, an introduction to supporting college and career readiness, implementation strategies, guidance for coaching staff, tools, and links to external resources.


Communicating the Value of Expanded Learning Time

Helping stakeholders understand the value and impact of expanded learning programs can be vital to garnering their support. To help advocates communicate key messages about the impact of expanded learning programs, Learning Heroes has developed A Playbook for Educators, Out-of-School Time (OST) Providers, and Advocates. Materials include a video summary of key research insights, a research deck summarizing key findings from research studies, a one-page overview, messaging guidance, and strategies for using.


Helping Students Navigate Online Challenges

Teenagers often socialize online, which can support connections but also cause online social dilemmas where youth have different points of view on a social media post. A new research story by experts with the Harvard Graduate School of Education addresses ways educators can help students navigate online dilemmas. Strategies include identifying the dilemma, discussing feelings, brainstorming possible actions and responses, and planning a response.

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Copyright ©2021 by American Institutes for Research. This publication was developed by AIR in 2021 and was funded by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) with support by the U.S. Department of Education. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of the AIR or any other source. This publication is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce and disseminate it in whole or in part is granted as long as appropriate acknowledgment is given.