The Illinois Quality Afterschool team at SEDL has compiled this list of resources to help you and your staff provide high-quality 21st CCLC programming. The 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.
Family and Community Engagement
Amid growing national interest in strengthening children’s “soft” or social-emotional skills as essential for learning, work, and life, a new study from Search Institute highlights the power of family relationships as a critical, but often neglected, factor in the development of character strengths in children. The study argues that too many family engagement efforts are about getting families to support what an institution does, like a school or youth program, and “overlook the one thing about which parents care deeply and that can powerfully benefit their children’s development: relationships in the home.” The findings challenge schools, organizations, and coalitions to rethink and reinvest in family engagement as a crucial strategy for working together for children’s success.
When budgets are tight, successful partnerships allow organizations to leverage resources that expand and enrich young peoples’ lives. Meaningful Linkages Between Summer Programs, Schools, and Community Partners: Conditions and Strategies for Success, a short research profile from the National Summer Learning Association, is based on in-depth interviews with 11 summer programs that have successfully forged dynamic linkages between summer programs, schools, and community organizations. The report provides guidance and examples for developing and managing effective summer learning partnerships in your community. The full report can also be found online.
Published by the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families in 2010, this guide describes three key strategies that city leaders can use to generate support for access to high-quality out-of-school time activities. The guide also highlights a broad range of examples of how cities have successfully implemented each strategy, from partnerships with universities to coordinated communications plans.
This working paper by a team from the Teachers College at Columbia University reviews roughly five decades of research around local, cross-sector collaborations. The authors examine key obstacles collective impact efforts have faced but note that current efforts in education may have better outcomes for several reasons: the notion that “schools can do it alone” has receded; new players, including mayors and city agencies, have become factors in education policy; many states and districts now have more sophisticated systems for collecting and analyzing student data; and cities are embracing “the new localism”—the idea that they, rather than the federal government, are the best arena for creative solutions to big problems.
Blended learning is an instructional approach that combines, or blends, different teaching strategies while incorporating an array of digital media tools both inside and outside of the classroom. This commentary from the Harvard Family Research Project addresses lessons learned from developing interactive blended learning tools for professional development. Features include offering opportunities for educators to practice effective communication skills and get real-time feedback; creating networks among educators; delivering content through multiple modalities; providing moderated, structured, and organized discussions; and putting educators’ experience at the forefront of learning.
Science NetLinks, a project of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has several free afterschool science lessons on its website. Hands-on lessons include creating a geyser, constructing models to learn about balance, using marbles and coins to understand the concept of chance, and other fun activities. Each lesson includes a facilitator page, as well as online and printable pages for kids.
High-quality expanded learning programs can help youth in middle and high school avoid risky behavior and stay on track for graduation. Yet many cities struggle to provide sufficient afterschool and summer learning opportunities for older youth that are accessible and relevant to their interests. To address these challenges, the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education, and Families has published City Strategies to Engage Older Youth in Afterschool Programs. The guide identifies four strategies that city leaders can use to increase afterschool program participation among older youth: coordinate systems to support effective service delivery; ensure programs are of high quality; offer a wide variety of relevant program options; and promote college attendance and workplace readiness.
Published by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network in 2008, this toolkit provides information and resources to help educators support students who have experienced trauma. The toolkit includes a fact sheet and strategies that educators can use with different age groups.
Quality is on the forefront of afterschool programs. Afterschool leaders can play an important role in supporting staff as they grow the capacity to recognize and incorporate quality into their programs. This blog post from the National AfterSchool Association lists 10 simple actions that expanded learning leaders can take to coach their staff toward youth program quality.
Created by the New York State Afterschool Network, the online Quality Self-Assessment Tool is organized around 10 essential elements of an effective afterschool program, all of which come from evidenced-based practice: environment and climate, administration and organization, relationships, staffing and professional development, programming and activities, linkages between day and afterschool, youth participation and engagement, parent, family, and community partnerships, program sustainability and growth, and measuring outcomes and evaluation. Each element contains a list of quality indicators that are rated on a performance level from 1 to 4. There are also examples of what a program might look like at each performance level for all indicators.
A steady stream of afterschool evaluations are showing important gains for children, not only in terms of academic achievement but also in regard to safety, discipline, attendance, and avoidance of risky behaviors. This updated evaluations “backgrounder”—a summary of formal evaluations of afterschool programs—from the Afterschool Alliance includes new research that demonstrates the impact of afterschool programs on academic outcomes, student behavior, and parental concerns about children’s safety. Afterschool practitioners can use this resource to illustrate the effectiveness of quality afterschool programs to stakeholders.
Published by America’s Promise Alliance, this white paper illustrates how national service is making a positive impact on young people and closing the graduation gap—from early literacy through high school graduation and beyond. The authors of this paper reviewed numerous evaluation reports, policy papers, academic journal articles, and program summaries related to the contributions that AmeriCorps, and national service more generally, have made and can make to close the nation’s graduation gap. In addition to having gathered promising practices, this paper offers recommendations to leverage and continue effective programs that work.
It may be cold outside right now, but your summer learning program will be starting before you know it. The Department of Education’s You for Youth web portal has several summer learning resources for expanded learning practitioners. These include fact sheets on the importance of summer learning (in English, Spanish, and French), strategies for engaging community members, family members, and students of all ages, and a range of activities.
It’s never too early for afterschool leaders to begin thinking about sustainability for their program. This article in AfterSchool Today, the magazine of the National AfterSchool Association, highlights some key considerations that go into sustainability planning. The ideas are drawn from the Wallace Foundation report Growing Together, Learning Together: What Cities Have Discovered About Building Afterschool Systems.
By now, we have all heard and read about the importance of non-cognitive skills—also referred to by many other terms including social and emotional skills, 21st century learning skills, or growth mindset—in the adolescent years. Presented by researchers from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and social and emotional learning program providers, this webinar recording focuses on how afterschool practitioners can apply what is known from effective social and emotional learning programs to their own work with youth in out-of-school time programs. The webinar is hosted by the Afterschool Alliance.
Kids love technology, but wouldn’t it be great if they could learn to make their own animations, video games, or phone apps? Presented by code.org and hosted by Afterschool Alliance and the National AfterSchool Association, this webinar recording explains how afterschool practitioners can get students started with coding during the Hour of Code. This 1-hour introduction to computer science is designed to demystify code and show kids of all ages that they can learn the basics.