Thursday, May 26, 2016

Youth Stories


Sam Piha
By Sam Piha

It's so simple! Whether in a one-to-one or crowded conference hall, listening to youth and their stories are a source of inspiration. We don't need a research report or framework, we just need to listen. 

The Long Beach Youth Institute has produced a number of videos of youth simply telling their stories. Bob Cabeza, Founder of the Youth Institute and Vice President of Community Development for the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, answered our questions regarding these youth stories. 

Below, we've embedded one of these video stories. You can view the others by clicking on each of their names: 

Q: Why did you decide to record these stories? 
A: In my years of experience in youth development, I find that young people need their stories told from their own perspective in order to help others understand their struggles, passions, strengths and issues. This is about growing up from an adolescent to a young adult. These are stories about issues of poverty and disengagement as much as strength and overcoming institutional oppression. 

If a young person can tell their story as a way of helping practitioners learn how to positively engage youth and provide supports for them, then these stories have tremendous meaning and value for the field of youth development. These stories help practitioners understand the human side of their work as well as to greater their knowledge of what it takes to help young people succeed over time.

Q: What benefits came to the youth as their stories were validated by this project? 
Bob Cabeza and YI Youth
A: The thing I heard over and over again is that their stories give them power - power to express themselves about their lives, power to make change in their communities, and power to help other youth by telling their life experiences. By telling their own stories, they also gain a better sense of what supports gave them strength during critical and traumatic times in their lives and what they believe should be given to other youth struggling through the same issues. Lastly, their stories help them gain leadership in knowing that they come from the same space as many of our youth and they are proof that one can make it through difficulties.

Q: What benefits do you think come from those who listen to these stories? 
A: Listeners of these stories will gain unique insight into the lives of youth in poverty and youth of color, their humanity, their struggles and their wisdom, and advice. These youth want to help others, especially urban youth. 

Hopefully, practitioners can use these stories as training tools for their staff who work directly with youth. If we are to effectively help youth face the tremendous barriers in their lives that cause trauma and a lack of hope, we must be able to empathize with them. These stories are testaments to their social and emotional learning and resiliency. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Digital Badges In Education: Trends, Issues, and Cases

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
We were very pleased to author a chapter in a new publication entitled Digital Badges in Education: Trends, Issues, and Cases. Our chapter, entitled Afterschool and Digital Badging: Recognizing Learning Where It Happens, offers two case studies of our work with the California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC) and the Central Valley Digital Badge (CVDB) project. You can learn more about how CalSAC is using digital badges by clicking here

Temescal Associates / LIAS believes that digital badges are a very important method for motivating and acknowledging the learning of adult staff and youth. To this end, we developed the Center for Digital Badges. There you will find a number of valuable resources and implementation services.



Below is a detailed description of this new publication: 
In recent years, digital badging systems have become a credible means through which learners can establish portfolios and articulate knowledge and skills for both academic and professional settings. Digital Badges in Education provides the first comprehensive overview of this emerging tool. A digital badge is an online-based visual representation that uses detailed metadata to signify learners’ specific achievements and credentials in a variety of subjects across K-12 classrooms, higher education, and workplace learning. Focusing on learning design, assessment, and concrete cases in various contexts, this book explores the necessary components of badging systems, their functions and value, and the possible problems they face. These twenty-five chapters illustrate a range of successful applications of digital badges to address a broad spectrum of learning challenges and to help readers formulate solutions during the development of their digital badges learning projects. Click here to learn more.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The LIAS Principles and the CA Quality Standards for Expanded Learning Programs

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
In 2010, the Learning in Afterschool & Summer (LIAS) project was launched to offer five research based principles that serves as a guide for programs wishing to increase the engagement, motivation, and learning of their young participants. 

Four years later, the California Department of Education (CDE)/After School Division released the California Quality Standards for Expanded Learning Programs (CA Quality Standards). LIAS staff served on all three phases of the development of these standards to ensure that the LIAS principles were embedded. These standards focused on points of direct service with youth (#1-6) and standards that are intended to guide program managers (#7-12). 

Many afterschool and summer leaders asked how the LIAS learning principles correspond to the CA Quality Standards. To address this question, we issued a “crosswalk” paper, which correlated the LIAS learning principles with the CA Quality Standards for points of service with young people. This “crosswalk” paper can be found on the LIAS website here.



Below we offer a summary of this crosswalk. 

Learning that is Active: 
Learning and memory recall of new knowledge is strengthened through different exposures – seeing, hearing, touching, and doing. Afterschool and summer learning should be the result of activities that involve young people in “doing” – activities that allow them to be physically active, stimulate their innate curiosity, and that are hands-on and project-based. 




Learning that is Collaborative: 
Afterschool and summer programs should help young people build team skills that include listening to others, supporting group-learning goals, and resolving differences and conflicts. Collaborative learning happens when learners engage in a common task where each individual depends on and is accountable to each other.




Learning that is Meaningful: 
Learning is meaningful when youth have some ownership over the learning topic, the means to assess their own progress, and when the learning is relevant to their own interests, experiences, and the real world in which they live. Community and cultural relevance is important to all youth. 



Learning that Supports Mastery: 
If young people are to learn the importance and joy of mastery, they need the opportunity to learn and practice a full sequence of skills that will allow them to become “really good at something.” Afterschool and summer activities should be explicitly sequenced and designed to promote the layering of new skills. 




Learning that Expands Horizons: 
Afterschool and summer programs should provide learning opportunities that take youth beyond their current experience and expand their horizons. They should go beyond the walls of their facilities to increase young people’s knowledge of their surrounding neighborhood and the larger global community. 




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You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 
  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website 
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mindfulness in Afterschool: No Cost Resources Until May 31

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
We know that teaching mindfulness in afterschool has great benefits for the young people as well as the staff who lead these activities. That is why we are expanding our efforts to help afterschool and summer programs incorporate mindfulness into their activities. Temescal Associates and the LIAS project are partnering with Inner Explorer to move this forward. 

Inner Explorer has answered the call for no/low cost resources through the end of May, 2016 that can sustain your efforts at bringing mindfulness to your afterschool program. These resources come in the form of daily audio sessions that are designed for different age groups and require only 20 minutes of staff training because staff learn with their students! These resources are no/low cost only if you sign up before May 31st, 2016 because Inner Explorer is in an expansion mode, Beta testing their new internet platform and hoping that once folks love the program, they will want to start an easy to use campaign to help pay it forward. Learn more here.



In addition, Laurie Grossman, a team member of Inner Explorer and Temescal Associates, and cofounder of Mindful Schools has published a children’s book entitled Master of Mindfulness: How To Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress. This book is authored and illustrated by 5th graders from Reach Academy in East Oakland, CA with Laurie and Angelina Alvarez. The majority of royalties from the sales of this book will be donated to a fund to support the post high-school educational or vocational endeavors of the twenty five authors who co-wrote the book. 


The book’s description begins by asking a question:

“Do you ever feel angry, disappointed, or stressed out about family problems, school, bullies, or trouble with friends? If so, mindfulness can help. Master of Mindfulness is a unique and empowering book written for kids by kids, with cool illustrations and tips that show you how to be confident, get focused, stay calm, and tap into your own inner strength so that you can be your own superhero—no matter what life throws your way!”

This book can be purchased at your local bookstore or through Amazon. You can also contact Temescal Associates for information on training to bring mindfulness to your staff (self-care strategies) and to your youth program.  

Temescal Associates is delighted about our partnership with Inner Explorer and we look forward to watching the fruits of this collaboration.


••• 
More About Inner Explorer 
The mission and vision of Inner Explorer are: To unlock the academic potential and foster well-being for millions of children through mindfulness and to break the cycle of poverty and violence.

Inner Explorer was created in 2011 by Laura Bakosh and Janice Houlihan, who together have 30 years of experience practicing mindfulness. The K – 12 programs, based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program, were developed to help teachers and students develop a daily mindfulness practice.  

The effective, sustainable and scalable programs are streamed through the internet. It’s a simple push and play; staff and teachers learn with their students and there is no daily preparation. Research has shown the use of Inner Explorer results in a 50% reduction in discipline issues, a 43% reduction in teacher stress and a 10 – 30% increase in grades and test scores. For questions about how to sign onto Inner Explorer, please go to www.innerexplorer.org or contact Laurie Grossman.

•••
You can read other blogs by the LIAS project by going to: 
  • Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project website 
  • LIAS Blog Written for the California Afterschool Network