Monday, January 31, 2011

Jennifer Peck Appointed Director of Transition Team; Sam Piha Honored with High School Innovator Award

By Michael Funk


Jennifer Peck
Congratulations to Partnership for Children and Youth Executive Director Jennifer Peck, who begins the New Year as Director of the Transition Advisory Team for Tom Torlakson, newly-elected California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. When Mr. Torlakson served in the California legislature, he was a strong advocate for afterschool. Mr. Torlakson’s Transition Advisory Team is a bipartisan group of educators, and labor, business and community leaders that will provide strategic advice on key issues impacting California students, schools, school districts and the California Department of Education.

Jennifer is on part-time leave to the Superintendent’s office for the next few months. She is uniquely positioned to provide specific recommendations on afterschool and summer programs, as well as on community schools.
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Sam Piha
Congratulations also to Sam Piha, co-director of the Learning in Afterschool project, for receiving the Step Up High School Afterschool Innovator Award in Leadership and Vision. This award was given by the California Afterschool Network and recognized Sam for his vision and leadership in promoting the potential of high school afterschool programs and his efforts to build program quality statewide. To view Sam’s award poster, click here. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

21st Century Learning Skills and Learning in Afterschool: Interview with author Bernie Trilling - Part 2


By Sam Piha
Bernie Trilling is the co-author of "21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times" and former global director of the Oracle Education Foundation. A more complete bio follows this interview.
Mr. Trilling's book introduces a framework for 21st Century learning that maps out the skills needed to survive and thrive in a complex and connected world. To read more about or purchase this book, click here.

Q: What do you see as the role and the unique advantages of afterschool programs to support these skills today?

A: Afterschool programs have the freedom to provide young people the time to pursue their passions and explore their interests in a deep way. “Going deep” in a learning project, and becoming a respected expert among your friends can provide levels of self-confidence and pride that can literally change a person’s life course!
Bernie Trilling

Q: There are those who claim that young people who are behind academically, particularly those children that are low income and of color, cannot afford time spent in developing these 21st century skills. How do you respond?

A: Oftentimes it is the lack of opportunity to build these skills through deeper learning experiences focused on something personally relevant that contributes to low academic performance. There are so many examples of previously unmotivated and academically unengaged students becoming higher achievers once they’ve experienced learning that actively supports them in mastering something meaningful. If you successfully climb one big mountain, it’s easier to tackle others with confidence.

Q: What can afterschool programs do to improve their efforts to help youth develop 21st century learning skills? Are there specific learning and teaching strategies you would recommend?

A: I would recommend the “project learning bi-cycle” approach outlined in the 21st Century Skills book, which focuses on providing good supports and guidance for each stage of the project cycle – Define, Plan, Do and Review. There are challenges in managing collaborative learning projects as well, but the rewards are huge, and the opportunities to develop critical and creative skills, individually and as a team, are priceless.

Q: How do afterschool programs communicate the importance of these skills with school personnel who are under great pressure to raise literacy and math test scores? How do we avoid the “either-or” argument? 

A: I’m a big fan of “both/and” in education, and more importantly, the appropriate mix of learning experiences for each learner at their particular stage of development – personalizing learning as much as possible. Afterschool programs are the perfect complement to in-school programs because they really can focus on learning “beyond the 3R’s”; building personal motivation, engagement and confidence; and help young people gain the important 21st century skills needed for success in learning and life.
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Bernie Trilling is a 21st century learning expert, advisor, author, and the former global director of the Oracle Education Foundation, where he directed the development of education strategies, partnerships, and services for the Foundation and its ThinkQuest programs. He has served as Board Member of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and co-chaired the committee that developed the highly regarded “rainbow” learning framework. He has written dozens of articles for educational journals and magazines and is a featured speaker at numerous educational conferences.











21st Century Learning Skills and Learning in Afterschool: Interview with author Bernie Trilling - Part 1

By Sam Piha 
Bernie Trilling is the co-author of "21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times" and former global director of the Oracle Education Foundation. A more complete bio follows this interview. 

Mr. Trilling's book introduces a framework for 21st Century learning that maps out the skills needed to survive and thrive in a complex and connected world. To read more about or purchase this book, click here


Q: Why are the 21st century learning skills that you discuss in your book important to young people’s development? 
A: There are at least three good reasons that the skills detailed in the book are so important to young people’s development:

1) These are the proven skills that lead to success in learning, in work, and in family and community life – problem-solving, communicating clearly, working together collaboratively, using technology to find reliable information and to communicate with others, coming up with creative ideas and solutions – these are the core skills we all need to thrive in our complex and challenging times.

2) These skills help us answer questions we care about, help us creatively solve everyday problems, and help motivate us to explore and learn new things everyday, making learning meaningful, relevant, deep, memorable, and when working well on a good project with your friends, a whole lot of fun!

3) These skills help us apply what we learn to the real world, helping us tackle the big challenges of our times – getting a good education and a job with a decent income, living peacefully with others that have different ideas and values, doing what we can to solve our environmental and energy problems, and the list goes on. We really need compassionate, creative and critical thinkers and doers these days!


Q: How do the Learning in Afterschool learning principles correspond to the 21st century learning skills? 
A:The five Learning in Afterschool principles are perfectly aligned with a 21st century learning approach – active, meaningful, collaborative learning projects that provide opportunities to expand one’s horizons and master important knowledge and skills – this is the heart of 21st century learning.
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Bernie Trilling is a 21st century learning expert, advisor, author, and the former global director of the Oracle Education Foundation, where he directed the development of education strategies, partnerships, and services for the Foundation and its ThinkQuest programs. He has served as Board Member of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and co-chaired the committee that developed the highly regarded “rainbow” learning framework. He has written dozens of articles for educational journals and magazines and is a featured speaker at numerous educational conferences.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center Toolkit Aligns with LIA Learning Principles

By Sam Piha


Program leaders at the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center (San Francisco, CA) learned early on that if they were going to successfully enlist the ongoing participation of their middle school youth, the program activities needed to be active, project-based, socially centered, and meaningful to the youth. They also knew that they needed to use "education speak" in communicating the value of their program to the administration and teachers of A.P. Giannini Middle School. Their learnings were beautifully captured in their publication, The Best of Both Worlds: Aligning Afterschool Programs with Youth Development Principles and Academic Standards.


This program toolkit outlines lesson plans from seven of their most popular project-based learning clubs, complete with a listing of the academic standards that each club addresses. It also provides planning templates to help others design their afterschool activities. While they are not referenced specifically, one can see how the Learning in Afterschool learning principles are artfully applied within this program. 


We highly recommend that you check out this publication. Staff training on how to design standards-based clubs are also available. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sen. Barbara Boxer named co-chair of Senate's Afterschool Caucus

Sen. Barbara Boxer
By Sam Piha 
California's U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer has been named co-chair of the Senate's Afterschool Caucus. "As co-chair of the Afterschool Caucus, I will keep fighting to increase funding for vital afterschool programs because too many children still come home to empty houses in the afternoon and too many families cannot afford to pay for afterschool care," Boxer said in a statement.


Click here for a full blog post from the Beyond School blog that discusses Senator Boxer's afterschool leadership role (EdWeek). 

21st Century Learning Skills and Mastery

By Sam Piha


On December 29, 2010, KQED radio featured a forum on 21st Century Learning Skills: creativity, innovation, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration. We believe that afterschool programs have a unique role in developing these skills.

The forum speakers discussed the importance of developing these skills in order to prepare young people for the modern workplace. They also spoke of the importance of helping young people develop a sense of mastery. 

"If you could help someone master one thing, whatever that one thing is - needlepoint or skate boarding or video editing - being at the top of the mountain gives them the opportunity to see what it’s like to get to the top of the mountain. We always say at Pixar and DreamWorks, if you give me someone who has mastered something, we can help them master almost anything else....because every kid is different, having a full range of different pathways to different mountains is absolutely critical to having the broad dimensional workforce." - Randy Nelson, Head of Artistic Development and Training at DreamWorks Animation and former Dean of Pixar University. 

To listen to the comments of Randy Nelson, Bernie Trilling, author of "21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times," and Miguel Salinas, senior manager of Adobe Youth Voices, click here