Monday, December 19, 2011

New California After School Division Chief


By Sam Piha

Michael Funk
On December 15, 2011, Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Schools, announced that Michael Funk will head the new After School Division within the California Department of Education (which until the recent CDE realignment had been a unit of another division).

Michael Funk served as the founder and Executive Director for the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center since 1996 and has served on the California Advisory Committee on Before and After School since its inception. He has also been the co-director for the Learning in Afterschool Project (LIA).

Michael has been a strong advocate for quality afterschool programs that reflect the learning principles of the LIA Project – learning that is active, collaborative, meaningful to the participants, promotes mastery, and expands horizons. We congratulate Michael on this appointment and look forward to his leadership of the California Afterschool movement. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Expanding Horizons and Global Learning


By Sam Piha

On January 27, 2012, the Learning in Afterschool Project will sponsor a one-day conference entitled How Kids Learn.  One of our featured speakers will be Alexis Menten from the Asia Society.

Alexis Menten, Asia Society

Learning that expands young people's horizons is one of the five key learning principles of the Learning in Afterschool Project. This includes the promotion of global learning and understanding. You can read Alexis’ views on expanding horizons, lengthening the school day, and global competencies by viewing her post on the Global Learning blog. The Asia Society also offers a resource website to guide afterschool programs in promoting global learning entitled Expanding Horizons

To learn more about an award-winning youth program that is focused on developing young people’s global competencies and view some of their resources, check out Global Kids

A new publication entitled Virtual Vacation: A Leader's Guide offers an integrated approach to promoting global awareness. It will be available from Temescal Associates very shortly. This approach was developed by the NHP Foundation and implemented in afterschool programs near New Orleans.  

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Alexis Menten is a Director in Asia Society’s Education division, where she leads afterschool and youth leadership initiatives for the Partnership for Global Learning. The Partnership connects educators, business leaders, and policymakers to share best practices, build partnerships, and advance policies to ensure that all students are prepared for work and citizenship in the global 21st century. In support of this mission, Alexis directs Asia Society’s Expanding Horizons initiative, which provides technical assistance, professional development trainings, and resource publications that advance global learning as an essential approach for all high-quality afterschool and summer programs, and as a means to build collaboration between schools and community partners. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why Collaborative Learning?

 By Sam Piha

The Learning in Afterschool Project promotes collaborative learning as one of its five learning principles of quality afterschool programs.

Why do we emphasize collaboration? YouthLearn offers some important reasons why collaborative learning is important:

“The New Economy is distinguished by interlocking partnerships and networks of people and organizations. In the past a loner may have been at a disadvantage, but today, he or she may not be able to survive. Businesses work in teams; they outsource, form alliances and hire without ever running an advertisement. Put simply, the opportunities available to your kids will be as much dependent on their mastery of communication and collaboration skills as on writing or math skills.

People care about things they feel a part of and about which they feel at least some degree of ownership. If your kids are involved in planning and decision making, they'll show a level of enthusiasm and curiosity that schools can only dream of.

More knowledge, creativity and ideas can be found in two minds than in one, and even more can be found in four or in 10. When kids see what their friends have done with a project, they add to it and create something even more original. In out-of-school programs, you have the freedom to let kids work in groups almost all the time and to shift the groups around so that kids learn from lots of different people.

Face it, there's no way you can know about everything, especially once new technologies like the Internet, computers, software, scanners, cameras and all the other devices are added into the mix. Then again, why should you have to? Don't be afraid to let kids teach each other when one of them becomes an expert in PhotoShop and another an online audio wizard—that's the real power of collaboration. Rather than being mired in the details of ever-changing software programs, you can focus on the important jobs of coach, guide and educator.”

The Global Development Research Center offers a number of useful tools for those interested in exploring collaborative learning, with specific techniques and methods. We recommend that you visit this site and other sites that will appear when you do an internet search for "collaborative learning".