Thursday, January 29, 2015

NOW AVAILABLE: Presentation Videos from the How Kids Learn IV Conference!

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
On December 11, 2014, Temescal Associates and the Learning in Afterschool & Summer project sponsored our fourth How Kids Learn conference. This one day conference focused on character building, social emotional learning, and educational equity. 

For those who attended and wished to share the presentations with others and for those who were not able to attend, we have produced videos of the key presentations on our How Kids Learn YouTube channel. On this channel, you can also view presentations from educational and afterschool thinkers from previous conferences. 

Diego Arancibia (ASAPconnect) served as our Master of Ceremonies

Presentations from HKL IV include: 

We also share three videos that were shown at the conference. These can be accessed below:
Photo by Laila Bahman at HKL IV

All of these presentations and videos above serve as great discussion and training tools for educational and afterschool leaders. We encourage you to share them with all of your stakeholders and colleagues using social media. You can also view photos of the conference and participants by clicking here

Photo by Laila Bahman at HKL IV 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Growth Mindsets: An Interview with Mindset Works CEO, Eduardo Briceño

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
There has been a great deal of buzz about growth mindsets and its impact on young people's learning and development. Below we offer an interview with Eduardo Briceño.

Eduardo is the CEO of Mindset Works, which he co-founded with Carol Dweck, Lisa Blackwell and others, to help schools cultivate student ownership of their own learning. With his fellow mindsetters, Eduardo helps schools build learner capacity and success through practices that instill growth mindset beliefs and foundational learning skills in students, teachers and the broader community.

We invited Eduardo to speak at our recent How Kids Learn IV conference in San Francisco but he was unable to attend. We featured a video of Eduardo describing growth mindsets and we highly encourage our readers to watch it. Eduardo agreed to participate in an interview in lieu of his attending the conference. His responses are shown below. (Note: Mindset researcher, Carissa Romero at Stanford University, did present at the How Kids Learn IV conference, and a video of her presentation will be featured in an upcoming blog.)

The Power of Belief -- mindset and success | Eduardo Briceño | TEDxManhattanBeach

Q: There is a lot of buzz about the influence of a growth mindset. For those who are new to this concept, can you briefly describe what is meant by “growth mindset”?
A: Yes, growth mindset awareness and practice is multiplying, which is very exciting.  Even the U.S. President and First Lady have incorporated growth mindset language into their speeches!

Eduardo Briceño, CEO
Mindset Works
Photo Credit:
Discovered by Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, Ph.D., a growth mindset is the understanding that personal qualities are malleable and that we can develop our abilities.  People who understand that they can grow their intelligence (which is our ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills) and other abilities, behave in learning-oriented ways.  They challenge themselves to learn what they don’t already know, they seek feedback, they reflect, they view effort as something we can all benefit from rather than as a sign of weakness, they value and learn from mistakes, and they persevere in the face of setbacks.  As a result, they achieve higher rates of growth and success.

Q: What is opposite of a “growth mindset”?
A: The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset, which is seeing personal qualities as fixed.  For example, when people categorize others as “math people”, or “athletic”, or “artistic”, in fixed ways, rather than as competencies they have developed over time, or when they see other people as incapable of developing certain abilities, they’re exhibiting a fixed mindset.  People who are in a fixed mindset tend to want to stay within their comfort zone, they become defensive when they receive feedback, they view effort as a sign of weakness and inability, they see mistakes as evidence of being incapable, and they disengage when things get hard.  As a result, they don’t grow as much as people with a growth mindset and they achieve lower levels of success.
The great news, is that anybody can develop and strengthen their growth mindsets!

Q: There is research that suggest that a growth mindset is a good predictor of improved learning. Can you speak to this research?
A: Yes, there’s a lot of research that show that people with a growth mindset learn and improve more, and as a result they reach higher levels of ability and success.  There is a deep and growing body of research on this, in domains as varied as K-12 education, higher education, the workplace, sports, health, and relationships.  Several of these studies can be accessed from Carol Dweck, Ph.D.’s Stanford profile page.  Another great literature review that summarizes this body of research in K-12 education is: Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners (Farrington et. al.).

Q: How are mindsets developed?
A: Mindsets are beliefs.  They’re developed like any other beliefs: from our observations of the world, ourselves, and people around us.  When other people believe that abilities are fixed, they tend to say and do things that reflect those beliefs and that lead us and others to view abilities as fixed.  For example, if we hear other people talking about who is smart, or attributing our success to being smart, it conveys that intelligence is fixed, which is a fixed mindset.  When our bosses don’t believe people can improve and as a result don’t give and receive constructive feedback, it leads us to believe that people can’t improve.  When we see IQ as something that is fixed, rather than as what it was intended for (to measure cognitive abilities at any point in time), it leads us to foster a fixed mindset.

We can cultivate growth mindsets by learning that intelligence and abilities are malleable.  We can learn the scientific background behind the plasticity of the brain, or how experts develop their high levels of expertise, and how we can do the same.  We can undertake learning oriented behaviors and measure our progress over time.  And we can support one another in our growth journeys.  This is a lifelong undertaking.  If you want to learn more about other strategies, you can start your journey by subscribing to our growth mindset newsletter, or reading the article Mindsets and Student Agency or Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, or taking the Mindset Works EducatorKit growth mindset teacher training course, or doing the Brainology® curriculum with your students.

Q: Does it take a long time to help kids develop a growth mindset? 
A: Research shows quick effects from growth mindset interventions, but developing a growth mindset, and more broadly becoming a better and better learner, is a lifelong journey.  If we reflect throughout our lives about our habits and what’s working and not, we will always continue to improve, to strengthen our mindsets, and to become more effective learners.  The schools that we serve at Mindset Works put a lot of effort to building and deepening growth mindset cultures, which is not a quick fix, is a way of being and aligning as a community.

Q: What can leaders in out-of-school time do to promote a growth mindset in their youth programs?
A: Lots!  As mentioned above, they can teach the scientific background behind the plasticity of the brain, or how experts develop their high levels of expertise, and how we can do the same.  They can speak with students in growth mindset language, teach them how to give and receive growth-oriented feedback and other learning strategies, and help them self-assess their progress and strategies over time.

Q: Are there resources that are available to learn more about the practical application of this research? Where would you send interested out-of-school workers to find these resources?
A: Certainly!  Our whole Mindset Works website is devoted to that.  You can find free-resources including our growth mindset newsletter, and you can register for our Mindset Works EducatorKit teacher training course or Brainology® curriculum.  Check out Carol Dweck’s book Mindset.  Happy learning!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Expanded Learning Time: An Interview with Lucy Friedman, President of TASC

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha

Lucy Friedman is President of The After-School Corporation (TASC) in New York. Lucy continues to be a leader and innovator within the afterschool movement. Recently, Lucy and her organization have been an outspoken advocate for expanded learning and a partnership between schools and community organizations that focus on the healthy development of youth. We asked Lucy to respond to a few questions and her responses are below. 

Lucy Friedman

Q: The term “expanded learning” is used differently by different people in different parts of the country. Can you give your definition of “expanded learning time?" 

A: Expanded learning re-imagines the traditional school day by adding extra hours, partnering schools and community organizations, and enhancing the quality of education. Through this three-pronged approach, students get additional talent and role models in the classroom and a balanced curriculum that includes the arts, physical movement and hands-on, personalized learning. TASC’s model of expanded learning adds the equivalent of 72 more days to the school year.

We define expanded learning time as an integration between the school day and after-school time. The experiences during the traditional day and those typically in the later hours build upon each other. Lessons and activities perceived as "the fun stuff" are connected to core subjects - reinforcing, making relevant or enhancing what a student learns in, say, math or language arts. At the same time, these learning experiences foster social and emotional development and greater student engagement with school, which leads to greater academic outcomes. In this way, kids get the chance to discover their talents and develop their full potential.

Q: In your mind, what is the difference between the terms “expanded learning” and “extended learning”?

A: 'Extended learning' implies more of the same - a longer school day filled with more time at desks or doing test prep. 'Expanded learning,' on the other hand, sees community partners as a critical component to bringing a broader curricular focus on social and emotional learning, hands-on engagement and learning enrichments that expand horizons and opportunities.

Q: Are you hoping that the field begins using the terms “expanded learning programs” to replace “afterschool and summer programs”?

A: Replacing the terms may lead to confusion for schools and families to whom "summer" and "after-school programs" often mean enriched child care during non-school hours. Rather, we'd like to see expanded learning time be not just an option available to schools and communities, but also a movement that raises expectations and makes it the norm for kids in low-income neighborhoods to have access to the same quality of education and enrichment that middle-class kids currently enjoy in and out of school. We’ve calculated that by 6th grade, kids from low-income communities suffer a 6,000-hour learning gap compared with their middle-class peers. Expanded learning time helps close those learning and opportunity gaps.

Lucy Friedman is the founder and President of The After-School Corporation (TASC). TASC is dedicated to giving all kids opportunities to grow through after-school and summer programs that support, educate and inspire them. She has served on a variety of advisory commissions and boards, including the National Academy of Science, the Afterschool Alliance and Bryn Mawr College. Lucy has been a member of The Coalition for Science After School Steering Committee since 2004 and served as its chair from 2006 to 2008. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Afterschool Jargon: "Expanded" or "Extended" Learning

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
The afterschool and summer learning movement is not immune from collecting new jargon. As we move forward, there are two new terms that are being used in often confusing ways. Those terms are "expanded learning" and "extended learning". How are these terms different and are they meant to replace "afterschool" and "summer learning" programs? To add to the confusion, they are being used in different ways depending on what part of the country you come from.

To help us better understand these terms, we interviewed a host of afterschool leaders to ask them to help clarify. We begin with an interview with Jennifer Peck, Executive Director, Partnership for Children and Youth. We will follow this post with interviews with other afterschool leaders. 

Q: The term “expanded learning” is used differently by different people in different parts of the country. Can you give your definition of “expanded learning time and programs"?

Jennifer Peck,
Executive Director
Partnership for
Children and Youth
A: I’m going to refer to the definition developed with the After School Division at California Department of Education (CDE), which I think captures it well: Expanded Learning Time is defined as before and after school, summer and intersession learning programs that focus on developing the academic, social, emotional and physical needs and interests of students through hands-on, engaging learning experiences. Expanded learning programs should be student-centered, results-driven, include community partners, and complement but not replicate learning activities in the regular school day/year.

Q: In your mind, what is the difference between the terms “expanded learning” and “extended learning”? 

A: I want to be careful here because they are just terms, and they often get used interchangably without a lot of intention.  But in my mind, “extended learning” implies an extension of the regular school day or year, or simply more time.  But we know time in and of itself isn’t enough.  When we say “expanded”, it’s not limited to time – it also refers to the different kinds of experiences we want young people to have as part of their overall educational experience.  “Expanding” learning means bringing learning to life in new and different ways that are hopefully engaging and exciting and relevant to young people. Schools and expanded learning programs can and should be expanding learning for all students – and ideally doing it with some coherence and alignment of effort.

Q: Are you hoping that the field begins using the terms “expanded learning programs” to replace “afterschool and summer programs”? 

A: We have certainly been pushing that in our own work, because we believe that the word “learning” is critical to include in descriptions of what we do, especially as we work hard to create more coherence between schools and expanded learning program providers.  However, we will need to continue to articulate the “when”, since the expanded learning term is still relatively new and can be perplexing to our partners in the K-12 education world. 

However, as much as we like the expanded learning language, what we call it isn’t, in the end, the most important thing. Some providers have adopted “extended” because it’s more clear to their school partners.  Whether it’s expanded, extended, or the good old fashioned “after school”, it’s most important that programs are expanding horizons for kids, as well as striving to embody all the principles laid out in the Learning in Afterschool & Summer frame. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Afterschool Movement: Looking into the Future

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
As we welcome in the new year, we asked a number of afterschool leaders, "Looking into the future, what do you believe are the most important challenges and opportunities facing the afterschool movement?". Below are some of the responses we heard. 

We will include the responses of other leaders in a second blog post.

Jennifer Davis,
Co-Founder & President
The National Center
on Time & Learning
"The economic downturn continues to impact all youth programming in very negative ways and a more conservative Congress could mean cuts to federal programs that will further hurt children and communities.  On the other hand, more and more federal, state and city leaders now recognize the importance of closing BOTH the achievement and opportunity gaps and after-school, summer and expanded learning programs are key to that so new initiatives are being launched around the country to address these gaps. The recent after-school expansion by Mayor de Blasio in New York is just one example."  

Jennifer Peck,
Executive Director
Partnership for
and Youth
"Even though the context in schools is changing a great deal with the new standards and moving away from a test-focused accountability system, we still have a ways to go to ensure all afterschool and summer programs have the freedom and support from their school partners to provide strong, youth development-based programming that is complementary to classroom learning rather than replicating classroom learning. We now have new California Quality Standards for Expanded Learning Programs and a new accountability structure about to come into place (thanks to recently-approved Senate Bill 1221) that places greater emphasis on quality for all our state and federally funded afterschool and summer programs. 

Our biggest and most daunting challenge in my opinion is on the funding side. Our roughly 4,500 publicly funded expanded learning programs are still operating with $7.50 per child per day, a rate that was set in 2006 and with no cost-of-living increase policy in place. The cost of doing business has clearly risen since then, and on top of that, California has passed a minimum wage increase that will affect the staffing costs of many of our providers across the state. The field will have to get organized to raise awareness about this brewing crisis and assertively pursue solutions." 
Eric Gurna,
President and CEO
"One overarching challenge is the idea that we can easily quantify either the outcomes or the process of our work. If we try too hard to prove our value towards incremental improvements in scores and grades that reflect a narrow definition of success, we diminish the real outcomes of our work, which are often long term and hard to see, but real nonetheless. If we try too hard to fit into a pseudo-scientific view of education and youth development which treats time as an ingredient in a formula, we forget that we can have an impact that is disproportionate to the amount of time kids spend with us. 

One big opportunity right now is the growing recognition that social, emotional and creative vitality should be a part of a real education. Afterschool has always valued these realms, and now has the opportunity to be the tail that wags the dog, showing other educational players how and why to create warm and engaging environments where young people have agency, make real choices, and are heard."
Karen Pittman,
Co-Founder, President, and CEO
Forum for Youth Investment
 "Broader definitions of readiness (beyond academic achievement) are now widely accepted.  Afterschool leaders are no longer alone in their calls for more attention to the development of social, emotional, and civic competencies.  Those who believe that the amount of learning time doesn’t matter are now in the significant majority.  The present, as a consequence, looks pretty rosy.   A rosy future, however, will take more planning and much more discipline.

The afterschool movement has been steadily supplementing value-add arguments focused primarily on 'when and where' with new arguments focused on 'what and how'.  We now have consensus on quality standards and improvement policies.  The future of the movement, from where I sit, hinges on our ability to articulate a practical theory of how young people gain the transferable skills we value and have practical common measures of both the practices that add up to 'quality' and the skills that add up to 'readiness'." (Note: Karen Pittman is working on a paper which will say more about how to do this. We will provide information on how to access this paper in an upcoming blog post - Sam Piha).
"If afterschool and summer programs are to be successful in the long-run, they
need to be known as important places of learning. This means that we need to be more intentional in communicating the learning goals of our activities and having a way to acknowledge the learning by adult staff and youth participants. We believe that the use of digital badges provides a method of acknowledging learning where it happens. 

Sam Piha, Founder and Co-Director
Temescal Associates and
The LIAS Project
It is also important that we think about 'how children learn', not just what children need to learn. This will guide the development of our learning approaches and activities in afterschool and summer programs. We believe that the Learning in Afterschool & Summer learning principles serves to provide a framework for us to think more about 'how children learn'. 

Lastly, we have new evidence and research telling us how important it is that we promote character development, social and emotional skills, and positive growth mindsets. These things are vital to a child's education and later success. They also fall into the sweet spot of afterschool and summer programs but it requires that we are intentional about promoting these things."
Jodi Grant,
Executive Director
Afterschool Alliance
"The most important challenge facing the afterschool field is increasing the availability of quality afterschool programs for children and families.  We know that for every one child currently in a program, there are 2 more children whose parents say they would enroll their children if more programs were available. Research shows that quality afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire learning and helping working parents keep working and be more productive while at work. Every child and family that wants an afterschool program should have access to a quality program that meets their needs.  We have a long way to go, but we have made significant progress over the last ten years.  With an afterschool field that is much stronger now than ever before and with strong parent support for public funding for afterschool, I am confident that progress will continue."

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