Wednesday, January 24, 2018

9 of our Favorite LIAS Blogs of 2017

By Sam Piha 

In 2017, we published 43 blog posts. These included interviews with afterschool leaders, guest blogs, and commentary posts. Below are 9 of our favorite interviews and guest posts. 

Youth Voice: SFUSD Students Attend the Women's March in DC 
(February 2017)

Afterschool program leaders and youth workers do a good job of speaking on behalf of the youth they serve. However, we also think it is important to hear directly from youth. Thus, we will endeavor to dedicate a portion of this blog space to hearing directly from youth. Read more.

You Matter. Your Staff Matters. with Rebecca Fabiano 
(May 2017)

Research has shown that one of the top three reasons why youth stay in after school programs is because of their connection to the staff. YOU MATTER. YOUR STAFF MATTERS. Read more.

Afterschool Change Maker: An Interview with Sylvia Yee, Part 1
(June 2017)

Sylvia Yee, Vice President of Programs at the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, recently retired. Ms. Yee, who joined the Haas Jr. Fund in 1993, had a profound impact on the afterschool and youth development movement in the San Francisco Bay Area and the state of California. She was a strong believer in the importance of schools working closely with the communities they serve, and the power of public and private partnerships. Read more

Mindfulness Trickle Up - From Afterschool to School with Katarina Roy Schanz 

(June 2017)

We have been promoting the use of mindfulness techniques in afterschool to address the self care of youth workers and the needs of youth participants. Mindfulness is well aligned with social emotional learning (SEL). Read more

What's the Evidence? with Eric Gurna 
(August 2017)

When the president's budget director announced drastic proposed cuts to the 21st Century Community Learning Center program as well as other critical supports for families living in economic distress, he said, "There's no demonstrable evidence they're actually helping results." While there has been a great bipartisan outpouring of support for after school since that moment, I think that we as a field need to do better at demonstrating how our programs really do make a difference, for both kids and families. Read more.

"Taking Off the Mask": Working with School-Age Boys with Ashanti Branch 
(September 2017)

What does it mean to be male? There are many messages that are absorbed by boys and young men - some of which are useful and others that are destructive. Read more

WINGS For Kids: Promoting SEL in Afterschool, Part 1 with Julia Rugg
(October 2017)

Report after report tells us that too many kids in low-resource neighborhoods fare worse in overall education and life outcomes than their peers in higher-resourced areas. And while we know that social-emotional skills help narrow this tragic gap, we also know that classroom teachers often do not have the time, resources, or training to focus directly on helping students develop social-emotional skills during the regular school day. Read more.

The Gender Context with Lynn Johnson 
(October 2017)

The modern afterschool movement was built around the concept of "all": all youth deserve expanded learning opportunities; all youth have common needs for developmental support and opportunities. This notion of "all" was an improvement over the idea of "some": afterschool programs designed to serve "those kids" or "at-risk kids". Read more.  

Trauma-Informed Practice, Part 1 with Dr. Marnie Curry 
(November 2017)

It is very difficult to promote social emotional learning and character building among youth who have suffered trauma. We know that many of the young people we serve have been affected by trauma - trauma through abuse, through violence in their community, bullying, the threat of deportation, discrimination against LGBTQ youth, racial oppression, and other experiences. How can we be sensitive to and better serve the needs of these youth? Read more.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Can Afterschool with a Foundation in SEL Help Disrupt the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

By Sam Piha

In a recent Forum For Thought on the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) website, AYPF Policy and Research Intern, Olivia Thomas, raised the concern about the school-to-prison pipeline and cited afterschool as a contributing solution. (See original post here.)

She began by sharing a number of facts: 

Olivia Thomas
  • In the 2009-2010 school year, 96,000 students were arrested at their schools, and an additional 242,000 were referred to law enforcement by a school administrator.
  • Black and Hispanic students made up more than 70 percent of those students.
  • LGBTQ students and disabled students are also disproportionately punished under punitive policies as compared to their peers.
  • Black youth in particular make up about 16% of students in public schools, but approximately 40% of the students being arrested and committed to the juvenile justice system. This translates to black students being more than four times as likely as their white peers to be arrested at school despite the fact that both groups commit disciplinary offenses at similar rates.”
She then made a case why afterschool can be part of the solution: 
  • "Social and emotional learning (SEL) has long been a central point of afterschool programming. In learning skills such as self-awareness and responsible decision making, youth can learn to better manage their emotions and experiences, and navigate potentially hostile classroom environments in a way that is considered more acceptable by school administrators.
  • Afterschool and OST programs provide a safe, supportive place for young people to spend their time. The activities offered by specific programs provide a positive focus for their energy and keep them engaged between the critical hours of 3:00-7:00 pm – the time frame in which juveniles are most frequently victims or perpetrators of violent crimes. 
  • Another longtime focus of afterschool has been on culturally relevant teaching. This practice ensures that different narratives and cultures are represented truthfully and equitably in lessons and activities. As a result, students from disadvantaged backgrounds feel seen and heard in their learning experience, and can play an active, productive role in it.
  • Afterschool can connect students to various opportunities and resources that allow them to explore postsecondary career and education options that they would not have access to otherwise. Career exploration, college visits, and internships are the types of experiences that can help keep students engaged in their learning by challenging and motivating them to think about their future path.
  • Wraparound services exist to holistically serve the needs of youth. Afterschool programs can integrate these services to further provide students with the tools and support they need, from access to healthy food to connections to social services. Wraparound supports in OST settings can ensure young people have the resources and support they need so they can better function and thrive in a school environment.” 

To learn more about the school-to-prison pipeline, check out these two videos: 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Importance of Collaboration in STEM

By Sam Piha

We recently took note of this Education Week article entitled “Science Is a Team Sport” promoting the importance of collaboration in STEM activities. (Collaboration is one of the five LIAS learning principles).

The article opens by reporting, “Hollywood's version of science—the lone genius toiling in the basement, the socially awkward computer engineer—stands in stark contrast to the real life, increasingly team-oriented work in science and engineering fields. A new study suggests correcting that misconception could encourage more American students to engage in science.” A similar article appeared in the NAA newsletter entitled Boost Learning By Combining Teamwork and STEM.

Dr. Carol Tang
We asked Carol Tang, Executive Director at the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco and Former Director of the Coalition for Science After School, to comment on this. Below, we share her remarks. 

“One of the most interesting learning principles in my mind is the one about collaboration. Because studies have shown that one of the reasons young people do not go into science is because they think that scientists work alone and they're isolated. In fact, most scientists would think that they're very collaborative in their work. 

A lot of big teams are needed to really tackle some of the biggest questions in science. If you think about looking for life on other planets or you think about how to invent new medicine, all of those take a team of scientists and engineers to work together. 

For scientists, we think of our work as collaborative. We email people all over the world with our ideas and we hear their criticism and their critiques and that's how we do science. 

Photo Credit:

For scientists, collaboration is a key part of what we do everyday. Yet most young people think that scientists work alone in their labs blowing things up. And so I think I like the collaboration learning principle and to make sure that when we do science, we encourage people to think of science as a collaborative effort because that's what it is in today's society.”

You can view Dr. Tang’s entire interview here. 

Carol M. Tang, Ph.D. is the Executive Director at the Children’s Creativity Museum (SF) and former Director of the Coalition for Science After School. She is experienced in non-profit management, strategic planning, envisioning, meeting facilitation, team building, fundraising and public speaking. She also has extensive experience in teaching, organizing, and leading science education efforts including out-of-school programming, exhibitions, teacher professional development, public programs, volunteer management and higher education. 


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

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Growing Importance of Social Emotional Learning and Character Building

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
The pendulum is swinging back from our obsession with measuring learning using standardized tests to thinking about the whole child and the skills they will need to be successful. As a result, social emotional learning and character building have become important in schools and youth programs. Over the last year, we have been tracking recent articles, blogs, videos, and reports on these important issues. 

To view our listing of social emotional learning and character building resources, click here. All of the resources listed are links to the original documents.

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