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December 2011 Archives

Detroit Keeps Schools Open for Enrichment Over Winter Break

Students in Detroit aren't spending their break shoveling snow and hitting the after-holiday sales this year: they're spending time learning. Their parents are, too. This year, Detroit Public Schools has kept 18 schools open over the winter break to provide extended learning opportunities for students, free meals and food baskets for families, and workshops for parents on budgeting and fiscal know-how. The district's first-ever "Holiday Learning Fest" was offered three days this week and will take place three days next week, from 10 am to 2 pm. Parents can also take home "academic toolkits" to use with their kids over ...


Chicago and Other Locales Tinker with School Calendar

Chicago high schools will add 36 minutes to the school day district-wide next fall, a move aimed at boosting student performance in core subjects. Union officials held protests at eight of these schools last week. The added time will align the high schools to the elementary schools, now at 7.5 hour days. District officials said they also plan on restructuring the time spent during the day to give students 46 minutes more of instructional time. As you may remember, Chicago Public Schools got off to a bit of a rocky start at the beginning of the school year when ...


Ho! Ho! Ho! Funders and Feds Offer Holiday Cheer

In the spirit of "the season of giving," there are a couple other grants and funding announcements in the expanded learning realm following TASC's news last week. Citizen Schools, the Boston-based nonprofit that partners with middle schools to expand the school day, was recently awarded $3.25 million from Google.org to be used over the course of three years. To date, Citizen Schools has partnered with 31 schools in seven states. Google has worked with Citizen Schools in the past by providing "apprenticeships" to students at its schools. In the Citizen Schools model, the added time in the school ...


TASC Launches National Expanded Learning Effort

New Orleans and Baltimore have linked arms with The After School Corporation to pilot an expanded learning model in their schools as part of an $11.5 million national initiative, the organization announced today. The two cities are replicating ExpandED schools, a pilot project The After School Corporation (TASC) launched in New York in 2008, which expanded the school day by roughly three hours at 10 New York City schools and grew to 17 within three years. The new pilot began this fall at three schools each in both Baltimore and New Orleans, and an added five in New York, ...


Hands-On STEM Pushed in Out-of-School Experiences

The rising push for STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—curriculum in U.S. schools has seemed to place increasing pressure on the expanded learning and after-school communities to provide engaging, hands-on experiences for young people, particularly outside classroom walls. In fact, this past year was dubbed the "Year of Science in Afterschool" by the Afterschool Alliance in conjunction with the National Summer Learning Association, and the National AfterSchool Association. The National Center on Time and Learning also released a report last month about the need to use expanded learning time for STEM, and in particular, science instruction. Today, I...


Out-of-School Programs to Promote Healthy Lifestyles

In an effort to combat childhood obesity, the YMCA recently announced it will be ramping up efforts to promote healthy eating and exercise in its programs, according to a New York Times article out this week. The YMCA, which serves more than 700,000 children in early-childhood, after-school, and summer programs at 10,000 chapters nationwide, is working with first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to reduce childhood obesity in conjunction with the Partnership for a Healthier America. According to the article, the YMCA will be adopting voluntary standards that encourage exercise and healthy snacks, while reducing video game and television ...


Family Engagement Key in Preventing High School Dropouts

How do you keep high school students at risk for dropping out engaged and on track to graduate? One way is through improved family and community engagement, says a new toolkit from the Harvard Family Research Project and United Way Worldwide. The toolkit provides strategies and suggestions for launching initiatives to get parents and community members more involved in their children's academic futures. The recommendations are based on the experiences and lessons learned from a family-engagement initiative supported by the research project and United Way and funded with a $2 million contribution from AT&T. The project supported 15 pilot ...


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