Guest blogger Jennifer Siaca Curry, director of national technical assistance for The After-School Corporation profiles how one New York City school designed expanded learning experiences to prepare students to be globally competent and ready for college and the interconnected world beyond.
By Jennifer Siaca Curry
Don't be surprised if you hear shouts of "GOOOOOOOOAL" ringing out as you walk by the Henry Street School for International Studies after 3:30pm on a school day. Coaches Rodriguez and Colmenares are helping their students investigate the world through one of the most popular sports on earth, soccer—or, to the rest of the world, football—through the World Soccer Project. This is just one example of how the school has taken a global learning approach in expanded learning time, in partnership with The After-School Corporation.
Support for a longer school day and year has been growing for at least two decades. The increased call for more time is also a strategy that can support the development of global competence in students: global learning happens best through experiential learning in applied settings, and an expanded school day provides just that. Particularly at the high school level, students can use more time to create, innovate, and explore within their school and in their communities.
Expanded learning time (ELT) initiatives provide more time and opportunities for engaging and experiential learning experiences beyond the traditional school schedule. The After-School Corporation (TASC) developed a framework for high school ELT that rests on several core elements:
- Principal leadership is central to ELT to ensure the expanded day supports the school's mission and student needs.
- Significantly more time for learning is offered, including rigorous and relevant content and experiences such as apprenticeships, service learning, and college preparation activities.
- Schools partner with community organizations and the expanded day is staffed with a blended workforce including teachers, artists, mentors, and others.
- The cost of the expanded day is sustainable and scalable.
TASC has a history of supporting an expanded day at the K-8 level, first through a pilot program in New York City from 2008-2011 and currently through a national demonstration extended to Baltimore and New Orleans. TASC knew that a high school model necessitates a more flexible, personalized, and relevant experience for students and decided to test these core elements with five New York City high schools during the 2011-12 school year.
When the Henry Street School for International Studies (HSSIS), a middle/high school in Asia Society's International Studies Schools Network, realized students needed more time for exposure to new experiences and academic support, the school team got to work under Principal Erin McMahon's leadership and with support from TASC. First they determined their goals, which were to increase student engagement and college and career readiness. Next they found program partners including the Henry Street Settlement, a multi-service agency with a century of experience serving the local community. They also built a partnership with the New York City Center for Space Science Education, which offers hands-on science experiences for students in areas such as robotics and aviation.
The partners decided to offer students more learning time through expanded learning experiences relevant to global competence. More than 120 students were able to engage in applied learning experiences and earn course credits outside of the traditional classroom through classes and activities including academic support and enrichment; culture and world affairs; sports and recreation; science and technology; and creative arts. Students had opportunities to decide what activities should be offered and to lead the development of their clubs with support from their advisers, who are also their school-day teachers. A blended staff of HSSIS teachers and community educators from the partnering organizations led these experiences. One course, College 101, was co-taught by staff from the Henry Street Settlement and HSSIS.
Each ELT advisor was responsible for planning and implementing the activity. During a staff development workshop, advisors filled out the following planning form. This activity supported advisors to think about how they would explicitly link their activities to global learning outcomes.
HSSIS found that their expanded schedule provided opportunities for global learning not otherwise available during the day. Students had more time to explore new content. Club activities were structured as projects that required students to inquire, investigate, create, and collaborate. They found mentors in Henry Street Settlement and Space Science Center staff, who helped them learn more about themselves and others.
In the end, students were able to participate in myriad activities: aviation, college prep, basketball, Chinese Culture Club, theater, Model United Nations, Chess, Double Dutch, Mathematics through Card Play, and more. Advisors convened for planning and professional development to ensure these activities explicitly linked to students' interests and global learning outcomes. For example:
- Theater advisor Nicole Marino planned for students to develop characters, exchange feedback with peers, and perform for the public. She determined this would support students to recognize perspectives through playing and unpacking character roles that are unlike themselves. By directing each other respectfully and effectively, students were able to communicate ideas with each other and with a wide audience through their performance.
- Coach Rodriguez and Coach Colmenares, the teachers leading soccer in the expanded hours, helped their students investigate the world through soccer. Members of the soccer team connected with and began to understand other cultures through their experiences with the world's most popular sport. Students earned physical education course credit through this and other sports clubs, which allowed many of them to get on track for graduation.
As they wrap up their first year of ELT, HSSIS staff members are very encouraged by what they've accomplished: more than 10 new clubs offering applied learning experiences serving over one hundred students as well as new college and SAT preparation courses for juniors and seniors. Principal McMahon and the team of teachers leading the initiative successfully brought community educators and resources into their school. They engaged students well beyond 3:30, and developed a strategy for offering credit for learning that took place beyond the traditional school day. All this was done with existing school funds plus a small public grant, and resources leveraged by HSSIS partner organizations.
We would like to learn more about how you use time more time. How does your school expand learning time for global learning?