From the category archives:


STEM, Reading, and Rock & Roll

by Jennifer Kobrin September 15, 2011
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A couple of weeks ago I watched an inspiring primetime television special hosted by, producer and front man for the band, The Black-Eyed Peas (As of January, he is also Intel’s Director of Creative Innovation). The program was called First: Science is Rock & Roll and highlighted the 20th Annual FIRST Robotics Championship. A non-profit organization like Foundations, FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – designs innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989.

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Afterschool Programs Use Project-Based Learning to Incorporate Literacy

by Jennifer Kobrin August 24, 2011
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Project-based learning is a wonderful answer to the ubiquitous student refrain: “Yeah, but how am I going to use this in real life?” Hands-on, multidisciplinary projects can build literacy skills while engaging students with the world outside their classroom or playground. This week I’m proud to feature a guest blog from colleagues Jason Schwalm and Karen Smuck-Tylek , OST Program Specialists at Philadelphia Health Management Corporation. Be sure to check out their blog—it’s a terrific resource.

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New Report Highlights the Benefits of Afterschool Participation

by Jennifer Kobrin August 18, 2011

Over the past several years, Foundations has partnered with elementary schools in some of Providence’s poorest neighborhoods to help all children read on grade level by third grade. Working with teachers, principals, afterschool workers, family support specialists, librarians, literacy coaches, health workers, and many others, we saw firsthand that when everyone works hard and is willing to collaborate closely across programs, agencies, and departments, amazing things can happen for kids.

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eBooks for Kids

by Julianne Grasso July 6, 2011
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While digital books and the devices to read them have been typically marketed at adults, children’s books are making their way into digital format. Possibilities for sound, animation, and interactivity have made touch-screen devices like the iPad and iPhone particularly engaging for children. I wondered if any of these interactive additions are particularly conducive to enhancing literacy skills. (After all, it may be difficult to justify purchasing an expensive gadget when you could easily get these books for free at your local library).

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Reading for Life: Parenting and the Achievement Gap

by Rhonda H. Lauer June 22, 2011
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Approximately 3 million young people in this country are graduating from high school this month. As a former teacher, principal, and school superintendent, I applaud their achievement. But, here’s the flip side: over 1 million of their peers will not graduate, more than half of them minorities. Boys dropout at a higher rate than girls. And, as my colleague Michele Rodgers noted in her recent blog, African-American males face a double-whammy: only 47% of them will obtain a high school diploma.

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Summer Countdown

by Jennifer Kobrin June 16, 2011

It’s mid June. Many people think of this time as when schools and districts are gearing down, packing up classrooms, and preparing for vacation. But it can be one of the busiest times of year, especially for directors and coordinators of summer programs, who are frantically pulling together field trips, activities that must be the right mix of fun (so the kids come) and academically enriching (so parents and teachers are happy), nutritious daily meals, and everything from salsa lessons to horticulture classes with a huge range of outside partners.

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Fight Monsters and Learn to Read: Literacy through Video Games

by Julianne Grasso June 2, 2011
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As a member of Generation Y, who came of age immersed in computers, television, and mp3 players, Rhonda Lauer’s recent post about learning with and through media makes total sense to me. I’ve got an audiobook on my iPod, a video game that’s supposed to teach me Japanese, and I watch the Discovery Channel (that counts, right?). I’m certainly not alone, considering the seemingly giant market for “edutainment.”

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Reading for Life: Entertainment Media

by Rhonda H. Lauer May 25, 2011
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Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s 2011 Leadership Forum. This year’s Forum – Learning from Hollywood: Can Entertainment Media Ignite an Education Revolution? – was held in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Along with other educators, I joined with leaders from the entertainment industry, technology, research, policy, and philanthropy, to explore new ways to support young people’s learning with and through media.

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Building Pictures in Your Head

by Susan Gleich May 18, 2011
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While the early years of reading instruction are steeped in teaching students to “break the code,” equally important is building meaning from text and shared readings. Too often, comprehension takes a back seat to phonics, while it should be developed concurrently as the student learns to decode.

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Reading Success for Boys

by Michele Rodgers May 11, 2011
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Over the past several years, gaps between girls’ and boys’ reading abilities have been widening. Even when socio-economic background is taken into consideration, far more boys than girls scored below basic on the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Like many disparities in our classrooms, these gaps become increasingly pernicious if not addressed in early elementary school. By fourth grade, boys lag behind girls by two years in reading.

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