FEATURE

Beyond School Hours XV: See You in California!

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This week in Burlingame, California, Foundations is holding its fifteenth annual Beyond School Hours (BSH) conference. I look forward to BSH each year because I always meet so many interesting people from across the country working in school, afterschool, and in our neediest communities. As I mentioned in last year’s blog entry, Beyond School Hours is one of the only national education conferences that puts afterschool at front and center, highlighting out-of-school time programs—and the people who make them happen—as critical to kids’ success.

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Using Shared Experiences to Spark Creative Writing for Language Learners (and it’s Testing Time in PA!)

by Jennifer Kobrin March 16, 2011
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Rather than elaborate on my opinions about standardized testing (which I’m sure you’ve heard before), I’d like to spend a little time this week reflecting on the kinds of activities that are not directly tied to test prep, but can still create powerful learning experiences for students. Dance clubs, poetry slams, creative writing and journaling, school gardens and farms, community service projects, just to name a few. If done right, all of these can help kids learn academics while building skills like collaboration and teamwork.

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Highlights and Viewpoints from Foundations’ Beyond School Hours Conference

by Jennifer Kobrin March 2, 2011
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Last week in Atlanta, Foundations hosted our largest Beyond School Hours conference yet. Almost 2,000 attendees came—representing all fifty states and a wide cross section of our country’s educational sector. For me, BSH is about building partnerships and engaging in national dialogue about what we can do (and are doing) to help kids. Beyond School Hours is one of the only national education conferences that puts afterschool at front and center, highlighting out-of-school time programs—and the people who make them happen—as critical to kids’ success.

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Reading for Life: Beyond School Hours

by Rhonda H. Lauer February 23, 2011
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This week in Atlanta, Georgia, Foundations is holding its fourteenth annual Beyond School Hours (BSH) conference. BSH is a nationally recognized gathering of educators and thought leaders who are committed to improving teaching and learning in school, afterschool, and in our homes and communities. Once again, this year’s focus is my number-one issue: grade level reading.

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A trip to the Roots Conference in California (and Pedro Noguera)

by Jennifer Kobrin February 19, 2011
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This week I traveled to Visalia, California—an incredibly beautiful place at the foothills of the Sierra mountains in California’s Central Valley—to give a workshop at the first annual Roots Conference. On the second day, Pedro Noguera spoke for almost an hour. Two major themes came up during his talk. One: there are examples of effective schools out there but we are not doing enough to replicate them. Two: the problem is not the kids, or their parents.

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What Does it Mean to Know a Word? Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary to English Learners

by Jennifer Kobrin February 9, 2011
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We know that teaching vocabulary should be part of any effective instructional program for English Learners. To help EL students, we need to know what it means to learn a word, and to use this knowledge when teaching vocabulary.

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Reading for Life: Striving Readers

by Rhonda H. Lauer February 2, 2011
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It’s no secret that reading is crucial to academic and life success. It’s also no secret that even young children comprehend its significance: students who read below grade level frequently suffer from low self-esteem, which can snowball into behavioral and social problems. At Foundations, we refer to students who are not reading at grade level as “striving readers.” We prefer to use the word “striving” (rather than struggling) because it connotes hopefulness, diligent effort, and desire to achieve.

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Making the Right Call

by Claiborne Taylor January 26, 2011
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My parents moved to the suburbs to open up the world to me.

Like many in their generation, they saw the city around them crumbling and the outskirts of town as a place to find affordable housing, community pools, and, most importantly, good schools. Their decision had the pay offs that almost any parent would want. I went on field trips to museums, had classes capped at 15, and ended up attending a small, liberal arts college with red brick, white columns, and a study abroad program. In school, I experienced diversity…but mostly in books, movies, and on our annual trip to the world cultures museum. And community became synonymous with service rather than partnership or integration.

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Life is Stress: The Impact of Poverty on Childhood Brain Development

by Sharon DuPree January 19, 2011
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Think of the most stressful moments of your life– the times when you’ve felt the most anxious, the most afraid or the least confident. Imagine that argument with your spouse just before leaving home in the morning, only to be rear-ended by the aggressive tail-gater and then arriving at school to teach that class of antsy third graders or administer an important test. How would you do? Children in poverty—children who come from family environments plagued by unemployment, abuse and neglect, chronic housing mobility and the like—suffer stress levels higher and more chronic than the exceptional “bad morning.” This stress has a profound impact on their cognitive abilities.

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2010: A Year of English Learning

by Jennifer Kobrin January 5, 2011
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On Monday, children all over the U.S. returned to school to start the second half of the year. Although teachers (and former teachers like me) know the real year begins in September, I’m going by the calendar to present a look back at the year of English Learners and Learning in 2010.

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Home for the Holidays

by Jennifer Kobrin December 22, 2010

Every family has their own take on holiday celebrations. Some families sing certain songs or eat special foods. Others are a little more wacky. My family likes to make their grown children reenact childhood photos (let’s hope mom doesn’t find those My Little Ponies this year!).

Whatever your holiday tradition, if you have school-aged kids, chances are you will have a few days at home next week. So, before your family resorts to something as weird as mine, try some of these holiday ideas. I’ve separated this language and literacy-themed roundup by age range, but some of the younger kids might enjoy the older kid activities, and vice versa. The list includes both online and off-line activities.

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