Youth, Education & Technology News : January 2008

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Recent January 2008
+ How to Develop a Thematic Unit with Accessible Activities
+ YouthLearn's Techniques for Encouraging the Sharing of Ideas
+ January is National Mentoring Month
+ Simulation Nation: The Promise of Virtual Learning Activities
+ Youth Programs Resource Center and Clearinghouse

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January 08, 2008

How to Develop a Thematic Unit with Accessible Activities

This concise guide, especially suited for educators working with younger children, explains how to come up with themes, choose tools and materials, and create accessible activities. The creator notes, "Adapting activities for kids with special needs is easier if you first choose a theme, then brainstorm the content and materials; start with materials you already have, and build on them!"

Posted by wrivenburgh on January 08, 2008 | Activities

YouthLearn's Techniques for Encouraging the Sharing of Ideas

In traditional classrooms, kids sit in classes of 20, 30, 40 or more students, yet they largely work as individuals, taking tests in silence, competing for grades and constantly hearing things like "keep your eyes on your own paper," "stop talking" and "do your own work." Luckily, you have more flexibility in an out-of-school program to instill an atmosphere of community effort and sharing.

In today's networked world, teamwork is more than just a laudable goal—it's a required skill. If you're going to create a truly collaborative environment, you have to model, inculcate, and reinforce the sharing of ideas.

Posted by wrivenburgh on January 08, 2008 | Activities

January is National Mentoring Month

"National Mentoring Month (NMM) highlights mentoring and the positive impact it can have on young lives. Spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the first ever NMM was held January 2002. This month-long outreach campaign focuses national attention on the need for mentors, as well as how each of us—individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits—can work together to increase the number of mentors and assure brighter futures for our young people."

Referred by: Tutor Mentor Connection
Posted by wrivenburgh on January 08, 2008 | News

Simulation Nation: The Promise of Virtual Learning Activities

In a recent article in Edutopia, Marc Prensky writes about "how and why yet another technology that could be enormously powerful for our kids' learning is getting short shrift in our educational system -- despite the successes we can, in fact, find and cite. Simulation is not just another in the long line of passing fads (or short-term opportunities) in educational technology. It is, rather, a real key to helping our students understand the world.

Computer-simulation technology is a way of looking at objects or systems that encourage a learner not only to wonder, 'What would happen if . . . ?' but also to try out those alternatives virtually and see the consequences.... It is my strong sense that in America's K-12 educational system, simulations are being used only in isolated and nonsystematic ways compared to other teaching tools such as textbooks, videos, and traditional science manipulatives. This meager usage is detrimental to the education of our twenty-first-century kids, and must change."

Posted by wrivenburgh on January 08, 2008 | Resources

Youth Programs Resource Center and Clearinghouse

"To help smaller youth programs, the Finance Project and its partners (including the Forum for Youth Investment) have created a clearninghouse of information and resources related to supporting and sustaining youth programs, initiatives and policies. Here, you'll find data, tools, financing and funding strategies, policy guides and technical assistance."

Referred by: Connect for Kids
Posted by wrivenburgh on January 08, 2008 | Funding

New Study Shows Quality Afterschool Programs Bring Academic Gains

"The new Study of Promising Afterschool Programs is making waves in the education community and getting attention from opinion leaders nationwide. Afterschool Advocate editors interviewed the study's lead author, Deborah Lowe Vandell, who chairs the education department at the University of California, Irvine, about the findings and what they mean."

Says Vandell, "This study showed that, for disadvantaged elementary and middle school students, regular participation in high quality afterschool programs is linked to significant gains in standardized test scores and work habits. These gains help offset the negative impact of lack of supervision after school." Further, she noted that "They were not just doing homework, not programs where there was a lot of drilling... The reason we get these gains, I think, is that they were offering children a chance to learn in a different way.

Posted by wrivenburgh on January 08, 2008 | Research