PASA Blog

04/10/2014 -

1. The Era of Facebook is an Anomoly, From The Verge

Researcher Danah Boyd gave her SXSW keynote address to a packed house last month. The reason for the rapt crowd of parents, educators, advertisers, and viral marketers? Boyd has spent the last ten years conducting more than 150 interviews with teens to get to the bottom of whether or not adult anxieties about teen social media and technology usage is founded. Her new book, It's Complicated, posits that, by and large, "the kids are alright." In her interview with The Verge, she makes the point that she struggles with emerging technological tools and digital spaces because, "they mirror and magnify the good, the bad, and the ugly." She goes on to specify that, "we use this visibility to panic rather than using it to figure out new ways of helping young people."

It's Complicated is getting attention for being one of the most comprehensive studies on how teens use various social media platforms as tools in the age-old, very human process of identity formation. 

 

2. Teaching Social-Emotional Learning Elusive, But New Tools Can Help, From Every Hour Counts

by Katie Brohawn, Director of Research, ExpandEd Schools by TASC 

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04/03/2014 -

By Kristin Elliott, Hub ELO Coordinator for E-Cubed

Posted on 4.3.14

"Impressive" is the word Hub ELO teacher-mentors are using to describe the Rhode Island Rebellion Rugby League's first high school session. Never heard the word "scrum" before? Neither had students from  E-Cubed, Alvarez, or JSEC, but they're quickly picking up a sport that, three weeks ago, they had never played.

And they're earning an elective credit!

 

As a big bonus, rugby coaches from as far afield as the UK and Australia are lending their time twice a week to share their love of the game with these students. 

 

Thanks to the American Youth Rugby League Association and RI Rebellion Rugby CEO Lawrence Almagno (top picture, far right) for bringing this fantastic program (a longtime favorite in the AfterZone) to the Hub!

03/20/2014 -

By Emmanuel Janvier, Gilbert Stuart AfterZone Site Coordinator

posted on 3.20.14

 

Last week I put out a call to the Providence community to help one of my AfterZone families get back on their feet after they lost everything in a house fire. Below is the note that Mr. Richardson wanted to share on behalf of his family:

"I would like to say that my family and I are very grateful for all the help and support that the community, Gilbert Stuart Middle School and AfterZone has given us. I just want to say I am 100% disabled army veteran and in 2014 you the community have made me proud to have served my country in combat. Its people like you that really care and actually do something to help."

Thank you to all of you that donated something.

—Manny

 

03/19/2014 -

Two years ago, the MacArthur Foundation teamed up with Mozilla to issued a challenge to the education community: Design new forms of learning pathways that utilize digital badges as their "accreditation." Organizations and institutions from around the world responded with their pitches and convened at the Digital Media and Learning Competition at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

PASA's badges for credit-bearing high school expanded learning opportunities through the Hub was one of the winners, and with the initial pilot of our badges initiative complete, Mozilla and HASTAC have issued this case study of our work. Published by Reconnect Learning, it covers PASA's key successes, lessons learned, and next steps for the digital badge system we created for our Hub Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs).  

03/19/2014 -

By Rob Randall, Director of Middle School Initiatives

posted on 3.19.14

For the past 2 weeks, the Gilbert Stuart and Esek Hopkins AfterZone sites have been piloting a new program in partnership with Sodexo and the Healthy Communities Office at City Hall. In a short period of time, this program has really taken off with AfterZone youth, educators, and staff alike. 

The program? DINNER!

Instead of afternoon snack (usually some crackers/cookies and juice or milk), students have been starting their AfterZone programs by choosing from 2 entrees, both of which come with veggies, fresh fruit, and milk. On Tuesday I went out to Gilbert Stuart to see how the new meal program was going and found a cafeteria full of satisfied—and calm—middle schoolers eating sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, salads, and a variety of seasonal healthy sweets in the form of apples, oranges, and pears.

We've found this pilot program has some surprise benefits beyond nutritional health, too. Because some of our students eat lunch as early as 10:30am, they were coming to their after-school programs hungry, which in turn made many of them less focused and more restless. AfterZone dinner gives them the nutrition they need to focus and excel at their programs, and both the Hopkins and Stuart AfterZone Site Coordinators have reported that the rhythm of the afternoon has really shifted now that students aren't doing homework, arts and crafts, or career exploration activities on an empty stomach. 

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03/19/2014 -

 

This year, the Office of Career and Technical Education at the Providence Public School District and PASA teamed up to better connect middle school interests with relevant high school choices and career possibilities by ensuring that students in PASA’s AfterZone programs understand the relationship between their program interests and career options.  

OCTE provided PASA with funding to offer special trainings to AfterZone program providers on how to better integrate career connections into their program activities. To bring these connections to life, AfterZone youth go on career-related field trips linked to their program choices, while a series of “CTE Days” make it possible for OCTE staff to provide 7th and 8th graders with career awareness information around national career clusters, as well as to make students aware of their program of study options in high school as they relate to the students’ areas of interest.

PASA’s partnership with OCTE ensures that middle school students understand the long-term relevance of the interests they express through their choice of AfterZone programs, linking middle school to high school, college, and career.

 
03/13/2014 -

By Michael Braithwaite, Director of Communications 

posted 3.13.14

    

 

When I was in high school *way* back in the '90s, I joined my first Internet chat room populated by fans of one of my favorite bands at the time. The Internet was still in its infancy compared to the cornerstone of life that it's become, but I still felt a sense of awe at the seemingly endless possibilities for connection and discovery it presented even then. 

In the nearly 20 years since (cringe), digital spaces and tools have exploded both in their number and sophistication. No longer seen as a realm of hobby and idle interest exploration, digital affinity spaces, social media sites, and gaming sites are more frequently being looked to as critical learning and identity formation spaces (you can Tweet that). 

That was the forward thinking philosophy behind the Digital Media and Learning (DML) community convening in Boston last week.  

For 3 energy-filled days, the MacArthur and Mozilla Foundations brought together techies, inventors, youth development and expanded learning organizations, youth, funders, ethnographers, sociologists, and researchers of all stripes to dig into how we can tap our collective knowledge and penchant for innovation to transform the learning landscape for young people using emerging technologies and existing digital resources. 

DML 2014 was a lively event, to say the least. Presentations ranged from discussions about how to get young people more involved in the co-design of digitial learning strategies, to a 5-minute rhyming poem/Ignite Talk about going to scale ("If the whale don't scale, it's a planetary fail") courtesy of Michael Edsen from the Smithsonian...