Experiential learning doesn’t always have to happen after school and academic skill building can take place outside the school day. With that premise in mind, PASA, the Providence Public School District, and local middle school faculty and administration have jointly planned a strategy—the AfterZone Scholars— that builds upon the collaborative teaching, field-based learning approach of the Summer Scholars.
In the AfterZone Scholars, students travel off-campus for field learning experiences half of the time and then, work on classroom-based academic projects that build on what students learned in the field for the second half of the week. The AfterZone Scholars brings collaboratively taught experiential educational programs into the school day, combining inquiry-based, hands-on learning and youth development approaches.
To support the teachers and community-based educators in their collaborative practice, PASA offers professional development opportunities that focus on strengthening collaborative teaching methods, as well as hands-on and inquiry-based learning approaches.
School Day Expanded Learning In Action
One cohort of students in the AfterZone Scholars Program spent two days per week with Save the Bay. During a typical week, they went out on a boat onto Narragansett Bay (a first for most), and collected water samples.
Back in the classroom, they looked at those samples under the microscope to identify and classify plankton and other sea life. They then charted and graphed the types of sea life they had identified.
Students said that the program helped them learn about new things, do better in science, perform better in school in general, feel more prepared for other academic work, solve problems, and have a more positive outlook.
One student even said that the program’s focus on environmental science “changed [their] perception of life itself!”