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Showing posts from February, 2014

What is "urban" youth development?

Race has shaped the definition of the word "urban." This provokes a question for us in the Minnesota 4-H Urban Youth Development Office: what exactly is "urban" youth development?

We have developed the following strategies, or ways of working, in our effort to serve the most marginalized (but not necessarily urban) youth.

We "partner with" rather than "bring programming or information to" the youth and adults we serve. The best way to engage any audience is build opportunities together. An even exchange of ideas allows both parties to recognize and work from their own expertise, while gaining new knowledge and experiences from what their partner has to offer.We use a youth engagement approach that helps us promote from within. Our youth have opportunities to lead and engage with adults in developing and improving our programs. They build on and see their own growing expertise, and many have come to work with us as paid staff, thus adding to the v…

We're putting engineering at the center of STEM programming

The Minnesota 4-H program is increasing efforts to enhance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program opportunities, specifically focusing on the E -- engineering and the engineering process.

What is the engineering process? This is National Engineers Week, and it seems important to explain how the engineering process is different from, but related to, inquiry. Inquiry is about asking questions in depth. It has these phases: sparking curiosity, articulating curiosity into questions, systematically investigating questions, interpreting the meaning of results, and improving ideas and explanations.

Engineering, in the simplest terms, is about solving problems. It is the application of science, mathematics, economics, and experience to design products, processes, or services. The engineering design process is used to fulfill these goals, through a systematic and iterative approach that involves asking questions, imagining solutions, planning things out, creating, optimizi…

The next generation of youth data: Will we consult young people this time around?

We seem to be at a time of renewed interest in creating shared data across youth programs. For example, we recently hosted Dr. Roger Weissberg on the importance of social and emotional outcomes for youth and featured many blog posts this fall on the topic.

But if you have been in the field long enough, you have seen this before. At one point, there was on emphasis on participation and counting --- where it seemed an onerous task to sort out who showed up and who stayed. I remember those days fondly now.

Then there was the call for quantifying what difference youth programs make in learning and developmental outcomes for young people. Yes, people - we can make a difference!

Next, there came the tools and rationale to assess and improve levels of program quality as highlighted in Yohalem's article on quality assessments.

Turns out, we can focus on data that is good for practitioners, youth and stakeholders, all at the same time -- when we select a good tool. Data can be a powerful t…

SEL in action: Blown away by 3 young people's voices

When were you last captivated by youth voice on stage? Last month three young people blew a spark into my work when they spoke about the ways that social and emotional skills have helped them.

They spoke at the Children & Youth Issue Briefing to more than 1,000 people who came to think and learn about:


Minnesota's innovative efforts to address key challenges and close the opportunity gapIssues affecting children and youth looking ahead to the 2014 legislative sessionMinnesota young people's experiences and perspective on the opportunity gap In my work on the social and emotional learning initiative (SEL), my colleagues and I get immersed in research, develop resources and provide learning opportunities focused on moving SEL from research into action. During the panel, led by University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, I saw SEL skills live and on stage, articulated beautifully by this youth panel.

The three students spoke candidly about their lives, their school environ…