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Showing posts from March, 2014

What if...

What if ... communities sought to educate the heart as well as the mind?

This is the idea behind the work of Kimberly Schonert-Reichl at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Kimberly will be one of the keynote presenters at the upcoming Social and Emotional Learning Summit May 5-6 at TCF Stadium. The two day summit presented by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development and Youthprise initiative is designed to move from understanding to action. Check out Dr. Schonert-Reichl's brief video on why we should educate the heart. At the May summit she will discuss how schools, neighborhoods and others have used data in Vancouver to change the way community leaders and citizens work together to educate the heart.

What if ... our communities did holistic assessments of children that included their sense of belonging, reflection, engagement, and assertiveness?

This is the theme of another keynote speaker at the May summit. Gil Noam is the Execut…

Outcomes: The big picture of youth work

Does creating logic models make you sweat? Don't worry, you're not alone. Building logic models -- which depict the resources, activities, outputs and outcomes of a program -- has often been seen as a dry, scholarly activity. But I would argue that a logic model is an important document.

It can help you build a results-based program and engage in a dialogue about what is important. Even if you don't produce the full-blown logic model, I want to highlight two core pieces of one that are essential to your program: outputs and outcomes.

Outputs are defined as the products and services which result from the completion of activities within an intervention. In our programs, this is often the people and the activities. You often hear people talking about outputs to convey a program's reach. For instance, "300 youth took part in an environmental education program," or "we delivered 75 programs to more than 500 participants."

In contrast, outcomes are resul…

What would Rube Goldberg do?

If Rube read the Next Generation Science Standards' 8 Practices for Science and Engineering, he might first let out a quiet cheer, then get back to designing the next step in a complicated machine that would zip a zipper or hammer a nail.

A Rube Goldberg Machine (RGM), is an overly complicated machine that performs a simple task, usually through a chain reaction. Building an RGM is a great activity for young people who want to learn the principles of physics.

Named after a Pulitzer-Prize winning 20th century cartoonist, (who was also an engineer), RGMs are a whimsical mix of engineering principles and creative design. They are made of common materials you'd find around your home or garage. You can spend hours watching them on Youtube, from a simple machine to pour milk on your cereal, to more complex contraptions, to commercials for toys that inspire girls to be engineers.

Beyond being great entertainment, creating a RGM takes engineering design skills. RGMs use numerous va…

Social-emotional learning crews in the classroom

Minnesota's 2013 teacher of the year works at Open World Learning (OWL) Community, a school that incorporates social and emotional learning (SEL) into every class. Megan Olivia Hall teaches science to seventh- to twelfth-graders at OWL. I spoke with her about the strategies they use to help young people develop SEL skills.

LIZ HAGEN: How is social emotional learning taught at OWL?

MEGAN OLIVIA HALL: Our school has identified five non-cognitive skills, or "habits of work and learning," to promote.

These skills are integrity, perseverance, responsibility, collaboration, and stewardship. We exercise the skills in an advisory class called Crew, after Kurt Hahn's saying, "We are Crew, not passengers." Crew is a safe, low-stakes environment in which kids can actively learn and practice these skills. Crew is a multi-age class including students in grades 6-12, where students may remain with the same Crew leader for up to seven years. Conferences and parent communica…