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Showing posts from July, 2013

Chef for a day, science and decision-making skills for life

By Carrie Ann Olson What youth program activity combines math, chemistry and decision-making skills? Cooking! Healthy living is one of the national 4-H mission mandates, and here in Minnesota we are using the Chef for a Day program to get youth involved in eating more healthfully and gaining science and decision-making skills at the same time. We know that eating habits are established early in life. Studies tell us that kids who are involved in meal preparation and cooking are better at making healthy food choices. Beyond healthy diets, we also know that cooking programs can teach youth about doing science, by learning how to: follow directions understand food terminology predict the chemical reactions from mixing ingredients They can also take learning a step further and encourage youth to make their own science experiment . Research has shown that youth can be sufficiently motivated and empowered to come up with their own research questions and design proper experi

To narrow the achievement gap, don't forget to play

At a recent event, I was inspired by the story of a high school principal who turned a failing school around by focusing on making the students happy. Poor achievement, low attendance, and general naughtiness caused by poverty, hunger, domestic violence, you name it, had resulted in high levels of stress in students, parents, teachers, administration. Quite simply, the kids were unhappy. But what to do -- More math class? Rather than hiring more reading and math specialists, this principal hired more art and gym teachers. He brought in partners and other resources that would to help provide a safe environment for youth to play, get dirty, and explore, through programs such as Extension's 4-H and Master Gardeners. Students liked it. They got more interested in school and test scores improved dramatically. This story reminded me what decades of research has confirmed--that play is essential to learning (for adults too, by the way). Classic psychologists such as Jean Piaget, Lev V

Coaching for best results

By Margo Herman What is coaching? The variety of contexts and definitions people have for it is surprising. Coaching has surfaced in a surprising number of conversations in the past few weeks: A colleague shared how she sees coaching as guiding employees on performance plans for poor performance. I recently coached colleagues toward high-quality youth programming by using the Discovery Process, following a YPQA observation at a 4-H youth camp. This week, at a county fair judging event, I coached a staff member on the Youth Program Quality Assessment "YPQA on a Stick" tool. We are planning a professional development session for the Collaborative Leadership Fellows cohort next month in Rochester for fellows to learn how to coach and be coached for personal growth and goal setting. A program conference planning team that I am on is considering including a coaching workshop under the theme "balancing professional and personal life." The following defin

Top 10 tech tools for our work, redux

By Kate Walker What online tools do you use for collecting data, collaborating, and creating presentations? Two years ago I shared a top ten list of tech resources . Some of you shared yours too. Since then I've been introduced to more (mostly) free tools that are both useful and user-friendly. I use them for research, but can imagine lots of programmatic uses, as well. Online Survey. Use Google Forms -- part of the suite of apps in Google Drive -- to easily create an online survey embedded in your email message. A Google form is linked to a spreadsheet and sent out via email, and recipients' responses are automatically collected in that spreadsheet. Face-to-face survey. Use Quicktap Survey on your tablet (iPad or Android) to create and collect information quickly and easily. Just pass around your tablet to collect data, then export to Excel to analyze results. The free version allows for one survey at a time, but you can have 50 questions and up to 150 responses.