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Showing posts from September, 2014

Increase reflection to strengthen program quality

By Anne Stevenson Reflection is essential for learning. Creating opportunities for young people to reflect on their experiences is a critical component to strengthening program quality, yet is often the most challenging to implement. So why is it so hard to do in our programs? We fall into the trap of thinking of reflection as something that can only be done at the end of a program session, and we often run short of time to finish an activity, let alone reflection. Most of us are not taught to be reflective learners nor are young people offered much opportunity to pause and reflect as part of their typical day or out-of-school program schedule. Let's rethink reflection We want to see it not as that 'thing' that comes at the end of the activity, but something intentional we do throughout our program time to build critical thinking skills and create meaning, value and wonder in learning. Youth program quality research tells us it's essential to look at what actuall

Who is getting outdoors? Mainly the white and well-off

By Cathy Jordan Have you been to a national park lately? If so, then chances are, you're white and have a relatively high income. Recently I've attended several events about children, families and outdoor play and learning. I noticed that, whether it was a professional event held in a conference room or a family event in a park, most of the attendees looked like me. This observation is borne out by research. Though some advances in gender diversity have been made within the "green workforce", racial diversity lags far behind. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) found that visitors to parks in Minnesota are more likely to be white and non-Hispanic and have higher incomes than the Minnesota population overall. In 2007, 98% of park users were white. Some creative strategies on the part of the DNR have begun to shift the balance, though. Focus group information gathered by the Metropolitan Council suggests that various cultural groups use parks m

Cultural resilience: A framework for promoting assets

Minnesota's educational achievement gap between whites and students of color has been narrowing, but remains one of the highest in the nation. To more fully address youth's learning and gaps in academic performance, we need to redefine educational excellence in a global society. To be successful in school now and ready for college and careers later, young people need to develop a range of skills that extends beyond traditional academics. Content knowledge and academic skills are important, but it is also critical that youth learn how to work well with others, persevere when faced with challenges, and recognize when a new strategy is needed to solve a problem. These social and emotional factors are critical to young people's success, and they can be developed through diverse life experiences and overcoming hardships or struggles. On Oct. 2, Dr. JuanCarlos Arauz will share a framework for creating a rigorous inclusive environment with a diverse community and reframe the