Setting Teaching Fellows Up for Success with Curricula and Classroom Engagement to Reverse Summer Slide
School may not be in session over the summer, but for Breakthrough Collaborative’s undergraduate teaching fellows, middle school students, and professional instructional coaches, teaching and learning are still going strong. Breakthrough’s students-teaching-students model aims to recruit and inspire the next generation of educational leaders while supporting students from under-resourced communities on their paths to college.
The undergraduates who devote their summers to Breakthrough’s intensive teaching fellowship are observed and coached in real-time by professional teachers. Through this mentorship and support, they not only have the opportunity to confirm their passion to pursue careers in education but also help to reverse summer learning loss for their middle school students.
Breakthrough’s students have similarly dedicated themselves to this challenging and action-packed program. The rigorous curricula, community of learning, and near-peer mentorship from the teaching fellows and site staff put students on a path to achieve their dream of being the first in their families to graduate from college. Many Breakthrough students return to teach the next generation of Breakthrough students in the program, creating a continuous cycle of support and a true family of learners.
Almost 40 years after Breakthrough was founded, the national office now serves a network of 25 affiliates by providing program standards and resources including curricula, evaluation tools, and teaching fellow recruitment. A grant from APNF will enable the national office to seek vital feedback from affiliate program directors, instructional coaches, and teaching fellows to fine tune the curricula’s quality, comprehensiveness, level of student engagement, and ease of use.
These improvements will help Breakthrough support its students, teaching fellows, and instructional coaches in achieving their full potential as learners, teachers, leaders, and agents of change in their communities.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Breakthrough Twin Cities and Breakthrough San Francisco
Reimagining the Learning Day, Connecting to the Future
A gateway city, Chelsea, MA suffers from a high school dropout rate triple that of the state average with its middle schools already struggling to meet the proficiency rates for the state.
By reimagining the learning day, Citizens Schools is intent on closing the opportunity and achievement gap for at-risk students at Chelsea’s Joseph Browne Middle School. The national non-profit is clear-eyed on its vision to provide an extra three hours a day of inspired, engaging experiences that connect learning to the future. By focusing on the entire 7th grade (152 students), Citizen Schools capitalizes on a critical development period, effectively setting students on a trajectory to high school, college, career, and community leadership through its Expanded Learning Time (ELT) model.
At the heart is Citizen Schools’ signature apprenticeship programs. Passionate AmeriCorps members and aspiring educators are joined by community volunteers called “Citizen Teachers” to mentor high-need students through semester-long hands-on projects. These teachers and partner instructors inspire and introduce middle school students to new fields, and related careers. Over half of all apprenticeships are in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
In addition to apprenticeships, Citizen Schools provides academic support in math or English Language Arts and helps students set goals and devise action plans. They also organize high school application support, college visits, and other field trips.
Over 20 years, the Citizen Schools ELT model has generated enthusiasm among educators and community leaders intent on “educating children, strengthening communities” and instilling the belief that success is indeed attainable.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Citizen Schools
Digital Tools Power Student Learning, Teacher Practices, and Parental Engagement
Research shows that middle school can be a challenging time when students begin to falter in academic achievement. For high poverty schools, the challenge to produce successful learners is even more pronounced. Students struggle with mastering Common Core standards and STEM subjects, social and emotional learning, and the 21st century skills needed to succeed.
Through a multi-pronged approach to digital learning, PowerMyLearning — a nonprofit that leverages technology to strengthen learning relationships — is helping students in low-income communities, together with their teachers and families, harness innovation to improve educational outcomes.
An APNF grant will enable students in a high-need L.A. middle school to join more than 16 partner schools in Greater Los Angeles and power their mastery of learning. PowerMyLearning’s three-pronged strategy consists of: school-wide, comprehensive programs and services to help students increase their classroom effort and ownership over their learning; intensive coaching for teachers to enhance their instructional practices and develop effective personalized learning environments; and bilingual evening workshops for parents, designed to build confidence in helping their children learn at home and plan for the future. Integral to the national organization’s work is its online, personalized learning platform, PowerMyLearning Connect, which offers 5,000 of the best digital learning activities on the Web. The free platform has been adopted in more than 40% of public schools nationwide.
Through innovative programming that brings together each part of a school community, PowerMyLearning is accelerating teacher innovation and strengthening the home-school connection. In a recent national study, students at PowerMyLearning’s partner schools increased their math proficiency seven percentage points higher than students at comparable schools. Their unique school partnership model is proving its impact on high student achievement – while fostering noticeable professional growth in teachers and in families as supportive partners, a proven booster for academic success.
Photo Credit: PowerMyLearning, Inc.
Saturday Night Bath Concert Fund Makes Music Matter at LA Middle Schools
The seven-piece band is conducting a sound check as at-risk youth stroll into the gymnasium, slightly skeptical of the musicians 40 to 50 years their senior. But soon the sound of congas, trap drums, bass viol, guitars and harmonicas, saxophones and flutes flood the gym and students are captivated by the music.
Saturday Night Bath is not only entertaining but educating 150 middle school students in courtyards and classrooms in a Los Angeles school district where music programs often are shelved because of limited funds. For Drew and Gompers (Los Angeles) and Dana (San Pedro) Middle Schools, Saturday Night Bath is determined to make music matter.
Since 1986, Saturday Night Bath has delivered 540 concerts in schools and detention facilities, connecting with over 37,000 at-risk youth through music. From Chuck Berry to Carlos Santana, each concert of American jazz and blues consists of pausing midway for Saturday Night Bath members to describe the origins and history of their musical instruments, its inventors, and snippets of famous contemporary artists.
The series of concerts and clinics include acoustical instrument tutorials and composition workshops. Saturday Night Bath artists provide one-on-one coaching on musical instruments and song selection whether rock & roll or “flow” rap, culminating with a student concert performance. Principals and teachers alike point to the positive impact music, like Saturday Night Bath’s performances, has made as a critical learning tool that keeps at-risk youth engaged.
Photo Credit: Saturday Night Bath
From Classroom to Career
Imagine having a dream that one day you aspire to be an astronaut. A teacher. A ballet dancer. A doctor. A top chef. An architect. But every day you wake up from your dream only to find that reality hits and hits hard – a challenging home life, foregoing after-school sports to babysit a sibling whose diapers need changing, having to piece together dinner while the head of the single family household is juggling two jobs that lead late into the night. And you are the tender age of 11 or 12 at most.
Enter Spark, a unique program that makes meaningful matches between underserved middle school students at risk of dropping out, and local working professionals for a tailored, personalized apprenticeship that gives these youth a shot at success in high school and beyond. From architecture to zoology, Spark connects students with positive role models who mentor them in career fields that align with their interests and build skills through hands-on activities and projects. In the 2013-14 school year alone, Spark increased enrollment by 50 percent to reach nearly 1,000 students across four metropolitan regions, building a bridge to a brighter future.
APNF is pleased to continue its support for Spark Chicago and in 2013, added a grant to Spark San Francisco Bay Area. No doubt we have seen Spark become a life-changing milestone in the lives of youth in some of the most underserved neighborhoods across the country. From perhaps being on the brink of dropping out of school one day, these Spark students explore professions based on their interests and strengths. After 10 years and thousands of apprenticeships, the results speak for themselves. Spark students consistently gain a newfound confidence, essential life skills, positive relationships with caring professionals, and a graduation rate significantly above the national average.
Photo Credit: Spark