KIDS Consortium's Blog

Youth Can Extend Themselves at Extended School Day Programs: Community Engagement With Service Learning

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Service-Learning, STEM, Uncategorized by KIDS Consortium on November 23, 2011

“It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile” and “Orange juice, it’s not just for breakfast anymore.” You recognize those taglines from a couple of old ad campaigns, right? Just good old Madison Avenue suggesting that we should think about some old friends in a new way. That is just a little bit like what this post is doing, only I’m not a Madison Avenue ad exec, so I don’t have a snappy tagline.  Plus, I know that this is not an entirely new way to think of “an old friend.” But if you come up with a snappy tagline, please, share it. I’ll give you all kinds of credit for it.

Just for breakfast?

More and more extend school day program (before school/after school/during school vacation programs) teachers are using service learning.


For the same reasons that other school teachers use it—the benefits are many.

The Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with MetLife Foundation, released an issue brief this month that discusses civic engagement and service learning in afterschool programs. The title of the brief is Providing Opportunities for Service Learning for Middle School Students. Even though the title isn’t all that catchy, it is a good one to download and read, especially if you have been looking for ideas and support for service learning outside of the school day.

At KIDS Consortium, we have seen a lot more interest and use of service learning in extended school day programs. As federal and state programs support professional development for teachers of these programs, some are also honing the learning outcomes for their programs. Both efforts are making stronger connections, through instruction and assessment, the learning part (the academic integrity principle of the principles of KIDS model service-learning) of service-learning. As a teacher told me recently, her after school program students have always done things to help others in the community, but now she is going to intentionally plan for and assess her students on the program’s learning outcomes while they are engaged in a service- earning project. One action her program has done for the last few years is to help the city’s parks department plant flowers as part of an annual event. By adapting some of her approaches to the project, it has the potential for teaching and learning some STEM topics.

STEM education is very much a part of extended school day learning opportunities. Published in September by the Afterschool Alliance, STEM Learning in Afterschool: An Analysis of Impact and Outcomes shows great support for learning and demonstrating STEM-related outcomes outside of school.  It is a twenty page report with a ton of program evaluation data. It is fully indexed and the last seven pages…a table that describes STEM programs being used by after school providers all over the country–that part especially is gold for those looking for strategies that are working for places that share the same participant demographics, one of the table’s fields. It’s good.

Plus, some more resources for STEM…from KIDS and from the Afterschool Alliance’s STEM resources. Click to access after school networks in each state.

This post is getting long, so I’ll stop without giving a project example from an after school program—I’ll save that for another day, but do you have an example of a service learning project done by students in an extended school day program? Share it in the comment box.

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