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This episode features a conversation with Dr. Ken Ginsburg and Dr. Jillian Baker from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Ken is a physician in the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Founder and Director of Programs at the Center for Parent and Teen Communication (CPTC) at CHOP. Jill is a public health expert and Executive Director of the CPTC. CPTC develops and disseminates a range of tools and resources for parents, family members, caregivers, and adolescents, on a range of issues central to strengthening family relationships. These relationships remain core to healthy adolescent development, despite common perceptions of teens pulling away from their parents and other adults in favor of their peers.Ken, Jill and Jason talk about the origins of the Center, the scope of its work, which involves resources and tools for both adults and teens and aspects of research, policy and advocacy, how the current mental health crisis among adolescents is shaping some of the Center’s work, the broad range of issues the Center covers, including racism, reframing adolescence, and the importance of character development in our young people, and some of the future ambitions of the Center and the field.  Additional Readings and ResourcesCenter for Parent and Teen CommunicationGrowth and DevelopmentCommunication StrategiesBuilding CharacterHealth & PreventionChildren’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaDrexel University Community Health and Prevention DepartmentOffice of the U.S. Surgeon GeneralAmerican Society of Pediatrics“Identity Development for Teens of Color,” by CPTC faculty affiliate, Joanna Lee Williams
This episode features a conversation with Joel Daniel Harris, Founder and “Executive Dreamer” of TomTod, a nearly ten-year-old youth development nonprofit based in Canton, Ohio that offers summer learning opportunities for middle school aged youth, as well as after school and in-school programming. TomTod provides a variety of community-based, immersive experiences for thousands of youth across northeast Ohio that are deeply influenced by adolescent development and rooted in community and relationships, focusing on what young adolescents are capable of here and now, and not just in the future, which can work to change what most people think of the middle school period. Joel Daniel and Jason talk about the genesis of TomTod, the attributes of summer learning that uniquely resonates with young adolescents, the core elements of the program, which runs throughout the year in and out of school and has a special concentration in the summer months in partnership with an array of community organizations, businesses and institutions. They then talk about the influences of Liberatory Design, positive youth development and social and emotional learning on the program, the complexities of measuring outcomes for programming directed to young adolescents, how TomTod is working to respond to the mental health crisis during this upcoming summer, and what the future holds for the organization in delivering programming as well as building capacity in schools and school systems. Additional Readings and ResourcesTomTodCamp What IfLiberatory DesignFive Cs Model of Positive Youth DevelopmentSocial and Emotional LearningLean CanvasRemaking Middle School
This episode features a conversation with three educators working to remake parts of the middle grades experience in a Chicago public school through a Liberatory Design process. Joyce Pae is principal of The Chicago Academy, or TCA, a preK through eighth grade school in the northwest side of the city. Oscar Newman is a National Board Certified science and math teacher at TCA. Shelby Hildreth is the Director of Program Design on the LiberatED Way team at AUSL, which is facilitating the Liberatory Design work at TCA. The process works to engage educators to reflect on teaching and learning and school environment and policy to advance equity in deep, specific and measurable ways.Joyce, Oscar, Shelby and Jason talk about The Chicago Academy and the students and community it serves, some of the immediate challenges educators are facing this year as we continue to work through the pandemic, what the Liberatory Design process is, the way it’s being paired with adolescent development to focus on the middle grades, the application of the design process at TCA, the specific equity challenges that were identified and addressed through the process, the ways TCA worked to amplify youth voice and test new strategies that better aligned with adolescent developmental needs, and how educators across different contexts and environments can utilize Liberatory Design to address their own challenges.Additional Readings and ResourcesThe Chicago AcademyAUSLLiberatED WayLiberatory DesignStanford D SchoolNational Equity ProjectRemaking Middle SchoolLefkofsky Family Foundation
This episode features a conversation with Julie Lammers and Rahul Choudaha. Julie is Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Corporate Social Responsibility for American Student Assistance, or ASA, an organization that invests in and advocates for greater career exposure and exploration for youth as early as the middle grades. Rahul is Managing Director, Higher Education at Morning Consult, a firm specializing in survey research and business intelligence. The conversation centers around a soon-to-be-released survey of employers and adolescents around alternative, non-traditional, or non-degree postsecondary education opportunities. Julie, Rahul and Jason talk about how the survey came about, how it was designed to capture both employer and youth perspectives, the partners involved in the effort, what we mean by multiple pathways in the postsecondary space, the perceptions of those pathways that the survey showed, and some of the delicate communication challenges that highlight the value of multiple pathways without setting different expectations for youth driven by certain biases. They then look further into the findings of the survey, specifically addressing the motivations for pursuing alternate pathways, such as the avoidance of debt and accelerating a path to employment, how to change the narrative to better legitimate multiple pathways such that they are not viewed by both employers and youth as riskier than traditional college, and what some of the structural changes that may be necessary are in the K-12 education system, federal policy around postsecondary education financing, and employer hiring practices in order to make multiple pathways more viable and perceived by both employers and youth as more valuable. Additional Readings and ResourcesAmerican Student AssistanceJobs for the FutureMorning ConsultASU+GSV SummitP-Tech High School ModelEarly College High School ModelDelaware Pathways
This episode features a conversation with Clark McKown, President and Founder of xSEL Labs and associate professor of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center. xSEL Labs conducts an array of research in the education and youth field specific to social and emotional learning, or SEL. Notably, xSEL labs also develops assessments for student social and emotional competencies, as well as school climate and SEL for adults. xSEL Labs is currently building a new set of SEL assessments for middle school aged students, which are being designed not only with middle school students in mind but with their direct input.Clark and Jason talk about the history of xSEL Labs, the key differences of social and emotional learning for adolescents versus for younger children, and the evidence-based methods xSEL Labs uses to develop SEL measures as well as when and where and how in school environments the measures are administered. They then address important ways to factor racial and cultural inputs into SEL measures, Clark’s views on the current state of the SEL field and where it’s going, as well as emerging ways xSEL Labs is looking to provide more support to educators to implement SEL programming most effectively.Additional Readings and ResourcesxSEL LabsResearch and evidence base for xSEL Labs assessmentsRush Neurobehavioral Center“Social and Emotional Learning Programs for Adolescents,” by David Yeager, The Future of Children, Princeton University and Brookings Institution, Vol. 27, No. 1, Spring 2017CASEL Interactive Social and Emotional Learning WheelLessons in Adolescence Episode 3: Lessons with Dr. Robert JagersRemaking Middle School is launching a Middle School Listening Tour! If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, youth development professional, policy maker, or youth advocate of middle grade students, we would love to hear from you. Please visit and click “Sign Up” for the Listening Tour.
This episode features a conversation with Nat Kendall-Taylor, CEO of FrameWorks Institute. FrameWorks plays a unique role in the social sector. It uses the science behind how human beings learn about and understand the world around them in order to position or frame social causes in ways that compel people to take positive action or change. For a number of years, FrameWorks has been developing strategies and resources to help educators and advocates reframe adolescence in ways that better call out aspects of exploration, discovery and openness, which balance out traditional messages of angst and risky behaviors.Nat and Jason talk about how FrameWorks got its start and the role it plays in the social sector, the research-based process it uses to develop compelling narratives for important issues and topics, and how FrameWorks has used that process to reframe adolescence. They also talk about some of the ways FrameWorks supports organizations and the broader field to use the most effective language and channels of communication to showcase the opportunity of adolescence, how to help parents and families balance their understanding and impressions of their own adolescent children, the power of positive examples and stories of adolescents, the role of framing in bridging polarization and the cultural and political divides in education as well as other domains, and some of the new areas FrameWorks is looking to expand into or go deeper in.Additional Readings and ResourcesFrameWorks InstituteStrategic Frame AnalysisⓇToolkit on reframing adolescence and adolescent developmentReframing Adolescence Blog SeriesNational Scientific Council on the Developing ChildThinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kaheman, Random House, 2011Remaking Middle School is launching a Middle School Listening Tour! If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, youth development professional, policy maker, or youth advocate of middle grade students, we would love to hear from you. Please visit and click “Sign Up” for the Listening Tour.
This episode features a conversation with Daquan Oliver, Founder and CEO of WeThrive. Still in the first decade of his career, Daquan has earned prestigious professional fellowships in the social sector, with Ashoka and Echoing Green, and was featured as one of Forbes magazine’s thirty under thirty social entrepreneurs. WeThrive is the social enterprise Daquan founded in 2014. WeThrive offers middle and high school youth programming and seed money to develop real, revenue-generating businesses, bolstered by an array of skill-building curriculum and experiences around financial literacy, problem-solving and leadership, as well as opportunities to develop social capital through a network of mentors and advisors. WeThrive seeks to make entrepreneurship education and the opportunities it can bring equitably accessible, and in doing so really reframes how we even talk about and view youth, not as under-resourced, but rather, under-estimated.Daquan and Jason talk about his own experience as a young adolescent and how it inspired him to make entrepreneurism and youth service the core mission of his work. They then discuss how WeThrive was created, the under-estimated youth it is designed to serve, and the core elements of the program from curriculum through the launch of student-developed micro-enterprises. They also address WeThrive’s effect on youth, how WeThrive builds not only practical skills but also senses of agency and self-worth, why and how students gravitate toward building businesses that solve social problems in their school, their community, and the world, and how Daquan thinks about scale and where WeThrive goes next within the evolving education and youth-serving landscape.Additional Readings and ResourcesWeThriveWeThrive school-based curriculumWeThrive appStudent-build company: Buffalo Bully-BustersAshoka FellowshipEchoing Green FellowshipForbes 30 Under 30 Social EntrepreneursMENTORFossilRemaking Middle School is launching a Middle School Listening Tour! If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, youth development professional, policy maker, or youth advocate of middle grade students, we would love to hear from you. Please visit and click “Sign Up” for the Listening Tour.
This episode features a conversation with three authors of “Career Exploration in the Middle Grades: A Playbook for Educators,” which was developed in partnership between the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) and American Student Assistance (ASA). Stephanie Simpson is CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based AMLE, which represents tens of thousands of middle level educators across the country and offers a variety of resources, training and convenings for the field. Ashley Hemmy is manager of program engagement at Boston-based ASA, a 60 year-old national nonprofit and student loan guarantor organization which has expanded its mission to develop and invest in resources and tools to help students as early as middle school to explore their long-term career and educational goals. Julie DiPilato is a seventh grade science teacher in Barnstable, Massachusetts, where she developed an array of career exploration programming in her school. Stephanie, Ashley, Julie and Jason talk about the career exploration playbook, how it came about, why career exploration is a perfect match for young adolescents and where it fits within schools. They then paint a picture of what career exploration looks like in the middle grades, how educators can use it to enhance their teaching, the ways AMLE and ASA are promoting the larger scale adoption of this practice, and the opportunities for career exploration in the field of education long-term.Additional Readings and Resources“Career Exploration in the Middle Grades: A Playbook for Educators”Career Exploration Resource CenterAssociation for Middle Level EducationAmerican Student AssistanceMiddle School Exploration Program“Efficacy And Innovation In Middle School Career Exploration: Proven Models For Student Success”Remaking Middle School is launching a Middle School Listening Tour! If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, youth development professional, policy maker, or youth advocate of middle grade students, we would love to hear from you. Please visit and click “Sign Up” for the Listening Tour.
This episode features a series of comments and reflections and perspectives on the power of youth voice in helping young adolescents figure out what they care about and who they are, and the worth they see in themselves. First, we hear from Juleny Santa Cruz, Youth Council and Project Manager for Mikva Challenge, a Chicago-based organization that pioneered a type of experiential civics learning programming they call “action civics.” We also hear from researchers and program professionals from the University of Virginia’s Youth-Nex Center for Effective Youth Development: Abby Gillespie, Director of Strategy and Engagement, and postdoctoral research associates Faith Zabek and Ashlee Sjogren. Together, they share the core elements of the Mikva program as well as some of the broader research base on youth voice, calling out its importance in early adolescent development, the role of educators in making room for and amplifying youth voice, and setting up learning environments where youth voice can be elevated to authentic youth participation. We then mostly hear from young people. Ten young adolescents - Hailey, Da’una, Amya, Nelly, Liz, Honesty, Michelle, Xitlali, Luis, and Laurice - talk about their experiences participating in the Mikva Challenge program. They share how Mikva offers a venue for them to engage in issues important to them and their community, for fostering positive relationships, and for developing confidence and a positive self concept. Additional Readings and ResourcesMikva ChallengeAction CivicsProject SoapboxYouth CouncilsElections and Campaign Experiences“Youth Voice in the Middle Grades."Ladder of Meaningful Youth Involvement.“Motivation, Engagement and Student Voice.""Measuring and Understanding Authentic Youth Engagement: The Youth-Adult Partnership Rubric."“Youth-adult partnerships: Entering new territory in community work and research.""Strengthening student voice initiatives in high schools: An examination of the supports Needed for school-based youth-adult partnerships.""The adoption of innovation in youth organizations: Creating the conditions for youth-adult Partnerships."“The psychology and practice of youth-adult partnership: Bridging generations for youth development and community change."Remaking Middle School is launching a Middle School Listening Tour! If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, youth development professional, policy maker, or youth advocate of middle grade students, we would love to hear from you. Please visit and click “Sign Up” for the Listening Tour.
This episode features a conversation with Daren Graves, Associate Professor of Education and Social Work at Simmons University and Adjunct Lecturer of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Daren’s work centers on racial identity development among youth. His most recent work is Schooling for Critical Consciousness, which shows “how schools can help Black and Latinx youth resist the negative effects of racial injustice and challenge its root causes,” a circumstance that has some particular relevance to Daren’s research focus on black boys. Daren and Jason talk about the core features of racial identity development from the research literature, the concept of critical consciousness - plus what it means and does not mean in learning settings - the adultification of black boys and their resulting disproportionate representation in disciplinary incidents, how to best train pre-service teachers for a societal and educational landscape that is changing rapidly with respect to the racial composition of school-aged children, the intersection of racial identity development and social and emotional skill development, and the role of hip hop in the education of youth of color.Additional Readings and ResourcesSimmons University.Harvard Graduate School of Education.Schooling for Critical Consciousness: Engaging Black and Latinx Youth in Analyzing, Navigating, and Challenging Racial Injustice, Scott Seider and Daren Graves, Harvard Education Press, 2020.American Educational Research Association Hip Hop Special Interest Group.Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Achievement among African-American Students, Theresa Perry, Claude Steele and Asa Hilliard III, Beacon Press, 2003.Their Highest Potential: An African American School Community in the Segregated South, Vanessa Sidle Walker, University of North Carolina Press, 1996.Lessons in Adolescence Episode 9: Lessons with Dr. Lisa Harrison.Lessons in Adolescence Episode 2: Lessons with Laura Ross.Paolo Friere's "Banking Concept of Education" from Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Bloomsbury Academic, 1968.CASEL Social and Emotional Learning Framework.Dr. Graves will be giving a Youth-Nex Talk on Friday March 18th at 11 AM ET on "Schooling for Critical Consciousness: Tools to help cultivate Youth Resilience and Agency." To attend in person or virtually, please visit the event website for more information as it becomes available. Remaking Middle School is launching a Middle School Listening Tour! If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, youth development professional, policy maker, or youth advocate of middle grade students, we would love to hear from you. Please visit and click “Sign Up” for the Listening Tour.
This episode features a conversation with Nate Pietrini and Yolanda Luna-Mroz from High Jump, a 30-year-old academic enrichment program offered to high achieving but under-resourced students in Chicago. Nate is a former teacher and principal, and now High Jump’s Executive Director. Yolanda is Chief Programs Officer, having also been an educator and school leader. Both are working to expand High Jump’s programming to more students in the middle grades to support their learning and development and better prepare them for the transition into high school, which a great many students find hard to do well. Nate, Yolanda and Jason talk about the history and evolution of High Jump, how it blends academic enrichment and support with social and emotional skill development and self exploration, specific programming to help students prepare for the transition to high school, the various ways High Jump measures success, both near-term and long-term and both academic and social and emotional development, and the value programs like High Jump play in the emerging Covid-recovery and eventually post-Covid landscape.Additional Readings and ResourcesHigh Jump“What is High Jump?”Community Scholars programVirtual TourCenter for Urban Education Leadership, University of Illinois at ChicagoDecatur Classical SchoolBlue Ribbon“Free to Fail or On-Track to College: Why Grades Drop When Students Enter High School and What Adults Can Do About It,” Rosenkranz, et al., University of Chicago Consortium for Chicago School Research, April 2014Remaking Middle School is launching a Middle School Listening Tour! If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, youth development professional, policy maker, or youth advocate of middle grade students, we would love to hear from you. Please visit and click “Sign Up” for the Listening Tour.
This episode features a conversation with Nadia Selby and Elizabeth Micci from Citizen Schools, a 25-year-old Boston-based nonprofit that offers middle-school aged youth experiential learning opportunities through a blend of out-of-school time programming, in-school professional development, and community partnership. Nadia is a veteran of the organization, having worked there for some 14 years, and is currently Vice President of Programs. Elizabeth is Managing Director of Catalyst, Citizen Schools’ teacher development model. The driving force behind all of Citizen Schools’ work is embedding experiential learning opportunities into the educational experience, both in school and out of school, which is a powerful way to keep youth in the middle grades engaged and on-track. Nadia, Elizabeth and Jason talk about the history of Citizen Schools and how it has evolved over time - including spanning both the out-of-school and in-school domains - the ways in which the organization establishes partnerships with educators, mentors, schools and companies to deliver real world experiential learning, how they develop high quality talent and mentors to serve as a “second shift” of educators, and how out-of-school time programming, people and resources can be leveraged to expand the capacity of schools. Additional Readings and Resources:Citizen SchoolsCatalystExpanded Learning TimeMentoringNational Teaching FellowshipMakers + Mentors NetworkMildred Avenue School, BostonRemaking Middle School is launching a Middle School Listening Tour! If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, youth development professional, policy maker, or youth advocate of middle grade students, we would love to hear from you. Please visit and click “Sign Up” for the Listening Tour.
This episode features a conversation with Christine Bae of Virginia Commonwealth University, Tracyee Hogans Foster of Richmond Public Schools, and Michael Stange of Chesterfield County Public Schools. The three are engaged in a 5-year-long initiative funded by the National Science Foundation to examine student engagement in science instruction in the middle grades through a method called "authentic science discourse." Christine, Tracyee, Mike and Jason talk about the research base around student motivation in learning, why science is a particularly good subject in which to study student motivation, what educators are experiencing this year in terms of student motivation in general after a year of long-term remote learning, and the practice of science discourse as a way to inspire and compel students to engage more with the content. They also talk about what science discourse looks like in virtual and in-person learning settings, how the practice can be sustained over time, and the value of research-practice partnerships - like the one they are participating in - to educators and to the field as a whole. Additional Readings and Resources:Discourse and Learning LabNational Science FoundationBuilding on diverse students' funds of knowledge to promote scientific discourse and strengthen connections to science learning in urban classroomsFaculty Early Career Development ProgramVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond Public SchoolsChesterfield County Public SchoolsFlipgrid
This episode features a conversation with Lynsey Wood Jeffries and Nyasha Rusununguko from Higher Achievement. Lynsey is CEO and Nyasha Director of Program Operations for the 45-year-old, Washington DC-based nonprofit serving middle-school age youth in the out-of-school-time space with a blend of academic enrichment, mentoring, and community-building, culminating in high school and ultimately college preparation. Higher Achievement serves students in communities in and around Washington, DC, Baltimore and Richmond. Lynsey, Nyasha and Jason talk about the history and program model of Higher Achievement, emphasizing literacy, social and emotional learning, and high school readiness. They look at the results the organization is seeing in terms of student academic and other outcomes. They delve into the ways Higher Achievement staff and mentors deliver a meaningful student experience, the changes they had to make during virtual programming amid the pandemic, and which of those they will keep. And they discuss what the pandemic showed about the essential role out-of-school-time programs have in education going forward.Additional Readings and Resources:Higher AchievementStaying On Track: Testing Higher Achievement’s Long-Term Impact on Academic Outcomes and High School ChoiceAiming Higher: Assessing Higher Achievement’s Out-of-School Expansion Efforts, MDRC, 2000Achieve 3000 LiteracySocial and Emotional LearningWilliam T. Grant Foundation
We're excited to announce that production on the second season of the "Lessons in Adolescence" podcast is officially underway! Our first episode will be available for listening on your preferred podcast platform Wednesday October 27th. Season two will be packed with new guests, more lessons, and fresh showcases of research, practice and advocacy all focused on young adolescent learning and development. Before we dive into season two, host Jason Cascarino shares some highlights from season one, including episodes that deal with issues of developing positive relationships, delivering effective youth programming during the pandemic, and helping young people navigate systemic racism and engage in racial justice. Highlighted conversations feature:Dr. Lisa Harrison, Associate Professor of teacher education at Ohio UniversityDr. Kent Pekel, former CEO of Search InstituteDr. Elizabeth Santiago, former Chief Program Officer of MENTORDr. Joanna Lee Williams, Associate Professor of school psychology, Rutgers UniversityBreakthrough Collaborative CEO, Elissa Vanaver, Birmingham Executive Director, Mariohn Michele, and San Juan Capistrano Executive Director, Alex SernaAim High CEO, Alec Lee and Vice President of Programs, Terrence Riley
This episode features a conversation with Kiana Dixon and Janikaa Jackson. Kiana and Janikaa are students at Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York and are alumni of the Peer Group Connection (PGC) program offered by the Center for Supportive Schools (CSS). PGC positions upper class-men and women in high school to mentor incoming 9th graders transitioning into high school from middle school. They are both now consultants with CSS, helping develop new programming and curriculum, and providing professional learning for educators on practices that incorporate authentic student voice.Kiana, Janikaa and Jason talk about their own middle school years and their experience being bullied, their transition into high school and finding their own path, and details of their work as upper class women mentoring incoming freshmen and women and the impact having a mentor has on young adolescents transitioning from middle school. They also touch upon their experience as consultants with CSS, developing a youth advisory board to amplify youth voice, developing accessible programming during the pandemic, providing professional development to teachers and helping them make adjustments to their curriculum to align with student needs, and what they think works best to keep students engaged; plus, Kiana and Janikaa reveal what they see for their own futures.Additional Readings and Resources:Center for Supportive SchoolsPeer Group Connection - High School and Middle SchoolCSS Youth Advisory BoardSocratic SeminarsBrooklyn CollegeUrban Assembly School of Music and Art
This episode features a conversation with three leaders of one of the largest and longest standing summer learning programs geared toward middle-school aged youth: Breakthrough Collaborative. Elissa Vanaver is Breakthrough’s CEO, who has led the organization through a new strategy that looks to codify its programming and solidify its large network of local affiliates across the country serving more than 10,000 students annually. Mariohn Michel and Alex Serna are two of Breakthrough’s local executive directors. Mariohn heads Breakthrough Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama and Alex heads Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano in Southern California. Elissa, Mariohn, Alex and Jason talk about Breakthrough’s programming for middle schoolers and how that national model takes shape in various local contexts with individual needs, Breakthrough’s human capital strategy to bring talented college students in various fields into education and what effect they have on young adolescents, and vice versa, and Breakthrough’s approach to remote programming, including which elements might stick post-pandemic.Additional Readings and Resources:Breakthrough CollaborativeBreakthrough Teaching Fellows“Inspiring Students, Developing Teachers: How A Corps Of College Students Closes Opportunity Gaps & Diversifies The Teacher Pipeline,” March 2021“Breaking Through The Distance: How Relationships Foster Online Learning,” October 2020Breakthrough BirminghamBreakthrough San Juan Capistrano“Whites Only: School Segregation is Back, from Birmingham to San Francisco,” by Alexander Nazaryan, Newsweek, May 2, 2017.
This episode features a conversation with Jennifer McCombs and Nancy Deutsch. Jennifer is a Senior Policy Researcher and Director of the Behavioral and Policy Sciences Department for the RAND Corporation, one of the world’s leading research institutes. She has been one of the main authors of several works building the knowledge base on summer learning, including a series funded by the Wallace Foundation. Nancy is a professor of education at the University of Virginia and Director of UVA’s Youth-Nex Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, a founding partner in the Remaking Middle School Initiative. Nancy’s research expertise is around adolescent development, particularly in out-of-school-time spaces.Jennifer, Nancy and Jason talk about the reasons to study summer learning and what we want to learn from the research, specifically for young adolescents and their identity development; understanding the elements of structural inequities in summer learning and how that effects young adolescents; the best practices from research around the practical issues of implementing summer programs effectively; the reframing of summer learning from a time to make up gaps in learning to instead best capture the combination of academics and enrichment in a way that motivates and engages young adolescents, and the research interests for this upcoming summer and the next few summers to understand the potential of summertime to support the whole child, academically, socially and emotionally, psychologically, and otherwise.Additional Readings and Resources:Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth, National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, 2019“Getting to Work on Summer Learning: Recommended Practices for Success, 2nd Ed.,” by Heather L. Schwartz, Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Catherine H. Augustine, and Jennifer T. Leschitz, Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2018Wallace Foundation Knowledge CenterNational Summer Learning Knowledge Center Youth-Nex: UVA’s Center to Promote Effective Youth DevelopmentRAND CorporationAim High
This episode features a conversation with Alec Lee and Terrence Riley. Alec is co-founder and CEO of the 35-year-old Aim High summer learning program for middle school youth. Terrence is an alumnus of the program, and now Vice President of Programs for the organization. Aim High offers a mix of academic classes and interest-driven enrichment activities for middle school students during the summers leading into, during and transitioning out of the middle grades. Like other summer learning programs in the summer of 2020, Aim High needed to pivot from its traditional in-person model to a virtual one, called Aim High at Home, which had some advantages that the program intends to keep going forward even as they steadily transition back to in-person programming.Alec, Terrence and Jason talk about the genesis of the Aim High program, the specific components of the experience, the types of students who participate, how the organization recruits and trains its staff, which includes local teachers-in-training and also alumni of the program, and the outcomes they are seeing across academic, social and emotional domains as well as the students’ transition into high school and even longer term. They then go into the pivot that Aim High had to make to deliver programming during the pandemic, creating Aim High at Home, how they shifted the levels of emphasis on different aspects of the programming to build belonging and community, and how they ramped up training for summer educators. They also address what they anticipate this upcoming summer will look like and its outsized importance given COVID recovery efforts, and what the future of summer learning looks like longer term.Additional Readings and Resources:Aim HighAim High At HomeAim High teacher programs“The Dynamic Effects of a Summer Learning Program on Behavioral Engagement in School,” Jaymes Pyne, Erica Messner and Thomas S. Dee., Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis, CEPA Working Paper No. 20-10, September 2020.“Aiming High for the Summer,” by Andrew Bauld, Harvard Graduate School of Education Centennial, 2020.Horizons-Upward Bound
This episode features a conversation with Aaron Dworkin, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, the nation’s leading champion, connector and supporter of summer learning programming. Aaron has a long history in youth service and has brought a new energy and ambition to the work of NSLA. This comes at a unique moment for the field of summer learning, as the global pandemic and worries about learning loss and mental health give heightened purpose to learning opportunities this particular summer. While that is true, it is also the case that summer learning plays a big role in the learning and development for youth in any circumstance, including creating valuable spaces and relationships specific to young adolescents in middle school.Aaron and Jason talk about the genesis and work of NSLA, where summer learning fits within the broader ecosystem of education and youth, and more about the unique features of summer learning for young adolescents in middle school. They also address the future of summer learning - in the near-term, what summer learning is shaping up to be this year as our country looks to rebuild from the pandemic and address concerns of learning loss and mental health; in the long term, how summer learning can be better leveraged as a full partner in learning and what educators at the school and districts levels can do to forge those partnerships.Additional Readings and Resources:National Summer Learning AssociationSummer Starts in September guideNew Vision for Summer SchoolCoro New York Leadership CenterGil Noam, Director, Institute for the Study of Resilience in Youth, McLean Hospital; Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical SchoolValues of the Game, Bill Bradley, Artisan Press, 1998.“Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap” by Karl L. Alexander, Doris R. Entwisle, and Linda Steffel, Olson American Psychological Review, Volume: 72 issue: 2, page(s): 167-180, April 1, 2007.Afterschool All-StarsBreakthrough CollaborativeGeneration TeachNational Camp AssociationBoston Afterschool & BeyondOutward Bound Thompson IslandUrban Libraries CouncilThe 50 State Afterschool NetworkTeachers in the Parks
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