afterschool

5 Ways to Motivate Language Learning

“Teacher skills in motivating learners should be seen as central to teaching effectiveness.” – Zoltán Dörnyei

There’s no denying the positive impact language learning has on students. Research shows that learning a second language improves cognitive skills and enhances mental development, leading to overall improvement in school performance. Despite its benefits, however, students may not fully understand the value of language learning, which could lead to disengagement and low achievement.

5 ways to motivate language learning

Source

 Therefore, a more effective question is how educators can foster student engagement and help students achieve a high level of success when learning a second language. A recent article by the Guardian suggests, “the secret to [learning a second language] is rooted in the science of motivation,” and “most people who succeed at learning another language turn out to be strongly motivated.” And according to Zoltán Dörnyei, an expert on motivation in second-language learning, motivation is contagious, and a learner’s motivation depends largely on the level of interest and involvement of their fellow learners and instructors.

Simply stated, motivation is the key to language learning. The next step is deciding the best ways to foster it. The following tips can help educators increase student motivation and deepen language learning:

  • Display enthusiasm. Demonstrate a commitment to and interest in the language, which will impact students’ behavior and their enthusiasm to learn.
  • Establish a safe and supportive learning atmosphere. Learning environments should be organized, well managed and supportive in order to provide students with ample opportunities to learn. Language learning isn’t simple; therefore, students should feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes without ridicule from fellow learners.
  • Make the curriculum relevant to students. Discover their goals and the topics in which they are interested, and try to incorporate them into the language-learning activities.
  • Diversify instructional methods. Students learn in different ways, and educators can use multiple strategies to help students master a second language. A key factor is allowing students to discover the best methods and techniques for themselves.
  • Create meaningful learning experiences. Use tools, such as Skype in the Classroom, to connect with a group of students that speaks the language your students are learning. Building relationships with native speakers is a great way to increase students’ motivation to learn. Students can also role-play situations in which they would need to speak and understand the language, like shopping at the market or asking for directions.

In order for students to achieve language-learning success, educators must implement engaging, student-focused instructional strategies to foster motivation. To learn more, check out, “Wanting it enough: why motivation is the key to language learning.”

Feature: She’s all business about after-school education

Our Executive VP and General Manager Judy Nee was recently featured in the business section of The Palm Beach Post to share her experience as one of the top professionals in the afterschool field. This article was originally published at http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com.

She’s all business about after-school education

AlphaBEST executive vice president Judy Nee was recently featured in the Palm Beach Post business section

Judy Nee is the vice president and general manager for education company AlphaBEST Education. The company provides after-school programs for school districts around the country.

She was recently recognized by the National After School Association as one of the Top 25 People in After School.

AlphaBEST operates after-school programs at three Palm Beach County middle schools: Conniston, Osceola Creek and Lake Shore. Those programs are funded with a grant from the Florida Department of Education. The programs are a partnership with the Palm Beach County School District’s Safe Schools Department.

Nee is based in Palm Beach County, and the firm’s corporate headquarters are in North Carolina.

Name: Judy Nee

Age: 52

Hometown: Ledyard, Conn.

Town you call home now: Palm Beach Gardens (22 years!)

Family: Husband Joe is a teacher; daughter Megan, 11.

About your company: AlphaBEST Education has $17 million in revenue, serving 8,000 students in 150 schools in 10 states. We have 900 employees. AlphaBEST provides an after-school educational program that expands and enriches student experiences through a unique modular curriculum and teaching approaches that can be a catalyst for student and school improvement.

First paying job and what you learned from it: New accounts clerk at a local bank. I learned about the importance of relationships in business and how to treat customers to earn their loyalty.

First break in business: As the first director of the Palm Beach County After School Consortium, I was charged with learning everything I could about the after-school field nationally, and bringing it back to Palm Beach County. In this role, I established a connection with leading individuals and organizations from around the country.

How did you make the transition from the nonprofit world? What was the takeaway? It was easier than I expected. I was concerned that the business focus would outweigh the educational – but that wasn’t the case. Just as in my experience in nonprofit work, I found that if you build the best programs available, the business – and funding – will follow. That’s been my experience at AlphaBEST Education. We’ve grown over 60 percent in the last three years.

Best business book you ever read: “Good to Great,” Jim Collins.

Best piece of business advice you ever received: “Not everyone thinks like you do – figure out how to share your vision.”

Many successful people learn from failure. Do you have a failure you can share and what you learned from it? When I first moved to Palm Beach County, I accepted a job that wasn’t the right fit for me – but I thought I could make it work. I couldn’t. Once I starting doing what I was really passionate about – my career began to grow and expand naturally.

What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? Palm Beach County is one of the most desirable places in the country to live. If we can compete educationally – the future is bright. We need to continue to focus on innovation in our schools and stay current with student needs and interests.

Power lunch spot: Café Centro.

Where we’d find you when you’re not at the office: Traveling and spending time with my daughter.

Favorite smartphone app: My Fitness Pal

What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? Strong relational skills and a willingness to learn.

 

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5 Tips for Celebrating National Principals Month

School principals have tough jobs. When you are responsible for hundreds of students and parents, dozens of staff, and countless stakeholders in the community – including those in afterschool programs – maintaining order is a constant challenge. From teacher evaluations to handling serious discipline issues, principals have various responsibilities and are rarely appreciated for their work.

5 tips for celebrating school principals

October is National Principals MonthIt’s an opportunity to say “thank you” to principals everywhere and honor their hard work and dedication. After school professionals should mark this special month to recognize and show appreciation for the support principals provide in helping to assure their programs are aligned with the school’s curricula in order to provide seamless, high-quality learning experiences for children and youth. But how can you acknowledge their work in a way that would be meaningful and memorable for a principal?

Dr. Paul Young, author of Principal Matters and Lead the Way! (and a past president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals) suggests these five strategies:

  1. Plan a celebratory program or assembly. Principals often plan events for others, but rarely does anyone plan one for them. To make it special, allow the kids themselves (with your supervision and guidance) to plan, organize and play key roles in expressing their appreciation for their principal. Effective principals are kid-focused, and seeing and hearing what their students feel about them and their support of the after school program will be certain to touch their hearts. Together with your students, don’t limit your imagination. Good planning and execution will make this program unique, remarkable and unforgettable!
  2. Give them flowers. Anyone can buy flowers from a florist. Instead, allow your students and staff to make their own flowers as a special art project. These will likely receive a more prominent display in the principal’s office and generate more conversation than anything you might purchase. And the special thought will last much longer.
  3. Give them candy. But wait, candy might not fit your program’s healthy eating guidelines. Be creative and make “candy” into a healthy snack or celebratory food that can be made, served and shared with the principal by the students in your program.
  4. Sing their praises. Music touches the soul. What you can’t easily say about your principal in words, do with music. Create your own song, jingle or rap, or cover a recognizable song or tune that the kids can easily perform.
  5. Share the celebration. Encourage students to create special invitations to the program for the principal and invited guests. Encourage kids to make their own awards and certificates of appreciation. Then, don’t fail to capture the special celebratory moments on video to archive and share in a variety of ways through social media and other outlets.

Creating fun and celebratory experiences should be a regular feature of after school programming. They provide opportunities for kids and adults to showcase what is best about after school. Principals relish genuine and heartfelt appreciation. Let them know how your program – and their support of it – is remarkable!

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The NAA Top 25 Most Influential People in Afterschool

We would like to congratulate our Executive Vice President and General Manager, Judy Nee, for being honored as one of the top 25 most influential people in afterschool! With more than 20 years of experience in afterschool care and extended learning programs, the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) selected Nee for her positive attention and investment to the afterschool field. Judy Nee of AlphaBEST Education named among top 25 most influential people in afterschool Since joining AlphaBEST Education in 2011, Nee has helped expand afterschool programming to more than 8,000 students in nine different states. Outside of the office, she acts as Chair of the Coalition for Science After School, consultant to the Noyce Foundation and Board Member of the Florida Afterschool Network and the National AfterSchool Association. Nee’s strong leadership and relentless advocacy have played an invaluable role in AlphaBEST’s continued growth and success, and we are truly privileged to have her as part of our team! Judy Nee was recognized in a special edition of AfterSchool Today, alonside the other NAA honorees. Below is a full list of those who were honored:

  • MATTHEW BOULAY | Founder, Chairman of the Board of Directors, National Summer Learning
    Association
  • JIM CLARK | President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • JESSICA DONNER | Director, Every Hour Counts
  • TERRI FERINDE DUNHAM |Partner, Collaborative Communications / Lead, National Network of Statewide Afterschool NetworkNAA top 25 most influential people in afterschool
  • AYEOLA FORTUNE | Director, Education Team, United Way Worldwide
  • LUCY N. FRIEDMAN | Founding President, TASC (The After-School Corporation)
  • ELLEN S. GANNETT, M.ED. | Director, National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST), Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College
  • JODI GRANT | Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance
  • ROBERT HALPERN | Professor and Chair of Research Council, Erikson Institute
  • CLIFF JOHNSON | Executive Director, Institute for Youth, Education and Families, National League of Cities
  • SYLVIA LYLES, PhD | Director, Academic Improvement and Teacher Quality Programs, U.S. Department of Education
  • JIM MURPHY | Senior Manager, Child and Youth Development Program, Council on Accreditation
  • JUDY NEE | Executive Vice President and General Manager, AlphaBEST Education, Inc.
  • NEIL NICOLL | President and CEO, YMCA of the USA
  • GIL NOAM, Ed.D, PhD | Founder and Director, Program in Education, Afterschool and Resiliency, Harvard University
  • BEN PAUL | President and CEO, After-School All-Stars
  • TERRY PETERSON, PhD | Director, Afterschool and Community Learning Network
  • SAM PIHA | Founder and Principal, Director, Temescal Associates, Learning in Afterschool & Summer Project
  • KAREN J. PITTMAN | President and CEO, The Forum for Youth Investment
  • SHANNON RUDISILL | Director, Office of Child Care, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • CARLA SANGER, M.ED. | President and CEO, LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program
  • JENNIFER SIRANGELO | President and CEO, National 4-H Council
  • CHARLES SMITH, PhD | Executive Director, David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality
  • DEBORAH LOWE VANDELL | Founding Dean, School of Education, University of California Irvine
  • TOM WYATT | Chief Executive Officer, Knowledge Universe-United States

Image Source: http://blog.learninginafterschool.org

Foreign Language Learning in Afterschool

foreign language learning for kids

Source: Edutopia.com

Foreign language learning has been a topic of debate recently in the education sphere. Many people believe it’s unimportant, and foreign language programs are usually the first on the chopping block when schools in the U.S. face poor performance evaluations and budget cuts.

Learning a second language, however, yields positive results for 21st century students. Research shows that foreign language learning improves cognitive skills and enhances mental development, leading to overall improvement in school performance. During the Language Zone at  AlphaBEST, students are introduced to Spanish with our 18-week Spanish curriculum, VIVA AlphaBEST. Zone Leaders employ cooperative learning techniques to help students learn Spanish vocabulary and discover Latin American traditions and holidays. Throughout the year, students will also have the opportunity to explore American Sign Language and the Chinese language and culture.

We are Teachers and Middlebury Interactive Languages teamed up to create a poster to further explain the benefits of learning a second language and to remind students why language learning rocks!

(click to enlarge)

Why Learn Another Language infographic from Middlebury and WeAreTeachers

Download Poster

Digital Learning in Afterschool

In recent years, digital technology has emerged as a fundamental tool in education, transforming the way students learn and gather information. It supports educators, improves learning and prepares students for future success. Sandy Holt, a 12-year technology teacher and Technology Arts Instructor at AlphaBEST Education, tells us why digital literacy is important for students today and how technology is used in afterschool.

Digital Learning Day: Digital Technology in Afterschool

How has technology transformed education?

AlphaBEST Technology Arts Instructor discusses digital learning(SH): Students are digital natives. They begin to manipulate digital devices at the age of two. By using technology in the classroom, we are turning their knowledge into learning by honing in on their fluency as digital learners. Digital technology is also hands-on, which enhances the curriculum and keeps students engaged.

How important is digital literacy for today’s students?

(SH): Digital learning fosters the four C’s of 21st century learning: collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. As technology instructors, we want children to learn how to manipulate apps and programs, demonstrate how to operate those tools to create projects and communicate with others—in the classroom and globally. These skills are preparing students for college and future careers.

How does AlphaBEST use technology to advance learning?

Digital Learning in Afterschool

(SH): At AlphaBEST, we enhance learning with digital arts programs that encourage students to work collaboratively, as well as independently. When working with these programs, such as SAM Animation and LEGO Robotics, teachers are the facilitators and students become leaders. As they complete projects, students become digital creators and learn to solve problems and share solutions with their peers.

What do students enjoy most about using digital tools to learn?

(SH): Students enjoy seeing the final product after working through each step of a project. For example, when using SAM Animation, students narrate a storyboard, create figures to use as props and operate technology to develop the animated movie. Every student has a role, and they realize that their individual work collectively leads to the completion of the project. They are excited and beam with delight when it is time to share their creations with other students!

Digital Learning in Afterschool

Digital learning is a great way to foster 21st century skills in students. Join thousands of educators as they celebrate the innovative use of digital technology!

For more information about Digital Learning Day, visit digitallearningday.org.

To learn more about AlphaBEST Education, visit www.alphabest.org.

Celebrate MLK Day With Service, Volunteerism

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. committed his life to service and to promoting peace, equality and justice for everyone. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday as a national day of service to honor his legacy through volunteerism. Service learning is a teaching method that combines instruction with meaningful community service. It helps to empower students, strengthen communities and create solutions to social problems. This Monday, January 20, celebrate MLK Day by engaging students with service projects in the local community.

Celebrate MLK Day with service projects for kids and students

Source: wolftalez.blogspot.com

10 Service Project Ideas for Students:

  • Put on gloves and visit the neighborhood park to pick up litter.
  • Gather your favorite classic board games and organize a board game night at your local nursing home.
  • Volunteer at the local animal shelter to feed, bathe and pet the animals.
  • Conduct a coat drive at your school or afterschool center and donate items to local charity organizations.
  • Collect gently used toys, video games and board games, and donate them to patients at a Children’s Hospital.
  • Locate a Special Olympics event in your area and volunteer to help or cheer on the athletes.
  • Collect aluminum cans from friends, family and neighbors, and donate the money to a local environmental charity.
  • Visit a local food bank and volunteer to pack and hand out food.
  • Run in a marathon to raise money for a cause.
  • Create anti-bullying posters to hang around the school and local community.

For more service project ideas, check out these resources:

366 Community Service Ideas

Global Youth Service Day

generationOn

Back-to-School: Building Community

It’s time to bid adieu to the summer and welcome in the new school year!

Create a positive and inclusive learning environment by building community in your after school program

New and returning students will file into your after school center buzzing with excitement and eager to take on new challenges.  More than likely, your after school program serves students from different grade levels, with diverse personalities, backgrounds and learning needs. The best way to establish a positive and inclusive learning environment is to build community at the beginning of each school year.

During the first week of your program, try an icebreaker to help students get to know each other and your staff! It’s also a fun way to calm first-week jitters and kick off the new year.

Here are 2 icebreakers to try with your students:

“Getting To Know You” Beanbag Toss

What You Will Need:

space, beanbag or ball

How To Play:

  • Have everyone stand in a circle
  • Start the game off by throwing the beanbag or ball to someone in the circle, simultaneously asking a question such as “What’s your name?”, “What’s your favorite food?”, “What’s your favorite cartoon?”, etc.
  • The person who catches the beanbag/ball must answer the question and then throw it to someone else and ask their own question

**The game works best when it moves quickly so young students may need help asking their questions.

(source: Activity Village)

Build community among students with an icebreaker activity

“Meet Your Classmates” BINGO

What You Will Need:

paper, markers, pens/pencils, bowl or box container, copier

How To Play:

  • Prepare a BINGO sheet that contains the same number of squares as there are students in your program (15 students = 15 squares)
  • Have each student write his/her name on a small piece of paper and place it in a bowl or box container
  • Give each student a prepared BINGO sheet
  • Let students walk around and gather signatures from other students (one signature per square)
  • When all sheets are filled, begin playing BINGO
  • Reach into the bowl/box and pull out a student’s name
  • Call out the names and let students mark off that name on their BINGO sheets
  • The first person to get a full row of names calls out BINGO and wins the game
  • The winner can call out the name in the second round of BINGO and so on

(source: EducationWorld)

An icebreaker is a surefire way to build community in your after school program. The activities are great to do in the beginning but are also effective throughout the year. What are ways that you build community in the beginning of the school year?