Sunday, May 11, 2014

Scientific Inquiry

The first event I would like to write about would be Scientific Inquiry. I got a job as an AfterZone Educator and I have to create and implement a STEM based curriculum for middle school youth in Providence. We started off the training by playing a game. The game involved us saying our names. For example I would say My name is Adriana, and everyone says Hiiiiii Adriana. Then I would say 'When I was in middle school I liked to read' and everyone would say Reading and do a motion resembling reading. This continued until we all knew each other. Afterwards we were placed in groups and given brief instructions to create the tallest bridge we can make with limited materials (but no specific amount) and no clear directions. The bridge had to hold a marble and should be built in order for the marble to drop into a small plastic cup. My team was very confused and we struggled to find roles for our group members. We struggled to communicate, and we felt rushed, and that we didn't have enough time. Then we were told this was an example of what would set students up to fail. Then we received this model about scientific inquiry and were told how would we change the lesson. My group came up with having a curriculum about bridges, the history of bridges, and  also lessons about weight, mass and physics. We would then have students research and then they would be given a visual of a bridge. Then they would receive materials and create. We learned that we can start off our lessons teacher driven and that we can build trust and create a supportive environment for youth. After that then we can help students guide their own learning and that will implement stem skills. I left this event nervous about this, but I'm excited to give my best and hopefully I will be successful.

Demo Day Spring 2014

I began my internship at The Hub, the high school initiative of the Providence After School Alliance (PASA). I wanted to get a clearer understanding of the administrative component of Youth Development. The Hub is the high school version of the AfterZone after school program for middle school. In addition to quality programming, high school students have the opportunity to receive elective credit for their participation. These are called extended learning opportunities, or ELO's. They receive this credit after finishing an online portfolio containing blog posts for each of the ten weeks ELO's are in session and after completing Demo Day successfully. Demo Day is a huge event that students look forward to because they get to showcase their learning. For my final project I began to analyze the data on by reviewing every students blog posts for every session ELO's have run since The Hub's first year. After completing my project successfully, my mentor decided it would be more beneficial for me to be a panelist for the ELO The Hip Hop Project. I had to judge 3 youth on the performance they displayed based upon a rubric. There were expectations in the description of the program: The youth had to display those expectations to receive a good score. I began the day at PASA at a training for scientific inquiry and applying it to stem curriculum (see following post) and after that I began to help prepare materials for Demo Day. Then I headed to Juanita Sanchez Education Complex (JSEC) to help one of the Hub coordinators direct students to the performance site. The bus was an hour late. We began to panic, and youth began to feel discouraged. Some complained and didn't want to even perform. I felt sad because I know the youth felt unimportant. We explained to them that it was unfair and they should complain. We helped them see it would benefit themselves to complete Demo Day and even though it was an unfair circumstance, they could persevere and be much stronger.

I arrived late for the panelist training, and I was nervous I was going to mess up. Luckily, the performance was delayed due to technical difficulties and I was able to read the packet of information. The performances were incredible! Students learned so much, they were incredibly confident and they had practiced so much. I also began to network and I walked around the reception speaking to people. That was really tough because I have serious public speaking anxiety, but I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. I am glad that I was able to complete the goals I set for myself when I began my internship. I grew in so many ways and I ended up leaving with two jobs. I am receiving extra hours and I'm feeling more confident in my work. The professional development is helping me improve in the YDEV field and I'm looking forward to my future with PASA.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Class & Child-Rearing

This article was astounding. The study was incredible, and the situations hit close to home. It also helped to view the differences in how parents rear their children according to class. The stress on self-direction and how it helps develop a healthy sense of decision making and personal choice and power in youth was probably the best part of the article. It was similar to the article we read 'Where Youth Hold the Power' and they discussed allowing youth the opportunity to choose as well as be involved. It's interesting how a parent who is poor, doesn't necessarily see leisure time as a moment for education. I'm not a parent but this is certainly something to keep in mind when raising my own children. "...we find abundant evidence that in the day-to-day business of childrearing, middle-class parents tend to stress the importance of self-direction" So it's clear that the more educated the parent is, the more money they make, the more aware they are of self direction and the benefits it can have with youth. The article went so far as to say that the jobs are what helps to mediate the relationship between parents and their children. I thought this was incredible because it shows that the parent sort of passes on what is expected of them. For example, the middle class child would provide alternatives to an order, while the poorer child would simply get upset, and accept the order. I think in lower paying jobs, it's not an option to ask why and you just do what's asked of you, while with higher paying jobs, you're encouraged to express yourself and ask questions. I'm simply drawing a parallel to my work at the mall and my work at the school I work at. While taking orders at both jobs, the job at school is a little more receptive to my skepticism than my job at the mall. This is important to take into consideration in our work as Youth Workers because we can sort of fill in the gap and open the door for more choices and self-direction from students.

Young Voices & Internet Outlets for Youth

This was the most challenging blog for me, I wanted to find a website that involved students and was a space where they could express themselves about issues in the community. I found that at This blog is a part of the incredible Providence Student Union, who has done amazing work involving youth in the community and helping them to get involved in the decisions and issues they're being faced with daily. This article talks about the effort of youth and others who would be affected by the closing of Alvarez High School and how their efforts stopped the school from being closed. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

YD Related Event- Intro to Positive Youth Development Training

One of the Youth Development related events I attended was a training at The Hub. My mentor wanted to train myself, herself, and another member of the team at The Hub on how to train other people on how to give positive Youth Development. This was incredibly helpful for my current daily work at Highlander, and even more useful for myself in the future. The information given is crucial to all of our work with youth. We spent time speaking about the Positive Youth Development Pyramid: which basically explains what is needed for youth to receive positive youth development.
We talked about having people who are going to work with youth learning to give a warm-up based upon what is needed in the environment you're in. This should be based upon if you need a quiet environment or an upbeat environment. All warm-ups should be deliberate, but doesn't have to have anything to do with the topic to be taught. Also I thought it was helpful to know that we should give specific feedback to youth: rather than "Great Job Martha!" it should be "Wow Martha, you worked so hard on that project, it's great to see that  you got a good grade on it".  It's effective and shows that we are paying attention. Also the training helped me realize that we need to give more leadership roles rather than being afraid to give the reigns--so to speak to the youth to control. Everything in the training taught us to be conscious of space and every detail so that we can give quality youth development.
This was a very helpful event to attend because I got to get in touch with my own programming outside of my internship, and I also felt that this was opening the door for me to co-facilitate future trainings at The Hub during my internship, this is extremely exciting, because I've been interested in the behind the scenes aspects of after school. 

YD related-event *Pasta for a Cause*

I must admit I panicked when I heard we had to find two Youth Development related events to attend before the semester ended. However, finding my second event was easier than the first (which was a training...I'll post that later, but this event was a little more fun). For those that are unaware I've been an After School Coordinator at Highlander Charter School for 5 years, and the current 5th and 6th graders (who I've literally watch grow up) managed to raise food for the less fortunate for the Thanksgiving Holiday, and provided a pasta dinner to help raise more food and celebrate their success. This project was started by some of my co-workers and being that I work with the younger grades, I only seen students enter my classroom to collect cans but I had no idea what the big project was. I literally felt tears coming to my eyes while at this event, because these children are really concerned with the problems in their community and although they didn't initially like the idea of the project they came together and made this dinner a huge success. They served pasta to entire families, passed out paper cups, called tables get in line, ran raffles, collected donations and helped organize and clean up after the event finished. It was incredible and by far the most rewarding Youth Development event I've ever been to, because it showed youth being involved and aware of issues in their community and that's something I don't get during trainings. This was such a beautiful event, I'm so proud of them.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

educational care

This article has a way of telling a story through the eyes of youth as well as the eyes of a researcher and teacher. When Dr. McKamey questions "...if researchers' deep-seated anxieties and fears are unconscious, then how can a researcher begin to recognize and understand them?" (McKamey 403) she asks a question a great deal of educators probably wonder. How can we resolve our dilemma of understanding what our youth interpret as caring for them without projecting our beliefs about care unto them? It's challenging because there are so many different cultures. I think the best thing that Dr. McKamey did was get in touch with herself. Understanding yourself is the best way to empathize and put yourself in another's shoes. Communicating with youth and simply asking them what care means to them would probably be an affective way to reach them. As stated "...that students conceptualized caring in other ways, including caring about issues that were important to them." (McKamey 414) this is clear that showing an interest in youth and their conflicts or issues in school could be interpreted as caring as opposed to other forms of care we may have. 

Overall this article is extremely useful to our work with youth because it focuses on us getting in touch with our beliefs and values and helping us be open to being aware of youths perspectives as well.