Tuesday, April 29, 2014

High School volunteers build skills while having fun

Is Your High School student looking for something to do this summer?

Rec & Ed's high school volunteer program provides students with an opportunity to have fun, build valuable skills, fill school volunteer hours and contribute to their community. Based on student preference, volunteers are placed at one of over 100 Rec & Ed summer camps.

High school volunteers fit helmets at Safety Town.

High school volunteers report learning leadership, "people" and organizational skills. Many learn new information from the camps themselves, and of course, they also learn a lot about working with children! 

Here are a few quotes from our 2013 high school volunteers about their experiences: 

Volunteering broadened my knowledge in science, which is helpful since I want to do a career in science in the future.

I learned to be patient, observant, and more hardworking. 

I became better at working with people I don't know well and also at knowing the right way to help others.

Communicational skills and confidence.

I learned how to organize and file things, which is good for a librarian.

I have learned how to better interact with younger children.

Applying to Rec & Ed's High School Volunteer Program - deadline May 9

Incoming 9th – 12th grade students are encouraged to apply. Rec & Ed will accept around 100 high school students into the program, with priority given to AAPS students. Selected volunteers must attend an orientation session the week of June 9th.

For detailed information including the application, listing of camp offerings and the required reference form, visit: http://bit.ly/RecEdVolunteer.

For additional information, call Vickie Malcolm at 994-2300 x 53255 or email malcolm@aaps.k12.mi.us.

Don't miss out -- the deadline is May 9.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

5 reasons to register your child for Obstacle Dash TODAY

Where's the best place to find kids running, hopping and balancing -- all as part of a cooperative team?  Obstacle Dash! 

Rec & Ed's Obstacle Dash program is unique among our after school offerings. We designed and piloted the program using grant funds from the Michigan Department of Community Health. Parents and kids can tell that it's something special! It's open for boys and girls in Grades 2-5 and 6-8. 

Sign up this week -- the program starts the week of April 28! 

Here are the top 5 things about Obstacle Dash that make it perfect for elementary and middle school kids:

1. Fun for all

Along with partner One on One Sports Training, Rec & Ed designed this program to promote active fun for all kids -- whether they're interested in team sports, individual sports, or are unsure what their favorite type of activity is! Students have the opportunity to explore new types of physical activity, but most importantly, the program is supportive of all kids' participation. Kids who need a progressive challenge will have plenty of opportunities to do so. 
Crawling under obstacles is one of many unique activities

2. Seven Core Principles

The Obstacle Dash curriculum features seven core principles to inspire kids to work together and achieve the most they can. Each week, one principle is the focus of discussion and frames the activity: self-confidence, leadership, courage, sportsmanship, teamwork, dedication and character. 

3. Healthy after school snack

At the elementary level, Obstacle Dash provides a healthy after school snack and brief nutrition education. Obstacle Dash staff are certified in the best-practice CATCH curriculum (Coordinated Approach to Child Health).  

4. Admission to the giant Obstacle Dash event on June 7

Last fall's big Obstacle Dash event was so much fun that we're doing it again. Kids enrolled in Rec & Ed's after school OD program have free admission! 

5. It's not too late to sign up, but you'd better do it fast. 

Obstacle Dash starts next week (April 28) so sign up today. Find out about OD at your school and register here: link to classes.

Please help us spread the word about Obstacle Dash. Share this post on your favorite social media sites! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tick, tock: Early Bird Discount for Rec & Ed Summer Camps ends Sunday

"I can't wait for Soapstone and 3-D Sculpture Camp -- 5th grade camper
"My son wouldn't miss Star Wars Camp!" -- father of a camper
"Is there still room in week 4 of Green Adventure Camp?" -- mother of a camper

At Rec & Ed, we get comments and questions like this every day. We hate having to tell parents that the camp their child had his/her heart set on is already full. So...ease your mind and take advantage of our Early Bird Discount by registering your children for camp by this Sunday, April 20.

Choose from 150 quality camps for preschool, youth, tweens and teens. Our camps feature a safe, healthy environment; caring staff; age-appropriate activities; an extension of school year opportunities, and most of all: FUN! Camps are conveniently located in Ann Arbor Public School buildings and a few community locations. 

Want to save even more? Register your child in four or more eligible full day camps in one transaction to receive an additional 10% off the total! This discount is available through the entire camp season.

Registration is easy through our Virtual Summer Camp Fair. Our summer camp catalog is also available on-line. Questions about which camps will be the best fit for your child? Call 994-2300, ext. 53219 and talk to Sally.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Beloved Rec&Ed music instructor Joe Zsigray passes away

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director, Community Education and Recreation

Rec&Ed staff were saddened to learn of instructor Joe Zsigray's recent death. For over ten years, Joe taught one-day music workshops to Rec & Ed participants who wanted to learn to play ukulele, harmonica, and mountain dulcimer. He was scheduled to teach for us this spring. 

Linda Brzezinski, Rec&Ed's Adult Enrichment Supervisor who worked with most closely with Joe over the years, told me that "He was always happy -- he really enjoyed sharing his passion for music. Many people took all of his classes." Over the last few years, "As ukulele has become more popular, his classes would fill and we'd need to add a section," she said.

Joe's students feel the same way. We've received an outpouring from his students, who expressed how much he meant to them:  
"Joe was a patient, kind, supportive, and enthusiastic teacher. I was astounded by how much I learned in two hours!"
"Joe was well organized and gave us a great start - now I just have to practice!"
Joe shared his love of music with
hundreds of people in Ann Arbor.
View his obituary here: http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/joezsigray/Subpage.aspx?mod=2 

Please feel free to add a comment to this post about your experience with one of Joe's classes.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

News from the Rec&Ed field: Metacognition with a marshmallow on top!

Guest blogger Robin Schultz-Purves, School Age Child Care Coordinator
Met·a·cog·ni·tion. Noun. Higher-order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning. 
What can kids do with 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of string, a yard of tape, and a marshmallow? The answer is all about metacognition, one of my favorite educational concepts! 

How the Marshmallow Challenge builds thinking and collaboration skills 

The kids in groups of four were raring to go and could barely stand still to hear the staff’s directions: “Build the tallest free standing tower you can and make sure that the marshmallow goes on top.” They had 5 minutes to plan and 10 minutes to build. There was lots of talk and lots of action. Kids’ eyes were level with the tables, their bodies stood on chairs, and tape stuck their fingers together. Spaghetti towers went up, fell over and were rebuilt. The air was so thick with brainpower you could almost touch it. 

The timer went off with a shrill ring. Students stepped away from their structures, and the staff swooped in with measuring tapes and read off the heights of the towers. Some towers tottered under the weight of the marshmallow – the young builders groaned, gasped and giggled as the towers stood their ground or collapsed. 

The challenge was complete … almost. Hands shot up in anticipation of the questions routinely asked after Rec&Ed School Age Child Care (SACC) activities: What did you do? How do you feel about it? How can you apply what you learned to future experiences? One group answered, “Our tower fell over 3 times. Then we made it wider down here [pointing to the base] and saw when it was wider there it could hold the marshmallow up here [pointing to the top].” The kids were grinning ear to ear with pride as they pointed at their standing tower. “We used trial and error [a form of prototyping] until we got it to work," one child said.

Kids are natural collaborators who, thankfully, are not concerned with power dynamics within a group but consumed with the task at hand. This frees them up to try and modify an activity until they get the outcome they want or run out of time. Adults can skillfully guide kids in reflecting on the activity through discussion, allowing kids to recapture their experience and refine their understanding of what they did, why it worked or not and how they would change it in the future. They learn to connect their experiences to their ideas of how the world works.  

Rec&Ed’s emphasis on best practice trainings for child care staff 

This knowledge and activity sprang from a training I offered to SACC staff on the best practice “Planning and Reflection” Methods in Youth Program Quality. My training partner was Terri Strom from Peace Neighborhood Center. Through this annual training, Rec&Ed SACC staff have learned about Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle (Plan-Do-Reflect) and know how to provide intentional experiences with explicit planning and reflection. 

Terri and I were among a group of local child care program coordinators who trained to become educators in the Wiekart Center for Youth Program Quality Methods, part of the internationally known HighScope Educational Research Foundation

Kids benefit from this experiential learning process in several ways. They develop their ability to plan, predict, make decisions and take charge of their own learning. They learn how to collaborate with each other to solve problems. These skills become natural and are invaluable in academic settings. These skills also last a lifetime! 

I enjoy running this and other workshops for staff who work at local child care agencies (especially Rec&Ed SACC child care sites!) as part of the Washtenaw County School Age Child Care Association. I became president of the group several years ago and with the other members of the steering committee realigned our mission to offer relevant trainings to promote child safety, learning and enjoyment. 

Next time we want to focus on prototyping as part of Planning and Reflecting, so maybe we will incorporate the paper airplane challenge… 

For more information about the Marshmallow Challenge and other activities to stimulate learning, visit marshmallowchallenge.com/. 

Robin Schultz-Purves serves a School Age Child Care Coordinator and Green Adventure Camp Coordinator. When she’s not in the office, you’ll find her rowing on the Huron River.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Learn about AAPS Farm to School efforts at Ann Arbor Sustainability Forum

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director, Community Education and Recreation

One of the liveliest meetings I attend each month -- where people may show up with dirt under their fingernails and no one blinks an eye -- is the Ann Arbor Public Schools' Farm to School Collaborative (FTS). Since 2006, this passionate school-community group has launched many innovative programs to introduce AAPS students and staff to the local food system. 

Not only does FTS benefit the kids and families involved, it contributes to our City's ongoing efforts to build a sustainable community. The City and the Ann Arbor District Library are hosting the third annual Sustainable Ann Arbor Series, which will include four events (held monthly and ending April 9), each focusing on a different element of Ann Arbor’s Sustainability Framework

I was honored to be invited onto the panel of speakers for the final forum in the series, next Wednesday, April 9. (Watch a video of this presentation here.) I'll be sharing information about the AAPS FTS efforts below and how FTS supports the local food environment. The FTS Collaborative has launched all of this work over the past several years:
  • Farm Fresh Features, the program that offers local produce for free in district cafeterias
  • Food service (Chartwells) purchasing more local food from its suppliers to use in school meals
  • Support, supplies and workshops for AAPS's many school gardens 
Burns Park gardeners show off their radishes

I'll also talk about our AAPS perspective on how Farm to School helps connect kids and families to the local food movement. 

Join the conversation!

Wednesday, April 9, from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. 
Ann Arbor District Library - Downtown

Watch a video of this presentation here

Farm to School in AAPS is a true collaborative process! The Collaboartive includes AAPS Rec & Ed staff, Chartwells, parents, and representatives from U of M's Project Healthy Schools, the Agrarian AdventureWashtenaw County Public Health, the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market and Project Grow. Rec & Ed's award-winning Green Adventures Camp provides opportunities to connect kids with local agriculture throughout the summer.

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