Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Singa-Blog 2: Extracurricular settings offer powerful lessons for kids

This is one in a series of blog posts about Executive Director Jenna Bacolor's study trip to Singapore as part of the AAPS Toyota STEAM Delegation

I have to admit, when I was developing a presentation on the value of "informal" or extracurricular settings to share with our Singaporean colleagues, I thought I'd need to make a case from the ground up. I imagined that enrichment would be considered frivolous in Singapore, a country known for its academic rigor and high student achievement. 

Boy was I wrong. 

Day 1: Extracurricular Learning and AAPS's STEAM Framework

On the first day of our study program, the AAPS delegation to Singapore visited the Academy of Singapore Teachers for an orientation to the Singaporean educational system. In the afternoon, Superintendent Jeanice K. Swift, Executive Director of Instructional Technology Merri Lynn Colligan and I gave an overview presentation on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) in Ann Arbor. 

Dr. Swift shares AAPS's framework for STEAM at the Academy of 
Singapore Teachers. Rec & Ed's STEAM offerings fall under "Target." 
I shared key points from the National Science Foundation's Framework for Evaluating Impacts of Informal Science Education Projects. This framework (which does not include the A for Arts) states that extracurricular settings can offer many benefits to students related to STEM concepts and careers: 

Awareness, knowledge or understanding of STEM concepts, processes, or careers
Engagement or interest in STEM concepts, processes, or careers
Attitude towards STEM concepts, processes, or careers
Behavior related to STEM concepts, processes, or careers
Skills based on STEM concepts, processes, or careers 

This information was a preview to the longer presentation I gave the following week called "Extended School Day and Informal Settings for STEAM Opportunities." 

Day 2: Visit to School of Science and Technology (SST)

Enter Mr. Sin Kim Ho, Deputy Director, Ministry of Education Sciences Branch and Mr. Chua Chor Huat, Principal of SST. They quickly put my fears about extracurricular activities not being valued to rest.

In fact, the informal curriculum is highly valued as part of Singapore's "Learning Ecosystem." It includes three areas:

1.  Co-curricular Activities (CCAs): Clubs and sports held after school.
2.  Enrichment classes and programs offered by the Science Center Singapore.
3.  Competitions in physics, robotics, art, etc.

Sound familiar? It should. AAPS offers the same three categories of extracurricular activities. A couple of big differences: in Singapore, participation in a CCA is compulsory for secondary students and they receive a grade based on participation. Also, the Science Center is part of the Ministry of Education and fully funded by it. 

Singapore's informal and formal education settings support STEM-related disciplines. Of equal importance is the ability of extracurricular activities to support development of students' self directed learning, self motivation, resiliency and other skills.  

Here's one example from Mr. Chua:

Science and Mathematics at the Primary Level

Formal Curriculum

Informal Curriculum
1. Co-curricular activities: 
    Green Club 
    Science and Environment Club 
    Media Club

2. Enrichment: provided by Science Center Singapore
    Young Scientist Badge program
    Kitchen Science Lab
    Science in the mall (primary and lower secondary students)
    Science Buskers Festival
    KidsSTOP program

3. STEM Competition
    The Story Creative Science Award
    National Junior Robotics Competition
    The Amazing Science-X Challenge

Spelling out the connection between the formal and informal learning environments would be valuable for AAPS. For too long, we've considered Rec & Ed and K-12 instruction to be on separate islands in our district's learning ecosystem. Our Singaporean colleagues make this connection explicit and value the "soft skills" students develop in extracurricular environments. 

I'm eager to work with my instructional colleagues to create more purposeful connections between Rec & Ed's after school/summer camp STEAM offerings and the AAPS K-12 instructional program. 

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Singa-Blog series: the AAPS delegation visits the Singapore Science Center and is "digested" through an oversized intestinal system.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Introducing Singa-Blog: an insider view of the AAPS study trip to Singapore

Dear Readers,
Your faithful A2RecDirect Blogger had to take a 2-week break from posting due to my participation in the AAPS Toyota STEAM study trip to Singapore.

In May, I blogged about why I applied to be part of the delegation and what I hoped to get out of it. I was one of three administrators (including the superintendent) and 17 teachers who went on the trip. My goal: learn strategies for offering effective STEAM extracurricular programming to students in our district.

I intended to blog while I was in Singapore, but our packed schedule and sheer exhaustion made it impossible. I took copious notes and pictures every day so now that I'm home, I can share the relevant, interesting and possibly amusing parts of the trip.

Of course, my focus is on applications of learning to Rec & Ed. We visited numerous schools to observe lessons and hear lectures by instructional leaders. I learned a great deal about their philosophy and strategies for co-curricular activities. 

Over the next few weeks, I'll post my key lessons learned that apply to Rec & Ed or the school district. Look for the posts titled "Singa-Blog." 
I call this a crab corn dog.
(However, there was 
no corn in them.)

Singapore Odds and Ends
I'll also share fun facts and things I loved, such as the delicious snack at the right that we were served at two school visits. These baked crab snacks were tiny -- smaller than a mini-muffin -- but packed a delicious crabby punch. The easiest way to eat them was by holding the claws and eating them like a corn dog.

BTW, if anyone knows where I can find these locally, comment below or send me a message. 


Jenna Bacolor
Your Executive Director of Rec & Ed
Please share with your friends on your favorite social media sites. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Save on fall soccer and make your child happy? Yes! Here's how.

We have great news for Ann Arbor K-8 families about Rec & Ed’s fall youth soccer program! 

The priority registration deadline has been extended from Friday, July 11 to Wednesday, July 16 at 5:00 p.m.

The benefits of registering by July 16 are:
  • You'll save $10 on each of your children’s registration fee(s).
  • Your child has the best chance of being assigned to his/her school team.
  • You can register your child online (right here). After July 16 you can only register in person at the Rec & Ed office, through our 24/7 dropbox, or via U.S. mail.
AAPS Rec & Ed Youth Soccer

Click here now to sign your son or daughter up for the Ann Arbor community’s #1 kid-friendliest youth sports program! 

Our youth sports leagues focus on fun, skill development, and all the benefits of playing on a team. There are no cuts -- every child plays. See all of our youth sports by season here.

If you have any questions about Rec & Ed’s Fall Youth Soccer Program, call us at (734) 994-2300. Enter extension 53214 for Sean or extension 53225 for Seth.

Please help us spread the word about this deadline extension by sharing on your favorite social media site!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

FREE Cricket workshop for grades 1-8

Ever wondered how to play the popular European game Cricket? Or how to use Cricket terms "sticky wicket" and "dibbly dobbly" in a sentence? Come to our free Cricket workshop on Tuesday July 8, 6:00 - 7:00 pm at Haisley Elementary for Grades 1-8.

Please email our Instructional Sports Program if you're interested in attending.

Cricket is fun for all ages.

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players each on a field at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. Each team takes its turn to bat, attempting to score runs, while the other team fields. Each turn is known as an inning

Also offered this summer:

Challenger British Sports CampJuly 14 - July 18.
Grades 1-8. Is your camper curious about sports played in other parts of the world and want to give them a try? This fun-filled camp is perfect for the camper looking for something new. Campers will participate in several popular British sports and games including Rugby, Cricket, Rounders, British Bulldogs, Kickball, Handball and Wembley. Please bring water and snack. Coaches: Challenger Sports staff. Monday-Friday.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Slideshow: Summer campers help beautify the Eberbach Cultural Arts Building

For the past several months, Rec & Ed Cultural Arts supervisor Lisa Wigal has been working diligently with City of Ann Arbor staff to spiff up the Eberbach Cultural Arts Building (CAB). The CAB is a Burns Park neighborhood gem that draws youth and adults from all over the community. 

Since 2009, Rec & Ed has leased the building from the City and provided all programming. The building's dance studio, ceramics studio, and two art rooms are used year-round for Rec & Ed youth and adult arts classes and camps.

Summer Campers and High School Volunteers help plant and decorate new garden

Our Art in Nature summer camp in June offered young campers the opportunity to design garden artwork, fairy houses, and other nature-related artwork. Two high school volunteers, the campers, and the program staff planted a flower garden with room for campers' artistic creations. 

Check out this slideshow of the Art in Nature camp and new CAB garden!

On the Cultural Art Building's interior, fresh paint, repairs, updated bulletin boards and new exterior doors leading to the parking lot have brightened the whole building. 

"It's been an exciting and rewarding experience to be involved in the improvements," said Lisa. "The goal is to continue creating a visually welcoming environment for our community." 

In July our Dance, Art & Drama summer camp participants will make stepping stones to be placed in the garden. Swing by the CAB building this summer and take a look!

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