AfterWords February 2007
The learning that begins after the bell!
The National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning
Product highlight

What the Research Says About Talking and Playing in Literacy Instruction

How do you balance the restless energy of children who have already spent 7 hours trying to “be good” in school with expectations that their participation in afterschool will lead to higher test scores? If literacy is a component of your afterschool program, you will be interested in the Afterschool Training Toolkit for literacy, an online staff development tool created by the National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning.

Staff at Northwest Regional Laboratory (NWREL), a partner in the National Partnership, developed the materials in the literacy toolkit. They have also supplemented the toolkit with a series of staff development tools that are available online.

The staff development resources and the research on which they are based make it clear that literacy in afterschool is not simply an extension of the school day. Promising practices in literacy include book discussion groups and story dramatizations. Research has shown that discussing and enacting stories can improve student literacy. These types of activities can also lay the foundation for continuous improvement by creating a greater interest in reading.1
The next time you are faced with a talkative group of students who literally won’t stay seated, remember that what first looks like mayhem can actually be a sign of student engagement in learning.

See Recommended Resources (above) for additional information.

* Winner, E., & Hetland, L. (2000, Fall/Winter). The arts and academic achievement: What the evidence shows. Executive summary. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 34. Retrieved February 22, 2007, from; Spielberger, J., & Halpern, R. (with Pitale, S., Nelson, E., Mello-Temple, S., Ticer-Wurr, L., et al.). (2002). The role of after-school programs in children’s literacy development. Chicago: University of Chicago, Chapin Hall Center for Children.

What is the National Partnership of Quality Afterschool Learning?

Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center, After School Learning Center (ASLC)
San Francisco, CA

In the After School Learning Center (ASLC) at the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center in San Francisco, California, project-based learning is key to maintaining student interest. The program offers a menu of afterschool “clubs,” many of which are based on technology. Students have a say in what clubs the program will offer, and they are able to choose what clubs they join. The curriculum for each club is also aligned with California State Education standards and school-day content.

Technology coordinator Nathaniel Carter mentions the newsletter as one of the activities that has more than one content area embedded in the work. Students master such programs as Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Word, and Adobe Photoshop, and they learn how to search the Internet for story content. Through research and writing, students develop literacy skills.

The newsletter also supports another program goal: youth development. Carter noticed the transformation in the students who worked on the newsletter. “These are kids that had gone from being unable to answer a question to being able to interview classmates and teachers, participate in group conversations that would determine the direction of the paper, and lead groups of junior members in the development of [the newsletter’s] column and structure,” Carter says.

In Your Words

What creative ways have you found to use technology with the students in your afterschool program?

“One afterschool program lets the students bring their favorite CDs and copy them onto an iPod––after screening them for appropriateness. They use the speakers to play music the students want to hear. The students also learn to use the computer to copy music to the iPod.”
Lucia Bianchi
Region I Lead, After School Learning
and Healthy Start Programs
Ukiah, CA

“This past summer we created a Dell TechKnow camp, which provided youth with the chance to learn how to disassemble and reassemble the hardware of a Dell computer, install software, and navigate the Internet. By completing the program, 258 youth across 18 sites earned the opportunity to take home their own free refurbished Dell computer.”
Beth-Marie Kurtz
Assistant Recreation Supervisor
Milwaukee, WI

Next Month's Question

What fun literacy activities have you done in your afterschool program that you might not be able to do during the regular school day?
Send your answers to with “February survey” in the subject line.


Training Tip

Use your afterschool newsletter to promote both student literacy and your program.
Does your program send a newsletter to parents and community members? Increase readership by having students help. They can take pictures, write stories, and even lay the newsletter out with word processing software. Students will enjoy getting involved, and parents are much more likely to read the newsletter if their children have helped write or design it.

Do you have a training tip you
would like to share? E-mail us at with “training tip” in the subject line.

Events Calendar
March 8–9

PEAK Afterschool Event: Literacy and Arts
Wheeling, IL

March 21–23

National Afterschool Association Annual Conference (link no longer active 6/2007)
Phoenix, AZ

April 16–17

SERVE Center 2007 Linkages to Learning Afterschool Institute (link no longer active 6/2007)
Myrtle Beach, SC


Registration for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers 2007 Summer Institute is now open. The Summer Institute will take place in Miami, Florida, July 17–19. For more information, go to

National Partnership For Quality Afterschool Learning at SEDL

Copyright © 2007 by SEDL . This newsletter was produced in whole or in part with funds from the U.S. Department of Education under contract number ED-01-CO-0057/0001.

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Questions or comments should be directed to:

Laura Shankland
211 E. 7th St., Suite 200
Austin, TX 78701-3253
Phone: 800-476-6861 ext. 237
Fax: 512-476-2286