Strengthening Educational Youth Programming Through Professional Development, Educational Technology, and Increasing Family Engagement

1/17/2024 6:19:00 AM Hannah Wirth

Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club logoAcademic mentor: Meaghan McKenna

Community partner: Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club

Project description: 
After reviewing needs assessment data, collected by the Boys and Girls Club leadership team, the following objectives for continuous improvement and quality enhancement of programming were identified:

  • Strengthen the purposeful and intentional use of the scheduled educational time for research-based programming
    • We plan to redesign the professional development (PD) for youth development professionals (YDPs) serving children in the K-5 classrooms. We will use assessments (e.g., Star Early Literacy) already collected by the Boys and Girls Club to identify areas of focus. Then, we will provide job-embedded PD on implementation of research-based activities aligned with opportunities for student growth identified through data analysis. YDPs will also learn about how to incorporate linguistically and culturally responsive practices into instruction.
  • Improve children's digital literacy skills
    • We plan to adapt the lessons from the Early Elementary Writing Intervention (e.g., McKenna et al., 2021) to interactive student self-paced lessons in Nearpod. Nearpod facilitates completion of lessons during independent work time eliminating existing barriers to providing quality, culturally responsive writing instruction. Educational technology has been successfully integrated in classroom settings to improve student outcomes. Research has highlighted the usefulness of technology for developing writing (Neumann, 2016). Technology allows for differentiation and promotes student engagement (Lauricella & Jacobson (2022). We will begin evaluating the use of the Nearpod in the classroom serving children in kindergarten and first grade since the lessons are already developed for these ages. 
  • Increase family engagement
    • One family night will be held (#3) for all caregivers of the K-5 children attending programming. This will be done to advance the club to home connection. The family night activities will be aligned with the training that the YDPs are receiving. We want the learning opportunities to extend into the home.

Role of the Community-Academic Scholar:
The Community-Academic Scholar will assist with preparing the training materials, participate in training activities for the YDPs, assist with implementation of the early writing intervention, help with planning and preparations for the family engagement event, and attend the family engagement event. Additionally, the  scholar complete implementation observations and assist with analyzing the data collected from surveys completed by the YDPs, families, and children.