Ages 3 and up
Research-Based Theories and Pratices
Use of Alignment (Noam-Module 3B)
My site at Urban Arts OC is a high functioning after-school and summer program connecting children from various cultural background to learn creative art techniques. I have observed interpersonal, curricular, and systemic ‘bridges’ at Urban Arts OC. Each bridge has a high correlation to the success of this after-school care program. For example, bridges are developed through daily faculty meetings (interpersonal), setting cognitive development goals for the children through art (curricular), and executing executive decisions for the art programs direction (systemic).
Urban Arts OC is busiest during the summer months as this is the most engagement many of the children will experience until day school resumes in autumn. Alignment at Urban Arts OC is apparent because it is an extension of after-school learning straying from homework and other typical day school activities. Urban Arts OC is a self-contained program independently operated without aligning with other programs. Although Urban Arts OC is not affiliated with a day school, they still have a referral base from local elementary schools to promote their extracurricular enrichment for students.
Urban Arts OC is a unique out-of-school learning program because their students are well disciplined and focused on learning art techniques while exploring their creativity. Despite the need for bridge programs, there is a dilemma facing many educators of after-school programs regarding student discipline for curriculum. As mentioned by Noam, this plays into the “hidden hope” many after-school educators face with the hope of one day producing an engrossing after-school program successful and independent of day school (pg.123). The overall components of bridge learning at Urban Arts OC are to challenge their staff to go above and beyond just being an extension of day school, but to produce a dynamic learning space where children can flourish independently.
Use of S.A.F.E. features (Granger-Module 3B)
At Urban Arts OC, I have witnessed an incline of academic performance from several of the children over the course of a week, proving academic programs positively affect academic outcomes. After talking to some of the parents and program coordinators, over time they have witnessed various levels of academic, social, and emotional successful outcomes in their children who participate at Urban Arts OC. From my observation, the S.A.F.E. criteria is closely followed and allows the children to explore their interests while adapting to life-long learning techniques acquired through arts and crafts.
A variety of sequences are used to promote sequential learning through color and creativity. The children demonstrate listening skills and patience as they share art supplies and work as teams. The children learn they must accomplish goals through projects and apply themselves which demonstrates focus and agility. Active learning is a hands-on experience as children learn through movement. The children model the teacher’s behavior and observe challenging technique as they attempt to try new skills for themselves. The main observation of focused learning is on the art itself. Children are taught precision through time focused crafts. The explicit goals of Urban Arts OC are to teach children to cooperate with one another, learn to share, increase their patience, inspire creativity, and to encourage a safe space where children can express themselves. All of these components lead to successful life-long skills which can be applied to academic success.
As mentioned by Granger, “S.A.F.E. features are a much better predictor of program effectiveness than other structural features discussed” (pg.10). During my brief internship at Urban Arts OC, from speaking to parents and educators, child leaners at the art studio have a strong direction to lead them to continue academic success building skills in preparation for the real world.
Structured-Voluntary Activities (Larson-Module 4A)
Children at Urban Arts OC process a level of involvement in promoting positive motivation while actively learning. The children are involved voluntarily in activities which constantly peak interest. Artistic expression allows the children to become engaged in their activities increase their intrinsic motivation and concentration. Structured-voluntary activities contribute to both motivation and concentration outside which conveys beyond the classroom. Summer camp activities at the Urban Arts OC is relatable to Larson’s theory stating voluntary actions increase attentiveness and drive in children compared to involuntary activities such as mundane classwork at a day school which gradually loses children’s interest and lack enthusiasm.
Although the best example of structured-voluntary intrinsic motivation and concentration are highly correlated with sports activities, Urban Arts OC offers a variety of mental exercises which keep children engaged and focused. According to the Larson reading, there are three components which makes an activity a strong candidate for focused learning. First is intrinsic motivation, demonstrated by the children with the desire to become invested in the art techniques they are exposed to. Second, engagement in the artistic environment offers challenges which are complex in nature, keeping the children’s interest. Third, the children must be challenged over time, however, the level of participation in the art program varies per child.
According to Larsen, “Children and adolescents come alive in these activities, they become active agents in ways that rarely happen in other parts of their lives.” (pg. 178). Urban Arts OC is a bridge for child development for voluntary triumph. The children are excited from the moment they arrive at Urban Arts OC until they leave for the day. Overall, through my observations, providing a stimulating curriculum which keeps children motivated to participate is the strongest component of the Urban Arts OC program.
Engaging ELLs (Maxwell-Jolly-Module 4B)
At the Urban Arts OC program, a portion of the students speak English as their second language. English is the only language communicated at Urban Arts OC, with some children displaying difficulty with English comprehension. California has the highest number of ELL students in the United States and educators face the challenge of creating a positive learning space for these children. At Urban Arts OC, children who have difficulty with English are not isolated and are treated equally as other children. Individualized curriculum for students who have difficulty with English commands are taught the word or phrase to the best of the educators’ ability. Art lessons move quickly however no child is left behind.
Inclusion is important at Urban Arts OC. English Language Learners and their educators connect in unique ways through active learning, individual guidance, staff collaborations, and positive interactions with peers. Strategic methods to communicate with ELL children are addressed as needed with no special ELL program in action. However, teaching lessons are comprehensible through modeling art techniques for student learning.
Urban Arts OC is a safe learning environment which encourages growth. Staff plays an important role in this. Language learning is a social activity as engaging with the children through meaningful conversation is important. Social support from other children fosters relationships and stimulates the desire to communicate verbally, making all students feel part of the learning process.
Explicit teaching of language, sounds, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing is not part of the curriculum at Urban Arts OC. However, the educators may want to consider reinforcing English comprehension during art lessons. According to Maxwell-Jolly, tailored learning and teaching of English to ELL students can help them beyond basic language needs but also boosts engagement, motivating ELL students with greater attention spans to perform higher academically (pg. 3).
Focus on Social-Emotional Competencies ( Durlack and Weisberg-Module 5A)
At Urban Arts OC, I observe the young painters throughout the day. I have identified changes in the behavior of the children as the day progresses. From my observations, the child painters I work with have inherited non-cognitive skills mostly from their interactions with other children at the painting studio. When the children interact with each other, they are building social skills not anticipated by them. They learn to share paint supplies which build patience. I witnessed a shy child open up to other children for the love of art. I believe the art camp directors did intentionally have the children purposely share art supplies and display their finished artwork in groups so they can share ideas and interact with each other.
Durlak & Weissberg describe after-school programs utilizing social and emotional techniques in the classroom to be successful if educators have structured time for activities. For example, at Urban Arts OC, SAFE guidelines support student learners in emotional and social bonding behaviors with other children, creating positive associations within themselves by building self-efficacy. SAFE interventions reduce barriers to education by minimizing social and personal risk for students through positive intervention using evidence-based techniques demonstrated in SEL and SAFE learning methods. As mentioned by Durlak & Weissberg, “While some of these 21st Century Community Learning Centers provided students with intensive small-group instruction or individual tutoring … others provided relatively unstructured homework time, which is not likely to be successful.” (pg.2)
Urban Arts OC educators share the common goal of developing socially and emotionally sound students which can be achieved through SEL and emotion-based learning benefitting from incorporating aspects of emotion-based learning into their curriculum.
Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2011). Afterschool programs that follow evidence-based practices to promote social and emotional development are effective. Expanding and Opportunities
Accessed July 26, 2018
Granger, R., (2008). After-school programs and academics: Implications for policy and practices. Social Policy Report, 22, 1-19.
Accessed July 17, 2018
Larson, R. W. (2000). Towards a psychology of positive youth development. American Psychologist, 55,170-183.
Accessed July 24, 2018
Maxwell-Jolly. (Feb 2011). English Learners And Out-Of-School-Time Programs: The Potential of OST Programs to Foster English Learner Success. Davis, CA
Accessed July 22, 2018
Noam, G. G. (2003), Learning with excitement: Bridging school and after-school worlds and project-based learning. New Directions for Youth Development, 2003: 121–138
Accessed July 17, 2018