Updated: Jul 13

By Dr. Marquita Hockaday

This past school year brought challenges and change for K-12 students on various levels. Particularly the struggles and shifts of virtual learning were a hurdle that many students and school districts had to overcome. Thus, the prospects of summer enrichment can seem like a welcome respite for many school districts and several students. According to Encyclopedia.com, summer enrichment programs generally provide talented students developmentally appropriate learning and supplemental activities that they need to continue their education beyond the school year. The goal of these programs is to ensure students are staying challenged so they do not lose their passion and love for learning over the summer (Encyclopedia.com, 2021). With that being said, what kind of summer enrichment programs can students look forward to when we’ve had a year like 2021? Are all programs virtual, focusing on the arts, or do some offer in-person STEM hands-on learning? This post will highlight the top three components of summer enrichment programs students can look forward to as they engage in supplemental learning beyond the school year:

Component 1: That Camp Feeling

Several of the summer enrichment programs are set up as “camps.” They often run for 2-3 weeks, and students spend that time living together in close quarters at a college campus (often in a dorm), engaging in various activities related to the campus mission. For example, I will be taking on the role of Dean of Students for Camp Launch at William and Mary this summer. This is usually an in-person camp for high-ability, low-income students focusing on STEM and a writing curriculum. Students engage in a two-week camp where they attend various courses, as well as a career fair. Students eat lunch together and bunk together--hence, that camp feeling! Due to COVID-19, Camp Launch was virtual in 2020 and will be again this year; however, the team is working hard to still have that camp feeling via Zoom, including spirit days, dance parties, and social hours.

There are other summer enrichment programs like Camp Launch (both virtual and in-person) that are offered to K-12 students. See a list of these at the end of this post.

Component 2: Furthering Education

Another aspect of enrichment programs is that they are always working to further the education of K-12 students. The faculty and staff will include curricula that pushes students beyond what they have learned during the school year, including material that challenges and encourages the campers to think outside of the box. For instance, at Camp Launch the students will engage in research and have courses such as personal development that push them to think about how they perceive themselves as well as how others see them.

Component 3: Making Connections with Peers

The final aspects of enrichment, perhaps some of the most important, are the connections and relationships with peers. While continuing education and supplemental learning are key, the links and connections made with peers during camps often cannot be broken. Many students will attend a camp seeking the companionship that can come from this experience. Some students have to be coaxed to forge these relationships, activities like social hours and spirit days (such as the ones mentioned above included in Camp Launch) are important to incorporate to encourage students to engage in making those connections.

Therefore, enrichment opportunities are available, whether they are in-person or virtual this year. Students are seeking these moments to take part in supplemental activities as many of them are yearning for more learning experiences and more chances to engage with their peers.

More Enrichment Opportunities:

SPARK- Newport News Public Schools

Henrico Summer Academy

Summer at Harvard

George Washington Pre-College Program

And there are many, many more!!

Updated: Jul 13

By Dr. Marquita Hockaday

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, several K-12 school districts found themselves forced to shift instructional practices from face-to-face to online or virtual practices. This abrupt switch was something many school districts were not prepared for and thus, students and parents were all ill-equipped to accommodate the move to virtual learning. When it became clear that the pandemic was not slowing down and schools and universities would continue to operate in the virtual space during the 2020-2021 school year, school boards, leaders, and other administrators began to consider accommodations, professional development, and various strategies that would combat the issues that arose during the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Some of the accommodations included the issuance of laptops or tablets to all students to ensure they had the equipment needed for online learning. Further, some school districts even took it a step further by providing Wi-Fi hotspots in various neighborhoods. As well as physical arrangements, school professionals had to consider strategies that they could integrate into curriculum, instruction, and assessment to navigate this new virtual frontier. Many of the educators tried to duplicate practices that they would use in the face-to-face classroom in the virtual environment, such as sitting in a Zoom room for a long stretch of time without integrating appropriate online engagement; however, it wasn’t long before it became apparent that online learning and instructional practices professional development would be necessary.

While curriculum and instruction are extremely important, assessing student learning in the online environment is key because this is how educators determine what is working and what strategies must be shifted. So, how can online learning be assessed? For this blog, let’s focus on formative assessments.

Interactive Formative Assessments

There are several ways to use your virtual classroom and engage in formative assessments. Have students use tools like emojis, or thumbs up/thumbs down to demonstrate understanding. They can use the virtual or an actual whiteboard to show answers and share responses. Students can also record videos, take photographs, or make drawings and share them with the whole class or a small group.

Online Journals

Many learning management systems have a journal built in for students to compile their thoughts. This can be shared with the instructor or it can be a private place for students to reflect and keep their questions and thoughts during the course.

Offline Activities - Choice Boards

As mentioned above, some educators have the misconception that online learning means sitting in front of the computer all day. However, the virtual class can consist of mini-lectures (5-10 minutes or 10-15 minutes, depending on the age group), and then students can be given time to engage in offline assessments. Assignments, such as choice boards give students options for learning that do not always involve screen time or sitting in front of the computer for the duration of the school day. This will instead provide offline activities that reiterate objectives they learned during the mini-lecture. For instance, say you are teaching a lesson on the Civil War, you can offer a choice board with activities that allow students to write a poem about the war, create a video about key battles, investigate causes of the war and create a poster denoting those causes. The options are endless and should include different mediums and outlets for demonstrating understanding.

Summative assessments are definitely just as important, considering these types of assessments give us an idea of what students have gained throughout the course or a particular unit. With that being said, perhaps SEG will provide some insight on how online learning can be assessed through summative evaluations in a later post. Stay tuned! In the meantime, see how SEG has been involved with assessment, including this project with Tufts University.

Updated: Jul 13

By Dr. Patricia Moore Shaffer

Theory of change and logic modeling are tools that program managers and evaluators often use to describe a program’s design or, simply put, how an educational program is supposed to work. A theory of change allows us to understand the underlying hypotheses of a program by illustrating the program’s outcomes pathway – the activities understood to produce a series of results that contribute to achieving the desired change. A logic model, meanwhile, gives more clarity about the components (i.e., inputs) that need to be in place for the program to work; it also includes visual depictions of how the planned activities will result in specific outputs or products, and outcomes.

At Shaffer Evaluation Group, we often do theory of change and logic modeling exercises in the early phases of an evaluation or capacity-building project to help program stakeholders articulate how their program works. When we worked with Valencia College evaluating its Art of Tomorrow Scholars program, we engaged a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including staff, beneficiaries, partners, and funders, in the development of these models. In addition to producing valuable tools to guide program design, development, and evaluation, stakeholders participating in this process increase their knowledge and understanding of the program. Very often this process leads stakeholders to a fresh perspective on their programs that may lead to changes in program design.

When we engage stakeholders in developing a theory of change or logic model for a program, we keep in mind principles of adult learning to make the experience meaningful and engaging for everyone involved:

  • Adults want or need to be involved in how our learning experiences are planned and delivered. We consult with stakeholders about how to organize program model development work. Do they want to organize a day-long retreat or a series of short meetings with interspersed independent group work?

  • Adults draw upon our own knowledge and experience when learning. Stakeholders have rich knowledge of how their program works in their community – we facilitate discussion and use other methods of engagement to tap into this knowledge during model development work.

  • Adults are active learners, preferring to use reasoning and collaboration to find solutions. We actively engage stakeholders in model development – assigning backwards mapping exercises or small group projects to identify program inputs, outputs, or outcomes.

  • Adults want learning activities to be immediately applicable to our lives or work. We take the time to demonstrate how theories and models can be applied to improve programs’ effectiveness.

One resource we use is ActKnowledge’s Facilitator Source Book for Leading Theory of Change Development Sessions, which provides guidance on leading collaborative sessions to craft long-term outcomes and use “backwards mapping” to identify the earliest changes that need to occur. The Logic Model Workshop Toolkit, prepared by the REL Northeast & Islands, provides guidance for facilitating a logic model workshop; resources include a facilitator workbook, a participant workbook, and a slide deck.