FILL YOUR SUMMER WITH RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS

“The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.??Maya Angelou, Poet, Dancer, Producer, Playwright, Director, Author (1928 - 2014)

What better time to practice "random acts of kindness" than summer! We've put together a list to get you started, but we encourage you to make up your own.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Have the courage to be kind when others may not. Look out for those who can't look out for themselves. Stand up when others would rather stand out. Leave the world a kinder place than you found it.

This spring, WKCD invited teenagers nationwide to send us the best nonfiction essay they had written this year (or last) on a topic that they cared about deeply. First-place winners would receive $100, second-place winners would receive $50, and both would be included in a new WKCD publication. “We’re looking for diverse voices on diverse topics: family, school, learning, relationships, race, culture, origins, religion, body image, social media, conflict, peace, change, our planet . . . . or whatever topic you choose,” the contest flyer said. “We care most about fresh ideas and stories written in a strong and true voice, in or outside school. We’re listening for what moves our readers and what gives them hope—that’s why we call our contest Stirred but Not Shaken.” Click here to see the list of the 27 winning essays from the 200 plus we received. And check back in August to see our new publication, Stirred but Not Shaken: Non-fiction Writing by American Teenagers.

Go an entire day without technology (or maybe even a week, or summer). Do something that scares you. Tour your own city. Make a scavenger hunt. Make a time capsule. Invent something new. Clean your room. Complete a 1,000-piece puzzle. Cook a full meal. Make a scrapbook. Make a daily photography challenge and complete it. Visit a museum. Read 5 books. Go running early in the morning. Take a yoga class. Interview someone you don’t know and learn their life story; write it up and give it to them. Have a water fight. Make pizza. Sing a song with a lot of people. Volunteer!!!!!!

In a recent Education Week commentary, Barbara Cervone and Kathleen Cushman ask: What would it take to weave social and emotional learning into the daily fabric of our nation's high schools? What distinct practices, programs, and structures help schools embed SEL into ongoing teaching and learning? How does this effort vary from school to school, in response to the conditions that make a school unique and shape its climate? Indepth examination of five diverse high schools that make SEL core provide answers to these and other questionsand suggest policy implications.
Started in 2007, Urban Roots transforms the lives of young people and increases access to healthy food in Austin, Texas. On a 3.5 acre urban sustainable farm in East Austin, the Urban Roots community of paid youth interns, volunteers, and staff grow up to 30,000 pounds of produce. They donate 40 percent of the harvest to local soup kitchens and food pantries and sell the other 60 percent at farmers’ markets, and wholesale. This summer, in addition to raising and donating fresh produce, Urban Roots youth interns are cooking lunch alongside some of Austin's best chefs for over 180 guests at three "Community Lunches," as well as leading 77 youth in educational farm tours and 225 volunteers on "Community Volunteer Saturdays."
Some of our most popular Next Generation Press titles are now available as e-books! Several also incorporate multimedia and images, along with the original text. There are two ways to view them: through our new, free NextGenPress app (for iPads and iPhones) and on the web (with any browser). Books include both volumes of First in the Family: Advice About College from First-Generation Students; Forty-Cent Tip: Stories of New York City Immigrant Workers; and Pass It On: Interviews by Youth with Mentors That Matter. And do check out Kathleen Cushman's extraordinary The Motivation Equation (for iPad and iPhone; for web).

For ten years, WKCD has talked to thousands of high school and college students about the supports they need to succeed as first-generation college students. Our newly updated First in the Family website contains the fruits of that decade-long collaboration: essential student-to-student advice, videos, planning checklists, a complete and annotated list of resources, and more. It also includes downloadable PDFs to inform students and college advisers, with Spanish versions for parents. And we've created a free e-book version of our two best-selling books by Kathleen Cushman, in which first-generation college students advise those that follow.

The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians connects newly arrived individuals from around the world with economic opportunities in the region. In the spring of 2014, twelfth graders from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy interviewed newcomers at the Center as part of a global studies class. Whatever their country of originEthiopia, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Afghanistan, China, Uganda, Japan, Liberia, and many moretheir stories are filled with large challenges and small triumphs. "Students were required to meet with their interviewee three times, twice for interviews, and a final time to share the final product and elicit feedback about changes or revisions," their teacher Joshua Block explains.
Back by popular demand . . . WKCD's directory of challenging summer programs for teens, updated for 2014. This year's directory includes three sections: (1) summer abroad programs that combine service, teaching and learning, and exploration; (2) national pre-collegiate programs on college campuses that focus on academic enrichment and college life; and (3) summer camps with an "edge," that take up themes like political leadership development, social justice, the environment, video, LGBT youth, and more.

 

POPULAR RECENT FEATURES . . .

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Soccer as Unifier at Oakland International High School
Since its 2007 founding, Oakland International has been a point of entry into the city's schools for the newest of its teen-age immigrants, who come here from more than 30 countries and speak at least that many languages. Fully a third of the 330 students here are refugees from war-torn countries, and 25 percent come with little or no formal education. Yet in the midst of their frustrating transition to a new language and culture, these young people are finding common ground and motivation to learn on the soccer field. With its cross-cultural appeal—played in over 200 countries by anyone with access to a ball, a patch of land, and a few sticks for goalposts—soccer has provided an ideal way for them to forge social and emotional bonds at the same time that they practice their new language.
Students Question High-Stakes Tests and the Common Core
Anyone who still believes that the resistance to testing misuse and overuse is confined to a few big cities and 'liberal' activists, should check the headlines, says the nonprofit Fair Test. The growing national backlash against the Common Core State Standards and the testing programs linked to them have stirred the pot even more. For years, though, students (and their teachers) have asked hard questions about high-stakes testing and its impact on teaching and learning. Here we offer recent snapshots from the national news, along with excerpts from two WKCD/Next Generation Press books in which students speak out on learning that matters.

Fulfilling the Dream: The Power of Hip Hop
David Rojas, a senior at Connecticut College, well remembers the day when a hip hop artist named Roberto Rivera walked into his classroom at Social Justice High School on Chicago’s West Side and announced that he was there to peddle hope. Rojas had just transferred to Social Justice, searching for a school that matched his restlessness. As a way to escape the community that “was boxing me in,?he signed up for an afterschool class called Fulfill the Dream. He liked that its medium was hip hop, he said, and that its message was change. Six years later, Rivera and The Good Life Organization have flipped the narratives of disenfranchisement to empowerment for youth in seven cities.
Growth Mindset and Why It Matters
Few ideas about learning have made their way as quickly into the lexicon of educators as growth mindset. WKCD has assembled five short videos that provide a lively introduction to growth mindset and why it matters, for students as well as teachers. At the end of each video we offer suggestions for activities and assignments, for use by teachers (as part of a professional development workshop) and by students (as part of their classroom learning). We encourage you to browse through the presentation and pick those videos that work for your situation and audience—and to amend the suggested activities.
Restorative Practices at Fenger High School
The stresses of being a teen in one of the Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods don’t trigger the metal detectors at the entrance to Fenger High School on the city’s South Side. But they can erupt quickly in the classrooms and halls of this “turnaround?school. In September 2009, Fenger became a poster child for urban school violence when rival gangs beat to death an honors student on his way home. Four years later, the school is making news again: as a turnaround school, whose staff does everything in its power to build a community of supports where failure is not an option. Restorative practices—from peace circles and peer juries to meeting students' basic needs for safety, mental and physical health, sometimes even food and shelter—are a vital part of Fenger's transformation.
 
 

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