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TNLI: Action Research: Curriculum Implementation: After the Bell Rings: Student Perceptions of Afterschool

(Following is the first page of Erica's action research. For the complete paper, click on the red button on the right.)

Research Question:
What makes students attend afterschool for math? More specifically, how can I effectively structure my time with my students in an afterschool program so that they attend and reap the greatest educational benefits?

Rationale and Background:
I teach at East Side Community High School, a small high school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It serves 500 students in grades 7 – 12. The student body is approximately 60% Latino, 35% African American and 5% Asian, White or Other. Nearly all of East Side students qualify for the federal free lunch program. I currently teach a Math Analysis course to all 55 12th grade students at East Side. According to its mission statement, the school strives to provide, “personal attention, a safe and respectful environment, a strong sense of community, and curricula that is both challenging and engaging.”

True to its mission, East Side is a school with a strong culture of supporting students, both academically through small class sizes and emotionally through a strong advisory program. The result of these twin goals is that teachers develop strong relationships with their students and are committed to their students’ success. To this end, all teachers devote one afternoon each week to work with students after the school day ends at 3:00pm. Teachers are paid to stay afterschool to work with students. There is at least one teacher from each grade available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:00pm – 4:30pm, although most teachers stay until 5:00pm or later.
The idea behind the afterschool program at East Side is to allow time for students to receive extra help from their teachers. Helping students to understand the material presented in class, reviewing material and studying for classroom tests, providing extra time to work on projects, helping students with homework, providing extended time to complete owed work, and holding review sessions for standardized tests are some ways in which teachers utilize that time. In some cases, students are mandated to attend because they are falling behind academically. The time is usually unstructured and informal and is a further opportunity for teachers to develop strong relationships with their students.

I have noticed in the three years that I have taught at East Side, that attendance for my afterschool sessions is fairly high. I began to wonder who comes to afterschool? Why do they attend? Perhaps more significantly, who does not attend and why not? Finally, I began to wonder whether I was using the time afterschool in a way that most benefited my students. For the students who do attend, what are they getting out of it? What are the implications for my own teaching and for my school in terms of how we structure our afterschool sessions? How can we best help our students?

To the full paper.


Erica Litke
erical43@yahoo.com

Research Focus:
Afterschool Programs

TNLI Affiliate:
New York City

School:
HS 450 East Side Community High School
420 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10009

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