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April 1, 2001
Vol. 58
No. 7

EL Extra

Welcome to EL Extra. We have designed questions to help you and your colleagues foster meaningful discussions around this issue of Educational Leadership.
These questions will not cover all aspects of this issue, but we hope that they will help you generate a conversation around key ideas. Feel free to adapt the questions to be more relevant to your school or school district. Although you can consider many of the questions on your own, we encourage you to use them in pairs, small groups, or even large study groups.

The Power of After-School Programs

Read Beth Miller’s “The Promise of After-School Programs” (p. 6) for an overview of the many different kinds of after-school programs that schools offer. In a large group, list all the after-school programs at your school and categorize each one. Who staffs the programs? What challenges do you see for particular programs? How effective are they? Do you have funding needs? Assess the quality, including the participation levels, of your programs.
Individually, come up with one idea for an after-school program that your school currently doesn’t offer but that you believe would benefit your students. Consider staffing, funding, and other challenges. Share your program idea with the group and pick one or two ideas to develop further.

Do You Know Where Your Students Are?

Sandra L. Hofferth and Zita Jankuniene’s article, “Life After School” (p. 19), describes what preadolescent children do, where they go, and with whom they spend time after school. First, think about the students that you see every day. Make a list of how you think they spend their after-school time. What do they do? Do you know whether their parents work? Do they go to day care? Do they play sports? Are they alone? How much time do they spend on homework?
Then, ask your students to record everything they do on a typical day from the time they leave school until the time they go to bed. Have them note with whom and where they are during activities. Stress that they can be honest—they do not have to put their names on the surveys.
Analyze the survey data with colleagues. Were your estimates accurate? What surprised you? Do your survey results match the results from Hofferth and Jankuniene’s article? What have you learned about your students, and how might it affect what you do in the classroom?

The Computer Drive Ate My Homework. . .

Read the articles on homework (Harris Cooper, p. 34; Etta Kralovec and John Buell, p. 39; and Neil T. Glazer and Sharron Williams, p. 43). Debate the benefits and drawbacks of homework. How much homework do you typically assign each night? Do most students complete their homework on time? What are the consequences of not completing homework—and what excuses do students typically give? How do you think homework affects students’ achievement levels in your class or school and on standardized tests?

Coming Next Month

Linda Darling-Hammond examines policies to ensure quality teaching; Barnett Berry and Chester Finn debate teacher certification issues; and David Berliner talks to EL about mentoring, out-of-field teaching, and the need for minority candidates.

Carol Tell has been a contributor to Educational Leadership.

Learn More

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