In recognition of the vast and diverse array of afterschool programs, we made an effort to include a broad assortment of curricula on the database, with a range of structures, costs, training requirements etc. The nomination process for curricula was wide-ranging. Methods included:
- Contacting successful afterschool programs
- Contacting leaders in afterschool theory, policy, and practices
- Contacting national afterschool organizations
- Conducting in-depth internet and publication searches
- Producers of curricula self-nominating materials
- In addition, we have included a nomination form on the website so practitioners can continue to nominate high-quality curricula they believe should be included on the website.
After being nominated, staff at the Program in Education, Afterschool, and Resiliency reviewed the materials to ensure that they met the following criteria:
- Must have a focus on literacy
- Must offer at least three weeks of programming
- Must be adaptable to an afterschool setting, even if originally designed for the school day or for a summer program
- Must be available nationally
- Do NOT need to be evaluated or explicitly tied to standards
After the initial PEAR staff screening, we sent the curriculum to a reviewer with expertise in literacy education. We also sent them the guiding questions shown below. Reviewers were given instructions to write their responses directly into the document, to guarantee that they responded to all of the questions. By including detailed guiding questions, we were able to ensure that reviews covered a variety of issues ranging from alignment with standards to a curriculum's capacity to meet the needs of diverse learners.
We have included the guiding questions given to literacy expert reviewers below.
- What specific content is covered in this curriculum? Is the content accurate and compelling?
- Is this curriculum aligned with any standards? If so, how well does it cover the expectations of those standards?
- What specific academic skills are taught in this curriculum?
- Does the curriculum develop any non-academic skills implicitly or explicitly? If so, which ones?
- Does the curriculum develop students' study skills or organizational skills?
- How is students' learning being assessed?
- How structured is the curriculum? Please explain.
- To what extent does the curriculum give predefined content (versus individual teachers/programs choosing the specific topic taught within the structure of the curriculum)?
- To what age group is this curriculum targeted? Are the content and activities tailored to the developmental needs of this age group? Please explain.
- How adaptable is this curriculum to the needs of individual students (e.g. different skill levels, behavioral issues etc.)?
- How does this curriculum address students' diverse backgrounds?
- Does this curriculum appeal to multiple learning styles?
- Does this curriculum address movement/spatial learning? Please give an example.
- Does this curriculum address interpersonal learning? Please give an example.
- Does this curriculum address artistic learning? Please give an example.
- Are the lessons and activities teacher-directed or student-directed?
- What qualifications, knowledge, or skills are needed to teach this curriculum?
- What are the strongest features of the curriculum?
- What are the greatest challenges of the curriculum?
We have included the questions asked in practitioner interviews below.
- Professional background:
- Years of experience using curriculum:
- Age group with which the curriculum was used:
- Basic demographics of population (gender, race, socioeconomic status):
- Qualifications of practitioners implementing the curriculum:
- Description of context (i.e. days/week, hours/day):
- How much time does it take to prepare? What do you need to do prepare?
- What sort of training is offered with the curriculum? Do you feel this training is sufficient?
- With what group size is this curriculum most effective?
- What facilities (computers, gym, classroom, library etc.) are needed?
- What are some of the logistical challenges of implementing this curriculum?
- Considering that curricula range from being highly structured and scripted to very loose and flexible, how would your curriculum fit on that spectrum? Did you feel this level of structure was a positive or a negative?
- How adaptable is the curriculum to the needs of both instructors and students?
- Is the content age-appropriate?
- Are the materials provided sufficient? What do you feel is lacking/good about the materials?
- Do you feel this curriculum does a sufficient job of addressing the diversity of your students' backgrounds? Why/Why not? Please give examples.
- What sort of feedback, if any, have you received from parents about the curriculum?
- What assessments of students' learning are offered with this curriculum? Do you feel they effectively assess what has been learned?
- How effective is this curriculum at engaging students in learning? Please give examples.
- How does this curriculum reach different types of learners?
- Do you find this curriculum to be more effective with some students than others? Please explain and give examples.
- What are students' reactions to the curriculum? Which aspects do they find most enjoyable and valuable?
- What skills does this curriculum teach &emdash; both academic and non-academic?
- What are the overall strengths of this curriculum?
- What are the overall weaknesses of this curriculum?
- Is there anything else you feel people should know about this curriculum that I haven't already asked you?