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Different kinds of smart

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Jennifer-Skuza.jpgYouth perceive and process information in very different ways. In fact, their learning styles are based on those two fundamental cognitive functions. Learning styles theory suggests that how much individuals learn has more to do with whether the educational experience is geared toward their particular style of learning than whether or not they are "smart." So, we should ask, How is this youth smart? rather than, Is this youth smart? Here are some general learning style classifications.

Is youth homelessness a hopeless problem?

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sara-langworthy.jpg"I can remember being out walking around late at night, nothing to do, exhausted from a long day of walking, and I would see things that I thought I'd never have to experience. I never thought that one day I might be homeless in Seattle. It's a tough world when you are battling to stay alive on these district streets"

In a single night in January 2013, across the U.S. there were a total of 46,924 unaccompanied homeless youth, approximately 8% of the total homeless population for that night. Of them, 86% were 18-24 year-olds, and 13% were under the age of 18.

What if...

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Dale-Blyth.jpgWhat if ... communities sought to educate the heart as well as the mind?

This is the idea behind the work of Kimberly Schonert-Reichl at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Kimberly will be one of the keynote presenters at the upcoming Social and Emotional Learning Summit May 5-6 at TCF Stadium. The two day summit presented by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development and Youthprise initiative is designed to move from understanding to action. Check out Dr. Schonert-Reichl's brief video on why we should educate the heart. At the May summit she will discuss how schools, neighborhoods and others have used data in Vancouver to change the way community leaders and citizens work together to educate the heart.

Outcomes: The big picture of youth work

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Samantha-Grant.jpgDoes creating logic models make you sweat? Don't worry, you're not alone. Building logic models -- which depict the resources, activities, outputs and outcomes of a program -- has often been seen as a dry, scholarly activity. But I would argue that a logic model is an important document.

It can help you build a results-based program and engage in a dialogue about what is important. Even if you don't produce the full-blown logic model, I want to highlight two core pieces of one that are essential to your program: outputs and outcomes.

What would Rube Goldberg do?

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anne-stevenson.jpgIf Rube read the Next Generation Science Standards' 8 Practices for Science and Engineering, he might first let out a quiet cheer, then get back to designing the next step in a complicated machine that would zip a zipper or hammer a nail.

A Rube Goldberg Machine (RGM), is an overly complicated machine that performs a simple task, usually through a chain reaction. Building an RGM is a great activity for young people who want to learn the principles of physics.

Social-emotional learning crews in the classroom

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elizabeth-hagen.jpgMinnesota's 2013 teacher of the year works at Open World Learning (OWL) Community, a school that incorporates social and emotional learning (SEL) into every class. Megan Olivia Hall teaches science to seventh- to twelfth-graders at OWL. I spoke with her about the strategies they use to help young people develop SEL skills.

LIZ HAGEN: How is social emotional learning taught at OWL?

MEGAN OLIVIA HALL: Our school has identified five non-cognitive skills, or "habits of work and learning," to promote.

What is "urban" youth development?

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Jessica-Russo-2013.jpgRace has shaped the definition of the word "urban." This provokes a question for us in the Minnesota 4-H Urban Youth Development Office: what exactly is "urban" youth development?

We have developed the following strategies, or ways of working, in our effort to serve the most marginalized (but not necessarily urban) youth.

We're putting engineering at the center of STEM programming

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Rebecca-Meyer.jpgThe Minnesota 4-H program is increasing efforts to enhance science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program opportunities, specifically focusing on the E -- engineering and the engineering process.

What is the engineering process? This is National Engineers Week, and it seems important to explain how the engineering process is different from, but related to, inquiry. Inquiry is about asking questions in depth. It has these phases: sparking curiosity, articulating curiosity into questions, systematically investigating questions, interpreting the meaning of results, and improving ideas and explanations.

Deborah-Moore.jpgWe seem to be at a time of renewed interest in creating shared data across youth programs. For example, we recently hosted Dr. Roger Weissberg on the importance of social and emotional outcomes for youth and featured many blog posts this fall on the topic.

But if you have been in the field long enough, you have seen this before. At one point, there was on emphasis on participation and counting --- where it seemed an onerous task to sort out who showed up and who stayed. I remember those days fondly now.

SEL in action: Blown away by 3 young people's voices

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margo-herman.jpgWhen were you last captivated by youth voice on stage? Last month three young people blew a spark into my work when they spoke about the ways that social and emotional skills have helped them.

They spoke at the Children & Youth Issue Briefing to more than 1,000 people who came to think and learn about:

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