Life of Learning

Essential Pittsburgh
4:09 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Intergenerational Tutoring: The Benefits of Learning From Seniors

Oasis Tutor Coordinator John Spehar and Tutor Charlene Briggs
Credit Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

With emphasis on maintaining positive intergenerational relationships and boosting the self-esteem of struggling students, the OASIS Tutoring Program recruits and trains older adults to tutor kids in the Pittsburgh Public and Woodland Hills school districts.

Tutor Coordinator John Spehar and tutor Charlene Briggs say the program is beneficial for students’ academic and emotional health.

“If their self-esteem is higher, they’re more interested to learn and work on activities,” says Spehar.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:30 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

WordPlay: Informal Learning on the Go

Children engaging with the WordPlay activities posted on city bus shelters.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Preschoolers in the city of Pittsburgh can forget the mundane and seemingly endless minutes of staring down the street for a bus.

A new program called WordPlay, by the Fred Rogers Company is meant to spark conversation between parents and children at bus stops. It’s also sparked a conversation about literacy and education.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:48 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

The Problem of Chronic Absenteeism

Ken Smythe-Leistico, assistant director at the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development, Linda Lane, superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools and Linda Hippert, executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit
Credit Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

Chronic absenteeism is a key driver of the nation's achievement, high school graduation and college attainment gaps. The pattern for kids missing school begins as early as kindergarten.

Linda Lane, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent, Linda Hippert, executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and Ken Smythe-Leistico, assistant director at the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development address the various reasons for chronic absenteeism.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:46 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

The Impact of Absenteeism

Ken Smythe-Lestico, assistant director, University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development, Maria Searcy, Pittsburgh Obama school volunteer and tutor, Katie Carroll, Kindergarten teacher at Pittsburgh Faison School
Credit Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

Chronic absence takes a toll on students and the rest community from an early age. Katie Carroll is a Kindergarten teacher at Pittsburgh Faison School and thinks future learning patterns are developed as early as the first year.

"I try to establish relationships with parents so that the kids are really excited about coming to school."

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:18 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Approaching Solutions for Chronic Absence

Credit Gates Foundation / Flickr

In order for a student to be considered “chronically absent” they have to have missed 10 to 19 days of classes throughout the school year. In many cases, people are tempted to play the blame game and think teachers and administrators are not holding up their end of the bargain when it comes to keeping kids in school.

Dr. Linda Lane, superintendent of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, feels that “both the communities, the families and schools need to find common ground.” That common ground, she says is that everyone wants the kids to do well.

Read more
Learning and Play
7:36 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Turning the Waiting Game into an Educational Game at Pittsburgh Bus Shelters

Teacher Miguel Sague plays Word Play with a group of preschoolers on the South Side.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

It’s a reality for many parents and caregivers in Pittsburgh — you’re stuck waiting for a bus in the city and your kid starts getting bored and antsy.

A new effort is hoping to turn these times into teachable moments.

Instead of advertisements for law firms or universities, 23 bus shelters around Pittsburgh now have a poster adorned with colorful pictures of things such as ice cream, picnics and kiddie pools. The “Word Play” posters are part of an effort from the Fred Rogers Company to get adults talking to and interacting with kids.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:33 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Phase 4 Learning Centers Serve As Last Chance High Schools

Phase 4 Learning Centers have helped troubled students get a chance to excel in a different environment.
Credit Phase 4 Learning Center

Phase 4 Learning Centers are often referred to as last chance high schools by many, but to Phase 4’s founder, Terrie Suica Reed, it’s also their best chance for many troubled students to find success in their high school careers.

Though many students who come into her program come from broken homes or are even homeless, Reed stands firm in her belief that “with the right support, the right network, they can do anything they want to do.”

Read more
Alternative Education
3:50 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Alternative School Offers Deeper Connection with Teachers and Mentors for At-Risk Kids

Phase 4 Learning has been referred to by some of its students as the "last chance high school,” but the head of the 6-12 school prefers to think of it as a “best chance school” for success of their students.

Terri Suica Reed created the school to help reach students who may be having trouble in traditional schools.

“The formula is pretty simple, but yet it’s complex as well," Reed said. "It’s all about relationships. Everything about life is about relationships. You build relationships with people and we do that with our students.”

Read more
absenteeism
9:49 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Local Education Leaders Take on Attendance With 'Be There' Campaign

Ninety percent of success in school is showing up — that’s what the United Way and its partners believe.

The United Way launched its “Be There” campaign Monday aimed at making attendance a priority at schools across Allegheny County.

“The concept is very simple, it’s how do you get the people outside of the schools, the community agencies, the faith-based organizations, the youth workers who have a great relationship with young people, to encourage 100 percent attendance,” said Bob Nelkin, United Way of Allegheny County President.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
3:08 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Cool Kids: Rockin' Out With Your Child Can Be More Beneficial Than You Think

WYEP Morning Mix co-host, Joey Spehar on stage at the 3 Rivers Arts Festival with his daughter.
Credit Joey Spehar / Facebook

As a father, WYEP Morning Mix co-host Joey Spehar has a unique outlook on modern music. This led him to develop Cool Kids, a daily segment where listeners submit, “kid approved” songs and share stories about listening to quality music with their child.

“I’m a dad, my daughter’s almost two years old, and I found that she really enjoys music,” says Spehar. “I’m sure there are countless people out there who have had similar experiences.”

Dr. Rachel Whitcomb, assistant professor of music education at Duquesne University, says Spehar’s program touches on some important ideas in early childhood development.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:42 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Can Community Colleges Save the Economy?

How important are community colleges to an American education?
Credit CCAC North Library

Though they are sometimes mocked and often overlooked in the conversation about post-secondary education, community colleges are playing an important role in the reinvention of the American workforce.

With the costs of public and private universities skyrocketing and a changing economy that demands of a bevy of new skills, community colleges have become the primary option for many students seeking to gain crucial skills at a lower cost.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
4:53 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Making Promises the City Can Keep

Ninth grade students practice their geometry skills at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy.
Credit Gates Foundation / flickr

The Pittsburgh Promise has been providing scholarships to Pittsburgh public school students since 2008. They've pledged to promote the development of neighborhoods, city school reform, and give city students access and opportunities to attend a higher education institution.

Five years since its inception, the first batch of Promise recipients are graduating from their respective colleges and universities, and many critics are argue that the program has not been effective. Saleem Ghubril, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Promise maintains that the scholarship program is helping hundreds of students succeed after high school, while Jake Haulk, President of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, asserts that little has been done to improve the quality of the public schools. He says students are not receiving a sufficient education upon high school graduation.

Read more
Music and Learning
6:27 am
Fri July 26, 2013

To Help Teach Subjects, Teachers Learn to Look to Music

Teachers from across the United States have spent the last five weeks in Pittsburgh for the “Voices Across Time” program.

They've been learning how to incorporate music into their lessons, and the goal is to help students not only learn, but also connect with various subjects.

On the final Wednesday of the program, the group of teachers sat listening to a song called “The Blue Juniata.” Its lyrics are featured in the book "Little House on the Prairie." For the past month the teachers have been learning how to use such songs in their classes.

Read more
Pittsburgh Promise
7:10 am
Wed July 24, 2013

Is the Pittsburgh Promise Delivering?

A recent policy brief from conservative think tank Allegheny Institute for Public Policy states that the Pittsburgh Promise is falling well short of its goals, and that its mission should be completely re-focused. But this isn’t the first time the Allegheny Institute has taken on the Pittsburgh Promise.

Read more
Learning and Play
7:09 am
Fri July 19, 2013

At This Camp, Playing Is More Than Just A Game

Ten-year-old Tasaun Harvey shoots a ping pong ball from a cup while playing a game called Crossball.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Last week, teachers from Allegheny County gathered in Homestead to learn how to integrate games and play into their classrooms. This week those same teachers tested out what they learned on real kids.

Max O’Malley was one of 35 middle school kids at a camp at Carnegie Mellon University. One of their tasks was to create a new game using ping pong balls and plastic cups. Max and his group created a game based on the concept of air hockey.

Read more
Learning and Play
3:30 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Program Explores Ways Play Can Help Learning

Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

A group of teachers are standing in a loosely formulated circle. Some are squatting, some are balancing on one leg, all look like they are about to burst out laughing.

They’re playing a game called Ninja at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit in Homestead. The goal is to attack the other Ninjas in a counter-clockwise way. But they aren’t just playing — they are learning the game and how its applicable to what they do in their classrooms.

Read more
After School
7:12 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Meet the Teen Boys Who Will Help Knit the Andy Warhol Bridge

Diondre Harris, 16, Martay Howard, 14, and Chris Shannon, 14, (left to right) practice knitting on Tuesday afternoon.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Sixteen-year-old Diondre Harris was clowning around with his friends last Saturday at an end-of-year cookout at the Marshall-Shadeland office of Allegheny Youth Development.

The boys were eating hot dogs, talking about the NBA playoffs and sharing their report cards. AYD held the event to celebrate all that the few dozen teenage boys who take part in the program did over the course of the last school year.

Read more
Pre-school learning
7:37 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Report Says Libraries, Museums Support Early Learning Efforts

In case you had doubts that buildings full of borrow-able books and artwork are a good thing, the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences and The Campaign for Grade-Level Reporting has released a report that says they are. 

Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners was released on Thursday and discusses ways libraries and museums are supporting children.

Study author Mimi Howard said the goal of this paper was to focus on the development of early literacy skills by using these public resources.

Read more
Linking Students
7:25 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Video Conference Unites Students on Three Continents

High school students from the Pittsburgh area participating in the World Affairs Council Summer Summit watch a video link as students in South Africa describe a typical school day.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Discrimination, school funding and teen pregnancy grabbed the attention of high school students from around the world who gathered for a World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh-sponsored video conference Wednesday.

Read more
Summer Slide
3:30 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Discussion: How Do Teachers Avert 'Summer Slide' by Students?

Marcie Crow, fifth grade teacher at Mosside Middle School in the Gateway School District, participates in a discussion at 90.5 WESA as part of the Life of Learning initiative.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

The school year has ended or will soon end for students in the Pittsburgh area. That means the start of summer vacation. 

Research shows that during the summer, students lose some of what they learned just weeks and months earlier. Experts say motivating kids to continue learning through fun and engaging activities, programs and camps can help bridge the end of one school year to the beginning of the next and ease or eliminate the summer setback.

Read more
Summer Learning
3:30 am
Thu June 13, 2013

In the Pittsburgh Region, Summer Learning Opportunities Abound

Grow Pittsburgh spearheads the Urban Farmers in Training program, where students from the Mon Valley help operate a 1.5 acre farm.
Courtesy Grow Pittsburgh

For many, summer as a kid conjures images of long rides in the back of the family sedan, co-ed sports at the local YMCA camp or hours spent on the couch watching TV. These kind of summer experiences still exist, but an array of programs around Pittsburgh are opening the eyes and minds of youth of all ages.

Some of those students will be attending Summer Dreamers Academy. The camp, put on by Pittsburgh Public Schools, packs its itinerary with academics and activities. Summer Dreamers has replaced summer school.

Read more
Summer Learning
3:30 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Barriers May Keep Kids from Summer Enrichment Programs

Ellis School student Chelsea Canedy (left) is starting a free robotics camp for low-income girls. Teacher Lisa Abel-Palmieri is an adviser for the camp.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

For so many kids, the beginning of summer holds promise of weeks and weeks of doing absolutely nothing, or of sitting around and watching TV or playing video games all day.

Many kids will have such plans thwarted by parents who will send them to one or several summer programs. That’s probably not a bad thing — there is a growing body of research that suggests letting kids do nothing but watch TV and play video games all summer could set back their academic growth.

Read more
Summer Slide
3:30 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Separating Myth From Fact in 'Summer Brain Drain'

Research shows many middle- and higher-income students actually improve their reading skills during the summer.
Josh Raulerson 90.5 WESA

If you consume any amount of media at all, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with the idea that kids tend to lose ground academically during the summer months.

But what is the so-called “summer brain drain?” Is it real, or a media invention? And just how concerned should you be?

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
6:35 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

The Life of Learning Initiative on 90.5 WESA

Kevin Gavin is the Executive Producer of 90.5 WESA's Life of Learning initiative
Credit WESA

This week 90.5 WESA is  launching a three-year learning initiative.

Life of Learning will focus on learning and education activities, opportunities and challenges in the Greater Pittsburgh area. A five part series begins airing this week during Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Kevin Gavin, Executive Producer of 90.5 WESA’s Life of Learning talks about the scope of the initiative.

Summer Learning
3:30 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Why Do Schools Take a Summer Vacation?

Students are photographed at Chartiers Elementary School, June 21, 1916. In 1895 Pennsylvania became one of the first states to mandate school attendance, and a summer break was institutionalized.
Courtesy Detre Library & Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center

When you ask most Americans why children get a break from school in the summer you usually get one of two answers. 

Warren Sullivan of Hermitage provided the most popular answer while visiting Pittsburgh last month: “I think it was agriculture wasn’t it? I mean, it’s probably the season … a few generations ago anyway.”

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
5:50 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Life of Learning Series: Why Do We Have Summer Vacation?

Kids playing in the PPG Place Fountain during their summer vacation probably never stop to think about why they have those 3 months of R & R
Credit Flickr

Alice Cooper famously sang, "School's out for summer," but why, exactly, do schools close from June to September? WESA's Life of Learning initiative begins with this report by 90.5 WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar.

STEM Education
3:30 am
Fri June 7, 2013

$500K in Grants to Pittsburgh Area Schools to Engage Students in STEAM

Twenty-five school districts in southwestern Pennsylvania are receiving grants of $20,000 apiece to create digital learning spaces for students of all ages. 

“My heart was filled with joy,” said Rosanne Javorsky, assistant executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, reacting to the 80 proposals for grants to create innovative spaces to engage students in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

The AIU’s Center for Creativity is distributing the grants, which are funded by the Benedum and Grable Foundations.

Read more
Poverty & Learning
3:30 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Pitt to Host Summit on Race, Ethnicity, Poverty

Researchers and scholars from across the U.S. are gathering in Pittsburgh to create a network devoted to studying the issues of race and poverty.

About 30 directors of academic centers and institutions on race, ethnicity and poverty throughout the country will be attending the summit hosted by the University of Pittsburgh to begin Thursday and Friday in an effort to start dialogue and create possible collaborations between institutions aimed at battling social issues.

Read more
History
1:18 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Ft. Pitt Museum Fires Replica 18th Century Cannon

An 18th century replica cannon was fired for the first time Wednesday morning at the Fort Pitt Museum at Point State Park.

A six-person crew of colonial re-enactors used all the proper protocol and ceremony in firing a blank round in the 600-pound cannon, which was made entirely in Western Pennsylvania.

Andy Masich, president and CEO of the Senator John Heinz History Center, said only an expert could tell this gun from an original. 

Read more
advanced placement
6:30 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Grant Aims to Expand Access to Advanced Placement Classes in Two Pittsburgh High Schools

Pittsburgh Brashear Co-Principal Kimberly Safron, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane and NMSI's Dale Fleury accept a grant from the Heinz Endowments.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A new-to-Pennsylvania program is hoping to increase enrollment in advanced placement classes in two Pittsburgh high schools, with the ultimate goal to ensure more kids, especially kids of color, are prepared for higher education – whatever form that may take.

More than 100 students at Pittsburgh Brashear High School are currently enrolled in advanced placement, or AP, classes. Through a partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative, or NMSI, and a grant from the Heinz Endowments, work will get underway to increase that number.

Read more

Pages