Igniting the Fire: Overview

According to the Afterschool Alliance, only 8 million (15 percent) K-12 children participate in after-school programs, despite the fact that more than 15 million are on their own after school. Teens who do not participate in after-school programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes than teens who do participate. They are also three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs, and are more likely to drink, smoke and engage in sexual activity.

Many of our members work in after-school programs and they are hungry for resources and training to better help students. For this reason, the AFT has partnered with the C.S. Mott Foundation to develop the Igniting the Fire toolkit. Its purpose is to introduce teachers, paraprofessionals and others who work in after-school programs to project learning—a learning strategy that motivates students, helps them see the usefulness of what they are learning, and thereby helps ignite the fire to learn more.

This toolkit contains background on the after-school world, research on the needs of students as it relates to project learning, samples of very simple to more sophisticated projects, and detailed professional development modules that can be used with staff. There are also some tips on important aspects of reading, writing, mathematics, and science that can be used by after-school staff.