In an effort to encourage literary exploration by young people held in secure facilities, we launched Words Unlocked, a month-long poetry initiative, in April 2013. The response was terrific: Over 500 students held in 30-plus youth facilities around the country participated. Chelsea Clinton and R. Dwayne Betts (among others) served as judges in the final round of a national poetry competition, and the winning poems were published online. We are running Words Unlocked again in April 2014. To help teachers organize poetry-related activities, we have posted practitioner-ready curricular materials—including daily lesson plans, calendars, presentation slides, and guidelines for hosting site-based competitions—on our Words Unlocked Wiki. We are also conducting our second annual poetry contest and providing publishing venues for student work. Click to learn more about Words Unlocked, read winning poems from 2013, and explore this year’s theme.
In February 2014, we announced that we would select a cohort of state juvenile justice agencies (and their education partners) to take part in a 15-month education reform initiative. Our goal is to implement comprehensive Blended Learning models at several schools operating in long-term, secure juvenile facilities. Twenty-three agencies applied to participate, and on March 31 we selected the winners: Alaska, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, along with Los Angeles County. The Blended Learning Initiative (BLI) will train and empower a cohort of Teaching and Innovation Fellows involved in educating incarcerated youth. The program begins with a multi-day technology camp for participating agencies in July 2014. Click to learn more about BLI.
In the fall of 2013, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) asked us to work with a network of four schools located in secure facilities in Okeechobee. After completing initial site visits, conducting focus groups with staff, and garnering student feedback on school climate, CEEAS, Florida DJJ, and the participating sites decided to develop a Project-Based Learning module. CEEAS provided intensive coaching over six weeks, produced a series of learning tools for the teachers, facilitated weekly conference calls, supported the development of site-based teacher leaders, and designed a communication tool-sharing platform using [Edmodo]. The end result was a weeklong Project-Based Learning unit completed at all four sites during the last week in February. Click to learn more about our work supporting Project-Based Learning in Okeechobee.
Since January 2014, CEEAS has provided ongoing advice and support to the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) as it develops its Road to Success Academy (RTSA), a model centered on Project-Based Learning and supported by significant technology integration. LACOE, which operates schools in 13 secure juvenile facilities, initially implemented RTSA at one site. Now it is scaling the model and expanding it to six additional sites. Also in Los Angeles County, CEEAS supports a stakeholder group that is working to ensure that Camp Kilpatrick, a secure facility that is being rebuilt, will serve as a launching pad for systematic improvement and reform of LACOE’s educational programming. Click to learn more about our work in Los Angeles County.