Pilot program to teach critical reasoning after school

The ability to confidently embrace digital and social media services has become a vital prerequisite to effective participation in the global digital economy. In San Jose, middle schools students will gain those skills through a new pilot program by the Bay Area After-School All-Stars and Shmoop, with a grant of $50,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

The grant will support collaboration between the comprehensive programs of the Bay Area After-School All-Stars and the tech-savvy vision of Shmoop to teach critical reasoning and credible content analysis of online sources by middle school students.

“Every boy scout knows that being prepared is often the most important element in life. Shmoop deploys the power of the Internet, social media and other publishing tools to help students achieve their goals, maybe even their dreams,” said Ellen Siminoff, CEO of Shmoop. “The Internet is a kind of educational automobile – used properly, it gets students around better and faster; used irresponsibly, cars crash.”

As public schools have had to narrow their purview as they focus on everyday challenges, comprehensive after-school programs have stepped in to complement those areas where school districts recognize they are falling short. After-School All-Stars is located in 23 school-sites across the Bay Area, serving as one of twelve chapters across the country with free comprehensive programs.

“This collaboration with Shmoop allows us to teach students to be good information consumers,” said Crysta Krames, director of development for the Bay Area After-School All-Stars. “Lower-income students are in particular need of media literacy education to remain competitive in school and the workforce.”

Students will work from HP NetBooks purchased as part of this grant, under the guidance of the After-School All-Stars staff and Shmoop’s tangible, relatable questions, to help them become more media literate and understand the literature and history content taught during their school day from multiple sources presented on the web.