The Fishing School


The Cohort Model

The Fishing School’s Cohort Model is a unique, continuous commitment to children and their parents from 1st through 5th grades in which students are grouped into “cohorts” upon enrollment and progress through a multi-year program continuum together. Our programs follow each child through critical benchmarks in their elementary school years, and continue to support through middle school to help ensure a successful transition into high school. TFS students, therefore, have a continuity of experience that may not otherwise be possible through other out-of-school time providers.

At The Fishing School, we teach students to go fishing in the rivers of their minds. We’re able to effectively do this through research-based out-of-school time programming. Learn more about each of our program offerings below:

Elementary Afterschool Program

Research shows that 3 to 6pm are the peak hours in which youth commit crimes; become victims of crimes; and experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sex. The risk of exposure to such activities is even higher for children from lower-income families. Research indicates that participation in high-quality OST programs can help to eliminate the achievement gap which has increased by 30% in the last 30 years. Our Elementary Afterschool Program for 1st to 5th graders operates from August through June, 3:15 to 6:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Designed to both bridge the academic achievement gap and build life skills, this Program keeps kids safe and learning in the out-of-school time hours. Learn more about our curriculum components.

Parent Engagement Program

As the active engagement of a supportive parent or guardian is critical to creating a complete and positive learning environment for our students, parents/guardians are key partners in our process. Our Parent Engagement Program is based on industry research and best practices, and is highly influenced by Dr. Joyce Epstein’s Six Keys of Parent Involvement. The Fishing School model, however, has been adapted to successfully target the underserved communities we support. In The Fishing School’s Parent Engagement Program, parents participate in year-round activities and events designed to increase their knowledge and skills of youth development and to empower them at home.

Summer Camp

Recent research indicates that over 50% of the achievement gap between students from low-income communities and those from communities with more resources is explained by the difference in access to and quality of summer learning opportunities. According to the National Summer Learning Association, “Every summer, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading while their higher-income peers make slight gains. Most youth lose about two months of math skills in the summer.” The Fishing School works to avoid and address this achievement gap by offering intensive academic programming, life skills support, and parent engagement opportunities each summer embedded within the target communities themselves.

Curriculum Components

Blended Learning: This component consists of instruction through IntelliSeeds, a highly interactive, web-based learning tool that allows us to provide tailored curriculum to maximize student gains throughout the year. Students can also use IntelliSeeds at their own pace and conduct self-guided learning at home. We provide individual credentials to parents, enabling students to continue practicing math, reading, logical reasoning, and critical thinking skills outside of program hours, and we develop custom reports for parents to track their students’ growth.

STEAM: In order to produce innovative, skilled leaders and remain competitive in the global economy, schools nationwide are exploring ways to increase students’ exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). As such, TFS has carefully designed and expanded its programmatic STEAM offerings to address the academic, social, and developmental needs of children. Our student-centered model is aligned with Common Core standards and encourages creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and the development of core math and reading skills through the use of technology and student discovery. STEAM units change every six to eight weeks and include themes such as Air & Space, Winter Wonderland, and My Earth. In each of these units, our budding scientists participate in labs that require students to engage in interdisciplinary skills as they examine different problems or research questions aligned with the theme. From there, they develop hypotheses, conduct experiments, and record their observations and results.

Life Skills: TFS’ afterschool program addresses focused social emotional learning (SEL) and life skill development through its life skills component. Our curriculum also purposefully combines academics with non-cognitive expectations through means such as aligning 45-minute weekly read aloud sessions with the current life skills theme, encouraging group collaboration and consensus for academic projects, involving students in community service projects, and incorporating an Executive Helper program whereby students are selected for leadership roles. TFS further reinforces positive social skills through Friday Fins Awards where youth are publically recognized for positive behavior.

Career & College Readiness: We use Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) as a foundation to expose our elementary students to college and various aspects of the college going process. The objectives of the HBCU and college readiness sessions are to raise college awareness and encourage students to see college admission as a long term goal, to challenge students to assess their interests, strengths, and academic habits with college in mind, and to explore specific universities. Additionally, TFS hosts guest speakers who share about their college and career experiences, and facilitators from college access organizations such as Scholarship Academy implement lessons outlining the financial requirements of the college-going process, helping students understand what it takes to enroll and obtain funding to attend higher education institutions.

Read Aloud & Shared Reading: TFS utilizes read alouds (grades 1-2) and shared reading (grades 3-5). Using culturally responsive texts, the read alouds are specifically chosen to align with our academic and life skills activities. This component aims to develop students’ language skills, reinforce their reading and comprehension skills, and most importantly foster a love for reading and learning. Additionally, TFS will use TIME for Kids (TFK) to arm our students with the information and skills they need to be responsive global citizens and agents of change. For more than 23 years, TFK has published weekly grade appropriate magazines for kids in grades K-6 designed to provide information about the world and teach new literacy skills. Once per week, TFS’ lead instructors will use associated lessons to discuss the various challenges children worldwide are facing while students build reading comprehension skills.

Clubs: Students participate in clubs and various co-curricular experiences throughout the year. These clubs provide additional time for developing personal talents, reinforcing math and reading skills, and developing positive social skills. Club choices include activities that develop skills in the arts and promote movement. During this guided recreation time, students learn about topics of interest and have a voice in guiding what the group works on. Our Clubs, which students self-select, include the Tech Club, Do It Yourself Club, and Fitness Club.

Fitness Club: The goal of Fitness Club is to introduce students to the dynamics of fitness and healthy living. It consists of 6 units, each unit lasting for 6 weeks. The major themes are cooperative games, TFS boot-camp and healthy living, yoga/meditation, and aerobic dance. All TFS students participating in Fitness Club are expected to learn to exercise, to make healthy food choices, as well as to develop strategies and solutions through cooperative game play. Students learn mindfulness of both themselves and others, strengthen their skills in active/situational problem solving, leadership, and sportsmanship. Students are also expected to develop their strength, flexibility, rhythm, balance, and stress-management through progressive conditioning, yoga/meditation, and aerobic dance.

Tech Club: The Tech Club is designed to help TFS address the digital divide that negatively impacts our students. Students in this club are exposed to a variety of computer skills that they can utilize later on in life. Three of the five units offered to participants of this club have an artistic focus. During the coding unit, students will learn the basics of coding and design as they create their own programs and website designs. In the music production unit, students will demonstrate their creativity by creating their own musical mash-ups. In addition, students will be encouraged to write songs about their experiences as TFS students. Finally, students in this club will use computers to learn about artistic design and experiment with making their own 3D images.

Do It Yourself (DIY) Club: The goal of DIY Club is to teach students how to transform common household items and things found in nature into art or something useful. We want students to focus on the idea of repurposing. By engaging in this club our students will think more about how they can give a new purpose or new use to common, everyday items. Students who choose this club will engage in an array of creative activities including art projects, crafts, scavenger hunting, nature/outdoors, and science experiments. The academic components of this club are art, culture (including fashion) and history, science, math, and engineering.

Technology: TFS has made access to technology and online learning a critical component of our Afterschool Success Program. We offer a 1:2 computer/student ratio when in-person and utilize the blended learning tool, IntelliSeeds in all our programming. We recently added Typingclub to our curriculum, to introduce all students from 1st through 6th grades to the world of keyboarding. Our goal is to help students develop a high level of comfort using computers as well as improve students’ accuracy and speed when it comes to typing, critical 21st Century skills. While our students have experience with smart phones and tablets, many lack keyboarding skills that are vital for their growing academic careers and formal electronic communication, especially given that standardized tests are computerized.

We also leverage YouTube videos, web-based games, and an online library to supplement our curriculum and teach parents about accessing these resources to help learning at home. Through sponsorship from Microsoft, we introduced virtual reality goggles into our program to create more interactive activities and enhance the technology we have on hand to teach our students. We use TIME for Kids to share news clips and stories that help build literacy skills while developing a sense of global citizenship in our students. As we transitioned to distance learning at the onset of the pandemic, our team vetted several vendors and video conferencing software to ensure we adopted the best technology for our program, and will continue the use of several of these platforms when we return to site.

Please check out our Program Flyer to learn more