Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Concepts of Print

What is “concepts of print”?  For younger children Concepts of Print include awareness that:
·         print carries a message
·         there is a one to one correspondence between words read and printed text
·         there are conventions of print such as directionality (left to right, top to bottom), differences between letters and words, distinctions between upper and lower case, punctuation; and
·         books have some common characteristics (e.g. author, title, front/back).
This awareness can be supported in afterschool programs by simply focusing on this skill development while we are working with youth. 
However, for older youth understanding how print reinforces and supports learning is more complex.  It is essential that youth understand the importance of bold-faced words, how to read charts, graphs, and picture captions, and understand the importance of the various segments of text:  overview, summary, questions to consider, and so on.  Helping young people understand the different aspects of print is part of our work.  For example, in homework we focus on helping kids finish the assignments, yet when we look at the new Common Core guidelines identifying key evidence and articulating your thought process is every bit as important as getting the correct answer.  How to use print to help you locate answers and solidify your thinking can be useful for youth.  We will need to help youth become more competent with the texts that they are asked to read.

Help young people in your program develop and hone the skills needed to develop the habits of a literate individual.  Let Consult 4 Kids support you in your efforts.  We offer curricula and training to support you and youth participate in a high-quality program.  Contact us at support@consultfourkids.oeg or by calling (661) 322-4347/  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Implementation of Common Core—Reading Informational Text

One of the key requirements of the Common Core State Standards is that at least 50% of the reading youth do in school is informational text.  Historically, reading in school (and in afterschool if you have used Kidz Lit) has been stories, novels, poetry, and plays and other forms of narrative text, yet in the “real world” much of the reading we do is informational reading.  So while we want to continue to support the reading of narrative text we also need to support informational text reading as well.  So how do we support youth in reading informational text and develop the habits of a literate individual?
At Consult 4 Kids we think that this can begin by helping youth ask questions about the informational text they are reading, such as:

What does this author want me to think about?
What is the author’s point of view?
What should I infer from what I’ve read?
What do other people say about this topic?

C4K has developed after-school appropriate curricula for grades 3rd-8th grades to support the reading of informational text.  The reading is interesting and relevant and not just a rehash of the school day material.  The activities are hands-on, minds-on, with clear objectives, a plethora of collaborative activities and opportunities to practice while having fun.  We provide training around the use of this curriculum to ensure that your staff is prepared to be effective.  We have incorporated these activities in a Book of the Month-type format that provides multiple source materials on the same topic to encourage youth to develop their own opinions based on information from a variety of resources.  To find out more about our Informational Text Curricula and Training please contact us at support@consultfourkids.com or call us at (661) 343-3424.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

LCFF Funding

California has identified 8 priority areas in public education:  student achievement (not to be confused with) student engagement, other student outcomes, school climate, parental involvement, basic services, implementation of Common Core State Standards, and course access.  After school programs, can and do support these priority areas.  Let’s look at several of these priorities beginning with parental involvement.  How many afterschool programs have access to parents on a daily basis?  How many afterschool programs showcase youth and invite parents and caregivers to attend the event?  How many afterschool programs invite parents to participate with their child at the end of the day?  How many afterschool programs have tough conversations with parents about their student?  The answer to these questions is certainly “most of them. 
And of course as an afterschool program you are most likely grounded in youth development principles which include developing youth leadership, providing youth with opportunities to share their voice and make a choice, all of which help youth develop 21st Century work place skills and stick with school even when they struggle.  Not only is youth engagement supported by a youth development mind set, as we implement the LIAS (Learning in Afterschool and Summer) principles:  learning that is active, meaningful, collaborative, and that supports mastery and broadens horizons, we engage youth in hands-on, minds-on activities throughout the afternoon—which supports other positive outcomes for youth. 
As afterschool providers we are also supporting the implementation of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards by implementing strategies that support student learning across all content areas.  Developing activities with clear learning goals which are assessed at the end of the session, debriefing the learning not just the activity, and using strategies to support collaboration, are all part of this effort to support Common Core implementation.

One of the best ways to make sure that we can support these eight buckets effectively is to be sure that our existing and new staff have the basic, foundational training they need so they can create a viable space for learning.  At C4K we have online training available 24/7/365 for both Program Leaders and Site Coordinators.  For Program Leaders we have the Nifty 9 which focuses on professionalism, safety, managing the environment, guiding behavior, discipline, holistic instruction, debriefing, transitions, and moving from direct and tell to questioning techniques.  To learn more about how you can access this for your staff, be they rookie, seasoned, or veteran, for pennies a day, contact us.  Check us out at www.consultfourkids.com or by contacting as at support@consultfourkids.com

Monday, April 7, 2014

Being A Valued Partner

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) are changing the way schools think about the work they do.  This different way of funding collapses many of the categorical programs and gives the local schools the opportunity to wrestle with the best way to spend the dollars received from the State.  The LCFF and the LCAP go hand in hand, the first gives you more flexibility with the dollars and the second holds districts accountable for being a good steward of the funds, and not only serving all children fairly but giving that extra boost for youth who are living in poverty or who are English Learners or who are in the foster care system. 

As a valued partner you as the afterschool provider should be at the table to be part of the discussion.  There are many overlaps of the work done in the afterschool program and the priority areas designated by the school day as important.  Below is a chart of the eight priority areas the State has identified as essential.  A descriptor of each of the priorities can also be see in the figure. 

Review these priorities and consider how you can be a part of the conversation.  Remember that staff development is key to doing this work well.  If you need help contact Consult 4 Kids at support@consultfourkids.co or call us at (661) 322-4347.

Afterschool in the Eight State Priority Areas

Monday, March 31, 2014

Nutrition Education—Cooking with Kids

Have you tried a cooking club with the youth in your program?  If not, you might want to give it a try.  The youth are engaged (at every age level) and love having the opportunity to measure and mix, and of course EAT!  Here are several different ways you can get started.

Harvest of the Month:  This program is absolutely free.  It highlights a fruit or vegetable each month (one that is being harvested), offers a recipe for a taste test and a newsletter in either English or Spanish for you to send home.  The recipes are easy to make and if you want, youth can give parents a “taste test” which will further encourage the menu at home to include the fruit or vegetable.  You can access their materials at:  

My Plate:  This federal program encourages youth to understand portions, the variety of foods that should be eaten each day, and offers simple recipes as well.  My Plate also has a number of other resources that you can access to support your program.  You can access their materials at: 

Unless you have access to a kitchen with a range and oven, you can often feel like cooking is beyond what you can do.  Remember that there are a number of recipes that you can make that require little or no cooking—and when cooking is required you could get by with an electric skillet.  When looking for recipes type no cook recipes for youth in the search bar and you will find a number of websites at your fingertips.

Share pictures of your young chefs with us by sending them to support@consultfourkids.com.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Physical Activity—Virtual Vacations

The weather outside is far from frightful in California at least.  We have sun and cool breezes and it feels like spring.  So for those of you who live somewhere else, consider taking a virtual vacation here in California, and for those of you in California, consider taking a virtual vacation to some other point of interest.  There are many wonderful things for youth to explore and learn from in the world of virtual vacations, and if we think about it, we can include physical activity to make these vacations ‘happen’. 
So here’s how it can work. 
  1. Determine the place that you want the youth to visit. 
  2. Chart the number of miles between your location and the place you want them to visit.
  3. Determine how many miles a day you would have to travel to arrive in approximately 10 days.
  4. Use a pedometer with one youth per day to measure steps (translate into miles) and then multiply by the number of youth in your program to chart the miles.  If it looks like you won’t make your goal, invite others (including parents to help you).
  5. Plan ten travel points of interest, one for each of the days it would take you to walk to the destination, and have youth share those experiences (remember you can always use a video to help them experience the location or event).
  6. Plan a culminating event to celebrate your arrival at your destination that will incorporate the highlights of the location as well as the places you’ve visited along the way.

To encourage writing, have youth record in a journal each day’s activities. 
Pay attention to the details, but you can have a wonderful time and if youth can access the internet, the sky is the limit. 
Take pictures of your “travels” and share them with us at support@consultfourkids.com  We’d love to highlight them on Student Chatter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Understanding STEM as an Integrated System

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  This acronym wasn’t simply chosen because it makes it easier and quicker to talk about these subjects.  It wasn’t chosen simply because there seems to be a natural connection between science and plants (including the stems).  It wasn’t chosen so you could add the arts and call it STEAM.  The acronym speaks to what we want to do in STEM education which is to integrate these four areas into a cohesive whole. 
Here are some of the reasons that an integrated approach to STEM education works:
“The number of jobs requiring proficiency in the STEM field is projected to grow almost twice as much as non-STEM occupations between 2008 and 2018.  Computing and engineering represent a majority of these STEM jobs.”  Afterschool Alliance
Integrated STEM education programs apply equal attention to the standards and objectives of two or more of the STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

In nearly every model of effective STEM integration, the goal and intent is to provide students with the opportunity to construct new knowledge and problem-solving skills through the process of designing artifacts (Fortus, Krajcikb, Dershimerb, Marx, & Mamlok-Naamand, 2005).

[Learning is accomplished] through a series of open-ended, hands-on activities related to a thematic topic that addresses important concepts related to STEM disciplines (Satchwell & Loepp, 2002).

In the afterschool environment we are well-positioned to implement this integrated approach through project-based learning.  We have been engaging youth in these types of projects for years.  Putting a STEM theme in place in these projects can make all the difference in the world.

For more information about project-based learning check out the Consult 4 Kids website at www.consultfourkids.com and starting with the “Begin The Journey” icon in the upper right-hand corner.