Friday, November 29, 2013

Hands-On and Minds-On

The LIAS (Learning in Afterschool and Summer) Principles tell us that learning should be active, collaborative, meaningful, supports mastery, and expands horizons.  Let’s look a little closer at the descriptor for the principle that Learning Is Active.  It says, “Learning and memory recall of new knowledge is strengthened through different exposures—seeing, hearing, touching, and doing. 

Afterschool and summer activities should involve young people in “doing” activities that allow them to be physically active, stimulate their innate curiosity, and that are hands-on and project-based.” 
This definition links closely with the Habits of the Mind, especially:  gathering data through all senses, applying past knowledge to new situations, and responding with wonderment and awe.  These habits of the mind are absolutely in the “wheelhouse” of afterschool which provides  the perfect incubator for projects that are identified, designed and developed by youth.  Ensuring that the experience for youth is both hands-on and minds-on indicates that youth are taking the lead on the project and making key decisions and thinking critically.  Projects like this are ripe with relationship-based collaboration, relevance, and are rigorous enough to peak interest.

Share your hands-on, minds-on learning opportunities with us at Consult 4 Kids at

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Have you ever heard the phrase, “Attitude of Gratitude?”  This phrase was coined years ago by a motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar.  While Zig would certainly have approved of Thanksgiving, his premise was that every day should find each and every one of us demonstrating an “attitude of gratitude”.  Here is a story about Zig Ziglar that I believe you will find interesting.  It is shared by Vickie Hitzges.

Years ago, I was the public relations director for motivational guru, Zig Ziglar. At the time, he was arguably the best-known, most loved speaker in the world. When audience members heard Zig, they witnessed a man chockfull of energy, vitality and joy. Having worked closely with him and known him well, I can tell you that the Zig you saw on stage was the real Zig Ziglar. In fact, I can't remember ever seeing him when he was not happy and upbeat.  The Zig I knew was one carbonated guy
Every time Zig answered his home phone, he picked up the receiver and said with gusto, "This is Jean Ziglar's happy husband!" And he meant it!
Awhile back one of Zig's closest friends and I were discussing Zig's aura of happiness. "Completely genuine," his friend said. "I have never seen him down." Then he added thoughtfully, but with love, "Hardly what you'd call normal."
"What's Zig's secret?" I asked.
"I think," he said, "it comes down to feeling grateful. Never met a guy more grateful than Zig.  Period."
You'd think anyone that grateful must have had an easy life. But that's not so.
Zig started out poor. Dirt poor. His father died when he was six, leaving his mother to raise eleven children alone. The family was virtually penniless. Yet despite their poverty, Mrs. Ziglar instilled a strong work ethic in her children and raised them to believe that both she and God loved them. She also instructed her children to practice saying "please" and "thank you." Those lessons stuck. Her formula of work, love and faith made their difficult lives easier. Gratitude made their lives enjoyable.
Zig once told me, "When we neglect to require our children to say `thank you' when someone gives them a gift or does something for them, we raise ungrateful children who are highly unlikely to be content. Without gratitude, happiness is rare. With gratitude, the odds for happiness go up dramatically."
So this Thanksgiving, consider how you might adopt this “attitude of gratitude”, and if you already have it, share it with others. Keep an Attitude of Gratitude
Let C4K know some specific things you are grateful for by sending write-up and/or pictures for use to post on Student Chatter.  Send items to

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Next Generation Science Standards

Here is a recap of some of the information about the Next Generation Science Standards found at:

“In 2010, the National Academy of Sciences, Achieve, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Teachers Association embarked on a two-step process to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The first step began on July 19, 2011with the release of the Framework for K–12 Science Education. The Framework was a critical first step because it is grounded in the most current research on science and scientific learning, and it identifies the science all K–12 students should know.  The second step in the process was the development of standards grounded in the NRC Framework.
The Framework outlines three dimensions
Dimension 1: Practices describes
(a) the major practices that scientists employ as they investigate and build models and theories about the world and
(b) a key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build systems. We use the term “practices” instead of a term such as “skills” to emphasize that engaging in scientific investigation requires not only skill but also knowledge that is specific to each practice.
Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts
The crosscutting concepts have application across all domains of science. As such, they provide one way of linking across the domains in
Dimension 3.   Continued expansion of scientific knowledge makes it impossible to teach all the ideas related to a given discipline in exhaustive detail during the K-12 years.

Become familiar with the Next Generation Science Standards so you can strengthen the STEM clubs and classes you have in your afterschool program.  Let us know how you are doing by sending information to

Monday, November 25, 2013

Reading Informational Text

Informational Text is non-fiction text that could include articles, essays, opinion pieces, diverse media and multimedia including photographs, infographics, and video, and of course books.  While fictional text will continue to be read in school, (who doesn’t like a great story), as youth get older, the ratio rises from a focus on narrative text in the early grades, to fourth grades youth reading about 50-50 and by the senior year in high school, informational text comprises about 70% of assigned reading.  
Obviously newspapers (print or online) could be the perfect place to find a great deal of informational text.  In response, the New York Times published these 10 Easy Ways to Weave in The Times. 
“Easy Ways to Weave in The Times
1. Have students scan just the front page or homepage daily or weekly in order to:
  • Take our daily News Quiz, which is based on that day’s print front page.
  • Choose an article to read in depth, perhaps using our reading log.
  • Learn vocabulary, keeping track of it here. Reading just the front page of The New York Times every day introduces scores of SAT-level words in context. On June 14, for instance, you could find vibrant, fissure, unscathed, sectarian, volatile, inert, pretext and many more.
  • Practice making quick connections — to another text, to their own personal life, to something they’re studying in school, or to another trend, controversy or topic they’ve heard or read about. This graphic organizer can help.
  • Play Front Page Bingo with any day’s Times to find articles that fit criteria like “A story that might benefit from a chart or graph, and why” or “If an alien landed here and read only this page of this paper, what is one conclusion it might draw about human beings?”
2. Augment a unit with a great photograph, infographic or video. Search Times multimedia to find content related to your curriculum. Our Teaching With Infographics collection might also help.
3. Use Times Search to put in keywords (“Macbeth,” “World War II,”) and find articles that connect to your curriculum. You can choose to search just recent editions of the paper, or go back to any date since 1851.
4. Have students respond online to our daily Student Opinion question, each of which links to a recent, high-interest Times article. Since we keep all our questions open, they can also scroll through and choose the ones they like best.
5. Have students start academic research with Times Topics pages. Use our post about 10 ways to use The Times for research to learn more.
6. Quickly find Times resources for often-taught subjects with our Teaching Topics page, a living index to collections we’ve made on topics from immigration to “To Kill a Mockingbird” to global warming to bullying.
7. Have students play World History Standards Bingo to see how the same trends, patterns and concepts studied in global history are echoed in today’s news.
8. Read how real teachers have woven in The Times in our series of Great Ideas from Educators. Or submit your own!
9. Get our e-mail, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook, to quickly scan what’s new on The Learning Network daily. When big news breaks, we nearly always post teaching suggestions and useful links within 24 hours.
10. Have your students participate in our contests. This July we’re running a Summer Reading contest, last winter we had a quotation contest, and we’ve just wrapped up our second Found Poetry challenge.”
To find more information go to:  
The Times and the Common Core Standards: Reading Strategies for ‘Informational Text’
Let us know what strategies you are using to support the use of informational text.  Send details to us at

Friday, November 22, 2013

Value in Reader’s Theater

What is Reader’s Theater?  According to Wiki, “Reader's Theater is a style of theater in which the actors do or do not memorize their lines. In Readers Theater, actors use vocal expression to help the audience understand the story rather than visual storytelling such as sets, costumes, and intricate blocking.” 


Just looking at this definition we can begin to see why Reader’s Theater could be valuable in an afterschool program setting.  First, it gives extra practice time to youth on reading and reading expressively and with meaning and understanding.  Secondly, if you showcase the Reader’s Theater and invite parents and others to a performance, Reader’s Theater is a perfect project.  Third, you can help youth build self-esteem as they come to see themselves as “proficient” in reading.

Where do you get the scripts for Reader’s Theater?  Certainly you can purchase Reader’s Theater scripts.  There are companies who have these scripts for sale.  You can also get the scripts on line by goggling “reader’s theater scripts free” and having a large number of free scripts become available at various websites.  One of the ways I like to do to come up with scripts is have youth translate a story or book that they have been reading into a reader’s theater script.  The challenge, in most cases, is finding a text with enough dialogue included in the book or story, or one that presents plenty of opportunities to translate a third person narrative into a conversation to include many different readers.  I like developing a script because it helps youth work deeply and in many ways with a single piece of text.  Developing scripts from books also makes the supply of scripts essentially endless. 

What would a Reader’s Theater Showcase look like?  One of the things that you can do in a showcase is to celebrate a number of different works.  You can have individual performances in which one youth performs the entire theater, adopting different voices to indicate different characters.  You can have cross-age groups perform as well as single grade level performances.  Depending on the scripts you select, you can create an interesting agenda of scripts.  You might want to consider a “Dinner Theater” set up where guests sit at tables and perhaps enjoy a dessert.

Share your Reader’s Theater showcase with us so we can showcase on Student Chatter.  Share with us at

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


C4K has developed Sci-Gineering to look at science learning through the lens of the Engineering Process.  The simple Engineering Design model below is fleshed out to identify key skills that effective science learning and thinking embrace and then focuses on activities that will make the skills more concrete.  Sci-Gineering looks at ways to promote the 16 Habits of the Mind as well Bloom’s Taxonomy of Questioning.

The format for each Learning Module is:
  1. Design Element
  2. Skill
  3. Lesson
  4. Closing 

      The Design Element can be found in the model above.  Sci-Gineering has identified these five skills used by scientists and engineers:  observe, infer, classify, make models, and predict.  There are 10 lessons for each Design Element.  The materials for each of the Design Elements are provided.
For more information contact us at

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rethinking Education

A recent article was posted entitled “Rethinking Education”.  The author, Tio, suggests that it is time to rethink our educational system which “is so embedded into the monetary system that it’s almost impossible to separate the two.”  Tio contends that youth “spend 12-20 years or more studying to mainly become a worker to pay your way through life on planet Earth.”  He goes on to say he does not believe that school educated him at all.  He learned what was important to him from his father (driving a car), movies (how to speak English), creating websites, and even swimming” without any formal teaching.  He concludes that “pretty much everything else of value to my life and living, I learned on my own from my personal life experience.” 

How many of our young people experience formal education in the same way as Tio?  In his scenario, education is endured while learning happens outside the traditional system.  Certainly we are rethinking education as a whole, but turning the ship of K-12 education is a slow process.  On the other hand, afterschool and summer programs, led by leaders who have a passion for supporting youth as they develop, have a wonderful opportunity to provide more authentic learning experiences.  Project-based learning, community service, and service learning are all authentic learning opportunities.  What authentic learning do you offer?  Share your projects with Consult 4 Kids by sending them to  You can read "Tio’s Entire Article" 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day is November 11, 2013.  Each year in afterschool we recognize this day and honor the men and women who have protected our country and way of life.  This year you might want to consider a virtual tour of memorials to these heroes.  If you were to “visit” Washington DC, you could begin with the World War II Memorial in the center of the Washington Mall and then move toward Arlington National Cemetery, stopping at the Korean War Veteran’s Memorial and the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial which stand side-by-side at the base of the Lincoln Memorial.  You would then cross the Potomac to Arlington and walk the pathways to the resting places of Presidents (John Kennedy) Revolutionary War and Civil War casualties, the headstone commemorating the astronauts who lost their life in space, and finally end at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

To prepare youth for this virtual tour you would certainly want to show photos and videos of the memorials.  But you could consider having surviving veterans come and talk with the students or be interviewed by a handful of youth who could share a video or newsletter with others.  You could also consider all the ways that you might reach Washington DC—car, train, plane, and the length of time and miles you would need to cover.  You could create a walking campaign to log enough miles to make it to the National Capitol, engaging not only your youth but your parents and community as well to help you “log” enough miles. 
Consider how such a virtual tour could help your youth have a better understanding of why we honor our Veterans in November. 

Let us know what you did this year to honor Veteran’s.  Send your pictures and write-ups so we can publish on our website—send to

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Local Control Funding Formula—Importance of Parent and Community Engagement

The Masaii tribe greeting translates into “How are the children?”  The belief is that if the children are well then the society is also well.  As a greeting exchanged among all tribal members, we witness a true representation of the notion “it takes a village” to raise a child.  With the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in California, the local community will have an opportunity to become part of the village and can also ask, “How are the children?” as a litmus test for the success of the neighborhood school.

The LCFF requires that input on the planning is received from the stakeholders in public education, and this includes parents and community members.  LCFF considers parental involvement as a priority and wants participation increased to include participation in decision-making, especially for high needs and special education students.  Current school and district advisory committees can be utilized for this input.  Beyond parents, superintendents must also notify the community and hold at least one public hearing.
It is important that each voice be heard.  As a member of the community, a parent, a caregiver, or all three, participate in this process and let folks know how important the 540 hours of extra learning time is for the youth who participate in expanded learning programs—especially since these hours support non-traditional learning experiences and promote active, collaborative, meaningful, skill building, and horizon broadening experiences for youth.  Speak out for the importance of summer learning rather than remedial summer school as well.  We know that our programs are “good” for youth, so SPEAK UP!
To find out more information about LCFF click on this link to a Children Now briefing.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Local Control Funding Formula—What Is It?

Have you heard the buzz about the Local Control Funding Formula?  Do you wonder what it is and what effect it might have on your school?  Here is a brief overview of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).
The LCFF Proposal was put into play by Governor Brown as a way to address “California’s overly complex, administratively costly, and inequitably distributed school finance system.”  The proposal suggested that the flexibility of local decision-making around education should be increased at the same time the accountability for meeting student educational needs would be increased at the local level as well. 
The Formula consists primarily of base, supplemental and concentration funding that focuses resources based on a school’s student demographics:
Each district and charter school receives a per-pupil base grant to cover operations and instruction, with different allocations of base funds by grade level clusters: K-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12.
A supplemental grant of 35% of the base is provided for each English learner, economically disadvantaged or foster youth pupil.  If a school has a student population of English learner, economically disadvantaged or foster youth that exceeds 50% of the total enrollment, a concentration grant equal to 35% of the base grant will be allocated for each of the students above the 50% threshold. 
Additional funding assistance will be provided to reduce Kindergarten through grade 3 class size and help high schools provide career technical education courses.
The LCFF also focuses on Local Accountability.  Districts will be required to develop a local control and accountability plan that sets annual goals and describes how the entity will use available resources.  The plans will include actions the local agency will take to provide basic conditions necessary for student achievement (such as credentialed teachers, adequate instructional materials, facilities in good repair); implement the common core standards; improve academic outcomes; and address the needs of English learners, foster children, and students from low-income backgrounds.  To create this plan, schools must include principals, teachers, parents, students, and other community members in the planning process and to share the plan and the budget at public meetings.  The local board will need to adopt this plan which will then be reviewed by the county Board of Education.  Ultimately the plan will be reviewed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. 
For more information about LCFF check with your local school district or county office or read the information pdf found at: "Overview of the Local Control Funding Formula Proposal"

Let us know what your school and district are doing to ensure input from all of the stakeholders in the education of youth by sending us information at