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Notes from The Common Core Learning Standards: How can we use them? January 16, 2014 Networking Meeting

Jan 28, 2014  Suzanne Marten

Welcoming participants to the 9th year of networking meetings sponsored by the Robert Bowne Foundation, Anne Lawrence, program officer, noted that the day’s topic, the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS), was building on the previous meeting in October 2013.  Though CCLS were designed for schools, she remarked that she was hearing from many OST programs that these standards were of importance to them as well for a variety of reasons. For most programs, they wanted to align with what schools were doing and some funders were requiring that programs be aligned with the standards. In October's Networking meeting participants were able to develop a better understanding of what the CCLS are, translate them into plain language and think about how what they already do aligns with or supports the CCLS. 

Suzanne Marten, facilitator from Center for Educational Options, echoed some of the ideas that emerged from that October meeting:

  • Out-of-school time (OST)  programs do important, vital work that is in many cases broader than the scope of the CCLS.
  • CCLS language can appear dense leading many to feel intimidated by reading them, but in analyzing them, the standards can be translated into plain language.
  • If one starts with lessons, activities and curriculums that OST programs already do, one can see many CCLS evident.

There was particular interest in learning more about concrete tools that programs were developing and using for CCLS.  The January 16th meeting was an opportunity to hear from Kyle Medeiros and Jackie Osorio from Hudson Guild about how they are using the Common Core Learning Standards in their program, and to think with others in the field about how you might use them in your OST programs.  

Hudson Guild's Approach to Common Core Learning Standards   

Kyle Medeiros and Jackie Osorio gave a brief overview of Hudson Guild as a settlement house. It has several programs and streams of funding, but one thread is their connection to DYCD.  DYCD has a requirement that programs receiving funding align with the CCLS, therefore Hudson Guild began to look at them.  The organization made the decision that the CCLS could be a tool to support the academic work that they do, so they began to apply the CCLS across all Hudson Guild programs. 

In order to do this, they invested significant time and energy developing tools and training that would help their staff connect to the CCLS.  Since Hudson Guild's Afterschool programs serve children from Kindergarten through 8th grade through a thematic curriculum, they began with their "Scope and Sequence" or curriculum.  They studied it for where it supported the CCLS and articulated those standards into the curriculum for each grade.  This took considerable time but has proved worthwhile as they have a useable, living document that is specific to Hudson Guild's mission and curriculum.  From there they developed an orientation training for their staff that would help them understand the CCLS and then see how they were integrated into the Hudson Guild Scope and Sequence.  They also developed further tools that would help staff plan lessons that included the CCLS the lessons and activities supported. 

Experiencing Hudson Guild's Staff Orientation Workshop: One way to connect staff to the CCLS

Kyle and Jackie invited participants to experience the Hudson Guild's staff orientation as it relates to the CCLS.  This training is part of a larger, comprehensive training that they conduct at the start of each year.  In particular this workshop leads staff to planning their own lessons using the tools Hudson Guild has developed that align to the CCLS. 

Jackie and Kyle frame their approach in the context of Hudson Guild's mission to parallel the school experience, develop ways for children to practice and reinforce what they learn in school in fun and engaging ways.  They aim to close the "achievement gap," the gap in academic performance between different groups of students that usually impacts most on students from low income families and children of color.  They show staff how the Hudson Guild’s Scope and Sequence aligns with the CCLS and lays out what lessons should be focusing on in various subjects throughout the Afterschool program.  They also discuss how CCLS supports preparation for their students to be on the path to success in college and career.

Kyle and Jackie emphasized that the CCLS are not the only guides they use for lesson planning.  Another big component of their program has to do with social-emotional development so they also use the Chicago Social Emotional competencies to guide their planning.  It is important to note that the CCLS do not include social-emotional components and that is often a large part of what OST programs offer children.  It is essential that these social-emotional learning components not be lost in the mix.  Hudson Guild also is committed to planning for a wide range of learners and encourage their staff to address three different types of learners: auditory, visual and tactile/kinesthetic.  (see chart below)  They see the CCLS as providing ideas about how to expand staff’s ideas about what to do and what is next. 

Know Your Learners: Different Types of Learners means a need for varied lessons!




Learning by Listening

Learning by Seeing

Learning by Doing


Hearing Stories

Drawing pictures of what is being comprehended

Drawing Pictures

Reading Stories/Directions out loud to themselves

Graphic Organizers

Using Manipulatives to solve problems

Processing information out loud with you

Instructions/Steps written out for them

Using “tapping” or clapping of the hands to sound out words

Audio learners tend to learn best when applying visual/kinesthetic tools along with audio tools

Use chalkboards, pictures, white boards, manipulatives to see patterns

Manipulatives, drawing, coloring, touching/tracing are methods that aide in this learning style


Since Hudson Guild uses theme cycles to shape their program, all planning begins here.  Kyle and Jackie pointed out that the themes are what generate excitement for the children and for the staff.  They encourage their staff to be creative and invent activities and lessons or find them on the web to fit in the theme, to address the range of learners, to support social-emotional development, AND look to see how the lessons align with the CCLS.  But they do not begin with the CCLS as the main focus for their lessons.  This keeps Hudson Guild’s programming true to their broader mission while using the CCLS as a tool for supporting what they do. 

They shared their “6 Steps for Creating and Implementing Lesson Plans” as follows:

Step 1: Identify the theme

Step 2: Pick a standard(s) listed in the Scope and Sequence that you wish to teach

Step 3: Write an objective based on the standard(s) chosen which you aim students to be able to fulfill   by the END of the activity

Step 4: Create activities that incorporate both the theme and your objective(s)

Step 5: Write and submit lesson plans

Step 6: Evaluate and CELEBRATE!

Particularly important in this process is supporting their staff to write effective objective statements.  They utilize Bloom’s Taxonomy in the following guide:

How to Write an Objective

There is a standard format for Lesson Plan objectives:

}   Sample Objective

}  Students will be able to demonstrate understanding in relating characters in literature to their own lives by creating and performing a skit.

}   Choose an objective action word that best represents your goal for what you want them to gain:


































































Jackie and Kyle asked participants to consider preventative behavior management techniques and to support staff to develop activities that grew from their own ideas but also that did not always re-invent the wheel; for this Hudson Guild encourages their staff to use Pinterest (www.pinterest.com)  to search for ideas, activities and lessons.  

Applying the ideas inspired by Hudson Guild and the CCLS: How does this relate to your work?  

In pairs and small groups the participants in the Networking meeting were then invited to share the lesson plans and activities they had brought from their programs.  They looked at what they brought alongside Hudson Guild’s Scope and Sequence in which the CCLS are embedded.  They discussed where they saw their work touching the CCLS, what they were already supporting, and considered next steps for their own work.

Many important observations came from these discussions.  A few are highlighted here:

  • The CCLS language is dense and can feel intimidating (as many noted at our last networking meeting) but Hudson Guild has made the CCLS specific to their program, to their curriculum so it feels do-able and appropriate. 
  • Line staff need encouragement to feel comfortable with the CCLS and the concrete tools that Hudson Guild shared such as their lesson plan template (attached) are very useful.
  • Music and other afterschool activities are not explicitly valued in the CCLS and yet there are language and literacy standards that are touched on through doing the arts and other afterschool themes.  This makes the connections easier to build.
  • The CCLS often refer to “text” but in afterschool programs we need a broad definition of “text” to include film and video, plays, graphic art, painting, games, etc.  Under this broad definition afterschool programs are supporting a wide range of analysis of text.
  • The CCLS for literacy push us a bit to balance content and process.  The actual material or subject is what gets children engaged, such as choosing a great book or interesting film or piece of art and that work needs to be discuss and analyzed.  But we also need to spend time discussing the process of HOW one analyzes or “reads” the text. 
  • The knowledge of how you know what you know or metacognition is very valuable and can be integral to the CCLS.  Metacognition is what will allow children to transport their strategies to other work, beyond afterschool. It is equally important with staff.  They too need a chance to talk about how they know what they know as it will strengthen their ability to plan and implement effective activities and lessons with children. 

Good questions continued to be raised about how we can:

  • continue to familiarize ourselves with the CCLS and adopt the language where it is useful,
  • support staff to use CCLS but not be overwhelmed or intimidated by them, and
  • think about how to evaluate or assess what children are learning and how they are growing including the CCLS. 

It is important for everyone in the afterschool community to continue to have these discussions with your staff and colleagues as you find your way with the CCLS, maintaining your commitment to the particular mission and goals of your afterschool program and using the CCLS as a tool to support your work where appropriate.  We look forward to being part of the discussion.

Next Steps

Over the course of the first meeting several important resources were noted and are included here again:

http://www.engageny.org/ - this website is a valuable link not only to the CCLS themselves but also to lesson plans and information about the connections to standardized tests, just as a point of reference. 

http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/ - this website provides kid-friendly standards for K to 2nd grade. 

Look for an announcement from Anne Lawrence about the next networking meeting on March 20, 2014.