Creating an Intentionally Designed Program

Align for Success

Tutoring is not the only way to meet a student’s academic needs. Utilizing activities that are relevant, exciting and fun to students adds impact and solidifies the learning. This Click & Go will help you discover how to combine student need, student voice and program requirements into activities that are engaging and enriching for students and relevant to the goals of your program.


To enable participants to:

  • Utilize strategies to intentionally design activities that align with your needs assessment.

Zip Link (62.4 MB) Select Zip Link to download all resources in this Click & Go!


Mini-Lesson: Creating an Intentionally Designed Program

This mini-lesson will demonstrate how to use needs assessment data, youth development strategies and learning approaches to guide the design and development of program activities.

The 5E’s of Learning

In this 10-minute podcast, you will discover an instructional model that can help learners construct new ideas that build on what they already know. Using the 5E’s in your activity design will help students move to the highest levels of thinking, where they construct new meaning and continually evaluate their understanding of a concept. [Download Transcript]

Homework Help

In this eight minute podcast, you will discover that homework time doesn’t have to be just about getting the school day assignments done. We can use the time to develop important academic skills as well as other skills youth need to succeed in life like independent learning, responsibility, and leadership. Come explore how to design engaging homework time while still supporting academic and 21st Century skills. [Download Transcript]

Complementary Learning

Brought to you by the Harvard Family Research Project – “Complementary learning is a comprehensive strategy for addressing all of these needs and ensuring success for all children and youth”. On this website you can find an overview of complementary learning, projects that discuss research being done in the field, snapshots of community-wide programs and practices, and publications and resources. LINK

Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society: An Educator’s Guide to the “Four Cs”

Brought to you by the National Education Association: In 2002 the “Framework for 21st Century Learning” was developed, which highlighted 18 different skills to help students succeed in college, career and citizenship. However, over time we have realized that 18 is too large of a number and, “There was a unanimity that four specific skills were the most important. They became known as the “Four Cs” – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.” LINK

Becoming a 21st Century School or District: Use the 4Cs to Support Teachers (6 of 7)

Written by Ken Kay, CEO of EdLeader21 in 2011: Ken Kay discusses the 7 steps series of the 4Cs, including “embracing the 4Cs, and embedding them in professional development and curriculum and assessment. But, the goals of your initiative can’t be accomplished if your teachers aren’t supported in making them happen in the classroom for each and every student.” LINK

Tools for Teaching: Ditching The Deficit Model

Written by Rebecca Adler, Edutopia’s Consulting Online Editor in 2013: “So here’s the radical assertion: When assessing and teaching children, the time has more than come for education to embrace the whole child. This approach calls for schools and educators to curtail and deficit model and replace it with the abundance model.” LINK

Well-Designed Homework Time as a Quality-Building Aid in Afterschool

Witten by Natalie Lucas and Jennifer Korbin of Foundations, Inc.: discusses the positives of implementing homework time into your afterschool program. LINK

Concept to Classroom: Afterschool Programs – From Vision to Reality

Asks the question: What kinds of activities should my program include? This article discusses the types of activities that should be offered in an afterschool program. The article mentions project-based and theme-based learning, while offering some examples. LINK


The 4Cs: Making 21st Century Education Happen

This video shows how the 4Cs are being used in three different schools around the country. Interviews include teachers, students, principals and superintendents. Although this video shows how the 4Cs work in school settings, they are still applicable to 21st CCLC and out-of-school time programs. LINK

Building relationships with school day staff is the most critical component to gaining their support. Some of the barriers to attaining buy-in include the following:

  • Sharing space issues (teachers don’t want out-of-school time staff in their classrooms),
  • School-day teachers and out-of-school time program do not have shared goals; and/or
  • Out-of-school time is not connected to school-day objectives

To address sharing space issues, consider developing a memorandum of understanding with the school, which includes the expectations for classroom use by each group. Be sure to address issues such as which space is off-limits, which supplies can or cannot be used, and the expectation around how the room should look when out-of-school time programming is over. Use the Memorandum of Understand Template, /tools/memorandum-of-understanding-template, to help you start.

To address issues around out-of-school time not being connected to school-day goals, you can use tools such as the Survey of Teacher Programming Needs and Homework Sharing Tool which can be found on Y4Y >Aligning with The School Day> Tools at /tools/#alignment. Letting school-day teachers know that you understand and share their goals for student improvement will help build relationships.

To address the lack of shared goals, consider using the Implementation Planner found at /tools/implementation-planner.

These tools, when used in collaborative planning with your school-day staff and out-of-school time staff, will help ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page. You should also consider conducting an annual satisfaction survey of school-day teachers to provide feedback on the out-of-school time program.

Staff turnover is definitely one of the most challenging issues facing out-of-school time program quality. To help combat staff turnover, you should consider the following preventative measures:

  • Be sure to hire the right people for your program. While hiring certified teachers might seem like the easiest solution for recruiting high quality staff, it is not always possible or logical.
    • Ensure that your out-of-school staff mirror the culture and diversity of the students within your program. Staff and students will be more engaged if they have something in common or can relate to each other’s experiences.
    • Be sure staff match your organization’s culture and climate. In other words, if your program values teamwork and you hire someone who prefers to do everything independently, you could end up with an unhappy staff member.
    • Be sure staff have competence in the areas for which you are hiring. Do not expect a staff member who is not proficient in science to be competent nor happy facilitating a science class.
  • Be sure you treat your staff as professionals.
    • Set the expectation that they be on time, be prepared, and stay engaged in their work.
    • Assess their need for training and provide opportunities to build the knowledge and skills necessary for their success. You can use the Y4Y Teach section to download and customize trainings and you can also use this Click & Go as well as other’s to ensure staff are well equipped to carry out their roles.
    • Have regular meetings with your staff to discuss upcoming events, new trainings, and specific issues to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This illustrates that you are supportive and appreciate your staff.
    • Develop a program design that sets staff up for success. If a staff member is absent, do not put all those students into the classroom of another staff member. This will surely make them feel overwhelmed. Instead, have a contingency plan (e.g., have back up substitutes or group activities that can management more students in an emergency).

If after taking all preventative steps, you still have turnover, then be sure you have a plan in place to train new staff quickly. This can include:

  • Peer training which would allow a new staff member to walk-along-side another seasoned staff member to learn the ropes.
  • Pre-designed, recorded trainings that new staff can do independently. This can be done using the Y4Y Teach Resources (/teach/) or trainings you develop on your own.

Whatever steps you take, be sure that staff members feel equipped to manage student behavior and facilitate activities prior to putting them on their own. The out-of-school time environment is challenging and we want to be sure that we do more than just put a warm body in front of the students. The more steps you can take to prevent staff turnover, the better the outcome will be.

Keeping students engaged is directly correlated to providing opportunities for students that are enjoyable and empowering. One strategy you could use is Bloom’s Taxonomy to help guide the learning. Refresh staff knowledge or introduce Bloom’s Taxonomy by viewing a quick video in the STEM course on Y4Y (/learn/stem/introduction/higher-level-thinking).

When designing activities, make them meaningful by having students go beyond just doing to creating. For example, rather than having a sports activity focused on playing basketball, help students to expand their love of the game by taking charge of creating and hosting a basketball clinic for their younger peers. This would change the environment from one where students are consumers (learning to play) to producers (teaching others to play). This same approach can and should be taken for each activity you provide during your out-of-school time activities.

Have your staff watch the mini-lesson included in this Click & Go to get a quick introduction to embedding academics into program activities.

You should also be sure that staff are focusing on only two to three specific skills in each activity. Staff may become frustrated if they are directed to incorporate math into their art activity. Instead, ask them to incorporate fractions and measurement into their art activity.

Some programs have chosen to hire Academic Leads or Liaisons who help front-line staff by coaching and guiding their lesson planning and implementation. 

Every state is different. However, even if your state does not require you to embed academic skills into your “fun” activities, you should consider doing it anyway. Why? Because it is easy to do and good for students. Watch the mini-lesson in this Click & Go for more instruction on how to connect your activities to academic skills. That’s the easy part. Most importantly, your goal is to help students explore how the knowledge and skills they must learn during the school day apply to their world and what they love to do. Once students see how the skills link to activities they enjoy, they become more enthusiastic and motivated to learn the knowledge.

There is no easy way around this issue. You just have to make the time and set a budget to ensure your staff are appropriately trained. Creating a calendar of training at the beginning of each year will make it simpler to set your budget and get staff there. The Y4Y portal provides a wealth of free training resources, scripted PowerPoint presentations and archived webinars. These Click & Go resources include quick training solutions for out-of-school time staff, and can be good starting points for moving into other materials and building deeper capacity for student support.