Austin ISD Kindergarten Newsletter
From the Director
Happy Marvelous May!
Jacquie Porter, Director of Early Childhood
Welcome to May. May is a unique month filled with lasts and special events. It is also a month of thinking about winding up the year and looking ahead to next year. That can make for some hectic times. With so much happening in May, we want to keep you informed and put vital information at your fingertips so you don't waste valuable time searching for the information you need.
I know you are finalizing plans for summer, so we have included summer professional development offerings within this newsletter. For those of you who have taken the Lucy Calkins Writing Course, next year we will have one for reading. May can be a tough month for young children as the consistent routine that you have developed will sometimes have to be deviated from and will cause some anxiety. We are so grateful to Becky Flynn in our SEL dept for some tips on helping students self regulate.
I am looking forward to Salute!, The AISD event in May where we honor our Teachers of the Year for the campus, Teachers of Promise, Nationally Board Certified Teachers as well as naming our District wide honorees. I know several of you are being honored from your campus, but I wanted to say to all of our kindergarten teachers how grateful I am that you teach amazing lessons everyday. You are what makes AISD so incredible. Have a Marvelous May!
News & Information
Attention Team Leaders!
Here is the direct link to the form in case you have trouble filling it out below. https://docs.google.com/a/austinisd.org/forms/d/1WkOMpbot9TEYnReWS3Dhd4NlhQFMmRKrcGv4M5MZzuU/viewform
Summer Professional Development
Summer Institute Session Descriptions
Free Workshop for Parents!
Do you ever wish that you had PPCD forms, instructional planning guides, and activities in one handy document? Our district’s PPCD program has developed a digital notebook that is one central source of resources, including curriculum modifications, interventions, communication strategies, legal requirements, classroom videos, and other supports. Everything is organized by tabs and sub tabs. You can find it through the Cloud by typing PPCD or you can use the link http://www.livebinders.com/shelf/view/103434. The access key is PPCD1.
This one was made with a shower curtain and page protectors taped on. Printed letters were then inserted into the page protectors. However, you could also have students use the ABC rug for this game.
End of Year Activities
Take time to browse the activities on Pinterest. Find some fun activities to keep your students engaged and learning during these last weeks of school to give them that final boost to be ready for first grade.
What is Self-Regulation
As schools in AISD implement Peace Areas or Safe Places, one frequently hears the term “self-regulation”. This area in the classroom is made available to students in order to help them develop the skills needed in order to “self-manage” or “self-regulate” their emotions. Below is a definition of self-regulation and its implications.
Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and manage your energy states, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that are acceptable and produce positive results such as well-being, loving relationships, and learning. It is how we deal with stressors and it lays the foundation for emotional intelligence, efficient filtering of sensory stimulation, coping effectively with stress, relating well to others, and sustaining focus.
Self-regulation involves the whole person/child:
Physical: biology, temperament
Emotional: personality, exposure to trauma, ability to inhibit impulses
Mental: focus, shifts of focus, control, management of distractions and frustration
Social: interpersonal interactions, empathy, values
Self-regulation takes energy. When a child acts out or melts down, it is because s/he has no fuel for managing stressors. That’s why it’s important to notice or inquire about what stresses your students and what soothes them: to teach them mindfulness skills; to play with them, to make sure they get exercise, and plenty of rest.
Dr. Stewart Shanker uses a car analogy to explain self-regulation, which I have paraphrased:
Self-regulation is like maintaining a consistent rate of acceleration. If we want to go 25mph, then we will need to adjust the pressure to the accelerator to allow for changes to the road, incline, and wind. Driving requires constant changes depending on traffic conditions and speed zones etc. Learning to accelerate, brake, and change gears smoothly takes time and practice. This is quite similar to children learning to self-regulate. Some children are always pushing too hard on the accelerator, while others jump between gears quickly, and some are slow to accelerate. Children need time and support to master the ability to find and sustain their optimum speed and level of arousal while dealing with a range of stimuli and stressors.
Outdoor Music Wall
Gail's Gardening Gazette
Understanding Life Cycles - Full Circle
How do you explain the lifeless body of a bug or a dried-up plant found in the garden? Do you ignore it or take the time to mention that all living things eventually die. A butterfly might die shortly after it lays it's eggs; a flower dries up at the end of it's showy bloom cycle.
Take the time to find things on your campus or in your garden that might be dead (or dying), and use it as an opportunity to see if your student have questions or explanations for this part of the organisms cycle. Remember, when some plants die, they leave behind seeds that can be collected for next years garden. Thus the students can reflect back on the plants full life cycle, from planting the seeds in the garden, to gathering the seeds for the students who will be in their teachers class next year.
Physical Environments and Learning
Recent advances in neurology research show that our physical environments impact growth in our brains. Environments that leave a student feeling safe and calm are more likely to impact learning in a way that is positive than environments that create anxiety or stress. Temperature, access to sunlight and vegetation in a room impact how we feel, hear, see and learn.
The temperature of a room influences the amount of academic content students retain. Research shows that students’ reading comprehension declines when room temperature rises above 74 degrees Fahrenheit and math skills decline when room temperature rises above 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm rooms tend to trigger aggression and anxiety. Cooler, but not cold, is better than warmer or hot when it comes to creating an environment that supports learning. Research indicates that the optimal temperature for learning is approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Access to sunlight also impacts learning for students. In one study, some students were given access to sunlight, while other students were exposed to increasingly less amounts of sunlight in the classroom. The results of the study showed that the students exposed to the most amount of sunlight progress on math and reading tests 20-26% faster than students in the study exposed to the least amount of lighting. In another study, researchers determined that 50 percent of children developed academic or health deficiencies as a result of insufficient light at school. When considering the overall findings from various students on lighting, we can conclude that indirect, natural sunlight is best for learning.
What children see in their physical environment can also impact learning! Research suggests that students perform better when they have a view of vegetation and/or vegetation is incorporated into the classroom environment. Some teachers incorporate plants into their classroom as a way to decrease anxiety for students and create an environment that supports learning. Using colors such as warm yellow and light blue will calm overactive students and support cognition.
Physical environments are important! For students to learn, grow, behave and perform optimally, do your best to orchestrate a powerful learning environment incorporating the elements of temperature, natural light and visual appearance!
- Adapted from Teaching with the Brain in Mind by Eric Jensen
Stress Busting Tips for Teachers
Jacquie Porter, Director
Debra Caldwell, Administrative Assistant
Diane Smith, Data Processing Assistant
Marlene Beldin, Clerk
Irene Campos, EC TLI Specialist
Brian Mowry, EC Specialist
Robbie Polan, Childcare Liaison
Melinda Servantez, EC Specialist
Sylina Valdez, Administrative Supervisor
Liana Young, EC TLI Specialist