Austin ISD PK4 Newsletter

March 2016

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From the Director

Happy Marvelous March

Jacquie Porter, Director of Early Childhood

Happy March, Prekindergarten Teachers!

I hope this month is marvelous for you. Already the days are longer and I am enjoying the sunny, temperate weather. I love not going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark.

March is full of great special days for learning including Dr. Seuss' Birthday, St. Patrick's Day, Easter and of course Spring Break!

Last month we had a great article that focused on play. I was blessed to attend an Early Childhood Directors conference (yes, those do exist) and listened to a keynote speech about Play in early childhood classrooms. I felt so blessed that the prekindergarten teachers in AISD recognize how important play is to child development and that play is incorporated into our everyday lessons. Thank you for making prekindergarten a FUN place to learn. I really appreciate you!.

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News & Information


If you haven't been to our Team Leader Meetings (or looking at the webinars), you might be missing the discussion on House Bill 4. This Texas Early Childhood Grant will change some of the way we do prekindergarten in AISD. It looks like there could be some great things headed our way if we are chosen for grant funding. If you would like to take a look at the proposed changes with HB4, please click on the link below. If you want to comment to TEA regarding the rules, you have until March 7, 2016.


Each teacher will receive a bag of supplies that will accommodate the lesson plans for the fourth 9-weeks. SHRC drivers will deliver these kits to each campus starting on Monday, February 29.

All items in this kit are consumable and will not need to be returned to SHRC.

If you ever have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Brenda Langley at 414-4585 or

ELL Summer School Information

  • Click on the flyers below to expand the view


Just a reminder, the EOY Engage Window opened Feb 26 and closes March 31, 2016.

The EOY window for the TLI campuses (Lanier, Travis Heights, and LBJ vertical teams) is May 2-May 13, 2016.

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Timeline for Prekindergarten registration and Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Orientation

* Prekindergarten applications and instructions will arrive on your campus no later than March 4, 2016

* Collated registration materials will arrive from The Office of Student Services no later than March 25, 2016.

* Online Registration opens March 31 and parents can utilize that method after April 1 for prekindergarten.

* Prekindergarten registration will begin April 4, 2016

* Kindergarten and Optional Prekindergarten Orientation materials will arrive on your campus no later than February 19, 2016

* Optional Prekindergarten Orientation will be held April 5, 2016

* Kindergarten Orientation will be held on April 5, 2016

Prekindergarten Registration SY17 Update

Prekindergarten registration will take place beginning April 4, 2016, on every AISD prekindergarten campus. The yellow pre-K applications will arrive on your campus no later than March 4, 2016. The pre-K registration packet will be sent to your email March 4, 2016. You will not need lunch applications for prekindergarten students for SY17.

Pre-K teachers can be paid to register students beginning April 4, 2016. A stipend is available through the Early Childhood office for pre-K teachers who choose to assist specifically with registration and testing of potential pre-K students. Each teacher is eligible to work a total of eight hours (8 hours @ $25 = $200) to complete the identification process for eligible students and contact parents. In order to be paid, teachers must:

1. Have completed AISD 2016-2017 registration training either online or in person (March 1, 2016 at Sanchez Elementary in the library) and provide the completion certificate from HCP. This training is different from 2015-2016 training as new processes have been defined.

2. Login to Workforce on the day they are working. All time MUST be logged into Workforce. The routing ID for prekindergarten registration is 814. Comments should read "Pre-K Registration 2016-2017". All work must be logged between April 4 and April 29, 2016. Failing to login to Workforce could risk you not being paid by the next pay period for the work done.

3. HCP certificates for all who worked and the 2016-2017 registration payment spreadsheet must be turned into the Department of Early Childhood, CAC, Box 155, ATTN: Diane Smith.

The registration payment spreadsheet will be attached to the April newsletter. Please be sure the amount of work on the spreadsheet matches the number of hours allotted to each campus. Each campus has an allotment of eight hours per prekindergarten teacher for registration. If a teacher chooses not to work the eight hours, another prekindergarten teacher(s) on campus may work those hours.

LPAC for New Prekindergarten Students

An LPAC meeting for all ELL qualifying students that register in April must be held before they attend school in August.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at

or 512-414-4740.

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Upcoming Themes

Themes for this month include:

  • Art All Around Us
  • Texas Rodeo
  • How Do Plants Grow
  • Spring
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Marvelous Math!

Rainbow Bands!

By Jacquie Porter

A few months ago, I was at Dollar General and noticed they had marked the rainbow hair bands down to .25 cents a package (for 300). I bought several packages and put them in a discovery box for children to do patterns with on their fingers. The fit tiny fingers perfectly and there really is no need for more than 300.

I took the bands to a 4 year old classroom and the children began making intricate chains with patterns that were far beyond what I had envisioned. I left some of the chains in the box and at our workshop this week, when the adults saw the chains they began to make chains too.

The discovery boxes are a great way to build math and oral language skills. They are open ended, but teach a great many things and can easily be put away and brought again next month without needing any prep. Easy to replicate - fun to do!

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Sensory Play!

Liana Young, EC TLI Specialist

Sensory bins with a variety of materials and textures allow for discovery, conversation, child-directed and play-based learning. Here are some fun ideas to put in your sensory bins this month.

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Amazing Art!

Sylina Valdez, EC Admin. Supervisor

Here are some fun and easy materials to add to your art center this month. Remember that the process is more important than the product. Your art center should include a variety of tools and materials to encourage exploration and creativity.

Forks, Bows, Sponges, Pom Poms, Eggs!

Add forks, gift bows, sponges, pom poms, and eggs to your art/creativity center for painting. With the theme of spring, children can create different flowers with these materials. See all the possibilities! Allow children to explore with these materials for painting other items besides will be amazing what they may come up with!

Go to this website for more fork painting ideas:

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A Quote by Richard Cohen

"Any learning opportunity of a teacher-directed craft project (following instructions, fine motor practice, etc.) can be achieved in many other ways that also allows for opportunities for creative thinking, imagination, scientific thinking, independence, the value of art and on and on.

All current research and theory tell us that, from a neurological perspective (early brain development), teacher-directed craft projects are literally worth less of a young child's valuable time than an open-ended, hands-on, sensory oriented are or science activity." by Richard Cohen

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Gail's Gardening Gazette

How Can Your Garden Grow?

Spring has been in the Austin air for a long time this winter, so what better way to get you excited about gardening in Springtime. As many of you know, I was always a proponent of getting the children outdoors and into the children's garden, but not everyone has that opportunity or feel like they have the expertise to begin a gardening program.

Several years ago, I visited Elia Simons PreK classroom at Pillow ES and was thrilled to see so many garden related centers and activities. With her permission, I have included her classroom pictures, as well as some of my own to encourage you to explore gardening, both indoors and outdoors, in your upcoming theme, How Do Plants Grow?. I have created a Slideshare PowerPoint to help with ideas:

For gardening tips for the month of March, visit the Natural Gardener site at:

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Classroom Management

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Choices for Children


“If we want students to take responsibility for their behavior and learning, it is up to us to give them responsibilities. Children learn to make good decisions by having the chance to decide about what happens to them every day — not by following someone else’s directions. Research shows unequivocally that students learn more effectively and care more about what they are learning when they have some say about what is going on. (By contrast, students, like adults, suffer from burnout when they feel powerless.) “

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Classroom Spotlights

Ms. Stover's Pre-K Class, Pillow Elementary


"We have been talking about 'Going Green' and ways to take care of our community, so we decided to help take care of Pillow. Some of the children were repeatedly saying "this is the best adventure ever" while we were picking up and sorting trash/recycling (Its the little things in life). We went around Tuesday/Thursday to clean up the school grounds. When they looked out the window and saw more trash still blowing around they were very concerned and said they would pick it up on their way home. Pre-K is truly an awesome age." ~Ms. Stover
Ms. Queiroz's PPCD Class, Uphaus EC Center

Ms. Queiroz gave the weather center idea a try from last month's newsletter. Here are some pictures of her PPCD students engaged in purposeful play in the dramatic play area. It was a success!

*Click on the pictures to enlarge.

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Social Emotional Learning

Building Community in the Classroom – Becky Flynn – AISD SEL Specialist

Students come to us with many different strengths and abilities. They also come with pain and hurt in their lives. Our challenge as educators is to create a classroom culture that builds on their strengths and heals their hurts so that learning can occur.

By definition, a community is a group of people who work with one another building a sense of trust, care, and support. This means that in our classrooms, part of our job is to provide opportunities and structures by which students can help and support one another. We must also provide explicit instruction and support so that students learn how to do this.

The following are tips for building community in the classroom:

· Foster community awareness by creating structures that emphasize collaborative activity and joint problem-solving.

· Model the language of cooperation (e.g. “friends help friends, we all work together”.)

· Extend community-building efforts to all areas of classroom activity, find places where students can assist each other.

· Reinforce the notion that all ideas in the community are respected and valued.

· Provide visual cues throughout the classroom that encourage collaboration and cooperation (e.g. posters, signs, seating arrangements)

· Strategic planning for the arrival of new students in the classroom (e.g. assigning a friend to each new student to provide support, guidance, and leadership).

· Model collaboration, make teachers’ collaborative planning activities visible to students.

· Play group games that foster community building and read literature that teaches these topics.

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Professional Development

Any pre-k teacher who assists with registering pre-kindergarten students must complete 1 of the following training options:

PK Registration Information: 2016-17 (Face to Face)

Tuesday, March 1st 2016 at 3:30-5pm

73 San Marcos Street

Austin, TX

Location: Sanchez Elementary Library

Register on HCP: Section #80455

*If you complete the online version, you do not need to attend the face to face training.

Pre-K Registration Information Online Version: 2016-17 Pre-K Registration Modules

Tuesday, March 1st 2016 at 12am to Friday, April 29th 2016 at 12am

This is an online event.

The online registration training is now available through HCP.

Section # 80382

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About Us

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