Austin ISD PK4 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. Many of you have questions about HB4. In case you missed the team leader meeting or the webinar, we have included some information in this newsletter. 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 prekindergarten teachers, how grateful I am that you teach amazing lessons everyday. You are what makes AISD so incredible. Have a Marvelous May!
News & Information
House Bill 4
If we receive funding:
1. All prekindergarten teachers would be required to take 30 additional professional development hours during 2016-2017. This is very exciting. We are looking forward to 4 separate trainings that will be done during school time. (You will have choices of dates.) The training will help us to solidify best practice within AISD and will count for your 30 professional development hours.
2. We will also be doing some work around engaging families. This will change the way your family visits will look during staggered start, but we will send you information next month on how the changes could look. It will be important that all prekindergarten families get a separate family visit and not just an open house event.
3. Want to know more about HB4? We will include more information in next month's newsletter, but you can also go online to the TEA website to read their FAQ. http://tea.texas.gov/Curriculum_and_Instructional_Programs/Special_Student_Populations/Early_Childhood_Education/House_Bill_4_High-Quality_Prekindergarten_Grant_Program/
EOY Engage for TLI Schools
Please ensure that you are assessing in “Wave 3.” It is probably already set to "Wave 3" but check to make sure. Teachers can change the assessment wave at the top-right of the class view under the assessment tab. Unfortunately, we are not able to move data from one wave to another so make sure you are assessing in Wave 3. If you need assistance, please contact Irene or Liana.
Attention Team Leaders!
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.
If you are teaching PK4 this year or plan to teach it next year, this is a good time to evaluate your classroom activities. There should never be color sheets, tracing sheets, or worksheets in a PK4 classroom. If you need ideas for alternative activities, please seek support from anyone in the Early Childhood Department.
Retelling and Acting Out Stories
Retelling and acting out stories nurture a love of language and literacy! With all the emphasis on standards and assessment, they can be like a breath of fresh air. They can add imagination, creativity, and FUN to your classrooms!
Children acquire many skills from acting out and retelling stories:
- Children’s oral language skills, vocabulary and narrative understanding are enhanced. These skills are identified as key predictors in reading skills; they are the basis for comprehension.
- Children find deeper meaning in stories as they retell them. They become part of the stories, interacting with materials, and this engagement creates a deeper, more personal connection to the story.
- Children learn about sequencing and story elements.
How to encourage acting out and retelling stories:
- Read stories that are interesting and repetitive in nature such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, We’re Going on a Lion Hunt, The Little Engine that Could.
- Provide dramatic play props or felt board pieces. The more concrete cues we can provide the children, the more comfortable they become in retelling the story and they assist children in making the stories come alive.
- Give children time to retell or act out stories.
- Have fun and engage in the activity with the children!
- Remember to provide children specific feedback about their abilities as storytellers. For example, at the conclusion of the performance, say “What great storytellers you are!”
End of the 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 kindergarten.
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
Count & Smash Activity
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