Austin ISD PK4 Newsletter

October 2016

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From the Director

Happy Fall Y'all

Happy October Everyone!

I hope that you are settled in with your classroom routines and that your year is off to a fantastic start.

October is such a fast paced month in Prekindergarten. This year we will do our eCIRCLE assessment 3 times, the first time beginning on Sept 23, 2016. You should have received an email from me on how to add/delete students from your roster. Mary Allen has joined our team and will be happy to answer any questions that you may have about Engage. She can be reached at Engage has some great reports. Be sure to print out a BOY report for your October parent conference. October is also our first report card period. Assessment, Report Cards and Parent Conferences make October a busy month. It is a great thing we are having Read for the Record in October as well as that is a fun way to wind down the month.

October is also Fire Prevention Month. It is a great time to talk to students about smoke detectors and what to do in case of a fire at the child's home. Having a plan can make a big difference in a fire. This is also a great time to teach "stop, drop, and roll" in the dramatic play center. Cut out a few "flames" of red, yellow and orange felt. Allow the child to put the "flame" on themselves and then stop drop and roll the "fire" out.

Take a look on You Tube. There are some great videos about Stop Drop and Roll in English and Spanish. Have a great month!

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News & Information

Meet Mary Allen

My name is Mary Allen and I am so excited to let you know that I will be working as a PreK Specialist in the Early Childhood Department half time. I began working in Austin ISD as a PPCD teacher. I was fortunate to be on several campuses including Casis, St. John’s, Pillow and Doss. In 2007, I became an Assistant Principal at Casis and later was an AP at J. Frank Dobie Early Childhood PreK Center. I retired in 2015 and have known many of you throughout the years and have met others as an administrative substitute throughout the district last year. My husband and I have 2 grown sons. I am an avid sports fan and always willing to talk about the Longhorns, Missouri Tigers or St. Louis Cardinals. Tom and I also enjoy going out to listen to live music, catching a movie, occasional travel, and cooking-OK, Tom cooks and I enjoy eating!

In my new position, CLI Engage is one of my responsibilities. I have been talking to several as we rolled out the first round of BOY assessments. I will be sending PreK 3 and PreK 4 teachers reminders, how to’s and links that will help you with the processes of this system. Feel free to email me with any questions/issues you have. If I don’t know the answer, I will track it down. I have also been helping with transfers and I saw some of you at HB4 training last week and will see the rest of you this week. I look forward to getting to know you and helping in any way I can. My email is

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CLI Engage

CLI Engage Wave 1 is under way. The Window for testing is from September 23-October 14. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you make sure you are in CHROME when accessing CLI Engage.

If you are a new teacher, you should have received an email inviting you to the website. Make sure you check your spam folder if you did not receive it. You will register your account by hitting “Click Here” at the bottom of the page. Be sure to use your AISD email as your login. Returning teachers should have access from last year and will not receive an email.

Once in the system, take a few minutes to update your Profile. This can be found by clicking on your name in the upper right corner. There is a tour of the site on the website and the resources section provides a wealth of user guides and power points to provide training and answers to your questions. The Circle Assessment User Guide and specific how to instructions are also posted on the Austin ISD PreK website found in the cloud. These are under the Resources Tab/CLI Engage

These are the Tests to administer: Rapid Letter Naming, Rapid Vocabulary, Syllabication, Onset-Rime, Alliteration, rhyming, Number Discrimination, Number Naming, Counting Sets, Operations, Positive Social Behaviors, Emotion and Behavior Regulation, Early Writing Checklist, Language and Communication Checklist.

When you begin assessing please check that you are in the Wave 1 section. Your roster will not appear if you are in Wave 2 or 3. We will be assessing 3 times this year for BOY, MOY and EOY.

If you experience difficulties you can create a HELP ticket on the CLI Engage homepage. Contact Mary Allen at 512-414-4590 or if you have any questions.

Navigating eCST

PreK4 is designed to provide opportunities for At Risk Children to better prepare them for Kindergarten and beyond. Many children come to us and they are behind other children their age. Our teachers provide learning opportunities, engaging environments, structure and a loving, supportive tone in classrooms to help these children meet their potential. Most children thrive and grow in this environment, even if they start the year with major deficits in language, social emotional, motor, or pre-academic areas. To make this happen, you as a skillful educator provide extra support for these students using the Multi Tier Support System (MTSS) Some Tier 1 supports that teachers automatically use are proximity, 1-1 or small group reteach of concepts, walking a student through a transition, etc. This is enough for a portion of your students to get on the right track to pick up skills and soar. However, some students need extra help beyond Tier 1. If this is the case it is important you begin documenting in the CST system what you are doing so that you can systematically provide support and collect data to shape the best possible way to teach this student. Here are some steps to consider as you come to the end of the first nine weeks and you have 1 or 2 students that are not responding to Tier 1 support.

  1. Brainstorm with your team ideas that have worked in the past to help a struggling student. Define student’s space on the carpet; provide verbal alerts before a transition and have the student repeat back what is going to happen, make accommodations such as pre-cutting what a student needs to complete an activity.
  2. Go to to look at ideas and supports that might fit the needs of this student. Contact your MTSS coach to come observe the student and brainstorm strategies to meet the child’s needs with you.
  3. Decide what your ONE most important goal is for the student. Write what you think an attainable goal is for the student, make it measurable and think of what you are going to do to make it successful. Put it in CST, take data and enter the data weekly. Your MTSS coach can help you navigate the ins and outs of how to do this.
  4. Contact your administrator to let them know you have a child not responding to Tier 1 interventions. Share with the parent what you have observed and what you are going to try. Keep the parent informed with objective, data driven observations.
  5. If the student responds to Tier 2 interventions and your one goal was met, move onto another need and repeat the process. Write one goal for each area of concern, implement and take data, continuing to communicate with your administrator and the parent. You are on your way to helping this child bridge the gap!
  6. If the student does not respond to the Tier 2 interventions after 2-3 weeks try a different strategy to meet the goal. Take data and contact your administrator to schedule a CST meeting to discuss next steps for this student.
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Ready Rosie has come to Pre K

Ready Rosie is an early education tool that is currently helping schools deepen and scale their parent engagement efforts by leveraging the power of video modeling and mobile technology to meet and equip parents where they are. Ready Rosie has hundreds of brief videos in English and Spanish that model everyday interactions in familiar environments with real parents. Parents can then carry out the educational activities that they have viewed being modeled with their children. The teacher's role is simply to register parents and tell them about the program. The program does have an option for customization but of videos by the teacher but that is optional. Some of you have already heard about the program at the HB4 PD sessions that all Pre k teachers are attending. A representative from Ready Rosie will be at each PD session to explain how the program works.

This is a mandatory program that will be implemented in all Pre k classrooms to help meet the parent engagement requirements of the HB4 Pre k grant. October parent conferences is a great time to register your parents for Ready Rosie.

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Upcoming Themes

October 3- October 7 Theme 2- We Take Care of Each Other

October 11-October 14 Theme 2- Family Fun

October 17-October 21 Theme 2- All Kinds of Families or Pets/Fire Safety

October 24- October 28 Theme 7- How do Plants Grow,Pumpkins, Fall, Leaves, and /or Seasons

October 31-November 4 -Theme 6 My Senses or Pumpkins, Fall, Leaves and/or Seasons

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October 27 is Read for the Record Day

Have you ordered your book?

After you read the book, a sandwich shop might be a fun theme for your November dramatic play center. If you campus gives you classroom funds, you might consider buying the Melissa and Doug Sandwich Shop set. It is very cute, and runs about $24. If you are looking for something a bit less expensive, this website has free the patterns and pictures to make your own set. They are so easy and very inexpensive. The entire set took less than an hour to make and cost $4.80. A couple of baskets and your store is set.

We also found a really cute paper printable set at If you are one of the first 3 people to send Mary a welcome email, she will send you a laminated, cut out set for your dramatic play center. She is at Happy "eating"

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Transformative Technology

PK4 teachers use story retelling to promote comprehension, as well as monitor students’ comprehension. This can be a tedious and time consuming process! Instead of taking dictation of a child's retell, why not use one of the many digital tools available to us? An extra benefit of the process is that students learn about the digital tool through teacher modeling.

Digital tools for assessments and story retell.

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science and discovery

Living and Nonliving; Real and Pretend

During the Fall create opportunities for your children to explore the concept of living and nonliving. It can be challenging for young children, but you can help them discover the properties of living and nonliving things when they sort, group, and/or compare them.

Take, for example, a real pumpkin. It is hard to tell that it is a living thing because it just sits there and does not grow anymore. But understanding that it grew into a plant from a seed, with roots and a vine with flowers before the pumpkin began to grow, helps children see that the pumpkin is a living thing. The plant grew, changed, and needed sunlight, water, air, and nutrients to produce that pumpkin.

If you compare a real pumpkin to a styrofoam pumpkin, they will find a few similarities and many differences. Make a T-Chart and ask them to dictate what they discover. Let them compare the color, texture, and weight. Cut the real pumpkin open…What do they see? Cut the pretend pumpkin open…What do they see? Collect some seeds and let them plant them. Note: this is not the time of the year to plant pumpkin seeds outside, but they could plant them in a baggie which has a folded, damp paper towel in it. They will see the roots growing down and a plant begin to grow up, as long as you keep the paper towel damp (not soggy).

Think of other things that they could compare: real and pretend leaves, real and pretend flowers, real and pretend apples, a child and a picture of the child, a classroom pet and a stuffed animal, a rock and a tree, etc. The topic of monsters might also come up this month, and a discussion about them being real or pretend might help them cope.

This link has many ideas on introducing the concept of living/non-living to young children.

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Whole Child

Bethany Corey - Drama Specialist Creative Learning Initiative

Whether the Weather by Pollyanna Theatre Company Play and Play Series

Whether the Weather is based on the British Nursery Rhyme, this play follows a two best friends as they explore the meaning of this poem. The pair will move between scenes with different types of weather-sunny, windy, rainy, snowy, etc. discovering what makes each type of weather unique and confirming the strength of their friendship. Whether the Weather runs November 9-19 and is approximately 40 minutes in length. This play is part of the Play and Play Series of interactive performances designed for 2-4 year olds. Performances are held in the AT&T Room at the Long Center and have a maximum audience capacity of 60 children. They are also available to tour to schools.
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Professional Development

PK4 PD Modules

Remember as part of the HB4 PK grant, all PK4 teachers are required to attend all 4 modules of PD this year. The remaining module dates are listed below. They are now on HCP and ready for you to register.
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Establishing a Morning Routine For a Successful Day, by Crystal Young (Sunset Valley)

Get up, get ready, and get out as quickly as you can. Is this typically how you start your work day? Well, there’s a better way, and it’s to get up earlier than you are now. What?! How can that be a better way, you ask?

I’d like to share the activities I gathered from my internet research on what the experts in morning routines say will allow you to collect your thoughts, center your focus and prepare for a successful day, emotionally, mentally and physically. So, instead of the routine of get up, get ready and get out, try to incorporate some of these things into your morning routine:

1. Get Up – Set the alarm earlier and don’t hit the snooze button. Watch this short video on the effects of the snooze button -

2. Get Moving – Before getting out of bed, stretch and breathe deeply while being thankful for another day on this side of the dirt. Then do a short 7 minute exercise routine using a free 7 minute app from Wahoo Fitness or Johnson & Johnson. Or at least do some squats and lunges while you are getting ready.

3. Get in the Zone – Now is the time to get centered by praying, mediating, or doing some mindfulness breathing. Start a grateful list and write down 3 things you are grateful for so you will be looking for the good in each day.

4. Get Inspired – Read or listen to a page or two of a book that has uplifting content or is on a subject you want to learn more about. You can also say some positive affirmations to yourself as well as visualize yourself having a successful day. Anybody remember Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live? (

5. Get Perspective – Either review or create a plan for the day. Write down all the things you’d like to get done and then just pick your top 3 things that must get done that day.

6. Get Ready – Here are the things you are mostly likely doing in your regular morning routine – Breakfast, Bathe, Beautify (makeup/hair /dress) and Bed. No, not getting back in it, but making it. You might not be doing this last one, but watch this video from Admiral McRaven’s speech at the UT Commencement Ceremony to see why it’s important.

7. Get Out – There, wasn’t it worth getting out of bed early? See all that you have accomplished?

If you are not used to getting up early, you may want to ease into this routine. Start by setting your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than you are used to, and then complete what you can of the new routine. When that becomes doable, keep setting your alarm to go off earlier in 15 minute increments until you’ve reached a time that gives you ample opportunity to complete your full morning routine.

I highly recommend you try waking up earlier, in order to add the suggested activities before anyone or anything makes demands of your time, so you can get out the door, but also get ready for life. Want to learn more about morning routines? Check out these resources:

Hal Elrod – The 6 Minute Miracle Morning - Chris Winfield - -

Next month, I will show you how a successful morning really starts, the night before.

About Us

Jacquie Porter, Director

Debra Caldwell, Administrative Assistant

Diana Perez, Data Processing Assistant

Mary Allen, EC Specialist

Irene Campos, EC Specialist

Robbie Polan, EC Specialist

Melinda Servantez, EC Specialist

Sylina Valdez, Administrative Supervisor