Austin ISD Kindergarten Newsletter

March 2016

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From the Director

Happy Marvelous March!

Jacquie Porter, Director of Early Childhood

Happy March, Kindergarten 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 Kindergarten. I felt so blessed that the Kindergarten teachers in AISD recognize how important play is to the kindergarten classroom and that play is incorporated into our everyday lessons. Thank you for making kindergarten a FUN place to learn. I really appreciate you!.

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News & Information


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

* Kindergarten Orientation will be held on April 5, 2016

ELL Summer School Information

  • Click on the flyers below to expand the view.
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Upcoming Themes

Themes this month include:

  • Weather
  • Seasons
  • Plants

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Literacy Corner!

Eric Carle Study

Jacquie Porter

I am so excited about Dr. Suess' Birthday. I love reading Dr. Seuss books to children and showing them my Thing 1 and Thing 2 that I ordered from off of the back of a cereal box several months ago. There are literally millions of ideas on the internet for having fun with this day and focusing on literacy. Of course, Pinterest has great items for little ones.

This made me think about other authors that we love to read aloud and children love to hear books by them. Eric Carle is one of my favorite children's authors. The Very

Lonely Firefly is one of my favorite books to read aloud. I rounded up about 10 flashlights and had fun reading this book to a class. (Reminder, the $1 store always has flashlights.)

As I read the book, the children take turns holding the flash lights and turning them on to represent the lantern, the candle, etc. It took two to represent the car headlights and 6 to represent the eyes of the 3 animals. We took a moment to talk about how the light reflects off the eyes of the animals in the book. At the end, we needed all 10 flashlights for the fireworks and the firefly. Lots of fun -easy to replicate.

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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!

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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 Do Plants 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 Simmons 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 Plants theme. 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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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

Early Childhood Language Arts: Literacy in Kindergarten

Tuesday, March 22nd, 3:30-5:30pm

5200 Freidrich Lane

Austin, TX

Location: Uphaus EC Center

Register on HCP: Section #80274
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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