Austin ISD PK3 Newsletter

November 2016

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From the Director

Happy November Everyone!

Teaching certainly isn't for the lazy or faint of heart. The month of October is a super difficult month in teaching and if you are reading this - it means you survived!! Hooray!! There is so much packed into October. Hopefully your November can be a bit calmer. If you haven't been to, I highly recommend it before we get into the craziness of the holidays. Subscriptions for teachers are free.

During this time of thankfulness, I just want to take a moment to say thank you for what you do each and every day with our 3 year olds. I love meeting with you at your PLCs and hearing all of the things your are doing with your students. You are a very creative group of teachers and I am grateful for your dedication. If I don't get to talk to you before Thanksgiving, have a restful, wonderful, Thanksgiving!


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Upcoming Themes

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More ideas for the balls unit can be found in the Balls Study Center Activities document and the Austin I.S.D. PK3 Pinterest page.

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Integrating the Alphabet into Center Activities

Exposing young children to the letters of the alphabet and helping them understand the purpose for these symbols is best done in an authentic and meaning way. The following are a few activities that can be integrated into centers
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Let's reframe our thinking about Circle Time!

This is a good time of year to rethink your circle time. Circle time for PK3 is a time to build oral language, phonemic awareness, community among the children, and self-regulation. As you reflect on your circle time, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Are children engaged and actively participating or are they sitting?
  • Is circle time student-focused, and not a teacher performance?
  • Are the songs and activities purposeful and planned?
  • Is the vocabulary planned and intentional?
  • Is there time for student discussion?
  • Is circle time brief?
  • Do you provide a variety of songs, chants, and activities or has your circle time become repetitive?

Circle time requires purposeful planning, even though it is very short. An active and engaging circle time will result in better student behaviors.

Circle Time Transition Song

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What Else Rolls? by Gail Laubenthal

Since the Ball Study comes during the Fall season, your students will have lots of opportunities to see if other objects also roll like a ball. What about things that are associated with fall, like acorns, apples, or pumpkins. What about objects found on the playground, like sticks and rocks. You could begin the conversation to find out what your children know about things that roll. Besides balls, they might think of wheels on vehicles, tricycles, or even grapes when they roll off the table and onto the floor. Accept all of their ideas and allow them some time to test their objects on ramps or slides.
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Sandy Chilton's Techno Tools

Creating Digital Portfolios

Seesaw is an awesome digital portfolio that allows teachers and students to save and submit a variety of work -- videos, photos, text, and drawings. It has a lot of FREE options available for teachers. It is available online, on Android, Chromebook, and iOS and in a variety of languages. This helps keep parents informed of student progress at all times and it can follow students from grade level to grade level. You can see a beginner user guide here:

Let me know if you need help getting going - I think you'll love it.

Here are some examples of Seesaw in action:

seesaw chatterpix
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Whole Child

Active and Engaged During the Exercise Study

Shirley Contreras, PK3 teacher at Houston Elementary, shared the obstacle course she set up for her students during the Exercise Study. This is a wonderful way to allow children to move, build gross motor skills, and learn responsibility. Way to go, Shirley and PK3!
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News & Information

New Classroom Resources to Combat Absenteeism

Getting kids to school every day can be a challenge, so the Department of Education, the Ad Council, My Brother’s Keeper, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation have teamed up to bring awareness to the importance of school attendance through the Absences Add Up Campaign. Dig into their new information about how to encourage school attendance and resources to help address issues like poor grades, bullying, and family challenges that cause children to miss school when they don’t have to.


Yza Rodriguez, a bilingual Pre-K teacher at J.J. Pickle Early College Prep (Austin, Texas) sets the foundation for good attendance at the start of the school year because she knows it is the first step in getting students to academically succeed. Read about her strategies for building relationships with parent and students in this week's Homeroom blog.

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Professional Development

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That’s L.I.F.E. (Logical Information For Educators)

A Great Day Begins the Night Before

There are five major themes in an evening routine that will get you ready for a successful tomorrow and they are; review, plan, prepare, reset and relax. I will go over each of these themes and the activities that they entail. Let’s start with review.

*Review – This is where you will review the day, asking yourself the following questions, possibly writing them down in a journal, what went well that day, what could have been better and what were you grateful for that day.

*Plan – Look at your planner and/or calendar to see what tomorrow holds and what you need to prepare for. Make a list of what you’d like to get done tomorrow and put a star by your three most important tasks. Check the weather and lay out your clothing and accessories for the next day.

*Prepare - Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” This holds true when implementing the preparation part of your evening routine. Here’s where you will plan and prep what you can for the meals of tomorrow. Set out any dishes and non-perishable items you will need for breakfast, pack lunches and take out anything that is in the freezer or that you will need for dinner that next night. If you drink coffee, set out your mug and get the coffee maker ready. Gather any items that need to leave the house with you and put them by the door so they are easy to grab and go. Include things you will need for work, errands and if you have children, their things as well.

*Reset – You will want to get your house and things back to a state of readiness, so after dinner, put the dishes in the dishwasher and run it so it will be ready for you to empty in the morning. Set a timer and do a quick 15 minute tidy of the house where you put back all items that you got out during the evening for meal prep, homework or other activities. Check all your electronic devices to see if they need to be recharged. Go through your work bag or purse to take out any trash, or refill with necessary items.

*Relax – About an hour before your bedtime is when you want to do activities that will signal your body that it’s time to get ready for sleep. Brushing your teeth, taking a warm bath, stretching or doing yoga, drinking a cup of herbal tea and reading either a magazine or a not too stimulating book are a few ideas of pre-bedtime activities. You pick the things that are most relaxing to you. Before slipping into bed, make sure you’ve created an atmosphere that is conducive to sleep; make the room as dark, quiet, cool and comfortable as you can and limit technology during that last hour before bed.

Let’s end with another one of Benjamin Franklin’s quotes - “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” So be sure to pick a bedtime that will give you enough sleep so that you will be ready to wake up early to start the morning routine that you set into place from last month’s article.

P.S. If you need ideas for your kid’s evening routine, check out this post with a free printable checklist at

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About Us

Jacquie Porter, Director

Sylina Valdez, Administrative Supervisor

Debra Caldwell, Administrative Assistant

Diana Perez, Data Processing Assistant

Adelina Gonzalez, Clerk

Irene Campos, EC Specialist

Robbie Polan, EC Specialist

Melinda Servantez, EC Specialist

Mary Allen, EC Specialist