Alice ISD ~ ISC Gazette

Instructional Support Center - December 2015

Happy Holidays

The Alice ISD Instructional Support Center Gazette is a newsletter written by district administrators that includes articles with information of upcoming events, recognitions of faculty and staff, updates on staff development or training sessions and much more! It is published on the last day of every month or the last Friday of the month - except December. We hope that you will find this newsletter to be informative and helpful!

Remember that the semester will end on January 15th with a teacher workday on the 18th.

Several curriculum trainings will be held upon the return from the holidays, so teachers please take note of dates pertaining to you.

Also be sure to scroll through the whole Gazette as there are articles and dates sprinkled throughout. You will find info on Science Fair, National History Day, TLI and more. Links to Curriculum newsletters are found at the bottom of the Gazette.

Thanks for all you do for the students of Alice ISD. Enjoy your break!

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...and Everyone was Reading!

One of the things children look forward to the most in December is the time away from school. This doesn’t mean they can't keep their minds working during the holidays, though. Students can read and write and have fun while doing it. “Reading doesn't have to mean sitting at a table with a boring school book for a set amount of time each day,” says Kathy Doyle Thomas, executive vice president of the bookstore chain, Half Price Books. “You can easily 'sneak' reading into daily activities.” Here are some tips for sneaking learning into holidays at home:

  • Have your children read holiday cards when they are received in the mail, and let them write a message in outgoing cards. Encourage them to send as many cards as possible with a personal message.

  • Let children read ingredients from holiday recipes while you bake together. It's a great way for them to learn measurements, temperatures, commitment to time, responsibility, and how much fun it can be to spend time with family members.

  • Set aside time for kids to "show off" their new reading skills to visiting relatives or friends. Children love being the focus of attention, and grandparents and friends are usually more than willing to see their enthusiasm and progress.

  • Make special holiday readings a tradition. Find a special book for reading the days before Christmas, and have each member of the family read from it at the same time each year.

  • Even if no books make your child's wish list, make sure you give at least one as a gift to each of your children or grandchildren. Encourage them to read it during their time off for the Christmas break and any other time of the year.

  • Find books that focus on an interest your child or grandchild has. For example, if they ask for a bike, then give a children's book that includes a bicycle adventure. There are books out there to suit every interest; it just takes a little browsing.

  • And don’t forget bedtime stories. Purchase a book with multiple chapters that pique the interest of your child or grandchild. Then, read a chapter per night together. This makes for quality bonding time and fun, not to mention better readers.
Happy Holidays

      Dr. Grace Everett

      There's a Song in the Air

      Thanks to the Saenz Superstar Choir for bringing a little Christmas spirit to Central Office before the break. These students, lead by Lynn Yamaguchi serenaded the staff on December 17th.
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      Model Classroom Project

      Several teachers in the district are participating in the Model Classroom Project by John Samara. These teachers join others in the past who have had training on various things such as creating and interacting with a Three Part Objective (TPO), building relationships, and utilizing randomnization when calling on students. The most recent training focused on questioning.

      Mr. Samara also met with principals to share what had been covered and to speak about the videos available to the district. These showcase various aspects of the Model Classroom Project.

      The next training for teacher leaders will be January 28th.

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      Math Curriculum Rollout

      The rollouts to study the 4th six weeks curriculum are as follows:

      Jan. 4.......6th Grade - Dubose Conference Room

      Jan. 5.......5th Grade - Dubose Conference Room

      Jan. 5.......7th Grade - WAMS

      Jan. 6.......4th Grade - Central Office Board Room

      Jan. 6.......8th Grade - WAMS

      Jan. 7......3rd Grade - Central Office Training Room

      Jan. 7......Alg. 1 - AHS

      Jan. 8......2nd Grade - Central Office Training Room

      Jan. 11....1st Grade - Central Office Board Room

      Jan. 12....Kindergarten - Central Office Training Room

      Google Math Classrooms

      Google Classrooms have been created for math teachers grades 2-8. These are places where information, resources, and questions can be shared.

      Teachers were "invited" to the classroom based on grade level. Please check your emails for that invitation.If you cannot find it, contact Anna Holmgreen (

      Another great resources is the Alice ISD Mathematics Facebook page. (

      How Can Math Teachers Combat Mathematical Illiteracy

      Teachers, have you ever had someone tell you, "Oh, I was terrible at math when I was in school?" For some reason, for at least some people, there seems to be a socially acceptable attitude that it is OK to be bad at math. In Owning It, Alex Kajitani states that mathematical illiteracy has become a casual joke in our society; in truth it is no laughing matter.

      As teachers, we have the power...and obligation... to turn this attitude around! Here are some ideas to do just that.

      Combat the idea that math is boring by using these strategies:

      • Use the students' world in your examples.
      • Use math songs (or raps)

      Make sure students understand that math IS used in their real life:

      • Have people come in to your class to show how their job uses math.
      • Keep it real by bringing in all types of jobs...doctors, carpenters, hairdressers, plumbers, firemen, etc.

      Word Walls

      Word Walls are important for vocabulary development and can also serve as a type of anchor chart for students. It is important to have these words posted, but also to refer to them in teaching--they should be interactive!

      Math Word Walls were created for grades 2-6 for the third six weeks. Be sure to check your email for them and print them out to post in your room. These were created with powerpoint, so they could be printed out in handout format and given to students as well.

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      District Science Fair Winners

      Congratulations to all of our District Science Fair participants and winners! Our District Science Fair was a huge success! We had over 230 participants. A very special thank you goes out to our science fair coordinators and judges who helped make this event a success.

      Winners from the District Fair will advance to the Regional Science Fair held at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi! (February 26th and 27th)

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      Science Planning Dates

      January 12, 2016- Biology - AHS

      January 6, 2016- 7th & 8th Grade- WAMS Planning Room

      January 14, 2016- 5th Grade- Dubose Intermediate

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      RTI & Tutoring

      A response to intervention (RTI) framework differs from tutoring in some very significant ways. Here are just a few of those differences:

      · RTI is a well-defined system of interventions and assessments. Tutoring is campus-based instruction that varies from campus to campus.

      · RTI requires the use of research-based interventions. Tutoring does not.

      · RTI requires the use of reliable, valid measures of reading. Tutoring does not.

      · RTI targets specific student needs based on learning gaps and may require instruction that focuses on below-grade-level knowledge and skills to fill these gaps. Tutoring usually focuses on grade-level student expectations within the TEKS.

      · Within an RTI framework, students should receive certain amounts of intervention before exiting. Tutoring has no set amounts of time that a student should receive instruction. Students might get tutoring one week and then miss the following week. This is not an acceptable practice within RTI.

      In other words, RTI is a much more systematic way of analyzing data, implementing targeted interventions, and making instructional decisions for students within those interventions.

      A student may participate in either RTI interventions or tutoring or both, but tutoring is not considered a Tier 2 or Tier 3 intervention. Instead, tutoring is viewed as an extension of Tier 1 (core) instruction.

      RTI- Gearing up for MOY

      Middle of the year assessments will be here before you know it. By now, campuses have had their BOY data meetings and have placed their students in TIER 2 or TIER 3. Teachers are progress monitoring every two weeks and hopefully students are showing growth. Our goal is to eventually move all TIER 2 students out of intervention and move TIER 3 kids into TIER 2.

      After MOY testing- RTI meetings will be held to discuss MOY entrance and exit criteria for those new to TIER 2 and TIER 3 and those already in TIER 2 and TIER 3.


      At this time, TEA (Texas Education Agency) has not been able to guarantee the extension of the TLI grant. However, Alice ISD has not given up hope that January will bring great news from the agency. This means that funding for the grant seizes on August 2016. That does not mean that TLI practices will also go away or that campuses should no longer maintain the literacy focus for the district.

      It’s in the best interest of the literacy program at Alice ISD, that campuses sustain as many practices implemented by the TLI grant.

      The following is a list of some of the expenses paid for by TLI grant since the implementation in 2012:

      · Literacy Coach at campuses

      · Reading materials, including but not limited to, guided reading libraries, classroom libraries, at-home books, school library, and student/teacher resources

      · Admission and travel to the Early Scholars Academy for students in grades PK-2

      · Materials for family literacy nights

      · Professional development training for teachers in grades PK-12, including but not limited to Gretchen Bernabi, Barry Lane and The Writing Academy.

      · Registration fee and travel to TLI Institute and Summit

      · Reading+ licenses for all students at Alice ISD

      · Data Management and testing program for teachers to administer and score CIRCLE, TPRI, and DIBELS Next

      · Consultants to train staff in RtI, various reading and writing methods, and small group instruction.

      · Istation subscription for PK-2nd graders

      · Stipends for CBLT members at each campus

      · Kits for Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System - I and II

      · Desktop computers for grades 5-12

      · Ipads for teachers

      · Voyager Sopris licenses for intervention

      · Laptop and carts of wheels for student use

      · Computer furniture and computer equipment for Alice High School computer lab and classrooms

      · Supplies and materials for teacher instruction and professional development


      Start planning for sustainability of the above listed items and evaluating campus budget for new year.

      English Language Arts & Reading: Taking Running Records

      Running records are taken most often at the earlier stages of reading. Taking a running record takes practice. Our most recent Balanced Literacy professional development sessions have been focused on guided reading and the essentials of taking a running record. Our next scheduled training to be held on January 7th will focus on using running records to inform instruction.

      Listed below are some basic reminders on how to conduct a running record.

      1. Select a benchmark book that is at the student's instructional reading level. Explain that she/he will read out loud as you observe and record her/his reading skills.
      2. With the Running Record form in hand, sit next to the student so that you can see the text and the student's finger and eye movements as she/he reads the text.
      3. As the student reads, mark each word on the running record form by using the appropriate Running Record Symbols and Marking Conventions shown below. If possible place a check mark above each word that is read correctly.
      4. If the student reads incorrectly, record above the word what the student reads.
      5. If the student is reading too fast for you to record the running record, ask her/him to pause until you catch up.
      6. Be sure to pay attention to the reader's behavior. Is the student using meaning (M), structural (S), and visual (V) cues to read words and gather meaning?
      7. Do not prompt the student.
      8. If the student gets stuck on a word first wait 5-10 seconds. Then tell him/her “try something”. If the student still does not make an attempt to say the word, tell it to him/her, instruct the student to “go on” and mark the error with a “T.

      *See the charts below. Referenced from Fountas & Pinnell Assessment Guide
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      Guided Reading: Introducing Books

      Effective book introductions are a critical component of an effective guided reading lesson. A teacher simply cannot choose a book on a whim and conduct a guided reading lesson. There must be a purpose, a targeted objective, and an expected outcome for the day. Keep in mind, a book introduction should be planned and written out. This process does not need to be extensive, but the teacher should spend some time considering what the book introduction should entail:

      You may want to do the following when planning your book introductions:

      • Write down one or two sentences about the main idea of the book.
      • Jot down the page numbers of the illustrations that you can use to discuss concepts.
      • Pick vocabulary that you want to use in conversation and/or explicitly define as you provide the introduction.
      • Write down words that might be difficult for readers to solve that you might want to call attention to in the text or write on the board.
      • Jot down information about the author, illustrator, or genre.
      • Write down processing strategies that you want to reinforce.
      • Note something special about the text features or book layout.
      • Note unusual language structures that you want to make accessible to readers.
      • Decide on the number of pages you want the students to read in this time period.
      • Decide what you want readers to do when they finish the assigned reading.

      from Guiding Readers and Writers p. 231

      Hillcrest Elementary: Camp Read S'More!

      Hillcrest Elementary School welcomed close to 300 guests to their family literacy night held on December 3rd. The theme for the night was Camp Read S'More. The Hillcrest faculty and staff did an outstanding job in transforming the school playground into a wonderful campfire in the woods setting. Parents nestled with their children on blankets and sleeping bags to read books while sipping hot cocoa and eating hot dogs. Everyone knows you can't have a campfire without eating s'mores, so the kids were treated to a s'more bar where they were able to roast their marshmallows and assemble their s'mores!

      Mary R. Garcia: All Aboard the Polar Express!

      The faculty and staff at Mary R. Garcia held their family literacy night on December 9th. Over 200 guests were welcomed to board the "Polar Express" and ride along for the many stops at the designated stations. The children were asked to wear their pajamas for their train ride. Parents and children were able to stop along at the various train stations like the book bingo station, the letter to Santa station, the Christmas craft station, and the photo booth station. Of course a guest appearance was made by Santa Claus and his Christmas carolers. The guests were treated to some hot chocolate and cookies.


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      Students from William Adams Middle School participated in GIS Day at Del Mar College on Nov. 17, 2015. The group was headed by Ms. Becky Lutzke and Ms. Michelle Ballard.

      Students participated in indoor and outdoor hands-on activities, demonstrations, interactive sessions, and presentations allowing them to experience emerging information technologies, and a variety of natural, physical and social sciences, including STEM related fields. Students interacted and worked side by side with GIS professionals and experts working in industry, education, government and other organizations all utilizing GIS technology.

      Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is a high-demand technology field with high earning potential. GIS uses software to create maps, graphs, charts, and spatial reference data reports. Some examples are the location of fire stations in a city, hurricane evacuation routes, the best location for businesses based on demographic statistics, and maps of property boundaries. GIS technicians are highly skilled professionals responsible for acquiring, encoding, plotting, and mapping spatial data.

      This exciting event was sponsored by The National Geographic Society, along with TAMUK, TAMUCC, Del Mar, Coastal Bend College, Laredo Community College and the National Informational, Security, and The Geospactial Technology Consortium. GIS Day is observed globally and builds awareness about geographic information system technology.

      Photographs submitted by Ms. Becky Lutzke

      Acceleration For Gifted Learners

      Acceleration occurs when students move through traditional curriculum at rates faster than typical. Among the many forms of acceleration are grade-skipping, early entrance to kindergarten or college, dual-credit courses such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs and subject-based acceleration (e.g., when a fifth-grade student takes a middle school math course). Many researchers consider acceleration to be “appropriate educational planning. It means matching the level and complexity of the curriculum with the readiness and motivation of the student” (p. 66). [1]

      • In a study of high-ability children who had been accelerated, 71% reported satisfaction with their acceleration experience. Of the participants who reported they were unsatisfied, the majority indicated they would have preferred more acceleration. [2] In addition, in a series of interviews with students who were accelerated, an overwhelming majority of these students said that acceleration was an “excellent experience” for them. [3]
      • Some argue that acceleration can be harmful to students’ self-concept, ability to fit in with older peers, or other social-emotional needs. However, research on acceleration has demonstrated multiple academic benefits to students and suggests that acceleration does not harm students. As the National Work Group on Acceleration determined, there is “no evidence that acceleration has a negative effect on a student’s social-emotional development” (p. 4). [4]
      • In one study, students who were allowed early entrance to elementary school averaged 6 months ahead in achievement when compared to their age peers during the same year. Additionally, these students showed improvement in socialization and self-esteem compared to slight difficulties faced by advanced students who were not accelerated. [5]
      • In another study, researchers noted that a sample of students who had participated in whole-grade acceleration were not noticeably different in their perceived interpersonal competence (including interacting with others and their ability to form friendships) when compared to a heterogeneous group of students in the norming sample. In addition, the researchers found that the academically gifted students had higher academic self-concepts and more positive overall self-concepts than their peers in the comparison group. [6]
      • Accelerated students have also been shown to outperform nonaccelerated peers academically in the long term. A longitudinal study of students highly talented in mathematics showed that students who skipped a grade were more likely to obtain graduate degrees, publish work, and receive patents in the STEM areas [7], and another report noted that these students earned other advanced degrees at rates higher than their peers [8]. In addition, researchers have found that, overall, acceleration influences high-ability students’ academic achievement in positive ways, and that these students outperform peers in other areas, including scores on standardized tests, grades in college, and the status of the universities they attend and their later career paths [9].
      • Acceleration is a cost-effective intervention. Grade-based forms cost little to implement, and yield societal benefits in that students complete schooling ahead of schedule and become productive adults earlier in their lives. Costs of subject-based forms may be slightly higher, but still less prohibitive than other forms of gifted programming. [10]

      Article from:

      National Association for Gifted Learners

      [1, 3, 9] Colangelo, N., Assouline, S., & Gross, M. U. M. (2004). A nation deceived: How schools hold back America’s brightest students (Vol. 1). Iowa City: University of Iowa, Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.
      [2] Lubinski, D., Webb, R. M., Morelock, M. J., & Benbow. C. (2001). Top 1 in 10,000: A 10-Year follow-up of the profoundly gifted, Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(4), 720.??
      [4] Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration, National Association for Gifted Children, and Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted. (2009). Guidelines for developing an academic acceleration policy. Iowa City, IA: Authors.
      [5] Rogers, K. B. (2002). Re-forming gifted education: How parents and teachers can match the program to the child. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press.
      [6] Lee, S. Y., Olszewski-Kubilius, P., & Thomson, D. T. (2012). Academically gifted students perceived interpersonal competence and peer relationships. Gifted Child Quarterly, 56, 90–104.
      [7] Park, G., Lubinski, D., & Benbow, C. P. (2013). When less is more: Effects of grade skipping on adult STEM productivity among mathematically precocious adolescents. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 176–198.
      [8] Steenbergen-Hu, S., & Moon, S. M. (2011). The effects of acceleration on high-ability learners: A meta-analysis. Gifted Child Quarterly, 55, 39–53.
      [10] Assouline, S. G., Colangelo, N., & VanTassel-Baska, J. (2015). A nation empowered: Evidence trumps the excuses holding back America’s brightest students (Vol. I).Iowa City: University of Iowa, Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.

      Clipart: Karen's Kids

      Alice ISD's Exam for Acceleration Testing Opportunities

      Quarter 1 Test Date October 26-30, 2015

      Registration Deadline September 25, 2015

      Quarter 2 Test Date January 25-29, 2016

      Registration Deadline December 18, 2015

      Quarter 3 Test Date June 6-9, 2016

      Registration Deadline May 9, 2016

      Quarter 4 Test Date July 11-14, 2016

      Registration Deadline June 13, 2016

      For registration packets, see the campus counselor or contact Elida De Leon, Director of Advanced Academics for additional information.

      Clipart: Karen's Kids

      Dates for Alice ISD's Local District National History Day (NHD) Contest

      January 7, 2016

      Junior Division (Grades 6-8)

      William Adams Middle School Library

      Registration forms due to the NHD teacher on January 4, 2016

      January 14, 2016

      Senior Division (Grades 9-12)

      Alice High School Library

      Registration forms due to the NHD teacher on January 11, 2016

      NHD logo:


      Alice ISD to host DI Spectacular Satuaday

      Date: January 16, 2016

      Location: William Adams Middle School

      Time: 8:30 a.m to Noon

      Texas DI Logo:

      Special Programs

      Migrant Program

      The Migrant Holiday Social took place on December 9, 2015. Parents were given the latest information on Migrant regulations. They also discussed any concerns they may have with the services. Parents commented that they feel that students are being served appropriately and are very happy with the program. Parents were then given the opportunity to make Christmas Angel ornaments using popsicle sticks. Everyone did an outstanding job of creating their angel ornaments. Parents enjoyed a breakfast of sweet bread, pigs in a blanket, monkey bread and biscuits. Next meeting for migrant parents will be in January.

      Former Students Visit

      The Migrant Department enjoyed a surprise visit from two former students. Magda Chavez and Eric Jimenez were on winter break from college and stopped by to give an update on how things are going for them. Magda is attending TAMUCC and is majoring in Psychology. She did excellent grade-wise her first semester. Eric is attending TAMUK and is majoring in Computer Science/Engineer. He also had a great semester. The two have been recruited by the high school to speak to seniors about career options before they return to college.

      Bilingual/ESL Education Strategy for the Classroom

      Question Answer Relationship (QAR)

      This is a way of teaching students to analyze questions they are asked about a text. Questions are divided into four categories.

      • Right there (found in text)
      • Think and Search (thinking about relationships between ideas in the text)
      • Author and Me (students make an inference about the text based on information shared)
      • On My Own (students reflect on their experience and knowledge.

      Incorporating this into your lesson will help students become more strategic readers because they are learning to determine the level of questions being asked.

      Vogt, M.E., Echevarria, J., Short, D. (2008) Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

      Other District Communications

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      Alice Independent School District


      Dr. Grace Everett

      Velma Soliz-Garcia

      Anna Holmgreen

      Erika Vasquez

      Elida De Leon

      Marta Salazar

      Dina Hinojosa

      Ric Gonzalez

      Gracie Garcia

      Dr. Alma Garcia