September & October 2015; ALPHA Newsletter

Welcome to ALPHA!

We're off to a great start this school year! In this newsletter you'll find information about what's going on in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade ALPHA. Many opportunities are coming up for parents and families to be involved. Let us know if you have any questions.

3rd grade ALPHA

The Leader in Me

We are so excited about our third grade program this year! Seeing our students walking into Webb every Friday grinning ear to ear brings us so much joy!

Each morning students start in their homerooms where they engage in activities related to Sean Covey's book, The Leader in Me. This program is an introduction to personal leadership. All students have the capacity to lead in their own lives and affect those around them by making positive choices.

The Leader in Me program provides students with activities that will help them learn practical character and life skills that will lead to those positive choices.

ALPHA University

After lunch, third grade students attend “ALPHA University.” Students had the opportunity to choose four courses to take this school year. Each course will last 5-6 weeks. The following is a list of courses offered by our ALPHA teachers:

  • Globe Trotters Club
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Going Green
  • Spanish
  • Your World, Your News; Journalism
  • Imagineering
  • Ancient Civilizations
  • Think like DaVinci

4th and 5th Grade ALPHA

Playground Project

It has been such an honor for our students to receive the opportunity from the McKinney Sunrise Rotary club in the design of the all-inclusive playground! A big thank you to our MISD leaders, Dr. McDaniel and Mrs. Woodard, for making our playground kick off an extra special event!

We began our journey by introducing students to the difference between sympathy and empathy. Students explored influential children and adults that face daily struggles but have overcome due to a creative process and growth mindset.

More MISD leaders joined us to answer their questions regarding students and adults with special needs as well as the equipment knowledge to apply to their own designs. Students were exposed to all-inclusive playgrounds worldwide by participating in an online scavenger hunt.

Of course, we cannot design a playground without acknowledging state and federal regulations! Looking ahead, students will hear from our very own Webb Elementary Principals, Kyle Luthi and Nidia Cedillo, on the importance of creating vision and mission statements. These statements are crucial in the upcoming design process.

Students will embark upon an off-site "Learning Adventure" as we visit Frisco's Hope Park and talk to engineers about that playground's design. We will also have the opportunity to visit the land in McKinney where our playground will be built.

Your children are learning to work as teams, asking great questions and collaborating through our Google Classrooms. We are proud of their engagement in this project and can hardly wait to see the amazing plans.


In ELAR, we’re venturing into our novel study with the book, Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper. This book was chosen to coincide with our playground project.

The book follows the main character, Melody , who is a genius, but no one knows it because she is unable to speak, walk or write. Throughout the book, Melody struggles to be heard. Through the book study, our mission is to develop and nurture empathy within the students.

During our book study, we will participate in Socratic seminars, meaningful blogging using Kaplan’s Depth and Complexity, and intellectual standards, as well as demonstrating proper digital citizenship.

We will also engage in activities aimed at creating a deeper understanding of the character and her experiences; as well as making personal connections with our ALPHA students, on both emotional and intellectual levels.


Over the past few weeks pur math classes have enjoyed exploring geometry and measurement concepts such as area and perimeter. Math Olympiad style problem solving has also been introduced to students.

We started our measurement unit off with a pre-assessment over area and perimeter. We found that most students didn't know how to calculate the area of a triangle. Using geoboards, paper folding and strategies like 'Give-Take Away' and 'Partitioning', our students are beginning to understand this difficult concept.

We have also investigated challenging questions such as: If I double the perimeter of a square, does the area double? How can a fixed perimeter such as 20 feet create maximum area? Remember we are designing a playground and fencing costs money, so how can we minimize cost and maximize our resources?

If your child is new to Alpha, you can find out more about Math Olympiad (MO) by logging onto

Students can find extra copies of their weekly math homework assignments online at:


  • During science class students are learning about Newton's Laws of Motion and how practical principles of physics can be applied in daily life.
  • Students have investigated how toys work and have been able to explain the Laws of Motion in relation to Slinkies, Hula Hoops, balls, roller coasters, marbles, and pinwheels.
  • Children have worked in pairs to create digital products such as Haiku Decks, ThingLink, Google Slides, etc. in order to demonstrate their understanding of physics vocabulary words.
  • Groups are beginning to work together to create testable questions related to the Laws of Motion.
  • Over the next few weeks students will be conducting their experiments using playground equipment and online tools.
  • The learning in science class will directly apply to the work they are about to do when designing their all inclusive playground for the city of McKinney.

Leadership and Social/ Emotional Development

ALPHA is beginning the year on a positive note! The fourth & fifth graders are singing the melody of empathy!

As the students begin to work in teams for their playground project, they have been practicing one very important 'soft skill' - communication.

For the remainder of September and October, we plan to emphasize more 'soft skills' that the students can use during playground planning and working with their teams, such as respect, participation and sharing openly. It would benefit your child greatly to discuss these important soft skills at home in your daily conversations.

We really value our ALPHA parents and appreciate your efforts to highlight the importance of using these 'soft skills' while working on a team.

McKinney Association of the Gifted and Talented- ALPS

Parent support is invaluable to the program. It is not too late to join ALPS, the Alpha Parents Support group. Its mission is to provide a chain of communication between the schools, community and the Board of Education.

The annual memberships are $35, which goes towards programs and valuable information for parents, teacher training, student scholarships, classroom enrichment, special programs and much more.

You can complete your membership by visiting:

TAGT Parent Conference - McKinney High School

Monday, Oct. 5th, 6-8:30pm

1400 Wilson Creek Parkway

McKinney, TX

Come learn about the unique needs of gifted students while your school-aged children participate in supervised hands-on activities. At a cost of only $5.00 per family, this is an exceptional opportunity!

Visit to register.

5:30 PM - Registration and exhibits open

6:00-6:15 pm - Welcome

6:20-8:00 pm - Student activities in the cafeteria

6:20- 6:50 pm - Parent Choice #1

6:55- 7:25 - Parent Choice #2

7:30-8:00 pm - Parent Choice #3

8:00- 8:20 pm - Students pack up; mix and mingle

8:30 pm - Building closes

The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented has selected McKinney for their very first parent conference of 2015-2016!

Parent topics include:

  • Hidden Exceptionalities: How to unmask your child's potential exceptionalities that affect everyday life.
  • Understanding Social and Emotional Needs: Discover Dabrowski's overexcitabilities and how to identify each type.
  • Guiding Gifted Youth Through Self-Awareness: Uncover how you can help in developing self-awareness in your gifted child.
  • Corralling the Stallions: Understanding Energetic Gifted Children: Learn techniques to help manage exceptionally active gifted children.
  • Panel of Gifted High School Students: Hear directly from gifted high school students about school, parents, peers, following their passions and their thoughts about the future.
  • Panel of Gifted Middle School Students: Hear directly from gifted high school students about school, parents, peers, following their passions and their thoughts about the future.
  • Q and A: Open Discussion: Do you have a question about giftedness or about your gifted child?

Other topics may be addressed as they are finalized.

Community Opportunities for Gifted Families

There are many opportunities being offered for your gifted children over the next several weeks.

September 24, 2015

Family Maker Lab

Create a product using recyclable materials.

Roy & Helen Hall Memorial Library

3:00 pm-5:00 pm

September 25, 2015

Brown Bag Lunch: GT 101- How to Advocate for My Gifted Child

Karen Green, MISD Coordinator for the Gifted and Talented

MISD Central Office, Board Room

#1 Duvall Street

11:30 am-12:30 pm

October 3, 2015

Junior Master Naturalists

Explore the unique geologic formations of Texas and learn how to start a fossil collection.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

10:00 am – 12:00 pm

October 3, 2015

Ropes Course Adventure Day

Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary

1:00 pm -4:00 pm

October 5, 2015

Gifted and Talented Family Night

An interactive and engaging night for the whole family!

Visit to register.

McKinney High School

6:00 pm -8:30 pm

October 10, 2015

Scholastic K-12 Chess Tournament – National Chess Day Tournament

McKinney Performing Arts Center

9:00 am -2:00 pm

October 23, 2015

Brown Bag Lunch: Understanding & Managing Overexcitabilities in My Gifted Child

Kristin Fawaz, GT Professional Learning Lead

MISD Central Office, Board Room

#1 Duvall Street

11:30 am -12:30 pm

October 24, 2015

Earthquake’s – What’s that Shaking?

Geologist Diane Brownlee presents an overview of earthquake science.

Allen Public Library

2:30 pm –3:30 pm

"Coloring Outside the Lines" ALPHA T-Shirts On Sale Now!

Order forms will be sent home shortly. In the meantime, order forms can also be downloaded though the ALPS website:

$15 PER SHIRT OR 2 FOR $25

available sizes: Youth - S, M, L & Adult - S, M, L, XL


Please indicate on check: 1) Student's Name, 2) Grade, 3) Campus, and 4) for ALPS t-shirt

Upcoming ALPHA Testing Information

Please take note of the following dates in the event that you or your friends have students who need to be evaluated for gifted services.

GT Testing Information and Deadlines –

1st and 2nd grade

The 1st and 2nd grade Referral Deadline

is Thursday, October 1, 2015.

1st and 2nd grade testing will take place on Saturday, December 5, 2015 and Saturday, December 12, 2015 at Webb Elementary.

Parents should expect results no earlier than March 1, 2016.

3rd, 4th, and 5th grade

The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade Referral Deadline is Monday, February 1, 2016.

3rd,4th, and 5th grade testing will take place Saturday, March 19, 2016 and Saturday, April 2, 2016 at Webb Elementary.

Parents should expect results no earlier than June 1, 2016.


All MISD Kinder students will be tested between Monday, November 30, 2015 and Friday, December 11, 2015 (the 2 weeks following Thanksgiving Break). Parents should expect results no earlier than March 1, 2016.

Practice Activities

Practice CogAT Activities are available at

Go to the home tab - parent resources – CogAT practice

The activities are listed by grade level.

Thank you!

Thank you for your continuous support. We wouldn't be able to serve your children at this level if it weren't for your partnership.

Please let us know if there is ever anything you need or if you have any questions or ideas you are willing to share. We look forward to a great year as we work together.

Your ALPHA Team

Hayde Blando-

Heather Capps-

Frichie Collins-

Felisha Cortez-

Nikki Dressel-

Heather Elston-

Kristin Fawaz-

Maria Julianna Suarez-

Ashley Williams-

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