Austin ISD PK3 Newsletter

March 2016

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From the Director

Jacquie Porter, Director of Early Childhood

Happy March, Prek 3 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 early childhood classrooms. I felt so blessed that the prek 3 teachers in AISD recognize how important play is to child development and that play is incorporated into our everyday lessons. Thank you for making prek 3 a FUN place to learn. I really appreciate you!

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News & Information


Timeline for Prekindergarten registration and Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Orientation

* Prekindergarten applications and instructions will arrive on your campus no later than March 4, 2016

* Collated registration materials will arrive from The Office of Student Services no later than March 25, 2016.

* Online Registration opens March 31 and parents can utilize that method after April 1 for prekindergarten.

* Prekindergarten registration will begin April 4, 2016

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

* Optional Prekindergarten Orientation will be held April 5, 2016

* Kindergarten Orientation will be held on April 5, 2016

Prekindergarten Registration SY17 Update

Prekindergarten registration will take place beginning April 4, 2016, on every AISD prekindergarten campus. The yellow pre-K applications will arrive on your campus no later than March 4, 2016. The pre-K registration packet will be sent to your email March 4, 2016. You will not need lunch applications for prekindergarten students for SY17.

Pre-K teachers can be paid to register students beginning April 4, 2016. A stipend is available through the Early Childhood office for pre-K teachers who choose to assist specifically with registration and testing of potential pre-K students. Each teacher is eligible to work a total of eight hours (8 hours @ $25 = $200) to complete the identification process for eligible students and contact parents. In order to be paid, teachers must:

1. Have completed AISD 2016-2017 registration training either online or in person (March 1, 2016 at Sanchez Elementary in the library) and provide the completion certificate from HCP. This training is different from 2015-2016 training as new processes have been defined.

2. Login to Workforce on the day they are working. All time MUST be logged into Workforce. The routing ID for prekindergarten registration is 814. Comments should read "Pre-K Registration 2016-2017". All work must be logged between April 4 and April 29, 2016. Failing to login to Workforce could risk you not being paid by the next pay period for the work done.

3. HCP certificates for all who worked and the 2016-2017 registration payment spreadsheet must be turned into the Department of Early Childhood, CAC, Box 155, ATTN: Diane Smith.

The registration payment spreadsheet will be attached to the April newsletter. Please be sure the amount of work on the spreadsheet matches the number of hours allotted to each campus. Each campus has an allotment of eight hours per prekindergarten teacher for registration. If a teacher chooses not to work the eight hours, another prekindergarten teacher(s) on campus may work those hours.

LPAC for New Prekindergarten Students

An LPAC meeting for all ELL qualifying students that register in April must be held before they attend school in August.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at

or 512-414-4740.

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Upcoming Themes

Box Study

Robbie Polan, Childcare Liaison

When my children were young they were always more intrigued by the boxes that their birthday gifts came in, than the gifts themselves. Cardboard boxes open a world of opportunities and offer children a world of creativity. As teachers, using boxes to make classroom activities is inexpensive and it helps children see boxes as opportunities. Allowing children to come up with their own inventions or box creations is inspiring! A box can be a house, a car, a quiet place, a building block, a robot, etc. The list is endless.

Prepare your room for any of these possibilities! You will need connectors such as tape, string, glue, and/or zip ties. There will certainly be a need for paint, crayons, markers, fabric swatches, and/or construction paper. Make sure you have a basket of accessories such as buttons, bottle tops, plastic lids, etc. The children will let you know what other materials they need!

Researchers have found that giving boxes and other makeshift toys to children helps them be more active, as well as creative. Research scientists from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, found that simple, common objects given to children during recess minimized sedentary time by 50 percent, improved imagination, social skills, and problem-solving skills.

Simple cardboard boxes that get thrown away or recycled have so much to offer. I’ll never look at one the same way, again!

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Literacy Corner!

Duck and Goose

If you are not familiar with the Duck and Goose characters in Ted Hills fun books for children, I would love to recommend this book for you. The book has an original version, shown below and a board book that is a bit more condensed.

The book is a fun read aloud, then I love to put out a bin of plastic Easter eggs for the children to sort into categories. They love exploring in the egg bin and I love hearing about how they sort! Easy to replicate - fun to do!

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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!

Colored Waterfalls

The art/creativity center is a perfect place for children to practice and strengthen their fine motor skills. Here is an easy activity using pipettes for painting. Using pipettes strengthens the pincer grasp, important for future writing skills. In this activity, children make "waterfalls" as they squeeze the paint from the pipettes on the vertically placed paper.

Go here for more information:

Child-Led Art vs Teacher - Imposed Crafts

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Quote from 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

Box Art

As children explore boxes during the "Boxes" theme, why not use boxes in the art area and allow children to paint on them, draw on them, decorate them and even sit inside them for a whole body sensory experience!
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Gail's Gardening Gazette

A Study in GREEN!

Spring and GREEN are synonymous if you are thinking about gardening this month! To get the children ready for the trees to begin covering themselves in green leaves, the green carpet of grass to grow beneath their feet, and their garden to continue to grow healthy green plants, I thought that it would be supportive if you gave your students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the color of GREEN.

Several years ago in March, I visited Elia Simons PreK classroom carrying a big basket of GREEN objects. As I made GREEN minty play dough with small groups of children, Ms. Simons allowed the children to explore the objects. The idea was to let them pick an object and use as many words as they could to describe it. We heard words like, bumpy, smooth, big, squishy, hard, to name a few. They were so excited and so was the teacher! They also got to put their hands into a tub of green polymer spheres (found in the floral department at most craft stores).

So, if you haven't thought about it yet, consider bringing in a collection of GREEN things for your children to explore and then when you go outside, go on a GREEN hunt. They might even notice that there are many shades of GREEN. Pick up some paint chip samples and let them try to match the objects to the samples.

For monthly gardening tips, go to:

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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

Any pre-k teacher who assists with registering pre-kindergarten students must complete 1 of the following training options:

PK Registration Information: 2016-17 (Face-to-Face)

Tuesday, March 1st, 3:30-5:30pm

73 San Marcos Street

Austin, TX

Location: Sanchez Elementary Library

Register on HCP: Section #80455

*If you complete the online version, you do not need to attend the face to face training.

Pre-K Registration Information Online Version: 2016-17 Pre-K Registration Modules

Tuesday, March 1st, 12am to Friday, April 29th, 12am

This is an online event.

The online registration training is now available through HCP.

Section # 80382

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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