Alice ISD - ISC Gazette

April 2015

May is Teacher Appreciation Month

Alice I.S.D. is so appreciative of the hard work our teachers and staff do to help the students of our community be successful! We know you put yourselves on the line each day for your students. Please know that you ARE appreciated!

I Believe in Alice ISD Campus Celebrations

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Saenz Elementary Honored

I Believe in Alice ISD would like to commend the faculty and staff of Saenz Elementary for their 2013-14 STAAR performances. The students at Saenz Elementary met all their required standards as per the Texas Education Agency as well as earning FIVE Distinction Designations in the following areas:

  • Academic achievement in reading
  • Academic achievement in mathematics
  • Top 25% in Student Progress
  • Top 25% in closing performance gaps
  • Postsecondary readiness

The teachers and staff are to be commended for all their hard work and dedication in ensuring that their students reach their maximum potential. The long hours of work that go into planning for tutorials or planning campus events to promote student success do not go unnoticed. It is evident that all your endeavors are producing successful scholars. Our hats off to the entire faculty and staff at Saenz Elementary! Congratulations!

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Alice High School Core Area Departments Honored

I Believe in Alice ISD recognized the English, Science, Social Studies, and Math departments as well as the administrative team of Alice High School for their hard work and dedication to improving the educational experiences of all our high school students. These teachers and administrators go above and beyond to ensure that all Alice High School students reach their full potential.

As core subject teachers, you provide students with the fundamental knowledge and skills that enables them to be successful, whether they choose to continue their educational career in college or university, or enter the workforce. You question and probe and push them to excel, often beyond their own expectations and limits.
Your dedication to your students is obvious and very much appreciated. Thank you for all you do each and every day to help your students gain confidence and knowledge.

Best wishes as you begin your first round of End of Course assessments for the 2014-15 school year.

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Salazar Elementary Honored

The faculty and staff of Salazar Elementary were recognized for their unified efforts to improve student achievement all year either through conducting frequent grade level team meetings, holding staff development as the need arises, or hosting Saturday academies to help students reach their fullest potential.

The I Believe in Alice ISD committee praised the campus for improving fall to spring benchmark results in all three areas – Reading, Writing and Math. Also, cheers to the PK teachers who have been hard at work laying the foundation to prepare students for the upper grade levels, and thank you also to the Kinder, 1st and 2nd grade teachers for working so diligently to implement the balanced literacy framework with more fidelity.

Your students are showing improvements and we are extremely thankful for the many hours you invest in your work week to make things happen. The hours of planning and attending staff development does not go unnoticed.

Our hats off to the entire faculty and staff at Salazar Elementary! Congratulations Roadrunners!

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Fine Arts, R.O.T.C., Foreign Language, and Library Departments of AHS

The school district and the community recognize the teachers and staff of the fine arts, R.O.T.C., foreign language and library departments of Alice High School for their continuous dedication to the students of Alice ISD. Each of you has broadened the horizons beyond the academic sphere for countless students at Alice High School.

Many AISD students have pursued careers in your respective fields because of the extraordinary influence you have had on their lives. The I Believe in Alice ISD team recognizes and acknowledges the hard work and dedication of your outstanding departments.


Just a reminder to all that there will no longer be unit tests posted for Tests will have to be built item by item. So, if you go to the site looking for the unit assessments you will not find them. If you have questions, please contact Anna Holmgreen in the Curriculum Office.

South Texas Curriculum Consortium (STCC)

Alice I.S.D. is part of the South Texas Curriculum Consortium, which is comprised of 24 districts. This is the group that has laid the ground work for the Focused Instructional Guides (FIGS) and much of the High-Yield, engaging strategies we have been sharing with you. We are fortunate to receive some great training through that partnership.

Here is a preview of events for the 2015-16 school year.

  • In September there will be training on the NEW MATH TEKS for Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2 and STAAR Science Strategies for K-EOC.
  • In October the focus of the training will be "Figuring Out Figure 19 Volumes I and II" for ELAR teachers. There will also be training by the Seidlitz group on "Steps to a Language- Rich Interactive Classroom".
  • In February the training will conclude with "38 Great Academic Language Builders".

Coming THIS Summer...

This summer the STCC is brining in Kagan Cooperative Learning training. We know that many in our district have had this training in the past, but perhaps would like a refresher. There are also several new folks who could attend. There will be a session July 20-24 and another July 27-31.

Our district has a limited number of seats at these trainings, so unfortunately, not all will be able to attend. We will be sharing that info with everyone. Stay tuned for more information!

Next Year...

Next year Alice ISD will be part of the writing team! Our district has an opportunity to send four teachers to each curriculum content writing session. There will be three of those during the year (September, November and January for each of the following content areas: Math, Science, ELAR and Social Studies). We'll bring you more information as it becomes available.

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Alice ISD PK Parent Literacy Events

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TLI grant activities

The ages 0-school entry TSLP action steps L6. SBI4 and E6 specifically discuss that parents are the "1st teachers" of their children. During this event, literacy coaches model activities that parents can do at home either after-school, weekends or summer time. Each student will be allowed a book, Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems, to help practice family reading time and activities directly related to this text.

If you are a parent of a PK student, please see the dates above and come join the fun! TLI grant staff is looking for adult volunteers to read to students. The events run about 1 hour beginning at 2:00 at each respective school.

Building Conceptual Understanding in Math

by Anna Holmgreen

I recently completed reading a book called, Building Mathematical Comprehension by Laney Sammons. I think there is information in the book that explains a lot about the differences in how mathematics is being taught now.

She discusses "school mathematics" and mentions that in that context the teacher plays the role of the "fountain of wisdom". Sammons says, "Most often, especially in elementary school, students were expected to learn the procedures needed to carry out computations, but were rarely expected to understand the mathematical concepts behind the procedures. Much like struggling readers tend to focus on decoding words and lose track of meaning, too many mathematics students focused on procedures rather than on mathematical meaning." As a result of this students, "believed that they were not responsible for mathematical understanding, only for their ability to plug in numbers to the correct algorithms and calculate the answers with accuracy." Sammons says that children who could do this felt they were by 'mathematically proficient'. "This view resulted in large numbers of students who failed to retain the knowledge of mathematics that they had 'learned' and who were also unable to apply what they did know to solving problems in unfamiliar contexts."

I think this is why we have students who can cross multiply to compare fractions, but have no idea why that method works and cannot find a common denominator, which is an important skill. Sammons says there is an attitude among students and sometimes parents, "that procedural knowledge and fact fluency are evidence of mathematical proficiency. Teachers have to educate students and parents how imperative it is that students also achieve conceptual understanding and the ability to monitor their understanding."

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mCLASS MATH End of Year Assessments

K-3rd grade teachers don't forget that the end of year assessment window is May 11-May 22nd!
We are anxious to see the progress the students have made this year!
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Drum Cafe Alice ISD

Drum Cafe Inspires and Motivates Alice ISD 3rd Graders

First time STAAR testers for Alice ISD were treated to an inspiring and motivational presentation by the Drum Café. The Drum Café is not a restaurant or a specific location. It is simply a unique, hands-on, teambuilding, learning and motivating experience that ensures that everyone in the audience participates. The Drum Café was founded in 1996 in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a tool for bringing together the country’s diverse and divided post-Apartheid peoples. Music is a universal language that allows us to communicate, work together and experience a common sense of belonging. Through music, students realize that although they know nothing about drumming, they are able to learn by listening and watching a leader who motivates and inspires them to try something new.

Dale Monnin, owner of the Drum Café, talks to the students about being strong, tough-minded and determined. He encourages them to always do their best and to trust in their teachers so that they will be successful, not only in school, but in life. He also teaches them about the importance of working together. In a classroom successful learning requires communication and teamwork. As students and teachers all drum together, each one of them feels like a part of something bigger— while simultaneously gaining a better understanding his or her individual role. The most significant lesson Drum Café teaches audiences is that we all succeed — or fail — together.

Alice ISD Drum Cafe - Teachers

Robots come to life at the Geektopia Gifted & Talented Curriculum Camp!

Gifted and Talented students in grades 5 & 6 attended the ESC-2-Early Scholars' Academy Geektopia-Robotics Curriculum Camp on April 9, 2015. Mrs. Liza Estrada (Memorial) and Ms. Tasha Clark (Dubose) led the student group as they embarked in a exciting and empowering journey into robotics.

This hands-on curriculum camp encouraged students to think about how science, engineering and math all integrate into technology development.

Students learned how to build a robot and create programming commands to animate their robots. Some students created custom "motorcycle style robots", while others created "transformer" like robots. The robots were programed to move a specific way and complete various tasks. There was so much excitement as students discussed and pondered questions about force, angles, rotations, and coordinate planes as they built and designed their unique creations!

The curriculum camp encouraged and enhanced our students' curiosity into the exciting world of robotics.

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Texas Performance Standards Project

The Texas Performance Standards Project (TPSP) is a resource for providing differentiated instruction to gifted/talented (G/T) students. It can also be used for providing enhanced academic opportunities for all students. The TPSP provides a coherent package of standards, curriculum, and assessments for use in G/T programs from kindergarten through high school.

The goal of the TPSP is to provide resources for G/T teachers and students that allow students to create professional quality work in alignment with the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students.

At each grade level, the TPSP provides guidelines for independent learning experiences and research projects that teachers can adapt and use with their G/T students. The projects, or “tasks,” are based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and focus on the foundation content areas of English language arts and reading, mathematics, science, and social studies with interdisciplinary connections.

The TPSP website at provides materials for the following grade-level spans:

  • Primary Grades (K-2)
  • Intermediate Grades (3-5)
  • Middle School Grades (6-8)
  • High School/Exit Level (9-12)


A Sampling of Campus Wide Texas Performance Standards Projects-2015

Reading and Science - The need for an integrated approach

For many teachers today, literacy blocks seem to fill most of the school day, leaving little room for science. All too often, science is relegated to the last time slot of the school day, and after unforeseen circumstances arise, it is sometimes passed over altogether. Finding a way to integrate science into reading may be easier than you think, since reading and science are a lot alike.

  • Both engage students in investigation
  • Both need rich and compelling context in which to teach the content, skills, processes and strategies
  • Both emphasize intellectual processes
  • Both are designed to help students monitor their learning
  • Both are designed to help students construct understanding
  • Both help students bring together information from different sources to make judgments and draw conclusions


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Alice ISD Federal and Special Programs


TELPAS testing has come to an end as teachers came together to complete their final holistic rating. The overall consensus was that students seemed to be progressing. Once the TELPAS reports are in, the LPAC committees at each campus will start the end of year process and decide whether our ELL students will remain in the program or be exited. It is our hope that there will be an increase in the number of students exiting from the Bilingual/ESL Program.
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Technology for Bilingual/ESL Teachers

With technology growing at a rapid pace, there are many resources out there for English Language Learners and Bilingual/ESL teachers. I would like to share a few so that as you relax this summer, you may want to contemplate using some of these in your lesson plans for next year. There are many apps you can find for free at the App Store that can really help the ELL student. A few are: Learn English Vocabulary; illustrate - Video Dictionary; Abby Explorer Grammar - Levels 1-5; English for Kids - Mingoville School Edition; - Flashcards and; Duolingo. These apps are free to use. There are also quite a few that are minimally priced.

The Texas Education Agency sponsors a great website for parents, teachers and students. You can find the Texas English Language Learners Portal at: You can find links to other resource pages, classroom videos and many other resources. The following is a small list of various websites that have an abundance of resources for teachers, parents, and students:;;;;

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Migrant Students Going to Washington

Migrant students from the high school will be taking an instructional trip to Washington D.C. and New York. The Close-Up Foundation provides students a great opportunity to learn about U.S. history and government. Students interact with students from around the nation. Students develop mock foreign governments based on research they complete. They then, debate their countries strengths and weaknesses. It is a great learning experience for all.

Many of the students who are going to Washington have been involved in fundraising events to help them offset the additional costs they will incur. At this time, a garage sale has been planned for June 6, 2015 at the Jump Zone, 400 E. Main St from 8:00 - 3:00. Donations of items that can be sold will be gladly accepted. Please call Hope Grobe at 361-664-0981 in order to donate. Our students and their families will greatly appreciate it.

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