Alice ISD Gazette

March 2015

Academically Productive Talk in Mathematics Classrooms

There has been much written about mathematical discourse--getting students to talk about math. The book, Classroom Discussions in Math by Chapin, O'Connor, and Anderson explains the goal is not to increase the amount of talk in the classrooms, but to increase the amount of high-quality talk in the classroom.

This involves four steps:

  1. Helping individual students clarify and share their own thoughts
  2. Helping students orient to the thinking of others
  3. Helping students deepen their own reasoning
  4. Helping students engage with the reasoning of others

Below are some talk moves and tools to help with these steps. Don't forget "Wait Time", too! By counting silently to five you may see a few more hands start to creep up.

Texas Literacy Initiative Grant

March update

The TLI continuation grant was recently approved until August 31, 2016. Alice ISD will be awarded $1,543,597 to continue the activities we have been working with, such as:

  • Continue Support with Vaughn Gross Center for Reading and Language Arts
  • Collaborate with Education Service Centers (PK – 12 grade)
  • CBLT meetings weekly to work on TSLP coursework
  • TLI will support the revamping of the RtI model at Alice ISD
  • Continue to use the coaching model to assist teachers in improving Tier I instruction in grades PK-12
  • Continue to work with programs supported by TLI: Istation, Voyager Sopris, Reading+
  • PK-2nd grade will continue to visit the ESA three times per year
  • 32 CBLT members will attend Summer Institute - Summer 2015 (REGISTRATION NOW OPEN)
  • 5 GIT members will attend the Leadership Summit - Summer 2015

The continuation grant application also included to hire 2 additional coaches so that all schools (PK-8th) will have a literacy coach full-time. Job postings will be open soon. We are searching for experienced ELAR teachers who have bilingual or early childhood experience, if possible. Positions will be for the 2015-2016 school year and be funded completely by TLI grant funds.

Alice ISD has increased the support we will receive from VGC and have a new State Literacy Liaison. Her name is Becki Krsnak and comes to us from Arlington ISD. She is familiar with the grant, as she worked as the TLI Project Manager in Arlington before joining the VGC team. She has been a Reading Technical Assistance Specialist with UT at Austin for 8 years and has 10 1/2 years as a classroom teacher. Her studies include a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications and Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a principal and ESL certification. We are fortunate that Becki will be moving close to Alice. She will be able to help support the coaching model with all 9 coaches by providing daily support.

Helping Students Get the Most Out of Reading

Chapter 10: How All Teachers Can (and Must) Be Reading Teachers

On March 23rd our book study cohort met at the ISC to discuss chapters 10 and 11 of Doug Lemov's Teach Like a Champion. Part II of this book is dedicated to the importance of making reading more effective and rigorous in any classroom and for any purpose.

Everybody in a school must be a reading teacher. Often teachers question: "How effective is reading when I have only one student reading aloud in a class and the others do nothing?" This scenario can be a productive and effective way to produce meaningful reading IF done in a way that holds everyone accountable. Champion teachers know how to Control the Game and produce meaningful reading by reliably assessing whether students are actually reading, decoding, and reading with inflection. The following advice can help you

Control the Game:

  • Keep duration unpredictable - this ensures that other students (secondary reader) in the class don't know when a new reader will be selected to read next.
  • Keep the identity of the next reader unpredictable - moving quickly from one primary reader to another will help students focus more closely on following along.
  • Keep duration short - reading for short segments maximizes the concentration of the primary reader.
  • Reduce transaction costs - keep timing between transitions short and quick.
  • Use bridging to maintain continuity - a teacher reads a short segment of text - a bridge - between primary student readers. The benefit is that it moves the story along quickly and keeps the reading alive with the teacher's expressive reading.
  • Oral cloze - leave a word out within/ or at the end of a sentence while reading and teach kids they need to chime in with that missing word.
  • Rely on a placeholder - a quick way to prompt students to remember where the class stopped in the reading. Use phrases such as: Hold you place, and track me." "Finger freeze, heads up."

Chapter 11: Teaching Decoding, Vocabulary Development and Fluency

Decoding - teachers should strive to correct decoding errors whenever possible, no matter what subject or grade level. Errors often indicate a broader lack of skills, thus reinforcing general rules and ensuring that students practice decoding are the antidotes to fixing some of the issues. Rather than offer the typical "echo correction" where the teacher pronounces the word correctly for the student and asks for the child to repeat what they said, teachers can offer the phonics rule to help prompt the student to rethink their pronunciation. Help the students help themselves by improving their knowledge of the rules. The following are also useful tips to help with decoding words:

  • Punch the error - quickly repeating the misread word back to the student while inflecting your voice to make it a question.
  • Mark the spot - rereading the 3 or 4 words prior to the word on which the student made the error, and inflecting your voice to show that the student should continue the reading from the point where you stop.
  • Name the sound - name the sound a letter should make, and ask the student to apply it.
  • Chunk it - help student chunk difficult words by recognizing familiar patterns and words-within-words.

Students who know more words learn more words. Research suggests that a 10,000 word vocabulary gap exists between students of privilege and students from less advantaged backgrounds by the time they reach 10th grade. Champion teachers not only start good vocabulary instruction with a student friendly definition that's simple and clear, but also spend time having students practice using words widely and richly after they know the basic meaning. Strong vocabulary must be systematically and directly taught.

Teachers should invest time in teaching Tier 2 words, which are relevant to student’s lives, likely to appear again, and respond well to instruction. If there are too many tier 2 words to teach, invest in words that relate best to what you’re teaching.

Six techniques to reinforce vocabulary:

  1. Multiple takes
  2. compare, combine, contrast
  3. upgrade
  4. stress the syntax
  5. back to the roots
  6. picture this

Tips to help with fluency

  • Show some spunk - read aloud to your students regularly and model how to read words with inflection and expression.
  • Ask for some drama - identify the kind of expression your students should impart to the passage and ask them to apply it; call their attention to dialogue tags and their role as "stage directions".
  • Check the mechanics - make explicit reference to punctuation and ask students to demonstrate their understanding of it in their oral reading.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat - reread frequently to smooth our an original read that was wooden or required lots of mechanical correction.

See Champion Teachers in Action with Video Clips 22 - 25

This link will provide you access to the video clips from the book. In videos 22 - 25 you will see teachers utilizing "Control the Game" techniques as well as promoting effective instruction to improve students' fluency and vocabulary knowledge.

Teach Like a Champion Book Study - Final Meeting

Monday, May 11th, 4:30pm

2 Coyote Trail

Alice, TX

Chapters 9 & 12 will be covered. Please bring your books with you.

STCC Training for 2015-16

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!

Alice High School Decathlon Students Take Home Top Honors at the Texas Academic Decathlon Regional Event

Alice ISD students have a lot to be proud of, after their academic decathlon team took top honors at a state competition in San Antonio on April 25, 2015. In a record setting year the Alice High School Academic Decathlon team earned its highest team score at the state meet, finishing 2nd place overall in the Medium School Division (5A) and 1st in the Super Quiz event, Medium School Division (5A).

The United States Academic Decathlon (USAD) is a program that provides high school students an opportunity to experience the challenges of rigorous academic competition through participation in team activities. In addition, the Academic Decathlon involves members of the business/industry as active supporters of a program promoting academic excellence. Long term relationships, developed through joint participation, benefit the students and the community.

Region and state contests are held for schools categorized as large, medium and small. Based on a point system, the highest scoring team represents the state at the national USAD competition. All members of the winning team receive scholarships. The Academic Decathlon is designed to include students of three academic levels. Each nine-member team consists of three "A" students, three "B" students and three "C" students, perhaps never before motivated, perform the best. The Academic Decathlon is the only competition to award "C" students scholarships!

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Front Row: Marcos Ruiz, Lainy Eberhard, Guadalupe Ceja, David Barrett Middle Row: Coach Dr. Joseph Eberhard, Dustin Money, Jeromy Garza Back Row: Jose Perez, Charles Lemon, Gus Gonzalez

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DI Regional Champions! Celebrating Creativity.

Impressive Scores send four Alice ISD Destination Imagination Teams to represent the South Coastal Bend Region at the 2015 Affiliate Tournament on April 10-11 in Dallas, TX at Skyline High School

Destination Imagination (DI) is a volunteer-led nonprofit organization whose purpose is to inspire and equip students to become the next generation of innovators and leaders.

Annually, seven new standards-based Challenges in STEM, Improv, Visual Arts, Service Learning and Early Learning are offered. Each Challenge is open-ended and enables students to learn and experience the creative process from imagination to innovation.

This year four Alice ISD teams will be representing the South Coastal Bend Region at the 2015 State Affiliate Tournament in Dallas Texas on April 10-11. Students who qualified presented their "Challenge" to the judges at the Regional DI Tournament on February 28, 2015 at King High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. Four Alice ISD were crowned Regional South Coastal Bend Champions, taking home 1st place honors for the Challenge and grade level they competed in.

DI Regional Champions include:

Memorial Intermediate, The Destination Beauty Baes:

Challenge: Technical-Level Elementary Level-5th grade

Coach: Enedina Salinas

Heather Gonzalez

Jayla Garcia

Daniella Sepulveda

Betsy Rios

Bryanna Contreras

Maisie Garcia

Memorial Intermediate, The Imagination Ballers

Challenge: Technical-Middle Level-6th grade

Coach, Enedina Salinas

Juan Jimenez

Nayeli Garcia

Jordan Perez

Madison Perez

Jerrilynn Carmona

DIstroyers, Alice High School

Challenge: Improvisational-Secondary Level

Coach, Dr. Pena

Brittney Garcia

Gabriela Ceja

Christiana VIllegas

Francesca Rodriguez

Andres Gonzales

Nicole Frisco

DInamics, William Adams

Challenge: Structural-Secondary Level

Coach, Dr. Pena & Mrs. Y. Pena

Rosa Lillich

Madison Timmons

Miranda Gonzalez

Adam Perez

Jesaiah Torres

Amanda Garcia

Dalyla Reyes

At the events, our students have fun and gain confidence in their ability to solve Challenges. In working to solve Challenges, teams learn 21st century skills (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, citizenship and courage), step outside of their comfort zones to pursue ideas and make presentations, and build on their unique strengths.

Alice ISD students learn and experience the creative process from imagination to innovation, which fosters their curiosity, courage and creativity. Students in our program learn higher order thinking and improve in creative and critical thinking while learning to work together as a team.

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Math Rollouts

Math Rollouts for the last six weeks will be held on the following dates:

2nd Grade - April 8

Kindergarten - April 9

1st Grade - April 10

6th/5th Grade - April 23rd

4th Grade - April 24

3rd Grade - April 30th

Bilingual/ESL Education

The Bilingual/ESL department has been very busy this month. Teachers who have Bilingual/ESL students including denials in their classes have been gearing up to complete holistic rating for the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS). Teachers have calibrated through the Pearson Training Center and will be completing all rating the first week of April.

Students in the Bilingual/ESL program have been writing on various topics all year in order to be ready for this important assessment. During March, students will be taking the online reading portion of the TELPAS assessment. Bilingual/ESL students have been working very hard to show progress in their academic areas.

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Bilingual/ESL Strategies

Seven Steps to a Language Rich Interactive Classroom

  1. Teach students what to say when they don't know what to say.
  2. Have students speak in complete sentences.
  3. Randomize and rotate when calling on students.
  4. Use total response signals ("thumbs up/down, yes/no cards, etc.).
  5. Use visuals and vocabulary strategies that support your objectives.
  6. Have students participate in structured conversations
  7. Having students participate in structured reading and writing activities

According to John Seidlitz, practicing these seven steps will help your English Language Learners be more productive students in your classroom.

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7th Grade Students Participate in State Science Fair

7th grade students Mya Cruz and Jesaiah Torres participated in the ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair held March 21-23 in San Antonio. The three-day state science and engineering fair drew the brightest and best students of all backgrounds from 12 regions across the state of Texas, providing a setting to showcase their research projects in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Congratulations go out to both student participants and special thanks go to all of the campus staff and teachers who have supported and encouraged these two and their success.

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Biology and Science STAAR Testing and Review

The 5th & 8th grade STAAR Science assessment and Biology EOC is nearing! Students should be wrapping up the last Units and beginning their review. Please keep in mind the importance of high yield strategies and vocabulary for review. With only a few week left, students can still make strides with these strategies. Good Luck to all students and teachers!

Alice ISD is Moving to Google

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Google Leadership Symposium

Written by: Rachel Medrano, Coordinator of Instructional Technology

On March 26th, Mission CISD hosted the South Texas Google Leadership Symposium for surrounding school districts. Velma SolizGarcia, Anna Holmgreen, and myself attended the symposium to learn what other school districts are doing with Google and what practices can be brought back to our district.

We were also able to learn about Google's Vision for education. Below are two YouTube videos which talk about Google's vision and how a student decided to tackle the task of detecting breast cancer.

The first video is called Moonshot Thinking. Sometimes we have to think/dream about how to tackle a task without any barriers then start to think about how we can realistically solve the problem or complete the task. "Instead of a mere 10% gain, a moonshot aims for a 10x improvement over what currently exists. The combination of a huge problem, a radical solution to that problem, and the breakthrough technology that just might make that solution possible, is the essence of a moonshot," Google.

The second video is about the 2013 Google Science Fair winner. The 2013 winner found a more effective way to detect breast cancer by using computer programming. The video is truly inspirational.

Moonshot Thinking
Google Science Fair: A More Effective Way to Detect Breast Cancer

Classroom Visits at Symposium

Each one of us went to visit a different campus within Mission CISD to see how they integrate technology into the classroom. I chose to visit one of their junior high campuses, Kenneth E. White Jr. High. The group I toured with was able to ask questions of both the students and teachers to learn more about what was happening in the class. Below are three classes I visited and a description of what the students were doing with the Chromebooks and various aspects of Google. In each classroom that was visited, every student was very engaged with their assignment.

Anna Holmgreen visited one of the elementary campuses and she was able to see Prekinder students using the Chromebook to complete activities while Velma SolizGarcia visited one of the high schools. Mrs. SolizGarcia told me one of the history classes has gone completely paperless where there wasn't even much around the classroom because everything was on the student's Google accounts.

Upcoming Google Trainings

We are very excited about the move to Google because of everything Google has to offer the education sector. All staff members will have access to district G-Mail, Drive, Google Vault, Classroom, and Sites starting in August 2015.

We are bringing in Google Certified Trainers to help train various staff members over the next couple of months. Additionally, we are sending some of the technology team to attend trainings to help get Google certifications.

May 16th: Texas Google Summit

Velma SolizGarcia and Rachel Medrano, along with members of the Dubose staff will be attending this one day Google Summit. Attendees will be able to choose which sessions they want to attend to discover what Google can do for their campus and individual classrooms.

June 1st - 3rd: Google Apps Technical Retreat

Rachel Medrano and Ruben Sandoval will be attending this training to learn best practices, device deployment, migration strategies, and current issues.

June 1st - 3rd: Google Apps Certified Trainer Bootcamp

Velma SolizGarcia will be attending this training to start the process of becoming a Google Education Trainer.

June 8th - 10th: Google Apps Certified Trainer Bootcamp

Rachel Medrano will be attending this training to start the process of becoming a Google Education Trainer.

June 15th - 16th: System Administrator Training

The AISD Technology department will be working with a Google Certified Administrator to ensure the transition is smooth and we are ready for August.

June 18th - 19th: Train the Trainer Module for Google Apps for Education

AISD Directors, Principals, and Campus Technology Liaisons will be part of this training.

August will bring a lot of additional training for AISD employees. Trainings will continue to take place throughout the year to show how Google can be integrated into the classroom and all the amazing tools Google has to offer its users.

Are you ready to be Googlicious?

Alice I.S.D. Instructional Support Center

Departments and Contributors

Dr. Grace Everett - Superintendent of Schools

Curriculum and Instruction Department

Velma Soliz-Garcia, Assistant Superintendent (Curriculum & Instruction, Career and Technical Education, Technology, District Coordinator of School Improvement, and GearUp)

Marta Salazar - Director of Instructional Services (ELA, Dyslexia, Parent Involvement)

Elida DeLeon - Director of Advanced Academics (GT/AP, Social Studies, Discipline Hearing Officer)

Anna Holmgreen - Director of Instructional Services (Math and Data Analysis)

Erika Vasquez - Director of Instructional Services (Science and RtI)

Dina Hinojosa - Texas Literacy Initiative - Literacy Shepherd

Technology Department

Velma Soliz-Garcia, Assistant Superintendent

Rachel Martin, Instructional Technology Coordinator

Special Education & 504 Department

Gracie Garcia, Director of Special Education & 504

Federal & Special Programs

Dr. Alma Garcia - Federal Grants, State Grants, Bilingual/ESL Programs, Migrant and Homeless Liaison

Career and Technical Education Department

Velma Soliz-Garcia, Assistant Superintendent (Curriculum & Instruction, Career and Technical Education, Technology, District Coordinator of School Improvement, and GearUp)

Mike Carper, Alice High School Assistant Principal & CTE Campus Administrator

Celina Garcia, Alice High School CTE Department Chair

Finance Department & Human Resources Department

Dr. Melonae Day, Assistant Superintendent Finance and HR

Student Nutritional Services

Krystle Flores, Director of Nutritional Services

Student Health Services

Lisa Lozano, District RN