Alice ISD-ISC Gazette

Instructional Support Center • February 2016

Where Has the Time Gone!

It is hard to believe that February is over! So much has happened this last month. Take a look at Science Fair and History Fair winners that are advancing to state. Several teams are also advancing in DI competitions and you'll read about those next month.

In addition to the happenings, you will see some important dates and tips for the classroom. As we move into the last two six weeks, keep the focus on instruction and keep class engagement high.

We appreciate all you do!

Remediate the Error, Not the Skill

As we work with students we often go over correct answers. The real power and magic comes in going over the incorrect answers! When analyzing tests, look at the incorrect answer that most students selected. Then, work the problem trying to determine what the students did to arrive at that wrong answer.

Take this problem from a recent 3rd grade test...

On Wednesday, Mario’s Meat Market sold 115 pounds of ground beef. On Thursday they sold 150 pounds more than they had sold on Wednesday. On Friday, they sold 323 pounds. How many more pounds of ground meat did they sell on Friday than on Thursday?

A) 173

B) 208

C) 35

D) 58

The correct answer was D, but 40% across the district chose A! This tells me that students just saw three numbers and added them. That's an error I can address. By giving them similar problems and addressing those specific issues, or better yet, giving those problems to analyze and correct with one another, real instruction...and progress, can be accomplished.

Rethink how you reteach.... try focusing on the error, not just more practice on skills students are missing.

Growing Dendrites

As we prepare for upcoming testing, it is important to remember to engage students. Marcia Tate's strategies are great for that! Here are some of them:

  1. Brainstorming and Discussion
  2. Drawing and Artwork
  3. Games
  4. Graphic Organizers, Semantic Maps and Word Webs
  5. Humor
  6. Manipulatives, Experiments, Labs and Models
  7. Metaphors, Analogies and Similies
  8. Mnemonic Devices
  9. Movement
  10. Music, Rhythm, Rhyme and Rap
  11. Project-Based and Problem-Based Instruction
  12. Reciprocal Teaching and Cooperative Learning
  13. Role Plays
  14. Visualization

As you plan your instruction and intervention think about how you can implement some of these in your lessons. All campuses should have some of her books in your professional library. These were purchased last year after Dr. Tate presented here at AISD.

Alice ISD Presents at the MASBA Conference

On Friday, February 19th Superintendent Dr. Grace Everett and Parent Involvement Coordinator Marta Salazar presented at the 18th Annual Mexican American School Board Members Association Conference in San Antonio.

The presentation by Alice ISD was entitled: "Oh, The Places You'll Go! A Success Story on Parent and Community Engagement." The focus of the session was to highlight the successes that Alice ISD has experienced over the last four years in improving parental involvement. The presentation focused on three key points: Annual Parent Conference, the online curriculum and parent newsletters that are published throughout the year, and the thorough process of the HB 5 Community and Student Engagement Evaluation that is conducted annually and reported to TEA. Through district and campus initiatives Alice ISD is steadily beginning to see a positive shift in how schools, parents and community members are working cohesively to improve the education of Alice ISD students.

Research shows that Hispanic students with parents who are involved in their education are more likely to earn higher grades, have higher rates of attendance, and are less likely to drop out of school. Improving the likelihood that students will have a successful school career is not only the responsibility of teachers and school administrators, but also a shared responsibility between schools, parents, family and community stakeholders.

More about MASBA

Each year in January, MASBA designs a very unique, targeted conference which offers Texas school board members the opportunity to understand the challenges that public educators face each year and it also assists school districts as they work to promote the advancement and relevance of the Mexican-American culture in public education as it impacts our local school operations.

This year's Annual Conference and Exposition theme was: "Preparing the Future Leaders of Tomorrow, Today!" The curriculum of the conference was meant to educate, train and provide board members with the information and resources necessary to better understand, prepare and equip school districts to make a successful move into the 21st Century in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

M.A.S.B.A began over 40 years ago and their mission has always been focused on:

1. Making high quality education possible to ALL students

2. Increasing parental and community participation in public governance

3. Improving academic achievement

4. Advocating for equitable school finance

Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles

Dr. Steve Constantino is one of the nation’s most sought-after speakers and top leaders in the field of engaging families in education due to his unique success in the practical application of family engagement research. His work is well documented in magazines, periodicals, journals and in his three books devoted to the practice of family engagement. Alice ISD Federal Programs department was fortunate to attend training with Dr. Constantino on February 8th in Austin, Texas. His book Engage Every Family – Five Simple Principles was the foundation for his presentation. A brief overview of the principles are mentioned below along with the reasons why they are important in the overall scheme of connecting family engagement to learning.

In reading each principle it is evident that Alice ISD is on the right track in moving our school district and the Alice community to align with the five principles stated below. As each year passes we are building capacity for more parent/student/community engagement via the following avenues: The Annual Parental Involvement Conference, the HB 5 Student and Community Engagement Evaluation process conducted each spring, the We Believe in Alice Initiative, and the addition of new members on our Parental Advisory Committee, campus Parent-Teacher Organizations, District-wide Educational Improvement Council, and campus Side-Based Decision Making Committees.

Principle #1: A Culture That Engages Every Family

  • More often than not, desired change in an organization is often temporary, sporadic or fleeting. This happens because the change never permeates and alters the culture of the organization. Therefore, the notion of culture as the leading standard is essential for long-term success and growth.

Principle #2: Communicate Effectively and Build Relationships

  • Relationships with every family are absolutely essential in the consistent engagement of families from grade level to grade level and school to school. Relationships and trust are born out of distinct, meaningful and thoughtful systems of communication that relate a value in reaching out and connecting with every family. Communication, for purposes of this principle, also includes the important concept of welcoming environments in schools.

Principle #3: Empower Every Family

  • In simple terms, one definition of efficacy is the power of one (or some) to produce an effect. Establishing instructional and curricular processes that are inclusive of families begins to allow families to become immersed in school learning and to enhance and support learning at home.

Principle #4: Engage Every Family in Decision Making

  • Every family needs a voice in certain school decisions, and school leaders must put into place mechanisms that ensure every voice will be heard. Family engagement in decision making ensures that policies, procedures, and practices have at their core a support for engaging every family.

Principle #5: Engage the Greater Community

  • The key to effective community engagement is to first conceptualize what that engagement should look like, with a clear delineation of desired outcomes. There are rich and deep resources in most communities; however, many schools and districts struggle in leveraging those resources.

To learn more about Dr. Constantino click the links below for more information:

Coastal Bend Regional History Day State Qualifiers will Represent Alice at the Texas History Day Competition!

On Saturday, February 13th, the John E. Conner Museum hosted its annual Coastal Bend Regional History Day competition on the Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Students from Alice ISD, Aransas County ISD (Rockport-Fulton), Brooks County (Falfurrias) ISD, Kingsville ISD, Taft ISD and Texas Connections Academy Virtual/Homeschool showcased their research entries based on the National History Day theme, Exploration, Encounter and Exchange in History.

The National History Day program is devoted to encouraging the active study of history through research and the analysis of student selected topics. After selecting their topic, students gathered and analyzed their findings. Original entries were judged in the following divisions, Senior (grades 9-12) and Junior (grades 6-8), and in the following categories: documentary, exhibit, performance, interpretative website and research paper. State Qualifiers earned the opportunity to represent our area at the Texas History Day competition in Austin on April 30, 2016.

Logo: National History Day (NHD)

Big image

National History Day State Qualifiers and Alternates

Big image
Big image
Big image
Big image


Separate studies conducted during the last few decades have demonstrated both the need for and the benefits of gifted education programs. Of special interest are the documented benefits that occur for all children when gifted education strategies and programs are extended to other students, as well. Simply stated . . . Gifted education works! Please click on a link below for more information on the research-based evidence supporting the distinctive method or methods listed below.

  • Why Gifted Programs are Needed
    Gifted and talented students and those with high abilities need gifted education programs that will challenge them in regular classroom settings and enrichment and accelerated programs to enable them to make continuous progress in school. Read more about why gifted education programs are needed.
  • Acceleration
    Educational acceleration is one of the cornerstones of exemplary gifted education practices, with more research supporting this intervention than any other in the literature on gifted individuals. The practice of educational acceleration has long been used to match high-level students’ general abilities and specific talents with optimal learning opportunities. Read more about acceleration.
  • Curriculum Compacting
    This important instructional strategy condenses, modifies, or streamlines the regular curriculum to reduce repetition of previously mastered material. “Compacting” what students already know allows time for acceleration or enrichment beyond the basic curriculum for students who would otherwise be simply practicing what they already know. Read more about curriculum compacting.
  • Grouping
    The practice of grouping, or placing students with similar abilities and/or performance together for instruction, has been shown to positively impact student learning gains. Grouping gifted children together allows for more appropriate, rapid, and advanced instruction, which matches the rapidly developing skills and capabilities of gifted students. Read more about grouping.
  • Identification
    Identification is a critical component of effective gifted education programming. One size does not fit all. In addition to using assessments appropriate to the services provided, different strategies may be needed to ensure students with high potential are identified. Read more about best practices in identification. Read about including diverse populations in the identification process.
  • Pull-Out and Other Specialized Programs
    Programming options for gifted and talented students occur in a variety of ways, and research demonstrates the effectiveness of pull-out programs, specialized classes, and other special programs and schools and the curriculum these services use in raising student achievement. Read more about pull-out and specialized programs.
  • Teacher Training
    Teachers who know how gifted students learn and are well trained in gifted education strategies are critical to high-level gifted programs; however, most gifted students spend their school days in the regular classroom. Providing basic training for all teachers on recognizing and serving advanced students helps identify and more appropriately educate those students in the regular classroom. Read more about why teacher gifted training is important for all teachers.

- See more at:

Source: National Association for Gifted Children

Credit: Logo-NAGC-National Association for Gifted Children

Big image

March Planning Dates for Science

March 8, 2016- On-Site Support- 5th Memorial

March 9, 2016- 7th & 8th (WAMS)

March 10, 2016- 5th Grade (STAAR/Intervention) Success on STAAR Workshop (will take place at Memorial)

Science Vocabulary Strategies

  • Use lots of pictures and labels. The use of visual reinforcement supports comprehension and retention.
  • Teach definitional information When you read definitions with students, be sure they understand how to read pronunciation keys, parts of speech, etc.
  • Use repetition. Repeating words as much as possible helps clarify pronunciation and provides opportunities to transfer words from working memory to long-term memory.
  • Present words in multiple contexts. Expose students to vocabulary words often, and in various contexts. This gives students a model for how words are used appropriately.
  • Use direct instruction of word learning strategies, including structural analysis. In structural analysis, students examine the component parts of a word — e.g. the root word, suffix, and prefix — to determine the word’s meaning. Teaching students this strategy can empower them to decode unfamiliar words.
  • Conduct collaborative group work.
  • Build on students’ prior knowledge. An important part of this is identifying students’ misconceptions and addressing them.
  • Engage students in instructional conversations. In instructional conversations, students have discussions with other students and the teacher on topics that are relevant and have meaning to them. The goal of this student-centered technique is not to get correct answers to test questions, but instead to explore ideas.
  • Integrate technology into your instruction. It is helpful to engage students — particularly ELLs — with a variety of visual and aural alternatives. The use of technology can help to reinforce word meanings and provide students with multi-sensory connections.
  • Encourage “science talk” brainstorming. Provide students with opportunities to brainstorm ideas about science and encourage them to wonder and talk about the natural world. For example, teachers can help students learn about the process of science classification. Provide students with sets of objects with varying features like buttons or dried beans and ask students to work in small groups and discuss properties for grouping the objects. When groups share their categories with each other, students have an opportunity to experience “science talk.”
  • Limit traditional vocabulary instruction. Traditional science vocabulary instruction, in which words are taught in isolation, is not conducive to conceptual development.
  • Pair students with peers during reading.
  • Use active voice when introducing or discussing concepts. Some students understand active voice better than passive voice. “Animals use oxygen,” for example, rather than “Oxygen is used by animals.”

Regional Science Fair Results!

There were approximately 600 students who competed in this year's regional science fair and 35+ awards were awarded to K-5 students for winning projects in the scientific divisions of life and physical sciences.

Alice I.S.D. had over 40 participants, 4 of which placed in their grade level division. Our students worked very hard for this event and they are all winners! Thanks to all the Principals, Science Fair coordinators and sponsors for your help with this event.

3 of the students who placed in the 6-12 category will advance to the state level competition. This event will be held on

March 31 - April 2, 2016 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Texas Literacy Initiative

TLI update by Dina Hinojosa

In February, part of the Grant Implementation Team (GIT) attended the 2016 Leadership Summit in Austin. The GIT participated in discussions that included comparing current TLI practices and systems to the practices prior to TLI. We are confident that our current systems and leadership from the Literacy Coaches will show the upward trend at End Of Year (EOY) Data Meeting. Campus Based Literacy Teams (CBLT) will continue their communication in identifying improvement practices to sustain at each campus. These discussions will incorporate recording funding amounts necessary to carry on after TLI grant has expired. After speaking to the principals from each campus, they are certain that many, if not most, existing practices will be sustained into the next few school years. We look forward to the EOY Data Meeting on June 1, 2016.

Federal and Special Programs

Bilingual Campuses Saenz and Noonan

Alice ISD has been fortunate enough to have Bilingual/ESL Specialist Adelita Acosta Campos work with the bilingual teachers at Saenz Elementary and Noonan Elementary. Ms. Campos visits the campuses once a month to do observations and provide feedback on creating an effective environment for our English Language Learners. Teacher have been very receptive and have utilized Ms. Campos' suggestions in their classrooms. Students seem to be progressing very well as evidenced by scores on the second benchmark. Way to go Saenz Superstars and Noonan Mustangs!

ESL Supplemental Review Hosted

The Bilingual/ESL department hosted an ESL Supplemental Review for any teachers who may be interested in challenging the ESL Supplemental exam on TeXES. Participants were given great information and were even able to complete a practice test. Participants also learned some great strategies that they can use in their classroom.

Ms. Adelita Campos provided the training for teachers. The Director of Special Programs announced that if a teacher challenges the test and passes, the district will reimburse them for the cost of the exam as well as the cost of the certification. If any teachers out there are interested in challenging this exam, please contact Dr. Garcia at for more information.

Vocabulary Flash Cards

A great strategy to use with our English Language Learners are vocabulary flash cards. Students can create their own flash cards. Give them a list of any vocabulary that you as a teacher feel that students should practice. Have them write the word on one card and the definition or an illustration on another. You can have the students complete an activity where they scramble the cards and try to match them or perhaps have one side of the room do the words and the other side of the room complete the definitions or illustrations and then have students stand up and find their match. Students can keep their flash cards and use them whenever creating sentences or reviewing content area. You can also have the student punch a hole in the corner and keep them together with a ring. This is an easy way for them to carry them. There are many possibilities you can use for the flash cards and they will work with various content areas!

Teachers the TELPAS window opened on February 15th and will run until April 5th. Please remember to collect writing samples. Most teachers have calibrated and will be holistically rating students these next few weeks. Remember the key word is WRITE!!!!!

Technology Corner - Gmail Plugins

Email is a big part of communications related to our job today. The key to getting things done faster and more efficiently is not allowing yourself to get bogged down in email. So here are a couple of Gmail plugins that may help you master your Gmail experience.


Boomerang is like Gmail on steroids. It makes it easy to schedule your emails to be sent at on a specific day and/or time. You can also send follow-up reminders to yourself, archive messages and return important emails to the top of your inbox when you know you will have time to read them.


If you find yourself constantly checking your emails on vacation or when you’re trying to relax then you need AwayFind. This great free Gmail plugin monitors your email inbox for important messages and only notifies you by a SMS text message if an email is absolutely urgent. Their free account allows for the monitoring of a single Gmail account.

Previous Editions of This Newsletter

Book Shelf...

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