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Pre-K | 2020
Publisher: Kaplan Early Learning
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Social & Emotional
Language & Development
Emergent Literacy Reading
Emergent Literacy Writing
Section 2. Integration of Content and Skills
Section 3. Health and Wellness Associated Domains
Section 4. Language and Communication Domain
Section 5. Emergent Literacy: Reading Domain
Section 6. Emergent Literacy: Writing Domain
Section 7. Mathematics Domain
Section 8. Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, and Technology Domains
Section 9. Progress Monitoring
Section 10. Supports for All Learners
Section 11. Implementation
Section 12. Additional Information: Technology, Cost, Professional Learning, and Additional Language Supports
|Grade||Student TPG %||Teacher TPG %|
The materials include full lessons that are cross-curricular and integrated in authentic ways to support students’ unified experience throughout the day. Throughout the units, the materials name which domains are purposefully developed or reinforced in each learning activity.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Teacher’s Handbook,” under the section titled “The Value of an Interdisciplinary Curriculum,” the materials provide information about how multiple domains are integrated throughout all lessons. This section outlines how thinking processes such as communicating and representing, cooperating, observation, and using tools strategically are utilized as approaches to teach domain-specific content across different lessons in a consistent way. The Teacher’s Handbook describes the “Conceptual Framework” of the curriculum. This outlines information, including the chart identifying the focus of instruction for each unit with the theme and activity. A table aligns the thinking process included in each unit, including descriptions. A section describes each learning domain (e.g., “Learning through Math”) in detail, providing information about how learning occurs developmentally throughout the curriculum and how content builds on each lesson. The materials name which domains are purposefully developed or reinforced in each learning activity. The online portal contains the “Correlations” section as a menu option at the top of the page. This link provides explicit connections to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines for each lesson or activity throughout the curriculum.
In Unit 1, the materials provide lessons that integrate across domains. For example, the lessons integrate “Social and Emotional Development,” “Language and Communication,” and “Emerging Literacy.” The read-aloud Otto Goes to School relates to the students’ experience about the first day of school and discusses their excitement or anxiety. This relates to self-awareness and the feelings of others in social and emotional development. It addresses language and communication: Students demonstrate an understanding of language and respond appropriately by showing thumbs-up or thumbs-down when asked if they like the book, if they like apples, and if they like other things. The lesson also incorporates emerging literacy writing by modeling writing. The teacher uses chart paper to list the things Otto learns in school and relates it to the students’ experience. These activities are cross-curricular and integrated in authentic ways to support students’ unified experiences throughout the day.
In Unit 4, the small group lesson “Sorting and Resorting Our Collections” integrates math with literacy and writing. The small group is an extension of a whole group activity that introduced the concept of collections with buttons; students sorted different types. In the small group lesson, the teacher asks the students to think of some attributes that some buttons might have, and some might not, such as a specific color. As the students name colors, the teacher asks them to help write each color they suggest on a sticky note. The teacher stretches the word (e.g., “grrrreeeeeeennnn”) to help students hear the sounds as they write. Depending on the length of the word, the teacher uses the “C4L” scaffolded writing technique. After all the attributes are written down, the students and the teacher read all the sticky notes together. The “Fast Focus” lesson lists the following Prekindergarten Guidelines at the beginning of the lesson “The Letter Jj,”: “II.C.3.c. Child demonstrates growing understanding of the sounds of language. III.B.7.a. Child can produce a word that begins with the same sound as a given pair of words.” The teacher uses Lily Letter to teach the letter Jj, and students name different words that start with the /j/ sound. The students engage in total physical response by air-writing the letter. These activities are cross-curricular and integrated in authentic ways to support students; the materials name which domains are developed and reinforced in each learning activity.
In Unit 6’s “Connect” section, the lesson “Choose a Favorite Science Book” is about a common theme to support students’ abilities to build background knowledge of all they have learned throughout the year; students make connections and explore new concepts such as creating a new type of graph. The lesson focuses on making graphs using science books that have been read throughout the school year. The teacher emphasizes the fact that they have learned so much and are ready for kindergarten, thanks to all the things they have learned with science. The students vote on four books, and the teacher uses those results to create a graph as a group. The graph is used as a reference the following week for the science read-alouds that the class will be reading. The material lists the Prekindergarten Guidelines at the beginning of the lesson “High-Low Card Game”: “V.B.1.b. Child creates pictorial models for adding up to 5 objects.” The teacher provides dot cards that range from one to ten and separates the students into pairs. The students play with each other by flipping one card from each of their piles and adding them up. Then, they compare their numbers with their partner. The one with the highest number wins that round and gets their partner’s card; whoever has the most cards at the end of the game wins. Students create pictorial models adding up to five, which connects to the guideline. The materials name which domains are purposefully developed or reinforced in each learning activity; they are cross-curricular in an authentic way to support students.
The materials utilize high-quality texts as a core component of content and skill integration. They are strategically chosen to support content and skill development in multiple domains.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the text Otto Goes to School (fiction, descriptive) extends learning in other areas. This book describes Otto’s experiences and feelings about the first day of school. This text is foundational to learning that is applicable in the social and emotional skill development; content extends to art, as students create self-portraits to continue learning about self-awareness in the “Art” center activity. The texts are strategically chosen to support content and skill development in multiple domains.
In Unit 2, the text Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino is a fictional text in which a llama is searching for its mother. This text serves as a foundation to support content and skill development in multiple domains. Before reading, the teacher introduces the text by pointing to the front cover, reading the title, and explaining that the animal on the cover is a llama. The teacher tells the students that the book is filled with rhyming words, instructs the students to listen for rhyming words, and says that the rhyming words can help them make guesses about words in the book. The teacher engages the students in interactive writing; students help create a rhyming book to be displayed in the “Book Nook.” The teacher places a recording of Is Your Mama a Llama? in the “Listening Center.”
In Unit 4, the material provides the text Dinosaur Armor by Susan H. Gray; it is relevant to the unit project about dinosaurs. The text is an illustrated science nonfiction book that focuses on the different types of armor that dinosaurs had and their importance. It gives information on different dinosaurs and how they used their particular armor. The material uses the text in more than one lesson, including in a whole group lesson, in small group lessons, and in the Art Center. It is used to teach literacy skills, such as print awareness, and science skills, such as properties of materials. The text supports the theme and extends the learning in more than one curricular area. The texts are strategically chosen to support content and skill development in multiple domains.
In Unit 5, the text The Ugly Vegetables provides a foundation for integrating skills across content. Growing Vegetable Soup is an age-appropriate book that describes gardening. This read-aloud reinforces emergent literacy; lessons include information about learning sequencing, the life cycle, and the ways humans use common objects. Later in the unit, students grow beans and radishes in class. In this same unit, Munching and Crunching the ABCs is an informational text that features vibrant photos of vegetables and fruits arranged alphabetically and featured with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. The teacher explains that he/she is going to read an alphabet informational book that will teach the class about types of fruits and vegetables. The teacher reminds the students that information books are different from stories because they teach us something about our world and because we don’t have to read them from cover to cover. We can read the parts we want to. The teacher links the book to other alphabet books that have been shared with the class and tells the students that the book is organized like the alphabet. The teacher places this text in the Art center, and students make their own alphabet book pages filled with fruits and vegetables that begin with letters of their name or the alphabet. This book is used to teach science; it provides a list of healthy foods that the teacher uses to make connections to the fruit and vegetables that students like to eat. The text also reinforces letter recognition skills since the fruits and vegetables are arranged in alphabetical order on corresponding letter pages; teachers also teach concepts of print by using the index to find which fruit or vegetable the students want to read about. The texts are strategically chosen to support content and skill development in multiple domains.
In Unit 6, the text Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis is a nonfiction story about a boy who is nervous about going to kindergarten, but his sister gives him advice and calms him down. The book goes over scenarios and solutions to do with going to kindergarten. The teacher reads the book during the whole group and small group lessons. The book is used to teach literacy skills. For example, students complete the sentence stems “In kindergarten, I want to...” and “I’m excited to... in kindergarten.” The book also teaches social and emotional skills; students identify emotions like being scared, excited, or nervous. The text supports the theme and extends the learning in more than one curricular area. The texts are strategically chosen to support content and skill development in multiple domains.
The materials include full lessons and support developmentally appropriate practice across all content domains. Throughout the units, the materials include a variety of opportunities for purposeful play that promotes student choice. They provide guidance to teachers on how to connect all domains to play. They provide guidance to teachers on how to set up and facilitate activities to meet, reinforce, or practice learning objects. Materials have an intentional balance of direct (explicit) instruction and student choice in purposefully planned learning centers.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, the “Teacher's Handbook” provides general guidance for organizing materials and routine activities to promote learning across all units. The Handbook offers the teacher a daily schedule that includes “Outdoor Exploration.” This is a time during the day that is separate from set-apart learning areas; students have opportunities to engage in free play while exploring outside. In the Teacher Handbook, materials emphasize the importance of play in the section “The Value of Play and Developmentally Appropriate Practices.” In this section, they provide the rationale, the importance, the benefits of play integrated with content teaching. The material states: “High-quality instruction in math and high-quality child-directed play needn’t compete for time in your classroom: doing both enriches each of them.” The materials provide guidance to teachers on how to connect all domains to play. The Handbook provides the teacher guidance on how to implement each lesson, including specifying whether it is whole group or small group. The material also guides the teacher on the best times to do certain lessons in the school day. For example, the material states: “It’s typical to have the Welcome and Read-Aloud shortly after all the children have arrived. Likewise, it may be best to facilitate Small Group learning during center time.” The materials provide guidance to teachers on setting up and facilitating activities to meet, reinforce, or practice learning objectives and provide opportunities for students to engage in choice and free play during arrival, learning centers, outdoor exploration, and free choice centers.
In Unit 2, during the read-aloud of Big Trees, students explore the environment and its different features. Following the read-aloud, during a small group activity, students identify shapes in their environment. The shape-match game encourages students to match congruent shapes; teachers place a shape collection in the “Games and Puzzles” center to reinforce learning. Students manipulate and feel different contours of shapes and then name and match them. Students play a shape-hunt game, where they hide shapes for other students to find. The “Big Trees” activity in the “Dramatic Play” center has students recreate the book, using props for the tree to simulate the setting. Students act out their favorite animals and sounds. The teacher makes visuals, such as necklaces, to identify the roles the students play. The material provides play opportunities in learning centers such as in the Dramatic Play, “Construction,” “Exploration,” and “Science” centers. These centers broaden and deepen students’ knowledge through play. The learning centers also have designated time where students have a choice in what center they would like to work in. These activities support developmentally appropriate practice across all content domains. The activities in this unit provide a variety of opportunities for students to engage in play.
In Unit 4, the materials facilitate the use of playful activities. The Dinosaur Exploration read-aloud promotes learning about dinosaurs during small groups; students act like the dinosaur. Later in the lesson, the students play a game and pretend to be dinosaurs as they hunt for food outside. The teacher incorporates dinosaur dances and songs throughout the day as a way to reinforce the content and provide a variety of opportunities for students to engage in play. The materials provide activities in learning centers that integrate different domains in different centers to engage in play. These centers include a “Library” that integrates reading, a “Math” center that integrates math, and a Dramatic Play center that integrates language development. Other centers include “Science Exploration,” which integrates science, a “Writing center,” which integrates print awareness and writing expression, and the “ABC” center, which integrates letter knowledge.
In Unit 6, the materials use play to reinforce counting readiness using nonverbal and verbal means. “Shape Counting Jump” is a short, 5- to 10-minute lesson embedded during the day to reinforce the lesson on counting and shapes; it includes gross motor movement to promote engagement. The Shape Counting Jump game provides students a playful and active approach to counting; students are viewing a shape, naming the attributes of shapes (number of sides), and then jumping based on the number of sides on that shape. These activities provide a variety of opportunities for students to engage in play. The materials provide guidance that helps the teacher prepare for the lesson. For example, Shape Counting Jump includes a section titled “Ahead of Time.” This box indicates what items to bring to prepare for the lesson: large versions of a rhombus and trapezoid and a shape mat.
The materials do fit within a developmentally appropriate programmatic structure, but they do not specify whether they are for three- or four-year-old children. The materials do provide differentiated use recommendations for half-day and full-day prekindergarten programs. Throughout the units, the materials include full lessons and a variety of options that clearly differentiate instruction for the level of development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Teacher Handbook,” the material indicates that the research and curriculum are based on effective practices for a pre-K classroom. The materials do provide general approaches for differentiation based on a developmental sequence of skills targeted for four-year-olds. In the teacher handbook, the materials provide two different schedule suggestions: One schedule is for a half-day program, and the other schedule is for a full-day program. Both schedules have the same whole group sections; they are different in some of the daily activities. The half-day sample schedule shown in the Teacher's Handbook (p. 32) does not include lunch or nap/rest; small group time is cut down to 45 minutes (from 60 minutes in the full-day schedule); indoor or outdoor free play is reduced from 90 minutes to 50 minutes. The materials provide differentiated use recommendations for half-day and full-day pre-K programs. The Teacher Handbook states that the curriculum uses learning trajectories to help teachers understand what pre-K students know and do not know and to help students build on their existing strengths. The curriculum is designed to support students’ cognitive development within each domain and topic. The lessons and activities offered are developmentally appropriate and effective and include a variety of options that clearly differentiate instruction for the level of development.
In Unit 2, the small group lesson “Squirrels” offers embedded scaffolded suggestions. The teacher starts the lesson by inquiring about students’ prior knowledge with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down survey. The students then engage in a “Think, Pair, Share” with a partner about their knowledge and prior experiences with squirrels. The teacher does a checkpoint to quickly assess if the students are responding appropriately. Materials then give scaffolded suggestions for students who need more support and for students who need more challenge at the end of the lesson. The materials include a variety of options that clearly differentiate instruction for students’ level of development.
In Unit 3, the materials address skills appropriate for four-year-olds. For example, in the “Connect” activity, “Is My Arm Longer?” students explore size and measurement by comparing the length of their arm with the length of other items in their classrooms. The teacher provides them with a piece of yarn to use as a measuring device. For support, the teacher verbally models, saying, “I think this book will be shorter than my arm….” This physical science skill is associated with exploring properties and attributes of different items, including using simple measuring devices to learn about objects, as identified in the Prekindergarten Guidelines. Another lesson addresses geometry and spatial sense skills for four-year-olds. For example, in the small group activity “Making Triangles,” the teacher provides students with various art materials and invites them to make triangles and other shapes. The teacher supports the students by repeating sequential terms or pairing students to help scaffold support. Creating shapes is an outcome identified for four-year-olds. These activities clearly differentiate instruction based on the level of development.
In Unit 6, the materials include activities appropriate for four-year-olds. For example, in the Connect activity, “Choose a Favorite Science Book,” the students have an opportunity to vote on the books that they like the most and would like to read again. The teacher makes a graph to represent the data and then compares the numbers and counts the blocks on the graphs to discuss data. Engaging the students in voting activities to make a group decision is a citizenship skill identified in the Prekindergarten Guidelines within the “Social Studies” domain. In the small group activity “Pattern-Block Picture Puzzles,” the students solve pattern-block puzzles. To differentiate, the teacher provides easier puzzles or tracing for support and scaffolds support by providing suggestions. This geometric and spatial sense skill activity demonstrates differentiated instruction based on the level of development.
The materials include detailed guidance that supports the teacher’s delivery of instruction. Throughout the units, the materials provide teachers with explicit instructional strategies for teaching prekindergarten skills, detailed and explicit guidance for teacher and students actions that support student development and proficiency of content and skills, and detailed guidance for connecting students’ prior content knowledge and experiences to new learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the materials, materials provide guidance for a variety of instructional strategies that meet the needs of pre-K students, including whole group, small group, and individual instruction. The materials provide the teacher with guidance and strategies in the “Teacher Handbook,” such as scaffolded writing techniques to support learners in writing. The unit guides give detailed steps for each lesson for the teacher to implement. The material provides the teacher with checkpoints and assessments throughout the lessons that assess the students’ outcome and skill retention. Depending on student outcome, the material provides the teacher with suggested activities for more support or more challenging activities.
In the Unit 2 whole group lesson on Big Trees, the teacher introduces the book to students by making connections to their prior knowledge; the teacher begins with a familiar environment and then builds on the knowledge of this environment to learn about a new, unfamiliar environment. The teacher has the student make connections about ways people, animals, and plants are connected to each other and to the earth. The lesson is part of a unit on the environment, which is interesting and engaging for children. The teacher asks the following questions: “Do you remember the plants we read about in the city walk book?” “How are the plants connected to the earth’s features?” “What do plants need?” The teacher sets a purpose for reading by asking the students to pay close attention to the seasonal changes to learn ways that animals and people use and enjoy the trees in the book. While reading, the teacher provides quick explanations of unfamiliar words such as mulch. After reading, the teacher goes back through the book and asks specific questions about the ways that animals use the tree (some build nests, some build webs, ants find food on the tree trunk), ways that animals depend on each other (birds eat worms and grubs, spiders eat insects), ways that animals use earth materials (worms and grubs live in soil, ants live in soil), and ways that people use the tree (as a shady spot to read). The variety of instructional strategies in this whole group lesson meets the needs of pre-K students. The materials give detailed and explicit guidance that explains students’ development of skills and gives examples of students’ behavior as teacher look-fors. During the whole group lesson read-aloud of Big Trees, the teacher takes note of whether students can describe relationships between and among components of the environment. Instead of just saying bird or worm, do the students say that the bird is eating the worm? Instead of ants and soil, do students describe that the ants use the soil as their home? The teacher expands students’ simple statements to include more descriptions of the ways that items are interdependent and connected; the teacher uses observations throughout the day and week to support student development and proficiency of content and skills.
In Unit 3, for the read-aloud How Will We Get to The Beach? the teacher activates the students’ prior knowledge by asking different types of open-ended questions. For example, the teacher asks, “Name some things that you would take with you to the beach.” “What kind of problems does the girl have and then how does she solve the problems in the end?” As the teacher reads the story, the students learn about suitable things to take to the beach, allowing them to connect prior content knowledge and experiences to new learning. The materials provide guidance to teachers that students do not have to have all the right answers, which supports student development and proficiency of content and skills. The teacher guides them back to the book to check the answers together and incorporates the strategy of rereading the book and encouraging the students to retell it. These are explicit instructional strategies for teaching pre-K skills.
In Unit 5, in the small group lesson “Garden Party Invitations,” the teacher activates the students’ prior knowledge by asking them about other invitations they have created in past unit projects, such as for the coral-reef scavenger hunt and the museum. The students then create an invitation for their garden party as a group with the teacher. This activity connects students’ prior content knowledge and experiences to new learning. The students learn the different components of creating an invitation. With the teacher’s direct and explicit instruction, using the “Connect 4 Learning” scaffolded writing technique included in the teacher handbook, the teacher and students write an invitation as a group. In the small group lesson, the materials provide different strategies for the teacher to support student development using the scaffolded writing technique. The teacher stretches the word to help students hear the sound of the word that they need to write. At a checkpoint, the teacher observes if the students are engaging in the activity by using oral language and writing letters as they hear the teacher write and speak; the teacher takes notes on the literacy formative assessment. This activity allows the teacher to support the students’ development and proficiency of content and skill. The teacher places an extension of this activity in the “Writing” center for students to make their own invitations.
The materials are supported by child development research on children’s development within and across all domains. Throughout, the materials include clear descriptions of how the curriculum is supported by child development research. Guidance for instruction is research-based and enriches the educators’ understanding of early childhood development. Cited research is current, academic, and relevant to early childhood. A bibliography is present.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials cite research to support their approach to structured lessons and the opportunities they provide for children to learn and play with the worlds of math, science, and literacy. The research cited shows that in free play, children naturally engage in math; play supports literacy and social and emotional development in a variety of ways; math and literacy instruction increase the quality of young children’s play; and play environments provide the opportunity for children to interact with other children and learn language and social skills. The materials use an interdisciplinary approach to address growing concerns that the majority of preschool instructional time is devoted to literacy, at the expense of other content areas, particularly math and science. The math curriculum is based on research and practices developed in the “Building Blocks” project, the development of which is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and by the Institute of Educational Studies (IES). The goal of these developers is to enable young students to build a solid foundation for math. The curriculum's approach to science is based on learning research that shows that students actively construct their own knowledge. The teacher facilitates this process by helping the students connect the to-be-learned information to what came before. The curriculum addresses a range of literacy and language skills in developmentally appropriate ways. Three principles are crucial to implementing the curriculum: 1) Literacy should be developed throughout the day and in all domains. 2) Students need to develop many different literacy skills. 3) Research should guide ECE literacy practices. The curriculum for the Social and Emotional Development domain is based on research and practice described in the “Pyramid Model for Promotion of Social Emotional Competence.” The Pyramid Model provides a framework of practices to promote students’ social and emotional competence and to address prekindergarten students’ challenging behaviors. The materials provide research-based guidance for instruction that enriches educator understanding of early childhood development and the validity of the recommended approach. The research base is found exclusively in the “Teacher’s Handbook.”
The Teacher’s Handbook provides research-based guidance for instruction that enriches educator understanding of early childhood development and the validity of the recommended approach. The lessons within the curriculum are based upon the research provided in the Handbook. The materials provide unique research-based strategies for teaching and learning within an interdisciplinary approach, which includes awareness of tools and how they are used (math manipulatives, tools and surfaces for writing and drawing, and materials for science), responsive teaching (strategies are informed and adjusted in response to children’s knowledge, skills, and interests), interactive learning cycle (teachers provide experiences, reflections, explicit explanations, guided practices, independent practices, and syntheses), and project-based learning (children work toward a large goal in each unit, such as creating a classroom museum). The materials provide research-based best practices designed to respect the strengths and support the needs of young dual language learners. A “Language-Rich Environment” includes all forms of language: spoken, heard, read, and written. In the Teacher’s Handbook, the curriculum encourages the use of literacy throughout the day, including during science and math. The teacher points out letters in science books when reading aloud, such as s for squirrel. The teacher introduces print materials into the “Dramatic Play” center. Literacy focuses not only on the alphabet and alphabet sounds but on concepts of print, phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, comprehension, vocabulary, writing, and general knowledge.
The Teacher’s Handbook cites research throughout all sections, provides a rationale for the organization of the curriculum and the approaches being implemented, and contains a reference page for all citations. The materials cite reputable sources relevant to early childhood development, Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, Child Development, and Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. The majority of the sources are from the past 20 years; 35 are from within the past ten years, and seventeen of those are from within the past five years. Research on the math curriculum was published in the Early Childhood Research Quarterly in 2016. The title of this research is “Learning Executive Function and Early Mathematics: Directions of Causal Relations.” Research cited for social and emotional development was published by Young Children in 2003. The title of this research is “The Teaching Pyramid: A Model for Supporting Socio-Emotional Competence and Preventing Challenging Behavior in Young Children.” A research article cited for science and math is published by the National Institute of Early Education Research in 2008. The title of this research is “Early Maths and Science in Preschool: Policies and Practices.” Research on reading is presented in a paper at the American Educational. The title of the research is “Balance of Content Emphasis and Child Content Engagement in an Early Reading First Program.” The cited research is current, academic, relevant to early childhood development, and applicable to Texas-specific context and demographics. The materials contain a bibliography that cites research presented throughout the materials.
The materials reviewed do provide an implementation of lessons on self-concept skills, self-regulation skills, relationships with others, and social awareness. The materials provide consistent guidance for teachers on directly teaching social skills, extending the development of understanding, and responding to emotions.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout, the materials provide guidance on introducing social skills, which are taught following a logical sequence of development. The materials include text and activities that provide concrete experience with the development of different social and emotional competencies. These resources include books, chants, songs, whole group games, dances, scavenger hunts, and graphic organizers. The C4L approach to teaching is based on the research and practice of “The Pyramid Model for Promotion of Social Emotional Competence,” as stated in the “Teacher Handbook.” Teachers are to intentionally teach children problem-solving techniques to help them develop their social skills. Many lessons throughout all units explicitly focus on both social and emotional skills development, as described in subsequent comments. Teachers are prompted to remind children to practice these skills in daily interactions while in learning centers and in free play. Visual posters serve as reminders of pro-social and problem-solving behaviors. Further, embedded prompts to regularly complete Formative Assessments help teachers stay current with each child's social and emotional skill development and individualize learning experiences accordingly. The materials do not include a list of additional books to reinforce or extend learning and do not provide activities that promote respect for cultural diversity. The materials provide consistent guidance for teachers on directly teaching social skills or extending the lesson.
In Unit 1, the materials introduce students to self-concept skills, beginning on the first day of school during a “Circle Time” activity. Teachers introduce classroom behavioral expectations in a whole group lesson; teachers pair expectations with visuals and explain that “to be safe, the children need to sit calmly and know where their body is in space; being respectful means using listening ears and looking eyes on the teacher, and sitting so everyone can see.” In Unit 1, a whole group lesson on self-awareness contains guidance for the teacher. The lesson begins with students singing a fun chant that reinforces awareness of body space and respect for personal boundaries; students use friendly touches such as high-fives, shaking hands, and waves. Also in this unit, the read-aloud book Otto Goes to School allows children to discuss feelings and emotions related to going to school. The materials use this text to support the development of competencies to understand and respond to emotions. For further interaction with the text, students participate in a “thumbs-up or thumbs-down” activity to share their feelings and emotions. Additionally, within Unit 1 activities, all children benefit from peer and teacher modeling, context clues, repetition, and visual supports. Through full lessons, the teacher directly instructs and models Self-Concept Skills, including how children feel about school and discussing personal experiences and opinions; Self-Regulation Skills by learning about being safe and respectful team players; Relationships with Others, including learning how to develop friendships and asking play; and Social Awareness Skills through recognizing emotions and friendly ways to communicate. Teachers are guided to foster relationships with all families, including those from diverse cultures. Specific examples of guidance include making families feel welcome by labeling objects in the classroom in the children’s home languages, having children make posters about their families and communities and displaying these in the classroom, and including books that reflect children’s families and communities.
In Unit 2, a lesson focused on teaching self-concept skills includes problem-solving. The teacher asks students about a previous read-aloud of Goldilocks and The Three Bears and the problems the characters encountered in the story. The materials guide the teacher to encourage students to make connections to the problems in the story and identify how the story can help them think of good solutions for problem-solving in their own classroom. Students engage in a “Think, Pair, Share” activity to provide their own solutions to the problems presented in the book. As an extension, students collaborate to create a graphic organizer with their own examples of solutions. Children then create their own solution book by using examples from the graphic organizer, solution suitcase cards, and their own experiences as they occur throughout the school day. The materials provide the teacher with visual prompts, including a problem-solver poster and solution suitcase cards for teaching how to wait and take turns, ask nicely, and practice problem-solving skills related to these strategies. Unit 2 builds on skills instruction in Unit 1. Full lessons let the teacher directly teach and model Self Concept Skills, Relationships with Others, Social Awareness Skills, and Self-Regulation Skills. In this unit, the teacher introduces the words "problem" and "solution," and the Solution Suitcase then shows the Problem Solver poster and intentionally teaches and models for children the problem-solving steps, thinking through a problem and considering possible solutions, then choosing a solution and trying it. The teacher introduces the Solution Suitcase then explains how to use this problem-solving tool, introducing the first solutions: Ask Nicely and Wait and Take Turns. The children have scaffolded opportunities to practice. Next, the focus is on the solutions titled Ignore, Say, “Please Stop,” and Get a Teacher. The children have scaffolded opportunities to practice using the solutions they have learned so far. Next, the focus is on Trade, Play Together, and Get a Timer. The children now have their own Solutions Suitcases ready for use.
In Unit 3, the teacher reads the book Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum to discuss feelings and causes of anger and to introduce calming strategies. Children practice identifying feelings in the story and make a list of safe calming strategies to learn how to appropriately respond to emotions to reference as needed. Continuing direct teaching of social skills, Unit 3 builds on friendship skills and problem-solving skills and extends that instruction, practice, and learning to recognizing, identifying, and handling emotions through full lessons on Self Concept Skills and Social Awareness Skills, recognizing and identifying emotions in a book and on the C4L Emotions poster (angry, disappointed, excited, frustrated, happy, lonely, proud, sad, scared, worried). Also, in this unit, the teacher introduces Tucker the Turtle and instructs and models for children Tucker’s way of calming down: Recognize your feelings. Stop. Tuck into your “shell” and breathe. Think of a solution. The children then have opportunities to practice using the steps.
In Unit 4, the teacher reads Rex Wrecks It and discusses with the children the emotions Rex is feeling and how they would feel if they were Rex. Later, the teacher rereads this story. In the re-reading of the story, children work together to “Think, Pair, and Share” solutions they think can help with Rex. These lessons demonstrate the opportunity to address both self-concepts of emotions as well as emotional and social relationships with others. In another lesson, the teacher models talking about feelings and demonstrates identifying emotions by using an “emotions face page” and poster. The materials guide the teacher to allow students to talk about feelings in response to specific situations and to refer to the “face page” and poster to support their understanding of the emotions.
In Unit 5, teachers directly teach the meaning of cooperation, empathy, and friendship skills, emphasizing solutions to emotional, social, and contextual problems. For example, in the lesson “Cooperation: Watering the Garden,” students have to work as a team in order to water the garden by passing the bucket to achieve their goal. Another lesson focuses on a variety of emotions and uses the gradual release model. The teacher models a game and chant and then allows the students to participate in the activity.
Unit 6 provides opportunities for students to learn about appropriate social and emotional skills, like taking turns, sharing, and empathy. They also learn specifically about being proud of their accomplishments and how much they have grown as people throughout the school year. For example, students vote to review their favorite books from the year. They learn about how to give compliments to one another, recognizing each other’s achievements, and they also learn about the meaning of the emotion “proud” and discuss what they're proud of from the year's accomplishments.
The materials provide activities for whole and small group instruction and skills are practiced throughout the day in learning centers. Authentic practice opportunities are embedded in other content-area lessons.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher Handbook” describes how the learning centers are directly connected to and driven by the curriculum. Topics, skills, and materials introduced in the whole- and small-group lessons are further developed, practiced, and explored in the centers. Children actively engage with their peers in learning opportunities and share ideas, communicate, collaborate, and problem-solve as they engage in the learning center activities together. Throughout the units, the materials provide some whole group and small group lessons to develop social and emotional skills that are integrated and embedded in other learning domains. The materials include some guidance for the teacher to work on social and emotional skills in small groups by using props such as puppets and visuals. The materials offer some guidance for teachers to encourage positive social and emotional skills throughout the day, such as following routines and using problem-solving skills.
In Unit 1, the materials provide guidance that supports students’ social awareness skills: Students give a peer some play ideas and follow a peer’s play suggestions. The teacher models and explains to the students that when we give a play idea, we tell someone something fun we could do together, including pretend-playing school. Students use playdough, toys, and other materials to make a zoo or bake cookies in the “Dramatic Play” center. These activities allow repeated opportunities for the students to learn and apply peer play idea skills. The Unit 1 project is creating a classroom community. With intentional instruction and opportunities for repetition and practice in the learning centers, children can develop responsive personal relationships with their teacher and their peers.
In the “Art Center,” as the children explore the materials, teachers can provide ideas for explorations children can do together, which gives children an opportunity to practice important social and emotional skills, such as cooperation and collaboration. In the “Book Nook,” children can explore books in pairs and small groups, as well as independently. Puppets and felt boards offer opportunities for children to work together to retell stories. They can create scavenger hunts for their friends to complete as they search for common items featured in books. In the “Construction Zone,” blocks engage children in collaborative building projects. In Dramatic Play, children take on roles and work together to act out home, school, and favorite stories.
The materials also recommend opportunities to practice social and emotional skills during centers and outdoor play. Teachers use photographs of children who are following expectations so that students have a reminder of the expectations throughout the day. The guidance recommends posting the photos next to the corresponding expectations chart in the classroom or next to centers. For example, teachers can post pictures of children being team players, as they set the table and help each other at snack time, next to the snack table.
In Unit 2, small and whole-group activities support practicing and reinforcing social and emotional skills in a variety of settings. The teacher and students learn about problems and solutions by creating a problem-solving suitcase. The problem-solving suitcase is available to the students throughout the day; when a problem occurs, students can use the suitcase to find a solution. Materials guide teachers on giving students descriptive feedback when a problem is observed. Additional provided problem-solving strategies include drawing pictures of problems and then having the student select possible solutions. Graphic organizers are available around the classroom for reference throughout the day and at centers. After reading We Are Problem Solvers, students use the “Think, Pair, Share” strategy and sticky-notes to put solutions on chart paper for future reference.
In Unit 3, the instructional materials provide guidance on how to identify various emotions and solutions and how to effectively handle these emotions. The materials recommend that the book be placed in the “Library” center so that students can revisit the story during independent reading time and refer to the emotions poster. During small group time, students identify what makes them angry and cover ways to calm down (e.g., getting a hug). Students sing a song to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot” to understand what being angry feels like. The project for Unit 3 is creating a set of toys for themselves and for another group of children. The children have ample opportunities to work together on this project, which is introduced in group activities but is developed and completed in the learning centers.
In Unit 4, in lessons utilizing mirrors, emotions cards, literature, role-playing, and modeling, students learn to identify emotions in themselves and others. Students have opportunities to review emotions from a previous collage activity; the materials recommend that students add additional experiences and emotions to the collage. Students are encouraged to work on the collage throughout the day and when emotions arise. The materials introduce students to the game of charades: Children pull an emotion from a bag and act it out. The materials recommend that children retell their stories and have another child record it. Children who are having difficulty acting out their emotions can verbally express their emotions, supported by teacher prompts. In addition, the materials recommend that children who have difficulty identifying their emotions revisit the emotion faces to help write and act out their stories. The materials recommend that teachers suggest a peer help the child who is still struggling. For example, the teacher reads the book Rex Wrecks It!, which helps students identify various emotions such as being scared, frustrated, worried, and proud. Rex Wrecks It! contains pictures of faces with different types of emotions, so students have a visual to help them identify the emotion.
In Unit 5, the materials provide a lesson on self-regulation skills: Students take on classroom responsibilities and discuss how to take care of their classroom worms. Students have the opportunity to observe the worms with a magnifying glass during center time and to care for them throughout the day. As in other units, Unit 5 includes many daily opportunities for children to practice responsive interpersonal relationships, especially in “Learning Center” activities which include “Working Together and Plant Collage Paths to Farm and Market,” “Block Maze,” “Farmers' Market,” and “Farmers' Market and Flower Stall,” “I Know What You're Thinking,” and “Growing a Garden Game.” In addition, there are embedded teacher prompts at the end of lessons to encourage children to use the social and emotional skills they learn.
In Unit 6, students have opportunities to apply the concept of understanding different perspectives: They use graphs and voting to record favorite books chosen by peers. The class discusses differing perspectives as they explore the data. Additionally, learning centers in Unit 6 offer opportunities for responsive interpersonal interactions through activities such as “Favorite Book Partner Read,” “Shortest Path to Kindergarten,” and “Book Recordings.” There is a teacher prompt to remind children to use their new social skills throughout the day.
The materials include some specific guidance for teachers on ideal classroom arrangements that support positive social interactions. There is a “Fidelity Checklist” for administrators and some guidance for teachers on how to arrange the classroom to support interactions, how to design the physical space, how to arrange the materials, or how to engage the students to promote student ownership of the space.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide some guidance for classroom arrangements that support daily opportunities for students to practice social skills. The “Curriculum Fidelity Checklist,” found on the online portal, provides examples and explanations of effective classroom arrangements. Administrators can use the checklist as a reference when in the teacher’s classroom; however, the materials do not provide specific guidance for teachers. This tool is available to teachers, as well as supervisors and coaches, to ensure transparency of expectation in guiding teachers to implement the curriculum with fidelity. Within the checklist link, there is a quick observation checklist that describes elements in the classroom environment, including expectations for the learning centers, visuals to be implemented in the classroom to support learning and promote engagement, and small group and whole group instruction. These materials offer some guidance on classroom arrangements to support opportunities to practice social skills. In Unit 1, the description of each center provides some guidance on how the teacher should set up the “Book Nook”: with comfortable and inviting seating among the book displays and space for children to read individually, in groups, or in pairs. There is some evidence that the materials provide specific and consistent teacher guidance on social skills practice in learning centers, on classroom arrangements to reinforce the practice of social skills, or on identifying specific areas of the room for the practice of social skills. The “Teacher's Handbook” gives teachers specific guidance on setting expectations and offering directions to children to teach behaviors and interactional skills. It also explains how social and emotional development is addressed throughout the day using problem-solving strategies, such as the “Solution Suitcase.” Additionally, the Teacher’s Handbook offers detailed guidance and tips for setting up learning centers in a manner that helps children interact effectively with others and providing explicit teaching and modeling of learning center behavioral expectations and social opportunities. Within lessons, teachers are guided to have children use the Solution Suitcase strategy for their own classroom interactions with peers. The materials provide teachers some guidance on social skills practice in learning centers. The Unit 1 manual explicitly reminds teachers that “children benefit from opportunities to interact on their own and with peers in self-guided play and from chances to interact with adults who scaffold learning experiences during play in learning centers.” Within the instructions for setting up the “Make a Self-Portrait” activity in the “Art Center,” teachers are specifically guided to “Use this opportunity to promote interactions and cooperation and to talk about friendships.” And the instructions for the “Toy Store” learning activity in the “Dramatic Play Center” guide teachers to make the initial focus for the center on the social interactions instead of the toys.
The materials do not provide guidance for the teacher on classroom arrangements to support teacher-student and student-student interactions. The materials do not provide resources such as websites or books that guide teachers on how to create a classroom that optimizes the space for centers, on table arrangements, or on whole and small group arrangements. The materials do not include options to support a variety of classroom designs, sizes, setting up centers, creating a center system, and the research and rationale to support these decisions.
Throughout the materials, some guidance is provided for the teacher on how to use the physical space to promote self-regulation and problem solving; materials also provide some guidance on aspects of the physical space and their impact on social development. The materials reference a “movement” area; if the teacher has one, materials suggest the teacher tape it off and communicate to students that they must stay inside it. The materials do not provide guidance for other factors in the physical space; they do not provide specific guidance for the teacher to understand how the physical arrangement can support social development on a consistent basis.
Throughout the materials, some guidance is offered on how to implement materials easily and effectively within a classroom arrangement that supports students’ positive social interactions. The materials give some guidance to teachers on how to support social interactions during whole group instruction.
The materials give teachers guidance on how to provide opportunities for children to have positive interactions with their peers within the lessons and activities.
Welcome and Read-Aloud lessons suggest activities that continue the learning by providing opportunities that support positive interactions or that model asking children to play when they are interacting with them during playtime. Within Small Group lessons, teachers are guided to encourage children to initiate interactions with peers. The “Compliment Cards” lesson and “Our Class Compliment Chain” give children an opportunity to have positive interactions with their peers and to interact while writing.
A “Welcome and Read Aloud” recommends the teacher start the school day using welcoming songs. The materials do not provide guidance on how to implement the songs within a classroom arrangement to allow increased student interaction. In Unit 1, students sing to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to support transitions. The materials do not include resources that teachers can use to set up effective organization and management to support positive social interactions. The materials provide nine custom-made classroom posters designed to be visual cues to reinforce learning and management and support positive social interactions; for example, “Classroom Expectations,” “How Are You Feeling,” “Friendship Skills,” and “Problem-Solving Skills.” The materials do not provide classroom arrangement resources and guidance for the teacher to use these strategies.
There is no identified evidence of suggestions on balancing classroom set up before students arrive at the beginning of the year and what is done with the students throughout the school year. Throughout the materials, there is no evidence supporting opportunities to engage and include the students in the classroom arrangement in order to promote student ownership of the space.
The materials do include activities for students to develop their gross motor, fine motor, and physical skills. The materials provide daily opportunities for students to develop these skills throughout all the units.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout, the materials provide some activities and teacher guidance for gross motor skill development. The materials provide two “Fast Focus” lessons daily, often featuring math and phonological awareness or alphabet knowledge that integrate gross-motor activities and provide children opportunities to practice gross motor skills across multiple units. This includes “Moves to Count,” which is played in Units 1–4, which starts with easy movements involving the head, such as nodding if children have difficulty with the movements. Other examples are the Fast Focus lesson titled “Shape-Mat Hop,” which is played in Units 4 and 5, and the Fast Focus lessons titled “Simon Says” and “Simon Shows.” The materials do not include a resource kit for gross motor skills or a teacher guide that focuses on gross motor skill development. The materials do not include resources for children to use to practice gross motor skills across multiple units. The materials do provide lessons integrated with other content materials that help develop fine motor skills, preparing students’ hands for writing.
In Unit 1, the materials provide lessons integrated with other content material that help develop gross-motor skills, including the Fast Focus lessons titled “Moves to Count,” and the Fast Focus lessons titled “The Parts of Me,” and the “Connect” lessons titled “Two Arms Wave.” In this lesson, students practice gross motor skills in a “wiggly” game: Students move in different ways to represent numbers and practice spatial terms by waving two arms in the air. The materials include daily suggestions for the development of fine motor skills. In the “Exploration” center, materials provide various suggestions to develop students’ fine motor skills using materials such as beads, pompoms, ink pads, scissors, craft sticks, hole punchers, eye droppers, and tongs. The materials also recommend putting chalk, water painting, and finger painting activities in the “Art” center to reinforce the development of fine motor skills.
In Unit 2, the materials provide lessons integrated with other content material that help develop gross-motor skills. In the lesson Simon Shows, the students jump a given number of times based on a number presented. In Unit 2, students review turn-taking during a small group “Hot Potato” activity: Students grab an object and pass it back and forth, reinforcing gross motor skills through movement. Then in Unit 2, the materials provide center activities and lessons integrated with other content material that help develop fine motor skills. For example, the small group lesson titled "Introduction to the Solution Suitcase: 'Wait and Take Turns' and 'Ask Nicely,'" guides teachers to "Demonstrate how to use the scissors, and let the children cut out the individual solution cards from the tear-off sheets and glue them on….”
In Unit 3, the teacher reads a book about animals. After reading, the teacher asks students to demonstrate a coordinated sequence of movements based on descriptions of the animals. In a small group lesson, students use chopsticks, beads, and pom-poms to make predictions; students predict which object would be easier to move using chopsticks. After the experiment, the materials are moved to the “Exploration” center for students to use during center time, where the chopstick challenge is extended: Children pick up and move sand, rice grains, balls, and other objects. In another small group lesson, students conduct an experiment by stringing beads in two different ways, which highlights the pinching motion using the index finger and thumb.
In Unit 4, students engage in gross motor development through dances, games, chants, and movements integrated into the lessons. A math lesson on counting to 10 has students use big body movements to practice counting up and down from 10. The teacher invites students to move in various ways based on the number shown on a number card. Students also engage in a “Shape Walk” game: They hop across mats with various shapes and identify the shapes as they land on them. The materials recommend putting the game in the “Puzzles and Games” center to provide the students with repeated practice with a peer.
In Unit 5, the materials provide center activities and lessons integrated with other content material that help develop fine motor skills. For example, in the lesson, “Flour Power,” the children dump, thump, dust, knead, squash, and stretch the dough. Opportunities for tracing are also suggested for children who need more support making shapes.
In Unit 6, the materials provide blocks, construction paper, and scissors for children to practice fine motor skills in the “Construction Zone,” supporting the use of small-muscle control and developing fine motor skills. In Unit 6, the materials provide lessons integrated with other content material that help develop gross motor skills. In the Fast Focus lesson, “Pattern Dance,” the students move while following a pattern of movements such as clap, stomp, clap, stomp. In the Fast Focus lesson titled “Shape-Counting Jump,” the students jump for the number of sides on a presented shape.
The materials include some implementation support for partial lessons on developing safe and healthy habits. The materials provide some teacher guidance on the connection between physical and mental health and safety. The materials provide some teacher guidance on modeling safe and healthy habits for students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout, the materials provide some guidance on teaching safe and healthy habits and the connection between physical and mental health and safety; there are also some communication materials for parents. The materials provide unit letters that teachers can send home to communicate with parents. For example, in the Unit 1 letter, parents receive ideas on discussing ways of being safe, being kind, and being a team player with their child. The teacher uses a chant from a “Friendship Wiggle” game and the term “friendly touches” to model how to treat others gently. The teacher then uses visuals to teach friendship skills. The included books and songs are child-friendly and playful. The materials contain some guidance for teacher modeling of the activities. In every unit throughout the materials, songs and chants involve playful movements that encourage students to be actively engaged; students sing and move as they work on different content. The activities reinforce that movement is good for the body and that singing can be used to calm down when sad or frustrated. With “One, Two Buckle My Shoe,” students focus on rhyming and counting while also incorporating purposeful body movements. The materials provide lessons integrated with other content material that helps students develop safe and healthy habits, for example, a small group lesson titled “Don't Waste That Water” incorporates teaching the steps for brushing teeth. In another example, in the small group lesson titled “Flour Power,” teachers talk with children about the importance of washing hands before handling food, and all children have a chance to practice washing their hands at the beginning of the activity. The materials recommend students practice healthy habits by brushing their teeth. The teacher instructs students to brush their teeth twice to encourage and reflect on healthy habits. The materials do not give teacher guidance on how to model teeth-brushing.
In a Unit 3 lesson, students create a healthy snack with the teacher while learning sequencing. The teacher introduces the role of recipes and how all people need food to be healthy. The teacher models how to make the snack “Ants on a Log,” and then lets students make it themselves. As an extension, students create their own how-to book or recipe for another snack in a learning center. This lesson also gives students the opportunity to wash their hands. The materials do not provide teacher guidance on modeling hand-washing as a healthy habit for students to see; the teacher is instructed to reference hand-washing and how eating vegetables and fruit can help you stay healthy. The materials provide some opportunities for students to practice and reflect on safe and healthy habits and positive mental health in appropriate ways. The teacher reviews the “Tucker the Turtle” puppet while music plays in an activity about calming and self-regulation; students learn about the importance of taking care of mental health and that music can help calm us down. The materials guide the teacher to place Tucker the Turtle in a special “calm-down place” in the classroom, where students can use it, the strategies learned, and books to calm down when needed. The materials do not provide support for teachers to learn about the importance of planning and encouraging physical activity. The materials do not provide recommendations for teachers on how to address unsafe or unhealthy habits in a positive and supportive way.
In Unit 5, the theme is healthy foods, such as vegetables and fruits, and how eating them can help us stay healthy. To support healthy food choices, the teacher reads aloud Growing Vegetable Soup. The materials recommend setting up a “farmer’s market” in the “Dramatic Play” center; students can learn to identify various types of fruits and vegetables. To promote healthy food choices, the teacher can also help students create a chart of plant-based foods they like to eat. The teacher uses an alphabet information book to teach the class about types of fruits and vegetables; in an extension, students can then make their own alphabet book in the writing center, including fruits and vegetables that begin with either the letters of their name or a letter of the alphabet. The teacher talks about the importance of washing hands before handling food. The materials do not provide teacher guidance for modeling healthy habits for students.
The materials include full lessons to develop the students’ listening skills, as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the materials provide teacher guidance on modeling active listening, daily scaffolding, and multiple opportunities throughout the day for students to hear and practice listening skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the materials provide guidance for the teacher to model active listening via the “Think, Pair, Share” strategy. This strategy is embedded throughout all units. The teacher models active listening by sharing back what the students share, using a provided sentence stem; for example, “I heard Rachel say her shoes are black with laces, and Carlos said his shoes have Velcro.” The teacher thinks aloud to model how to play the “Friendship Skills” board game, asking, “How will the game be played?” “How do you start?” Then, students play the board game independently while the teacher guides and scaffolds their learning as needed. For the read-aloud Otto Goes to School, materials guide the teacher to model what normally happens at school. The teacher engages the students in a conversation about the story and asks students if they were a little worried about the first day of school; students vote by showing a thumbs-up, a thumbs-down, or a thumb-in-the-middle to share their feelings. The materials recommend placing the book in the “Dramatic Play” center, encouraging students to act out what happens at school and practice taking turns while actively listening to peers.
In Unit 2, during a problem-solving lesson, the teacher gives the students exact phrases to use and practice to ask nicely; the teacher models this behavior. The read-aloud A Weekend with Wendell allows teachers to model a conversation that encourages play. During the read-aloud, the teacher pauses to think aloud about how Sophie gives a play idea to Wendell when she says, “We could play house.” The materials recommend the teacher use a “Lila’s Letter” puppet to introduce children to a new letter. Lila models how to find a letter card and the sound the letter makes. To encourage active listening, Lila asks the students if they know someone in the classroom whose name begins with the letter.
In Unit 3, the teacher models and students learn how to make a lift-the-flap book about things that are scary. On one side of the paper, the teacher thinks aloud and writes, “Sometimes I feel afraid when I go to a new place.” On the other side, the teacher thinks aloud and writes, “When I am afraid, I can....” In the “I Know What You’re Thinking” game, the teacher sorts shapes and asks the students to watch and listen quietly to figure out the sorting rule. Students are then encouraged to “Think, Pair, Share” about what the sorting rule may be.
In Unit 5, students record different stories and books on tape and place them in the “Listening” center; this encourages students to independently practice listening and comprehension skills. The teacher reads aloud Zianna’s Flower Garden and asks questions to check for understanding; for example, “Have you ever seen a garden?” “What might you find in a garden?” “Can vegetables grow in a garden? Why or why not?” “Would shoes grow in a garden? Why or why not?” The teacher begins with basic questions and then adds more difficult questions to scaffold students’ learning.
In Unit 6, the teacher uses a script to model how to play a previously learned game, telling the students, “We will be playing the high-low game using dot cards. We have played this game before. But this time, you will play by adding numbers together.”
The materials include full lessons to develop the students’ speaking skills, as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the materials provide teacher guidance on developing students’ speaking skills and giving corrective feedback. Materials provide students multiple opportunities throughout the day to practice as well as guidance to work collaboratively to engage in discussions.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the materials provide guidance for the teacher to support students’ speaking skills. All lessons begin with a welcome song that students sing while the teacher points to the text, modeling sentence structure. The materials provide teacher guidance on introducing the “Think, Pair, Share” strategy, which is used throughout the school year in different settings (e.g., whole and small groups) to provide students with opportunities to practice conversation norms. The teacher introduces all three sections using visuals and models each step. Students then share or talk with their partners following the provided steps. The teacher reads aloud Goldilocks and The Three Bears, stopping at different parts of the story to ask questions and encourage students to think and predict what happens. The teacher asks students to answer the question “How many bears there are in the story?” by whispering and sharing with their neighbors. The teacher also models paying compliments, using the phrases “I feel happy when...”; “I like it when...”; “I think it’s cool when....” Then, students use compliment cards to support reciprocal interactions, using kind words to let peers know that they like the things they do; this helps children understand the concept of giving a compliment to promote social interaction. The material recommends shorter words and/or phrases to help scaffold struggling students’ responses. Students also have opportunities to record themselves retelling different books and stories and then place them in the “Listening” center for peers to enjoy throughout the year.
In Unit 2, students practice oral language development when they sing a song about shapes to the tune of “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” The teacher uses open-ended questions to promote expressive language. Additionally, the teacher is encouraged to engage students in frequent discussions about solutions. For example, the teacher asks, “What would happen if...?” “How would she feel if he said...?” In a lesson about problem-solving, the materials provide teacher guidance on ways to scaffold verbal responses for students with different speaking abilities. When students need extra support, if students ask nicely, teachers can give them exact phrases to use and practice. Students with limited language are encouraged to use signs or visuals from the “Solution Suitcase” to resolve conflicts.
In Unit 3, the teacher reads aloud The Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum. Students practice critical thinking and expressive language in a Think, Pair, Share, discussing “Why is Sophie angry?” “What does she want?” “Why can't she have it?” Then, the teacher models and scaffolds students’ learning by using longer sentence structures with more than one phrase. The teacher uses a song to review feelings and guides the students to complete a sentence in the song depending on the emotion being expressed.
In Unit 4, the teacher reads aloud My Friend Is Sad; students Think, Pair, Share on how they would cheer a sad classmate up. Students also create a class book called On Monday When It Rained. To encourage students to actively engage in grammar and sentence structure, teachers give them two sentence stems: “On Monday... happened”; “I was... (students name the emotion).” The teacher uses visuals of emotions to support and scaffold student responses.
In Unit 6, the materials provide teacher guidance on a game that compares the beginning sounds of words. The teacher says: “I have three things: a worm, a weed, and a hat.” The teacher models how to stretch and repeat the initial sound: “W-w-worm, w-w-weed, h-h-hat.” Then, the teacher asks the students which object has a beginning sound that is different from the others and encourages a choral response from all students. Students have opportunities to practice language and conversations that they heard from the teacher during a whole group lesson on trees and the interconnection of living things. As an extension, to allow students to practice a variety of sounds and grammar, the materials recommend placing the activity in the “Dramatic Play” center; there, students have the opportunity to use books and props to retell and describe the various ways components of the environment are connected.
The materials include full lessons to expand student vocabulary, as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the materials follow a progression of vocabulary development that is age-appropriate and includes a variety of strategies that are authentically embedded throughout content-based learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, a lesson uses the “I Spy” game to facilitate learning new vocabulary and concepts in context. The teacher introduces the words see, describe, and friend. Then, students play I Spy to help them learn one another’s names; students have the opportunity to use age-appropriate vocabulary words. Materials guide teachers to use specific attributes to help students learn concepts: “I see someone wearing green shoes.” Students must find the person being described. In the “Construction Zone” learning center, materials recommend instructional strategies to support vocabulary development through teacher modeling. The teacher encourages students to talk about their buildings by discussing height, how many blocks are used, and how they can build the next tower differently. Then, the teacher introduces photographs and drawings of bridges and fences to facilitate learning the concepts in an authentic content-based learning environment.
In Unit 2, the teacher reads aloud Swimmy and introduces the emotion vocabulary words scared and lonely. After the reading, the teacher puts the new vocabulary words in the “Art” center. As an extension, students glue fish pictures onto craft sticks and draw the emotions in an authentic learning environment. Also in the unit, the teacher reviews what students know about animals and plants and then reads Life in the City. Using this book, the teacher introduces new earth vocabulary, such as soil.
In Unit 3, the teacher incorporates children’s prior knowledge to teach new concepts. For example, in the “Design It, Build It” theme, the teacher explains that “some children like to build with blocks” and points out that they use parts (blocks) to build something else (a toy house). To support this theme, in math, the teacher introduces the vocabulary words shapes, lines, and building. The students apply this new vocabulary when they build letters using shapes and lines. Also in this unit, the teacher reads aloud Are You Ready to Play? to introduce the emotion vocabulary frustrated, excited, and disappointed. The teacher refers to the emotion vocabulary in the context of special occasions (e.g., a field trip: excited; having to reschedule a field trip: disappointed).
In Unit 5, the teacher introduces new vocabulary words in the “Growing Our Garden” theme and then defines them during the read-aloud. The teacher introduces the book Our Community Garden and asks the students if they know the vocabulary word community. The teacher reads the book and stops at various points to ask and support the students’ understanding of the key vocabulary words. Materials recommend teachers use gestures when describing new vocabulary concepts to engage the students. Students use hand motions and body gestures when the teacher reads, “Dump it. Thump it. Dust it. Knead it. Squash it. Stretch it. Toss it.”
The materials include full lessons for appropriate strategies that support English Learners (ELs) in developing their English language skills. The materials include strategies to use the students’ first language as a foundation for learning English and include guidance on appropriate content, as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the materials provide guidance on a variety of strategies to support ELs and develop the students’ vocabulary in both English and the students’ home language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the materials provide strategies to reinforce content for ELs. These incorporate a chant, a movement activity, and total physical response to reinforce the concepts of “friendship” and “taking turns.” The students sing a chant to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” The teacher tells the students that one of the things that they can do is count. The teacher encourages the students to do the chant using the name Johnny. Then, the teacher replaces that name with one of the students’ names; students participate in the chant, giving everyone a turn. The materials recommend the teacher incorporate vocabulary from the lesson in the child’s home language, utilizing different resources for help, such as parents, siblings, or others.
In Unit 3, teachers use the total physical response strategy to teach ELs new vocabulary. The teacher encourages students to play the “Simon Shows” game (similar to “Simon Says”). The teacher says the word wiggle, and the students demonstrate the movement. In a lesson on self-regulation and emotion management, the teacher shows ELs emotion cards translated into their home language. This supports vocabulary development and an understanding of how to use students’ first language as a foundation for learning English. In another activity, the teacher creates the snack “Ants on a Log” together with the students. The teacher encourages and supports ELs by showing them the “Ants on a Log” poster, visuals of the vocabulary words in their home language, and ingredients from their culture to resemble those from the “Ants on a Log” poster.
In Unit 5, as an EL strategy, the teacher leads a book walk so that students can hear vocabulary related to squirrels and gain background knowledge for small group instruction. In a small group lesson about feelings, the teacher reviews the emotions chart with the students. The teacher identifies the word happy, finds the word in the students’ first language, and shows different photos of people making happy faces to reinforce the vocabulary word.
In Unit 6, the teacher supports ELs’ vocabulary development by incorporating visual strategies into the lesson. The teacher makes a sign that says, “I like pre-K because....” Students use this sentence stem to share; the teacher uses photos to provide examples of the students’ responses. The materials suggest that the teacher can translate the words change and grow into ELs’ first language and use several photos of themselves growing up to help students understand the new vocabulary words.
The materials include full lessons on developing oral language skills, including authentic text conversations, as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout, the units provide opportunities, support, and guidance for students to actively listen, ask questions, and work collaboratively to engage in discussions to understand and share information learned.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Across all units, materials include opportunities for students to share information and ideas about texts through the learning centers. Included guidance supports the teacher in setting up “Dramatic Play” centers to include texts and materials; for a restaurant-themed center, these include menus, order pads, and books. These materials support oral language development through play. In Unit 1, the teacher reads the book Classroom Up Close and asks students to predict the image on each odd page, showing the page close up and giving clues. Students provide an oral response, and the teacher asks, “Why do you think so?” The teacher models a response and then expands on the response with more details to support oral language development. After reading the book Our Senses, the teacher asks, “What sense did you use to listen to the word I was saying?” and “What part of your body did you use to see the photographs in the book?”
In Unit 2, when reading aloud Why Should I Recycle?, the teacher asks guiding questions to direct a whole group discussion. The teacher asks, “What else can we recycle?” Some of the examples on the next few pages include reusing old items and sending things to the recycling center. The teacher asks students to talk and share about ways we can reuse things (e.g., recycling bags at the supermarket or clothes we don’t wear anymore). To develop and encourage oral language skills, the teacher asks students about different ways they can recycle. To encourage collaboration, the teacher introduces a “Shape” game. Students search for the person with the same shape and then do a “Think, Pair, Share” to confirm the match by discussing the attributes of the shapes.
In Unit 3, during a read-aloud of Who Hops? the teacher stops periodically and asks students to make comparisons to human feet or to compare two animals from the book. The teacher asks the students, “How are the frog’s feet different from human feet?” and “Are there functions or jobs that frog feet can do that human feet cannot?” Students answer the questions using the “Think, Pair, Share” strategy, engaging in discussion to understand the information in the text. During a read-aloud of Albert's Alphabet, the teacher asks many open-ended questions. In a whole group activity, the teacher encourages the students to retell the story. The teacher models thinking aloud by using the sequential words first, second, third, and fourth to describe the steps Albert takes to build his letters in the story. On one page, the teacher stops and encourages students to help retell what is happening by describing how letters are shaped and built.
In Unit 4, the teacher reads aloud Maisy Goes to the Museum and leads a discussion about things Maisy and her friends see in the museum. The teacher models how to give an opinion, using longer, complex sentences that combine more than one idea: “I like this book because it helps us learn about what we might see in a museum….” Students share their opinion of why they like the book in the whole group discussion.
In Unit 5, while reading Growing Vegetable Soup, the teacher asks open-ended questions to elicit discussion about tools and how they help gardeners. After reading the story, the teacher asks the students, “What do gardeners do to grow the garden?” The students Think, Pair, Share about the steps the gardener takes to grow the garden. The teacher writes the steps on chart paper (“First, they...”), then asks students, “Can you think of anything you might have to do before you can plant the seeds?” and “Why do you think the watering has to happen after the seed planting?”
The materials provide guidance for direct instruction and a variety of activities and opportunities for students to practice phonological awareness skills. However, the materials do not follow the research-based developmental continuum of how children acquire phonological awareness, as outlined in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the teacher introduces a word game to blend and segment words within a compound word. The teacher encourages the students to guess the word: “Sun (wait 1 second) flower.” The teacher asks, “What word is it when you put the two parts together?” If the students don’t answer, the teacher says, “It’s ‘sunflower’! I said ‘sun-flower.’ When we put these two parts together, they make a big word, ‘sunflower!’” To supplement the activity, the teacher uses picture cards to demonstrate the two words coming together. In another activity to identify and blend sounds, the teacher models how to pat the beats to different words, segmented and blended. Students practice blending two-syllable words, patting Al/ex, then blending to form Alex. Students take turns with the other names in the classroom to develop phonological awareness. Phonological awareness activities are included in daily lessons, but materials do not display a clear progression of skills across the year.
In Unit 2, the teacher leads students in a “multisyllable grab bag” game focusing on the phonological awareness skill of blending syllables into words. The teacher models: She puts a hand in the bag and slowly says the syllables of the item she plans to pull out first. For example, for bicycle, the teacher slowly says bi-cy-cle. The teacher says the word as syllables two to three times and gives students a chance to decide on the word. Then, as she pulls the item out of the bag, the teacher asks the students to say the word. The teacher and students sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” and the teacher adds a different consonant to the vowel section of the song (e.g., “Old MacDonald Had a Farm SE-SI-SE-SI-SO”). This is a playful way for students to play with and manipulate sounds. The teacher reads aloud the book Is Your Mama a Llama? to encourage play with rhyming words. During the reading, the teacher emphasizes the rhyming word and stops to give students a chance to say the word. For example, the teacher reads, “You are right about that. I think your mama sounds more like a....” The teacher pauses to encourage the students to say, “Bat!” If students have difficulty, the teacher provides the sound of the first letter in the word.
In Unit 3, children practice segmenting and deleting syllables from words, with teacher explanation and support. Also, Unit 3 includes numerous activities to build rhyming skills and skills in recognizing and producing words with the same beginning sound.
In Unit 4, the teacher introduces the letter C, giving its sound, shape, and words that begin with the /c/ sound. The teacher shows the alphabet card for the letter C and says, “This is the letter C. It makes the sound we hear at the beginning of the word ‘cat.’ /C/ /c/ ‘cat.’” The teacher uses some of the other initial-sound cards to emphasize the letter and the picture again. The teacher also blends syllables with the ending /op/. Students listen as the teacher says the initial sound /t/ and then /op/ to make the word top. The teacher encourages the students to blend words such as chop and hop. The teacher introduces the letter J and the sounds it makes, using different words that begin with /j/. The teacher then asks students to identify other words that start with the /j/ sound. At the end of the lesson, students learn the physical traits of J and air write the letter; students practice phonological awareness skills both in isolation and in connection to alphabetic knowledge skills.
In Unit 5, the teacher plays a segmenting game with the students and asks, “If I put the sounds /b/ /ee/ together what is the new word I have?” Students respond chorally. The teacher tells students that they are going to play a game with a bag of healthy foods. The teacher models by choosing a card and blending the phonemes (e.g., /f/ /i/ /sh/ for fish). Then, students pull out a card and say the sounds of the new word.
The materials include full lessons with direct instruction on alphabetic knowledge skills, as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the materials provide teacher guidance on direct instruction of letter names and sounds, following a research-based sequence for the introduction of alphabetic knowledge.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the teacher introduces students to the alphabet chart by sharing or pointing to letters that should look familiar to them. The teacher and students sing the “Alphabet Song,” and the teacher points to each letter. The class plays a game: The teacher draws a student’s name out of a bag and asks whose name it is; the teacher guides the student to state the letters in the name, and the student finds the first letter of the name on the alphabet chart. In the “Teacher Handbook,” the materials recommend the teacher use the “Alphabet Pronunciation Guide,” which models each alphabet sound for the teacher. This activity supports the teacher in modeling the long and short sounds of each vowel and consonant. Following this guidance, the teacher reviews the sounds consistently. The teacher is supported with a list of words and T-chart examples to use to introduce the letter and sound. Throughout all units, the “Lila’s Letter” activity helps teachers introduce letters and sounds using a large alphabet chart and Lila the puppet.
In Unit 2, the materials provide teacher guidance for direct instruction on new letters and sounds using the Lila’s Letter activity. The teacher uses Lila the puppet to introduce the letter L and the sound it makes. The teacher shows the alphabet card for L, and Lila says, “This is the letter ‘L.’ It makes the sound we hear at the beginning of the words /l/ /l/ ‘look’ and /l/ /l/ ‘leaf.’” The teacher shows some of the initial-sound cards again and emphasizes how the letter L starts each object’s name.
In Unit 3, the “Albert’s Alphabet” activity supports learning letter names and sounds in the “Construction Zone” center. The teacher provides letter cards as models for designing and building letters out of blocks, plastic stir sticks, modeling clay, or pipe cleaners. The teacher introduces the initial letter sound cards for Ff and says the names of the objects on the card. The teacher asks the students to guess what letter they will be learning. Lila the puppet shows the students the Ff card and says, “This is the letter ‘Ff.’ It makes the sound we hear at the beginning of the word ‘fish.’” Then, the teacher asks the students to place items or pictures that begin with the letter Ff inside a hula hoop. The teacher shows the students how to select Ff words, saying the name of the item (e.g., frog) and saying the letter sound.
In Unit 4, in the “Letter Bag” activity, students manipulate and interact with letters, communicating their understanding of different letters and sounds. The students pass around the Letter Bag, choose a letter, feel it, pull it out, and say the letter name or sound or point to it on the letter chart. The teacher uses Lila Letter to introduce the alphabet card for Ii. Lila says, “This is the letter ‘I.’ It makes the sound we hear at the beginning of the word ‘iguana.’ /I/ /i/ ‘iguana.’ The letter ‘I’ also makes the sound we hear at the beginning of the words /i/ ‘icicle’ and /i/ ‘ice cube.’”
In Unit 5, students play “Six Little Letters.” The teacher gives each student an alphabet card; cards include letters from the unit (H, Q, W, X, Y, Z) and letters in students’ names that they struggle with. The students listen for the sound their letter makes and stand up, singing the song “Six Little Letters” to the tune of “Six Little Ducks.” Each day, the materials support the teacher with activities that focus on alphabetic skills and different letters; a special focus is on letters in students’ names. The teacher shows the students the letter Qq and Lila says, “This is the letter ‘Q.’ It makes the sound we hear at the beginning of the word ‘queen.’ /kw/ /kw/ ‘queen.’” The teacher asks, “Do you know anyone in this room whose name starts with ‘Q’ like /kw/ /kw/ ‘queen? Great observation! Quinn’s name begins with the letter ‘Q.’ /kw/-inn. Quinn.” The teacher introduces the shape and sound of the letter H; the teacher shows the students how the uppercase H and lowercase h are formed. The teacher uses descriptive words, such as “Straight line down, straight line down, and straight across the middle”; or “Straight down, back up, curve around, and straight down.” The students are encouraged to follow along by drawing on the carpet or in the air with their fingers. The teacher shows students the alphabet card for Hh. Lila Letter says, “This is the letter ‘H.’ It makes the sound we hear at the beginning of the word ‘horse.’ /H/ /h/ ‘horse.’”
The materials provide full lessons with direct instruction in print knowledge and concepts as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the materials provide guidance on direct instruction in print awareness and connection print awareness to books/texts. There are opportunities for students to understand the functions of print within the context of school experiences. Materials follow a developmentally appropriate and research-based sequence of print awareness skills instruction and provide multiple opportunities for students to practice these skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the materials, teachers have guidance in exposing students to print via various daily activities. For example, students draw and write during science investigations. The teacher points out letters in science books; for example, during a read-aloud about squirrels, the teacher points out the S for squirrels and T for teeth. Also, the teacher uses words such as start and finish in math games, introduces print materials in the “Dramatic Play” center, and puts books about construction in the “Construction Zone.” During transitions, students play games and learn literacy at the same time: “Everyone whose name starts with the /s/ sound can move to their rest mats.” Included research supports the teacher in understanding the importance of connecting and teaching print awareness through read-alouds: “Research suggests that we should actively work to draw children’s attention to the print, using both verbal and nonverbal strategies (Justice and Ezell, 2002; Justice et al., 2010)” Strategies include running a finger on top of letters as they are read, asking students where to start to read, and pointing out words that appear with pictures, such as labels and signs. The teachers note features of letters and words and counting words with students. Materials include a research-based sequence of foundational skills instruction and opportunities for sufficient student practice.
In Unit 1, students explore book-making materials, and the teacher introduces the “Meet Our Class” book. The teacher displays examples of various title pages and a name chart showing all the students’ names. The teacher models how to make the title page, and students practice writing in their name as the author of the class book. The teacher reinforces print conventions by modeling and encouraging the students to use uppercase and lowercase letters when they write their names. Students also assist the teacher in making center signs and classroom labels. Students write letters for center names, decorate the letters and sign, take photographs of classmates, and illustrate how many classmates can be in a center at one time. The teacher also incorporates print into the “Book Nook” center: An alphabet-chart match activity encourages students to point or name letters in their names or those previously taught. Students start with familiar letters and, as the unit progresses, are encouraged to point to or name a letter and to count the number of times it appears on a page.
In Unit 3, students learn about the differences between the pictures and the words in a text. The teacher reads aloud Not a Box and points to the words in the text; students look at the pictures to connect their print awareness to the text being read. During the read-aloud Who Hops? the teacher points out periods and question marks; the teacher tells students that question marks mean someone is asking a question. The teacher guides the students to point out question marks in the rest of the book and practice drawing them in the air. The teacher reads Dream Something Big and tells students that words are what we read in a book; the teacher shows how bold text means the author wants to say that something is important.
In Unit 4, after the read-aloud The Knight and the Dragon, students practice what they have been learning: They make felt cutouts of the characters from the book and reenact scenes. Students then reread the book. In another activity, the “Dramatic Play” center is transformed into a museum; students pretend to be curators and create exhibits. The teacher makes name tags that read Museum Curator, and students use them while sorting toys, dolls, and dress-up clothes. With the teacher’s help, students create labels by writing words on index cards. Finally, students take photographs of their exhibits. This allows students to authentically engage in print awareness activities at school.
In Unit 5, students authentically engage with print through the Dramatic Play center and other learning centers. Within the “Farmer’s Market” theme, students engage with print via food labels, pads of paper and pencils for taking orders, and advertisements. Lessons promote print awareness that becomes more complex. For example, during the Growing Vegetable Soup read-aloud, the teacher points to the labels of the tools in the story and explains what the labels do. The teacher points to a period at the end of a sentence and explains that periods tell us to pause or stop for a moment and that authors use them when the sentence is not a question. The teacher encourages the students to point out a period in a book and draw periods in the air. The teacher places cards with books in the “Show What You Know” center; students use these for practice and exposure to print. As time allows, the teacher rereads books and refers to print concepts, such as print direction, space between words, print in pictures, and appropriate book handling.
The materials include a variety of text types and genres across contents that are of high quality and at an appropriate level of complexity. Throughout the materials, the text selection is the appropriate level of complexity for students’ developmental level. It includes both fiction and nonfiction texts and a variety of types of texts, such as poems, songs, and nursery rhymes. The content is engaging to prekindergarten students and allows opportunities for students to interact with stories. The texts cover a range of students’ interests. Environmental print is found throughout the classroom.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Unit 1 contains the text Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, with a Lexile level of AD500L and second-grade complexity level. The text is appropriate as a read-aloud for this age group and maintains their attention span. The text includes large illustrations. It is about three baby owls that experience separation from their mother and the emotions of fear related to this experience. The book is used to support learning about feelings of fear and comparing how this relates to the students’ experiences with their families. The text is engaging for students because it encourages them to talk about the senses of hearing and sight. For example, the students explore their voices by making owl calls in a high, light voice: “Hoo! Hoo!” The teacher contrasts this with silence, asking students to be silent as if they are the owls listening for their mother owl to return. To contrast dark and light, the teacher invites the children to make it dark by covering or closing their eyes. This story resonates with young students; it describes how they might feel when a mother or parent leaves their side. The text is engaging with realistic illustrations.
Unit 4 contains the nonfiction text Dinosaur Armor by Susan Gray, which is at the second-grade complexity level, has a Lexile measure of 570L, and incorporates science standards for K–4. The text includes large color photographs and easy-to-read fonts. It contains engaging details surrounding the anatomy and behavior of dinosaurs. This is a nonfiction reader that facilitates exploration of form and function in natural and human-made objects. The book describes the different types of armor dinosaurs have and how it protects them from predators. In small groups, students interact with the story by designing and creating dinosaur features and armor. The students draw pictures of themselves as dinosaurs with special protective features and glue photos of their own faces onto the dinosaurs. The text Maisy Goes to the Museum by Lucy Cousins has a “Preschool to Kindergarten” text complexity level. The fiction text is about a little mouse who experiences her first visit to the museum with her friends and describes everything they see and do. The text has a number of pages and words appropriate for a read-aloud lesson; it captures students' attention and includes colorful and engaging illustrations. The text is interesting to students because it relates to the unit theme, which is “Museums.” The texts cover a range of student interests. The content is engaging to pre-K students.
Unit 6 contains the text Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis, which has a Lexile level of AD600L. The read-aloud complexity is grade 3; it is appropriate for pre-K students. The text is about Dexter and his stuffed dog, Rufus, who goes to kindergarten. Dexter is nervous about starting kindergarten and expresses some fears, including getting lost or missing his parents, but is encouraged by his older sister who has already been there. The students discuss how their feelings compare to what happens in the book. The teacher encourages discussion after reading the text, asking students if they walk to school or get dropped off by their parents and if they eat lunch in their classroom instead of in a cafeteria. These are realistic experiences presented with colorful illustrations; they prompt discussions about going to kindergarten and how to address fears and other emotions. The text has engaging illustrations, an appropriate number of pages, and a number of words matching students’ attention span. The book is read during the end of the year, which is relatable to students who are about to conclude pre-K. Texts include content that is engaging to pre-K students and include opportunities for students to interact with the stories.
Examples of fiction texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of nonfiction texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of variety text types include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, the students help make and decorate center signs. They write the letters for the center name, decorate the letters and sign, take photographs of classmates, and illustrate how many classmates can be in the center at one time. The teachers encourage welcoming families to the classroom by labeling objects and centers in text with the students’ home language. This labeling provides environmental print in the classroom for students to see and interact with.
In Unit 3, the teacher puts environmental print in the “Dramatic Play” learning center. In the lesson, “Albert’s Alphabet,” the focus is on building letters using lines and curves with different materials. The teacher puts the materials and letter cards for students to use in the “Construction” zone, which allows for purposeful environmental print throughout the classroom. In the “Teacher Handbook,” the material provides support for the teacher on the materials provided for environmental print. The kit contains alphabet letter cards, initial-sound cards, embedded alphabet cards, and alphabet charts. There are center signs, how-to texts, and other materials to encourage the students to notice and begin to recognize environmental print and use certain types of text for specific purposes.
The materials include some guidance for a variety of approaches to develop students’ comprehension of text read aloud. The materials provide guidance for teachers to connect text to children’s experiences at home and school; however, there is no specific teacher guidance on basic text structures and their impact on students’ understanding of text.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, throughout the Our Senses read-aloud, the teacher encourages students to ask questions and make personal connections. During the reading, the teacher asks, “What colors and shapes do you see in the classroom today?” “Let’s make music. Can we sing and drum our hands in a quiet way?” “What foods do you like to smell?” “The book says sand is rough. What else do you touch that is rough?” “What do ice pops taste like?” Students engage in a “Think, Pair, Share” on these questions, making personal connections to the text. The read-aloud Owl Babies focuses on the owls’ feelings and fears about being alone without their owl mother. Students are encouraged to connect this text to their own feelings about coming to school and leaving their families; students discuss similarities and differences. The teacher also asks students how their family members take care of each other at home. Throughout the units, the materials do not give consistent and specific guidance on the comprehension skills that will be introduced and how to introduce them. The material gives guidance on using photographs, images, and written words to introduce new concepts and vocabulary and to deepen comprehension.
In Unit 4, the teacher helps students make predictions and inferences while reading Evermore Dragon. The teacher stops reading and focuses on the characters’ facial expressions. Students Think, Pair, Share to infer which emotions the characters are feeling on the following pages: Girl and Dragon decide to play hide and seek; Dragon is hiding behind the small rock; Girl finds Dragon and wraps her arms around him. The teacher asks the students how they know the characters are feeling those emotions. The material includes quality questions that encourage students to make connections to text. During the read-aloud My Friend Is Sad, the teacher explains that Piggie is trying to help Gerald feel better and that when friends are sad, we can try to cheer them up or help them feel better. The teacher asks the students, “Have you ever felt sad?” “Did anybody cheer you up?” “How?” The students connect to the text by sharing about their past experiences with feeling sad.
In Unit 6, the teacher reads aloud Kindergarten Rocks and discusses how Dexter and his dog are going to kindergarten. The teacher makes connections by helping students identify their feelings about transitioning to kindergarten. The teacher asks the students, “What are you excited about?” “What do you fear about kindergarten?” This allows students to connect texts to their experiences at home and at school. Before going on a “Nature Walk,” the teacher asks students to make predictions about what they might see outside. The teacher writes down the students’ responses on a T-chart and hangs it up for them to see and refer to after their walk.
The materials include appropriate strategies for supporting English Learners (ELs) in their development of emergent reading skills as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout, the units provide a variety of strategies to support ELs and strategies to use the students’ knowledge of literacy in their primary language to ensure that those skills are used to help them transfer to the English language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, after reading the book Water, in small groups, students find the word water throughout the pages of the book, with teacher assistance. Students count the letters and look for the letter Ww. To support ELs, the teacher shows the students a tub of water, and they take turns putting their hands into the water. The teacher encourages students to say the word for water in their home language. The teacher uses different strategies for ELs to develop letter identification throughout the week; for example, students sing the alphabet song while pointing to the alphabet chart.
In Unit 3, the teacher models a game: The teacher selects a name, and then students say it together and identify the sound that it begins with: “Zach. Zach starts with the /z/ sound.” This activity supports students in learning the sounds in their names. Prior to playing the game “Moves to Count,” the teacher shows students pictures of an elevator, talks about how elevators are used, and finds the word elevator in the ELs’ home language to help students transfer this knowledge to English. As the class pretends to ride an elevator, students count to ten and count back down to zero.
In Unit 4, after reading Maisy Goes to the Museum, students work together to sort an artifact collection. Students make captions for the following words in the museum: exhibit, collection, sort, artifact, and caption. The teacher finds the words in the students’ native language and uses visuals to explain the words. The teacher also shows photos of museums in ELs’ native country. During a small group lesson called “Armored and Safe,” the teacher finds the words armor, protection, and engineer in ELs’ home language. Students experiment with various types of armor and create protection for a fragile object. The teacher encourages students to identify the letter Jj and its sound by using the Lila puppet. Students practice identifying the uppercase and lowercase letter J by recognizing words that start with that letter; they also engage in total physical response when they draw uppercase J and lowercase j in the air, which covers a variety of strategies for supporting ELs.
In Unit 5, during small groups, the teacher asks students to help her fold four paper towels to put into ziplock bags for an experiment on planting seeds. The teacher finds the vocabulary words sprout, bean, radish, and experiment in ELs’ home language and provides a visual on how to plant seeds. After the students count out six seeds per bag, the teacher gives step-by-step instructions on how to plant seeds. During the small group lesson, “Accidents Happen,” the teacher focuses on different types of accidents and how they make the students feel. Before the lesson, the teacher shows students visuals for the word accident, including the word accident in the students’ home language. Students’ knowledge of literacy in their home language can thus transfer to English language and literacy skills.
The materials include full lessons and a variety of experiences through which students can engage with writing. Throughout the units, the materials provide guidance to the teacher with direct instruction. There are opportunities for students to imitate adult writing, opportunities for students to generate independent writing, opportunities for group writing on shared experiences, opportunities to create drawings with details that transfer to writing, and opportunities for writing in response to reading. Materials make connections between reading and writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the units, the materials provide direct writing instruction in different forms throughout the school day. The teacher models and engages in writing with the students during whole and small group instruction. During learning center time, the students engage in writing opportunities to imitate adult writing and generate their own independent writing.
In Unit 1, the “Our Senses Poster” activity provides students with opportunities to engage in an imitation of adult writing, shared group writing, independent writing, and print with teacher support. The teacher models creating the poster by writing the words “Our Senses: Taste and Smell” on top of the poster board. As the teacher is writing and reading the title, the students repeat and read the title out loud, allowing for the connection of reading and writing. Then, in small groups, the students and teacher collaborate and create a shared “Our Senses Poster”; they draw and write their observations, allowing for the transfer to writing. Next, students take turns writing, drawing, and gluing different things they smell and taste; the teacher encourages the use of descriptive words such as sweet, sour, and salty. In the “Writing” center, the lesson is extended when students create their own posters showcasing the senses of taste and smell. The students use materials to label their own objects, which allows students to convey a message and make connections between reading and writing. In the lesson for Otto Goes to School, the teacher and students create a list of things that Otto learns at school. Students share their responses as the teacher scribes and models writing a list, allowing for a connection between reading and writing and connecting this to the things they do at school.
In Unit 3, the small group lesson “Afraid Flap Pages” provides students with a variety of experiences to engage in writing. The teacher models how to write, using the sentence stem “When I am afraid, I can...” at the top of the page and working down to the bottom. The teacher draws a picture of a possible solution and then models writing the caption, allowing for direct instruction. The students create their own independent writing by completing the sentence stem with teacher assistance. The students create their pages using a non-breakable mirror and examples from the book; students thus have the opportunity to illustrate and draw with detail. The teacher encourages the students to write a caption for their drawing and then read their flap pages, which promotes the connection between reading and writing.
In Unit 5, the “Garden Party” activity provides guidance that encourages a variety of experiences through writing. The students create a page for a garden party invitation. The teacher shows the students a program and explains that it provides guests with information about the event. The students create the program together, allowing for a shared group writing experience. The teacher helps the students come up with the text for the program by modeling: “Visit the Stone Soup Area.” The teacher encourages the students to think and draw pictures with details for their part of the program, allowing for the independent part of the writing. After drawing, the teacher encourages students to think about and take turns writing the letters in the words while others write the letters in the air, reinforcing the connection between reading and writing.
The materials include full lessons and instruct students along the development stages of writing as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the materials follow the developmental continuum of how students learn writing, provide teacher guidance for moving students along, and provide guidance for teachers on how to include appropriate student contributions to writing and the writing process.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The material follows the developmental writing continuum by starting the school year with modeling and gradually incorporating more writing as the year progresses. The lessons guide the teacher to observe and assess the students for their own individual writing level. The checkpoint section of the lessons provides guidance to use assessments and observations as a reference for the different writing levels of students. The material then provides support for students that need it. The “Teacher’s Handbook” includes the “Scaffolded Writing Technique” chart to support differentiating writing, which supports the development of writing on the continuum. The handbook provides guidance to teachers in understanding the writing process. The material provides the teacher with scaffolding strategies used throughout the school year during small groups and referenced throughout the year in different lessons. Materials include guidance for teachers on how to include appropriate student contributions to writing and the writing process, as specified by the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. The materials include a “Writing” center, which is maintained over time with varied materials and tools, as described in the Teacher’s Handbook. This center is used through all lessons and provides a space to learn about, try out, and communicate through writing, drawing, and writing-related activities. Further in the handbook, the materials provide a chart and the Scaffolded Writing Technique, which supports the differentiation of skills in writing.
In Unit 1, the writing activity follows along the developmental stages of writing. The students create “compliment chains,” with nudging and guidance from the teacher to help move the students in the stages of writing development. Students draw the name of a classmate out of a pile and write that classmate a compliment. In the blank provided, the student writes the name that they drew independently or by copying the student’s name if needed. The teacher asks the student to verbally say the next part of the compliment, such as, “I feel happy when Leila shares the blocks.” The teacher says the sentence or phrase that the student wants to say and has the student repeat it. The teacher breaks the phrase into individual words, matches the letters the student writes to their abilities, and incorporates the scaffolded writing technique; this allows the teacher to nudge the students along in their writing. The other students are encouraged to write letters with their fingers in the sand or in the air and draw their own faces on the back of the compliment chain. This activity follows along the developmental continuum on how students learn to write.
In Unit 3, “Show What You Know,” follows the developmental continuum for writing; students write autobiographies on their own during center time. The teacher provides examples of students’ biographies for students to use as references. The students share important, interesting, and memorable parts of their lives. Students also share family activities or responsibilities. Materials follow the developmental continuum of how students learn writing by allowing them to create their own writing. In the small group lesson “Making a Ball and Scoop,” the students create a “How To” text. The teacher says a word, and the students write the first letter of the word that they hear. For students struggling, the teacher uses words that they know and alphabet cards to nudge them along the continuum for writing development.
In Unit 6, the “Class Video Yearbook” activity allows students to show how their writing skills have developed over the year. Students take pictures and write their names for the yearbook and then compare their names with those written at the beginning of the year. The teacher encourages writing for students at various levels of development by allowing them a chance to try it on their own or using a name card to help those that need it; this reinforces how students learn to write. The materials in the Teacher’s Handbook provide guidance to teachers in understanding the writing process. For example, the guidance defines writing as “communicating through print.” They further state: “Children generally progress from first ‘writing’ by drawing, then by scribbling that looks increasingly writing-like, then by making letter-like forms and random letter strings, then by invented or estimated spelling (for example, spelling bottle as BL and empty as MT) that increasingly approximates conventional spelling.”
The materials include full lessons that support fine motor development through writing. Throughout the units, the materials provide a variety of opportunities for children to develop their fine motor skills. They provide differentiation and guidance on how to develop students’ fine motor skills toward writing. Materials prescribe a variety of tools and surfaces for student writing experiences.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, the “Solution Suitcase” activity provides opportunities for students to develop their fine motor skills; students create their own “solution suitcase” cards that provide strategies (solutions) for addressing conflicts in the classroom. Students cut out the cards, write their names on the cards, and then decorate them using scissors.
Different learning center activities provide differentiation for the development of fine motor skills. In the “Art” center, the “Environment Rubbings” activity encourages students to collect objects from their environments, such as leaves and bark. They press a sheet of paper against the object and rub the side of a crayon back and forth against it. In the “Construction” zone, students sort blocks based on different attributes, which strengthens their fine motor skills toward writing. In the “Writing in the Sand” activity, students write in the sand with their fingers or craft sticks. Another activity in the “Writing” center encourages students to use a pencil and paper to write invitations. These activities provide a variety of tools and surfaces for student writing experiences.
In Unit 3, the students try the “Chopstick Challenge,” which helps develop and strengthen their fine motor skills toward writing. The students use a pair of wooden chopsticks to attempt to move different items from a bowl into an empty bowl. The teacher sets a timer for three minutes to challenge students to move beads quickly. The teacher then asks the students to count the beads and repeats the process with pom poms. The Art center includes the “Chalk and Water” painting activity; it recommends a variety of tools and surfaces for writing. Students receive chalk dipped in water and brushes and then write on the sidewalk pavement or on large construction paper, which helps to develop their fine motor skills. In the Construction center, students use coffee stirrers, playdough, and blocks to create letters. These activities support fine motor skill development alongside and through writing.
In Unit 5, the activity Chopstick Challenge is extended to include the use of different materials for students to practice fine motor skills. The students explore the ways in which form and function interact to make the challenge easier or harder, using spoons, forks, and chopsticks. The students use these tools to freely explore picking up and moving sand, rice grains, clay balls, small beads, or other small objects. In the “Exploration Station” activity, students dissect bean pods and use tools to find seeds. In a Writing center activity, students create invitations to the class garden party using pencils, crayons, and markers. These activities support fine motor skill development alongside and through writing.
The materials include full lessons that follow a logical continuum of concrete, pictorial, then abstract representations throughout all units as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the instruction of all mathematical competencies progresses from concrete to abstract. It includes a variety of concrete manipulatives and pictorial representations. There are activities to build conceptual understanding in counting, adding to, taking away, geometry, spatial sense, measurement, classification, and pattern skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the lesson uses concrete manipulatives to introduce students to rote counting and subitizing. During the “Connecting Time,” the students do a variation on counting how many students are present by counting feet instead of heads. The students face each other in a circle, with their feet pointing toward the middle, and the teacher says, “Today we are going to find out how many feet we have in this classroom!” The teacher guides the students to count the feet one by one. The students use a variety of manipulatives, such as counting bears, cubes, and blocks. The teacher passes out manipulatives, and the students engage in free exploration. The teacher engages the students and asks questions such as “How many cubes did you use to build your tower?” or “How many bears do you have in that little group? How do you know?” The teacher encourages the students to sort the manipulatives in various ways, such as by color and size. Students learn a game they will use throughout the year called “Moves to Count” that builds on conceptual understanding in counting. The students learn to count higher and higher numbers.
In Unit 2, materials include activities that establish a foundational understanding of math concepts. For example, the “Shape Match” game gives an opportunity for students to begin recognizing shapes by matching. The teacher shows the face (2D shape) of one block to the students, and they identify items in the classroom that are the same shape. Matching shapes and objects by some attributes is the foundational skill that leads to the development of the age-appropriate skill of naming common shapes. The students identify shapes using various items in the environment, including concrete representations. The teacher brings a variety of shapes of blocks from the “Construction” zone. The teacher encourages the students to describe, name, and discuss attributes of shapes and to match shapes, which facilitates learning geometry and spatial sense skills.
In Unit 4, the materials include activities that demonstrate a progression to more advanced math skills. The teacher introduces rhombuses and trapezoids. Students name items in the room that look like rectangles, circles, squares, and triangles; the teacher then introduces the rhombuses and trapezoids. The teacher shows students the rhombus and tells them what it is called, explaining that it is similar to the square but includes angles that are not right angles. The teacher then introduces the trapezoid. This lesson includes math concepts that incorporate more abstract and formal math concepts. The materials provide a concrete shape collection representation that reinforces learning of geometry and spatial sense skills by students identifying the common shapes.
In Unit 6, the “Subitize” lesson facilitates learning by integrating concrete representations of math concepts. The game uses cubes; students must quickly recognize and name the sum of two small groups (conceptual subitizing). The teacher shows cubes in one hand and cubes in the other hand, but only for two seconds. The students try to identify how many cubes there are in all. The students “Think, Pair, Share” about the number of cubes and how they know the total. They use their fingers to identify the amounts. The teacher continues the lesson by counting and verifying amounts. The materials include one-inch colored cubes to build a conceptual understanding of basic counting readiness and counting using nonverbal and verbal means. This lesson teaches the skill of verbally identifying the number of objects without counting. During small groups, students play the “High Low Card” game with a partner. The teacher explains the game, saying, “We will be playing the high low card game using dot cards. We have played this game before, but this time we are adding the cards together.” The teacher explains that each player has two piles of cards. The teacher models how to play. Each student receives a set of dot cards, mixes the cards, and puts them into two piles in front of themselves. The teacher explains, “You will each flip over two cards at the same time. Look at your card and add the number of dots. Then compare your total to your partner’s total. If your number is higher, say, ‘I have the higher total’ and take your partner’s cards. If you each have the same total, turn over two more cards and compare totals to break the tie.” These activities build conceptual understanding in counting to support students.
The materials include full lessons to promote instruction that builds on students’ informal knowledge about mathematics. Throughout the units, the materials prompt teachers to inquire about students’ developmental status and mathematical knowledge. They include cross-curricular opportunities to integrate mathematics authentically. Materials use the classroom environment and materials to explore math concepts and skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The material provides an assessment tool separated by content area. The math assessment tool covers all the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines for the “Math” domain, including shapes, counting, one-to-one correspondence, and sorting. The tool also references the lesson used to make the observation and assessment. The “Teacher’s Handbook” supports teachers with an understanding of the developmental sequence of skills in math, which is also aligned with guidance on the assessment of individual progress in all lessons across the curriculum. For example, “Math Trajectories” includes a chart with three columns: “Formative Assessment,” “Learning Trajectory Component,” and “What You Can Do.” It includes a section on how to use these. These assessment tools allow the teacher to gather and build on students’ informal knowledge about math and learn about their developmental status and mathematical knowledge.
In Unit 2, the teacher reads The Shape of Things. During the read-aloud, students look at the picture of the shape and then look to see if they can see the shape named in the text. On the pages about a square, the teacher models, “Right! We see a big yellow square that makes a nice house. Can you spot more squares in the picture?” The teacher describes a square, telling students that all sides of a square are the same length and that all four corners are right angles. After reading the book, the teacher asks students to think and identify other things made from the shapes and to draw the shapes in the air. The students find different shapes in the classroom, which supports the use of the classroom environment and materials as vehicles to explore math skills and concepts. In the small group lesson “Shape Match,” the teacher assesses the students’ mathematical knowledge by observing and taking notes on the formative assessment. The teacher documents and answers the following questions: “Are students able to name shapes?” “Able to match the same shapes?” “Able to connect shapes to the objects they know?” The teacher integrates the shape activity into centers, placing a limited number of matching shapes in the “Games and Puzzles” center for students to play Shape Match. The teacher uses the classroom environment during transitions, asking the students to play the “shape clean-up” game and look for specific shapes to put away; students then look for other shapes until all shapes are put away.
In Unit 4, the students play a construction activity game called “How High?” The teacher passes out one block to each student. The teacher places the first block and counts, “One.” Students come up one by one and add a block to the tower. Students count the blocks as each new block is added. After all the blocks are used, the teacher states the final number, for example, “We made a tower eighteen blocks high!” The teacher asks the students to move back and then knocks over the tower. Then, the students and teacher take a block from the fallen tower. The students create a circle with the blocks and count them, holding them up as they say the number. The teacher confirms that the same number of blocks was used to build the tower and the circle, even though the two forms are built differently. The teacher assesses the students’ counting skills by having them build different types of structures in the “Construction” zone. The “Dramatic Play” center is set up as the museum gift shop. The teacher puts a toy cash register and money in the center, which exposes students to mathematical artifacts. The students practice counting, adding, and one-to-one correspondence while playing in the center. This activity supports the use of the classroom environment, cross-curricular opportunities to authentically engage with math, and materials as vehicles to explore math concepts and skills.
In Unit 5, during the small group, the teacher shows the students a honeycomb photo and talks about the shapes bees use to create it. The teacher then shows the students the floor tiles and talks about the shapes used to create the pattern, demonstrating how to slide the tiles into place and showing that the shapes remain the same. The teacher invites the students to make a tiling with the squares lined up in rows and columns, similar to the floor tile. The teacher demonstrates that the shapes need to be close to each other with no spaces in between. The teacher shows the students the photos of the tilings again, and they copy them, using the pattern blocks to make their own tilings as big as they can. The teacher encourages the students to talk about their tilings to explain how they fit them together and whether they notice the shapes stay the same even when they slide them together. The teacher can use this activity to assess the students’ understanding of shape matching. Students engage in their classroom environment using the floor tiles. The use of shapes and pattern blocks extends to the Construction center, into which the teacher places the activity “Pattern-Block Picture Puzzle.” The students use pattern-block picture puzzles to make pictures with different shapes. The activity is extended: Students make their own garden picture puzzle by tracing it onto a picture. This extension supports cross-curricular opportunities to integrate mathematics throughout the day authentically.
The materials follow a sequence that supports the development of early mathematical competencies and problem-solving skills throughout all units. Materials develop children’s capacity to ask thoughtful questions, recognize problems in their environment, and develop mathematical reasoning with familiar materials in the classroom and the world outside.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, the small group activity includes questioning to support the exploration of math concepts and direct exploration of students’ environment. During the “Outdoor Scavenger Hunt,” students look outside for items identified on a list; students actively observe the environment while comparing and classifying objects. The teacher asks, “Do you observe a squirrel?” or “Do you see a group of three rocks?” This activity allows the students to actively engage in the environment.
In Unit 4, the materials include activities that encourage feedback and questioning. In the lesson “Conrad the Confused Chameleon Counts,” students engage in an activity that helps them explore mathematical concepts by counting. The teacher shows the numeral 12 card to Conrad and the students. The teacher asks, “What number is this? That’s right! This is the number twelve.” Conrad the Confused Chameleon counts out twelve cubes and begins counting out cubes but counts past twelve. The students look at the number card, and the teacher asks, “Do you think Conrad the Confused Chameleon is counting too far?” When the students recognize his confusion, they explain why it is wrong and kindly help him count out the cubes correctly. The teacher continues the process of showing a number card and having Conrad count out an incorrect number of cubes, making goof-ups in the following ways: skipping over cubes as he counts, counting the same cube more than once, or counting but repeatedly skipping the same number. The materials use cubes placed in the classroom to solve the problem and answer the questions.
In Unit 5, the materials challenge children to use mathematical reasoning and problem solve in their environment to answer “How many more?” In the small group math lesson “Fruit for a Party: Fix the Number,” the students put the right number of pieces of fruit in the basket. The teacher says, “Originally, four people were coming to the party, so I needed four pieces of fruit. I have four pieces of fruit in the basket. But now, there are seven people coming, and I need seven pieces of fruit. What should we do to make sure there are seven pieces of fruit in the basket?” The teacher writes the numeral 7 on the chart paper. The students “Think, Pair, Share” their ideas; students share their thoughts, developing their capacity to ask thoughtful questions. The teacher creates a T-chart with the number 4 on the top of the chart. The teacher explains to the students that they are going to think of ways to create four. The teacher shows the students four objects and explains that there are going to be two groups. The teacher asks, “How many pieces of fruit do we have in all?” The students Think, Pair, Share to figure out the number of fruits. The teacher counts the number of fruits and explains, “We started with four and made two groups of two. Two pieces of fruit and two pieces of fruit make four pieces of fruit. We have four pieces of fruit again!” The teacher puts the number 2 on each side of the vertical line. The teacher then asks the students, “What other combinations of numbers could we add together to get four in all?” The students use the fruit to demonstrate their thinking; materials thus encourage problem-solving and develop mathematical reasoning using familiar objects.
The materials build number sense. They provide guidance for teachers on building students’ conceptual understanding of math. Students have frequent, spiraled, and varied opportunities to build number sense as outlined in the PreKGuidelines throughout all units.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Handbook” provides guidance that describes the developmental progression of math skills. For example, Appendix B includes the “Math Trajectories” chart, which shows the progression of concepts, structures, and skill development in math learning. Each skill category and level corresponds to a specific small group lesson. This chart supports teachers in developing students’ conceptual understanding of math. The chart also outlines multiple small group lessons for the entire year that support the development of number sense.
In Unit 1, the materials provide opportunities to develop math skills throughout the day. Following the read-aloud Otto Goes to School, the teacher encourages the students to share about themselves; students vote with thumbs-up or thumbs-down. The teacher writes the data on a chart and counts the items. During “Circle Time” later in the day, the teacher invites students to participate in a counting activity, “How Many Are Here Today?” Students count as they pass the ball to each other; this can be used daily to take attendance. The materials provide multiple opportunities to practice number sense and one-to-one correspondence through variations of this game. For example, a variation of the game later in the unit considers two pieces of information or specific attributes. Instead of counting each other, the students count the number of children who show a specific attribute, such as wearing a particular color that day.
In Unit 4, the materials incorporate math activities in daily routines; teachers count while transitioning to various areas throughout the day. For example, when the students leave the room for an activity, they count the steps to the door. Even if the students cannot count past ten, it is still fun for them to play along. In the learning center and small group activity “Math Magic,” students count by ones to ten then back from ten. Students work together to put the number cards in order from one to ten. After the cards are in order, the students count the cards to ensure they are in the correct order. Then, they count the cards backward from ten to one. The students play a card game called “Disappearing Numbers.” The teacher spreads the cards face up where the students can see them. The students work together to put the cards in the correct order. Then, students pair off to play a guessing game. One pair of partners goes first to demonstrate. One student covers his/her eyes; the other student removes one card from the number line, leaving a space where the card had been. When the student uncovers his/her eyes, the student studies the number line to name the number that has disappeared. The teacher then asks the group to give a thumbs-up if they agree with the answer or a thumbs-down if they disagree; students name the missing number; the teacher asks them how they knew. These activities help students develop number sense.
In Unit 6, materials support learning math throughout the day while incorporating a developmental progression of math skills. For example, in the “Exploration Station” center, in the activity “How We’ve Grown,” the students measure how tall they have grown since the first day of the year. Using the measurements taken at the beginning of the year, the students compare heights, measuring each student again and marking the height on the butcher paper next to the older measurement. Using rulers, the students measure how much each child has grown. The teacher measures the length between the first measurement and the newest one by placing the zero of the ruler at the first mark and measuring to the most recent mark. This lesson progresses from counting skills at the beginning of the year to comparing numbers and applying them to measurements at the end of the year. The game “Number Fingers” supports students’ understanding of various ways to compose numbers. The teacher encourages students to represent numbers and quantities in various ways by using their hands and describing how they created the total number. The teacher asks the students to show a total of five fingers. After the students hold up their fingers, the teacher discusses the various ways students decide how to show five fingers. The teacher asks, “Did anyone hold up one hand?” and “Did anyone hold up three fingers on one hand and two on the other?” The teacher asks the students to show five fingers again but in a different way than they did the first time. The teacher repeats the process up to ten. These activities build on students’ number sense by having students count and compare numbers.
The materials include full lessons to develop students’ academic math vocabulary. Throughout units, the materials include repeated opportunities to hear math vocabulary and practice using the math vocabulary. There is guidance for teachers on how to scaffold and support students’ development and use of academic math vocabulary.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Handbook” supports teachers in understanding the different math developmental levels. Appendix B includes “Math Trajectories,” a chart that lists the math learning trajectories and aligns to the math lessons. These levels show the progression of concepts, structures, and skill development in math learning. The materials guide teachers in understanding how to adjust activities based on the students’ skill level; they include guidance for teachers on how to scaffold and support students’ development and use of academic math vocabulary throughout all units.
In Unit 1, the teacher introduces the center time activity, “How Many Are Here Today?” The activity is about numbers and how we use numbers every day to tell us how many of something we have. The students count to find out how many students are in the class that day. Each student stands up and is counted as students slowly pass the ball. The students echo count and repeat the number word. The last number word is repeated as the last child is counted, allowing students to hear repeated math vocabulary. During small group guided mathematics instruction, the teacher introduces the activity “Counting Time” and provides a variety of manipulatives, including cubes, blocks, and shapes. The teacher engages in conversations with the students about the materials by asking, “What are your three wheels doing? How many cubes did you use to build your tower? How many shapes do you have in that little group? How do you know?” The students answer the questions, allowing them to practice using math vocabulary; the teacher scaffolds the learning when necessary.
In Unit 3, the lesson “Make a Triangle” integrates a chant with the new math vocabulary (triangles, sides, angles, and corners). The students sing the chant and focus on the number of corners, angles, and sides that the triangle has. The teacher emphasizes that a triangle’s sides and angles can be different sizes, but what is most important is that its three sides are straight and connected to make a closed shape. The teacher asks the students to use their fingers to form triangles. The chant is an extension of the whole group lessons on triangles previously taught in the unit. The chant is used more than once in the unit for students to practice and internalize the meaning of the word triangles; students thus practice using math vocabulary. The students are reminded of a book they have read, Shape of Things, and that the book shows examples of how shapes are used to create things. The teacher invites students to look for shapes in the book, especially the rhombus. The teacher goes to the beginning page and asks students, “What shape do you see on this page?” If students have difficulty responding, the teacher scaffolds to try to elicit an answer. The teacher goes to the selected pages to review the shapes and asks questions such as “Why is that shape a good choice in that picture?” After reading the book, the teacher asks if they know another name for a rhombus (diamond). These lessons include opportunities to develop students’ academic math vocabulary by providing repeated opportunities to hear math vocabulary and use math vocabulary. There is scaffolding guidance for the teacher.
In Unit 6, the teacher introduces the “Pattern Dance.” The students practice math vocabulary words such as patterns, AB, ABB, ABC, and unit patterns. The teacher creates a movement pattern and demonstrates it to students. Then, music is played, and students replicate it while identifying the pattern, allowing for repeated opportunities to hear math vocabulary. The students play the Pattern Dance numerous times using different types of pattern combinations; this provides them with practice using math vocabulary. The students create their own patterns and have their classmates replicate and guess the pattern. During small group time, the students play a game involving measurement called “Paths to Kindergarten.” The teacher shows the students a toy character and a game board. The teacher asks, “How can we figure out which path is shorter using these tools?” The students are paired together and measure the shortest path to kindergarten using cubes and coffee stirrers in any way they can. During the game, the teacher asks prompting questions, such as “How many of these cubes are needed to measure this route?” or “How many coffee stirrers did you use to measure this route?” The teacher models mathematics vocabulary terms such as long, short, equal, same, and different; questions support student use of these new terms.
The materials provide full lessons on building science knowledge through inquiry-based instruction and exploration of the natural world as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the materials provide guidance for the teacher to develop children’s observation and questioning of their environment and their ability to communicate ideas. Materials include exploration with scientific tools and opportunities for students to explore physical, life, and space science through hands-on experiences.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, in the small group activity “Smell and Tell,” the students use their sense of smell to identify the items contained in small canisters. Pictures of the items are provided as visual cues, including toothpaste, coffee, soap, and other items. This activity facilitates observation skills and inquiry using the sense of smell; students identify, think, and communicate their findings using scientific vocabulary such as observe, predict, and record. The teacher records their findings on a chart paper, which develops students’ ability to communicate ideas through hands-on experiences. Students explore different objects using magnifying glasses when the teacher reads the book Nature Up Close. The teacher asks students what a magnifying glass is and what it does. The teacher has several items for students to examine, such as shells and rocks, and describes one of the items using descriptive words to help students guess the item, such as “Does the shell look bumpy or smooth?” The teacher reminds students that a magnifying glass is like a mirror so that tiny things can be seen. Students draw the object seen with and without the magnifying glass, which allows them to explore using scientific tools.
In Unit 3, during small groups, students make predictions and investigate movement during the “Block and Roll” experiment, in which they explore ramps and stairs. The students participate in a discussion about all the ways that ramps make traveling up and down easier. The students also communicate their ideas by answering the following questions: “How do cars move up and down from a low place to a higher place? Can they move up and down stairs? How do ramps help people?” The teacher shows the students items that will or will not roll. Then, students work in partners with a set of items, a pencil, and a recording sheet. As students test each item, they put a checkmark in the appropriate box depending on whether the item rolls. Students take turns sliding the item down a ramp, and the teacher talks about the way different phenomena occur, such as how rectangular prisms slide rather than roll. After students have finished testing, the teacher leads groups to compare their results and predictions. This activity allows students to observe, make predictions, communicate ideas, use scientific tools, and explore the sciences through hands-on experiences.
In Unit 5, the teacher reads aloud the book Plants We Eat and How They Grow. The teacher tells students that we eat certain parts of plants and the fruit of the tomato plant. The teacher describes how tomatoes grow and what they need to be healthy. The students communicate their ideas by answering the following questions: “What is planted in the soil to start a tomato plant? What would happen if there was not enough water for the tomato plants?” The students communicate their ideas by adding drawings of the stages of growing tomatoes in their science journals. During the small group activity “Seed-Sprouting and Planting Experiment,” students create bags of both dry and moist seeds to compare and make predictions about the growth of dry and moist seeds. Teachers ask, “What makes you think that the seeds will or will not sprout?” The teacher records the students’ predictions about sprouting on chart paper. Students observe, make growth comparisons, and record this in their journals. Materials include exploration with age-appropriate scientific tools and hands-on experiences. The students check on their plant experiments and make predictions about what they think they will observe when they look at the plants that are being grown in the dark and the plants that are being grown in the light. The students compare the plants grown in the dark and the plants grown in the light. The teacher asks the following questions: “Do radish seedlings need light to grow and be healthy? How do you know?” “What do you observe? Do the plants grown in the dark look the same as those grown in the light? Do bean seedlings need light to grow and be healthy? How do you know?” The students record their observations in their journals. These experiments allow students to build science knowledge through inquiry-based instruction and questioning of their environment.
The materials include some opportunities and lessons on the study of culture and community. There are some opportunities for students to learn about routines, events, and roles of consumers, yet minimal opportunities for students to explore community and self throughout units.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Handbook” provides the teacher with general guidance on how to engage diverse families. For example, the guidance provides different approaches for building relationships and making connections with the home. For example, materials encourage students to make posters about their families to hang in the classroom; and encourage teachers to include books in the “Book Nook” that reflect students’ families and invite families to share with the class, which promotes community and culture. The handbook emphasizes the importance of reviewing and creating schedules. The teacher creates and hangs cards for each part of the day and puts the schedule at eye level in a place to which the students have easy access, so they can change it. The teachers review the schedule daily at “Welcome and Read Alouds.” They show the students how to read the schedule and refer back to it frequently, which allows students to learn about routines, events, and predictability.
In Unit 1, in the small group lesson “Meet Our Class Book,” students develop a sense of self by creating their own individual page. The teacher creates pages for the students to fill in: “... is... years old. She/he likes to…. Her/his favorite thing to do at school is….” Students also create their self-portraits by looking at themselves in the mirror. The whole group lesson Owl Babies provides students the opportunity to observe and discuss similarities between the owl babies’ family and their own. The teacher talks with the students about the roles and responsibilities of family and emphasizes that families take care of each other. The teacher asks the students how their family members take care of each other, leads a discussion, and shares the similarities that they observe, which allows students to explore commonalities and differences in individuals.
In the lesson “How Many Are Here Today?” the teacher makes a daily activity of counting how many students are present every morning and how many students were present yesterday. The students count how many students are present today and how many students were present yesterday. This activity provides opportunities for students to learn about routines and events, both past, present, and future. Students continue to learn about family customs and traditions in the “Dramatic Play” center. The teacher includes items that reflect the children’s home environments, such as recipes, newspapers, books, empty boxes of food—with original labels reflective of children’s home languages—and artwork. The teacher adds photos of the students’ families and discusses how their families are alike and different, including the following questions: “Who does the cooking? Who washes the laundry? What other jobs do their family members do? What jobs do the children do?” These activities allow students to actively engage and build social studies knowledge through community and culture. The materials do not fully develop full lessons on self and family throughout all units.
In the Unit 3 project, students make two sets of toys (one for their classroom and one to give to another class or a center for homeless families or the like), and the Dramatic Play center becomes a toy store, exposing students to the different roles of consumers in their community and providing students an opportunity to use play money, create a toy catalog, and explore roles, including store manager, cashier, and customer.
In Unit 4, the students learn about different jobs and the work people do in constructing a building. In the “Meet the Experts—Construction Site” lesson, the teacher reviews information about constructing a castle and asks questions about the process: “What is needed to have water… to power the lights, etc.” The teacher asks students if they remember what kinds of things happen before someone starts to build a building. The teacher talks about a sequence of events required to build a building and about the different jobs, such as carpenters, plumbers, and electricians, that are needed to construct the building. The teacher introduces the idea of what a consumer is in the unit about museums. The Dramatic Play center is set up as a “Museum Gift Shop,” and the teacher models what the consumer does and what the shopkeeper does. The teacher reminds the students of the rules, saying, “When you are the shopper, you let the worker know how many cubes, dinosaurs, or other items you would like to purchase.” The students buy up to 15 items (or more if their counting ability is higher). The teacher then tells the shopkeeper that he or she will count out the number of items and put the items into the box. Each item costs one dollar. The teacher provides play money. Then, the students explore the roles; one student pretends to be the museum worker and the other the consumer. The students pretend to make a purchase, then reverse roles and repeat the activity. These lessons expose students to the different roles of consumers in their community. The materials do not focus on social studies knowledge of family and only reference some of the community workers. The materials provide opportunities for children to begin to understand important symbols and customs that represent American beliefs and principles and contribute to our national identity. The daily routine outlined in the materials provides students with a daily opportunity to observe and discuss the flag of the United States of America and the state flag, as well as the opportunity to observe a moment of silence and hear or say the Pledge of Allegiance. Throughout all units, students are asked to vote on different occasions to help lay a foundation for children's development of self within the community at large.
In Unit 5, the students learn about other cultures from around the world through bread. As the students make bread, they compare the similarities and differences of bread around the world and discuss and describe the bread they eat with their families.
In Unit 6, students connect with an activity they did in Unit 1, the “Meet Our Class Book.” The teacher asks students if they remember creating the book at the beginning of the year and what the book is about. The teacher asks the students to identify what they wrote in the book at the beginning of the year and compare it to what the class is like now (emphasizing the change over time). The students compare a name-writing sample from the beginning of the year to one from the end of the year. After reading the book, the teacher asks questions such as “Do you think more things are different or more things are the same from the beginning of the year? Why or why not?” In the “Writing” center, students create and write autobiographies. The teacher encourages and guides the students to identify similarities and differences between their families and their classmates’ families. Students share their responsibilities, their role, and experiences with their families, which provides opportunities for students to explore commonalities and differences in individuals.
The materials include full lessons and expose children to the fine arts through exploration as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the materials provide a variety of daily experiences through multiple mediums and emphasize the students’ engagement in the process of creating rather than the product created.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The material provides many daily opportunities for students to engage in different mediums, such as music, drawing, movements, and engaging in the “Dramatic Play” center. Every morning, the teacher welcomes and starts the day with a song, dance, or fingerplay to engage students in whole group activities that encourage movement. The “Art” center has many activities that allow students to engage in the process of creating their own artwork rather than the product being created.
In Unit 1, every day, the teacher welcomes the students with a song; this is also true of the other units. The teacher and students sing “The Parts of Me” song to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to support learning number words and body parts. The teacher and students sing, “I have one head (and they move head side to side),” and continue with one nose (point to nose). The students make hearing and touch posters for their senses. The teacher provides objects for students to explore, such as sandpaper and velvet, on paper plates. The students draw and glue words and pictures from magazines and newspapers of things they observe while hearing and touching. The teacher adds red, blue, and yellow paint to the Art Center. The students explore how to make different colors by mixing the primary colors and creating their own artwork. These activities allow students to actively engage in the fine arts throughout different daily experiences, through music and creating their own artwork.
In Unit 3, the students create fingerpaint tracks in the Art center. The teacher places small cars with wheels, bowls of fingerpaint, and butcher paper in the Art center. The students create their own artwork by rolling the cars in the paint and then rolling the cars across the paper. The teacher reads aloud the book Dream Something Big. With a partner, the students share a time when they transformed some old material into something special. A few students share with the group how they felt when they created it and relate their feelings to how Uncle Sam might have felt. The teacher places an assortment of objects in the Art center for students to use to glue and create their own masterpieces; the teacher writes down the children’s descriptions of what they constructed. The teacher sets up the Dramatic Play center as a toy store. The students play and act out having a job, including how to order, sell, and stock the shelves. These activities provide a variety of daily experiences through a variety of mediums and allow students to engage in the process of creating their own artwork.
In Unit 6, in the Art center activity “Excited for Kindergarten,” the students paint a picture about the things they are excited about in kindergarten and the things they like about prekindergarten; this allows students to create an open-ended drawing or painting based on their interest. In the “Favorite Art Materials” activity, the teacher creates a list of students’ favorite art materials and lessons from past units. The teacher features the art materials chosen by the group, and students create their own artwork using their favorite art materials. In the “Self-Portrait Activity,” the teacher provides a variety of materials, and students create their self-portraits. Students compare how much they have changed from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. The teacher displays their artwork and captions in the classroom for families and friends to enjoy. During a math lesson, the teacher demonstrates an AABB pattern unit by stomping two times and then clapping two times. The teacher plays music, and the students join in on the pattern dance, saying the pattern out loud. Once the dance is complete, the students describe the unit of the pattern (stomp, stomp, clap, clap) and then use letters to describe the units of the pattern (AABB). Then, the students use music to show a new pattern for the group to repeat. The activities in this unit allow for students to engage in the fine arts through multiple mediums, including music, dance, other movements, and creating drawings and artwork.
The materials include full lessons and expose children to technology applications through exploration as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Throughout the units, the materials provide a variety of daily experiences and opportunities to link technology to the classroom. These use a variety of digital tools and enhance students’ learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Teacher’s Handbook,” under the “Computer Center” section, materials provide guidance on best practices, give evidence to support the appropriate use of computers and devices in the classroom, and explain how computers are beneficial to learning. The materials provide strategies for extensions, including whole group discussions after computer sessions to give the students opportunities to talk about how they use the computers, ask questions, and discuss any problems they’re having in the center.
In Unit 1, the teacher introduces the “Computer” center, how to log in, and expectations. The students begin to play learning games and practice typing their names. In the small group activity “Expectations Scavenger Hunt,” the students use a camera to take photos of other students engaging in appropriate behaviors and check them off a list; this allows them to explore and use various digital tools. The students create fingerprints on index cards and are instructed on how to use the internet to access information about fingerprint types; the teacher discusses safety when using technology, with additional reminders about the rules. Throughout the units, the “Listening” center provides students a way to engage with technology in a meaningful way. Students hear recordings of books that they have read with the teacher and choose the books that they want to listen to. The material provides a digital resource called “Games,” which has weekly games that students play when they visit the Computer center. The digital resource is set up so that every student has his/her own account and password. Passwords are made up of three picture icons that are easy for students to remember. The games are easy, have lively visuals, and have instructions that are easy to understand. The students are guided by recorded instructions and can pause and return at a later time as needed. These activities provide students with opportunities to experience technology in the classroom and explore and use digital tools. They provide learning that is appropriate and is not distracting.
In Unit 4, the small group activity “Emotions Story Writing” provides appropriate technology use and various digital tools. The teacher asks the students what digital tools they could use to record their emotion stories. The teacher demonstrates how to use the listening device and invites one student to tell their story while another child records it. The students take turns telling their parts of the story and operating the device. A computer device is used to “read” the stories, which allows the students to listen to them. The students can later access and listen to all the recorded stories. In the activity “Who’s the Expert,” students explore the jobs of different experts such as archaeologists or paleontologists. In the Computer center, students use technology to email an expert who gives them information about dinosaurs. The teacher reminds students to practice safe behaviors online and observes them to ensure safety. These activities enhance students’ opportunities to engage in a variety of appropriate technology applications by using a variety of digital tools in the classroom with teacher guidance.
In Unit 6, the students think of what they are proud of and use it for the class video yearbook. The teacher asks the students what digital tools can be used to record the video. The students do a “Think, Pair, Share” about what they are proud of or what they have learned during the school year. If students name a skill that can be recorded or videotaped, the teacher records the student doing that skill. The video segments are recorded for the yearbook. The students continue using an audio recorder to record themselves retelling stories. The students later access and listen to the recorded stories. In the Listening center, the teacher puts recorded children’s books so that students can listen as they read along with the story. These activities include a variety of technology applications, incorporate a variety of digital tools in the classroom, and provide appropriate learning opportunities.
The materials include developmentally appropriate diagnostic tools and guidance for teachers to monitor progress. They include minimal guidance for students to monitor their own progress.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a variety of diagnostic tools that are developmentally appropriate, including checklists, observations, and informal assessments. The materials provide math, science, and social and emotional assessments for each small group lesson; they are organized by objective, in the order that the lessons and objectives appear in the unit. The teacher accesses the informal assessments through the online portal, under the “Assessments” tab or the “Pre-K Formative Assessment Book.” The assessment tools are designed to allow students to demonstrate understanding in a variety of ways and settings; materials provide guidance to ensure consistent and accurate administration of diagnostic tools. The materials include a separate assessment guide, the Pre-K Formative Assessment book, which helps the teacher focus observations on the most important knowledge and skills. Each assessment provides a place for the student’s name, three options for the teacher to choose from, and a section for observational notes. The three options provided are “Independent,” “With Help,” and “With Much Help.” The assessments also include a checkpoint question during the small group lesson that guides the teacher in assessing the student; for example, “Does the child identify others’ emotions based on the pictures?” and “Do the students identify problems?” The online portal includes an “Assessment” tab at the top of the page that provides the teacher with a method of electronically documenting and assessing the target skill in each subject area (science, math, social and emotional development, literacy), in each small group lesson or activity, as they are taught. Based on observation, the tool allows the teacher to document how the students demonstrate the skills including (Independent, With Help, or With Much Help) and a “Notes” section for supplemental anecdotal information. The materials include a variety of diagnostic tools that are developmentally appropriate (e.g., observational, anecdotal, formal). The materials do not provide adequate tools and opportunities for students to consistently track their own progress and growth of their skills throughout the school year.
In Unit 2, during the whole group activity, the teacher reads a text called Big Trees. In this text, students learn about the way people, animals, and plants are connected to one another and to the earth’s materials. The teacher asks questions about the book. The teacher notes whether students can describe the relationships between and among the components of the environment and whether instead of just saying the word bird or worm, the student describes how they saw the bird eating the worm; the teacher can thus perform observational and anecdotal progress monitoring. In the small group activity “Shape Match,” in the “Checkpoint” section, the teacher observes and takes notes using formative assessment during small groups. The teacher asks guiding questions, such as, “Are students able to name shapes?” “Are students able to match the same shapes?” “Can they connect shapes to objects they know?” This guidance ensures consistent and accurate administration of diagnostic tools.
Each unit concludes with a project to assess the knowledge and skills of the students. In Unit 5, there is a garden party. The teacher shares the work that students have done as they learned about gardens, plants, and other living things. The students present their class book on the radish life cycle, review their science journals, and meet the earthworms students have been learning about. The students create a garden mural that has actual-size flowers, insects, and plants found in gardens. The “Growing Our Garden” lesson has assessments, including the science assessment for the “Seed Sprouting and Planting Experiment.” The assessment checklist prompts the teacher to ask questions such as “Does the student explain his/her predictions about the sprouting experiment, using prior experience and knowledge?” The checklist includes the students’ names, and the teacher uses the checklist to see if the student performs the task with help, independently, or with much help; there is also space for teacher notes. The math assessment for ordinal numbers (“Disappearing Numbers”) is a formal assessment; it includes a math trajectory, which is used to determine whether the students do the activity independently, with help, or with much help. The materials include diagnostic tools to measure all content and process skills for prekindergarten, as outlined in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
In Unit 6, the small group lesson “The Class Video Yearbook: My Name” provides students the opportunity to look at their growth with name writing. The teacher shows students a sample of their names that they wrote at the beginning of the year and compares it to the way they write their names now. Students are asked to try to identify the letters that they wrote at the beginning of the year to see the progress they have made, allowing students to track their own progress and growth. The end-of-the-unit project recaps how the students have grown and what they have learned throughout the year. The students create a class book called “What We Have Learned” and revisit their favorite lessons and activities. This book allows students to demonstrate what they now know and what they did not know at the beginning of the year, thus allowing students to track their own growth and progress. However, this is the only place throughout all the units that provides tools for students to track their own progress and growth.
The materials include guidance for teachers and administrators to analyze and respond to data from diagnostic tools. The materials support teachers with guidance to respond to individual students’ needs in all domains. Tools yield meaningful information for teachers to use when planning instructions. There are a variety of resources and activities to respond to student data and guidance for administrators to support teachers in analyzing and responding to data.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Handbook” provides guidance for completing informal assessments during small groups and computer activities and through recording observations throughout the day. Depending on the results of these assessments and observations, the teacher can choose appropriate activities for “Fast Focus” and “Small Group” on Day 5 of each week. The materials also provide a “Pre-K Assessment” book. Within the online portal, data is analyzed for individual children in real-time. As an assessment is completed, the data is adjusted and reflected in a pie chart. Formative assessments are included in most domains; these guide teachers in making instructional decisions about individual students and small groups of students.
Another resource, the “Formative Assessment Handbook,” provides the teacher with assessments for every domain. The assessment includes a checkpoint question that supports the teacher in assessing the students. For example, in a lesson focused on subitizing, the teacher observes and responds to the checkpoint question, “Does the student compare and tell whether or not his cards have more dots than yours?” Based on observation, the teacher can record whether the student was able to do the task “Independently,” “With Help,” or “With Much Help.” These diagnostic tools support the teacher in easily interpreting the results to support the students’ developmental levels. These diagnostic tools yield meaningful information for teachers to use to plan instruction and differentiation.
Additionally, the materials include recommendations across the lessons in each unit to support teachers in differentiating instruction based on informal student observations. For example, small group lessons are followed by a checkpoint section that prompts the teacher on when to administer the formative assessment targeting the specific skills taught in the lesson. The teacher can follow the “More Support” suggestions to modify activities for struggling students based on these checkpoints. Examples of this can be found across the units. For example, in the Unit 1 small group activity “Counting Time,” the students are assessed on counting multiple different objects. The More Support section suggests using the one-inch natural cubes rather than multiple different objects to help the student focus on counting. In another example from the “Literacy” domain, in a Unit 4 small group activity, “Sorting and Resorting Our Collections,” the checkpoint cues teachers to observe the students and reflect on the question “Are students engaging in the activity by using oral language and writing the letters as you write and speak?” The More Support section suggests selecting shorter words or phrases to support struggling students. The materials provide diagnostic tools that yield meaningful information for teachers to use when planning instruction and differentiation.
In Unit 2, the small group lesson “Review and Enrichment” provides the teacher with skills and activities that review the lessons from that week. Depending on the assessments done during the week, the teacher has the flexibility to choose the skill and activity that will best support the students. The domains covered in this section are “Math,” “Literacy,” “Science,” and “Social and Emotional Development.” The material provides a checkpoint section that reviews the importance of completing and reviewing the assessments. The materials provide a variety of resources and teacher guidance on how to leverage different activities to respond to student data. For example, the Unit 2 small group activity “Name Match” addresses naming shapes. In the “Continue the Learning” section, the teacher places shapes in the “Games and Puzzles” center to encourage students to play the game independently and reinforce the skill. Under the More Support section, the teacher limits the number of shapes and provides more time during the shape match game for those students who are struggling. Under the “More Challenge” section, the recommendation is to include less familiar shapes during the activity. The materials provide a variety of resources and teacher guidance on how to leverage different activities to respond to student data. In Unit 6, in the small group lesson “The Class Video Yearbook: My Name,” students look at how their writing skills have developed over the year. The teacher observes and takes notes on the literacy formative assessment, following the guiding question, “Are students able to write their first name?” The teacher follows guidance to scaffold instruction based on this observation. If the student is still struggling, the teacher uses the student’s name card to help the student determine what to write and assist with letter formation. For more of a challenge, the teacher invites students to write both their first and last names. The materials provide a variety of resources and teacher guidance on how to leverage different activities to respond to student data.
The “Principal’s Handbook” provides administrators with an overview of the program. The Teacher Handbook provides this information for the teacher. The guidance supports the administrator to understand the entire program, including the Formative Assessment Handbook and all its components, to best support teachers. This handbook allows the principal to understand the type of assessments used in the prekindergarten classroom. The materials provide guidance for administrators to support teachers in analyzing and responding to data through the use of an online portal that includes the “Fidelity Checklist” as a quick observation tool to monitor the implementation of structural and process features of the classroom.
The materials include frequent and integrated opportunities throughout all units. The materials include routine and systematic progress monitoring opportunities that accurately measure and track student progress. The frequency of progress monitoring is appropriate for the age and content skill.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Routine and systematic progress monitoring, including formal and informal assessment measures, is integrated into the lessons and units throughout the year. In the online portal, the teacher can reference the date, lesson, and objective that is observed in a given lesson. Using this tool, the teacher can identify the frequency at which each skill will be observed as well as quickly identify the number of opportunities provided for a given objective. For example, observations and assessments focused on the Prekindergarten Guideline to describe and identify shapes in the environment are directly assessed twice and observed 13 times throughout the year, which allows for an appropriate skill progression across the year. The material provides the teacher with the “Formal Assessment Handbook,” which guides the teacher in providing progress monitoring throughout all the domains. These domains are assessed with different skills, ranging from every week to every two weeks. The material guides the teacher to provide an assessment during Days 2, 3, and 4 of the week. Each assessment is given to assess a skill that was taught that week during the unit. The assessments are mostly observation-based; they are age-appropriate and fair for this age group. Frequency of progress monitoring is appropriate for the age and content skill. This instrument provides for individual documentation of how the student demonstrates the skill, including “Independent,” “With Help,” or “With Much Help.” It also includes a column for notes to document specific approaches used or other data/information to support an understanding of each student’s level of functioning. The literacy assessment is included in a separate section and is aligned to the literacy objectives as they are presented in each lesson. The materials also include the alphabet knowledge and vocabulary assessment, which directly assesses letter naming and sounds. The materials include routine and systematic progress monitoring opportunities that accurately measure and track student progress.
In Unit 2, the materials include recommendations for assessing students through a formative assessment in a developmentally appropriate way. For example, the small group activity “Shape Match” teaches students shapes and matching. The “Checkpoint” section that follows assesses this skill based on observation, using the indicator “Students will name and describe the attributes of familiar 2D and 3D shapes.” The measures include Independent, With Help, or With Much Help. The frequency of progress monitoring is appropriate for the age and content skill.
In the Unit 3 small group lesson “Emotions Matching Game,” students recognize emotions in themselves and in others. Students hear and use the words emotions, feelings, happy, sad, lonely, angry, mad, scared, afraid, frustrated, excited, disappointed, worried, and proud. The teacher observes and takes notes on the formative assessment for this small group: “Do the students identify an appropriate emotion based on the visual cues? Do the students identify appropriate ways to act when they feel certain emotions?” The frequency of progress monitoring is appropriate for the age and content skill.
In Unit 5, the materials provide suggestions for tracking student progress in the development of literacy skills appropriate for this age. For example, in the small group activity “Garden Party Invitations,” students work with the teacher to write a party invitation. The checkpoint activity that follows assesses writing development. The skill being measured includes “Students will make progress in naming letters, linking each letter to a sound or sounds that it typically represents, and linking sounds to specific letters.” In the small group lesson “Growing a Garden Game,” students match the number of seeds to the goal number. Students hear and use the word add. The teacher observes and takes notes on the formative assessment for this small group: “Can students determine the accurate amount to place on each garden to reach the goal number?” The measures include Independent or With Help. Frequency of progress monitoring is appropriate for the age and content skill.
The materials provide some guidance, scaffolds, supports, and extensions with guidance and support throughout the year. The materials provide additional enrichment activities for all levels of learners.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a “More Support” section, which teachers can use with students who struggle to master the content. In Unit 1, materials suggest downward scaffolding for the “Think, Pair, Share” strategy used in small and whole groups: breaking down the strategy into individual steps, stating what each step means, and explaining how students can do the recommended action. The teacher models and gives struggling students words to use when doing this activity. Also in this unit, a lesson on subitizing uses a range of manipulatives of various sizes, shapes, and substances, such as modeling clay, blocks, and dot cards. To support struggling learners, the materials recommend the teacher reduce to one type of manipulative to help children focus on counting. Targeted instruction supports learners. During “Welcome and Read-Aloud,” teachers are guided to read Ten Black Dots, a classic book about numbers and counting, and to take note of children’s abilities to count the dots. The materials suggest three enrichment opportunities to practice counting in different contexts, subitizing, and print referencing. Later that day, students have an opportunity to use different numbers of dots to make their own pictures. During this small group activity, teachers are prompted to assess whether or not children quickly recognize the number of objects in small groups. If children struggle, the materials guide teachers to turn to a page with fewer dots or ask children to show how many with their fingers. Moreover, the materials guide teachers to encourage the use of larger numbers for students who need more challenge. During the Day 5 Small Group, teachers are guided to provide practice in counting how many black dots there are on pages in the book Ten Black Dots.
In Unit 2, as a scaffolding strategy, the materials suggest using puppets, reminding children of previously learned material, and providing suggestions for students who are still struggling. The materials advise proposing different suggestions, such as asking a teacher, trying different solutions, or asking a classmate for help, for different levels of understanding. The materials do not explicitly provide instructional strategies to address various accessibility needs.
The materials include a “More Challenge” section for students who have mastered the content. For example, to extend an activity, teachers can pose questions to challenge students to use higher-level thinking. The materials also provide different recommendations for center activities that allow students who have mastered a skill to challenge their individual level. For example, students can create their own books in the “Writing” center or create their own labels to label the classroom in the “Show What You Know” center. In Unit 3, children who have mastered making inferences and connections to the character Uncle Sam can predict what the character might construct with the materials he has collected, how he feels about his creation, and why he might have decided to spend his time building this. In Unit 6, students who have mastered the emotion proud can identify ways they might know someone is proud and represent what the emotion looks like. As a further extension, students can videotape a statement on what they are proud of and then act out their statement.
Throughout the curriculum, the materials provide some enrichment activities for all learners. Unit 1 includes engaging activities and strategies that draw on students’ interests. For example, teachers use the “I Spy” game to help students learn each other’s names; use the words see, describe, and friend; and practice observation skills. The materials provide recommendations for incorporating center activities to explore new concepts and apply learning. In Unit 3, the materials recommend that teachers apply the content in a “Shapes” lesson by having children build and discuss 3D objects in the “Construction Zone.” Children apply their learning across content when they are asked to notice and name the basic 3D shapes of objects in the classroom, in pictures, on walks, or in books seen during transition times. In Unit 5, students have the opportunity to work as a team to accomplish a goal in a variety of ways; for example, students work together to water their garden. As a team, students can also create a how-to book on cleaning the library. In Lesson 6, the teacher sings “Alice the Farmer” to support children’s ability to connect number words to the quantities they represent. The materials provide center activities that connect to curriculum themes so that all children can explore and apply new learning in a variety of ways. For example, in the Show What You Know center, students can create a self-portrait or labels for the classroom using their individual skill level.
The materials provide a variety of instructional methods and support developmentally appropriate instructional strategies, flexible grouping, and teaching supports and strategies that appeal to a variety of learning interests and needs.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the teacher reads the book Owl Babies in a whole group lesson. To practice retelling skills, students reenact the story in the “Dramatic Play” center. For further interaction with the text, the materials recommend placing the book in the “Library” center; students have the opportunity to revisit the story in small groups or during independent learning time.
In Unit 2, the materials include a collaborative lesson: Students engage in an outdoor scavenger hunt. One child holds the paper and checks off items on the list, while the other child searches for the items; this supports actively engaging the students. Also in this unit, in a whole group lesson on one-to-one correspondence, the teacher models clapping and stomping while counting the sounds made. For further interaction with the lesson, in partners, students “Think, Pair, Share” about what they learned.
In Unit 3, in a whole group lesson, the teacher reads the book Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum. In small groups, students practice their skills using “Tucker the Turtle” step cards. In the Dramatic Play center, children are encouraged to role-play the story and to teach the story to a puppet or stuffed animal. For further interaction with the text, the book can be placed in the Library center so that students have the opportunity to revisit the story in small groups or during independent learning.
In Unit 4, in a whole group lesson, the teacher reads the book My Friend Is Sad. In small groups, students Think, Pair, Share ideas on how to cheer up a sad classmate. For further interaction with this lesson on the story and emotions, an emotions matching game is placed in the “Puzzles and Games” center; students can independently revisit the emotions they learned about. Students also work collaboratively on a story about emotions; they take turns recording and adding to a collaborative story in a small group lesson.
In Unit 5, in a whole group lesson, the teacher introduces a chant to teach emotions. Students review the chant during whole group circle time using the “Emotions” poster. For further interaction with the chant, during small group and center time, students can independently draw pictures of themselves showing different emotions.
The materials include implementation support for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. There are some materials that include accommodations for linguistics. However, these accommodations are not explicit; they are not categorized for beginner, intermediate, advanced, and advanced high learners. The materials provide consistent accommodations for linguistics throughout each unit. The materials provide some scaffolding and use of a students’ first language to enhance vocabulary.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, during small groups, students create a book about themselves. The teacher models how to draw a self-portrait, and students write their own pages. To support ELs, the teacher gives students mirrors and models looking into the mirror, looking at her eyes, noses, ears, etc. The teacher invites students to point at and name their body parts. The teacher creates a book and encourages students to fill in the blanks: “… is... years old. She/he likes to.... His/her favorite thing to do at school is....” This allows for teacher scaffolding. In a small group lesson on subitizing, the teacher takes counters from a cup, places them on the table, models how to subitize, and then invites students to subitize. The teacher varies the game by asking students to remove or add counters and subitize. This is an approach that facilitates some scaffolding and differentiation and enhances vocabulary development. Throughout the units, the materials do not explicitly and consistently include accommodations for linguistics (communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded) commensurate with various levels of English language proficiency.
In Unit 3, an activity about the letter G, and the sound it makes in different words, contains effective strategies and accommodations. Before the lesson, the teacher shows the students the letter Gg and tells them that the letter has two different sounds, as in gorilla and giraffe. Students raise their hand if they hear the hard /g/, as in gorilla. Then, students raise their hands if they hear the soft /g/, as in giraffe. By raising their hand, students can participate in the activity regardless of their English proficiency level. The EL accommodation recommends total physical response to support letter knowledge. Students engage with Lila the puppet to identify the letter Dd and its sound. Students practice identifying the uppercase and lowercase letter Dd by recognizing words that start with that letter. Students participate in total physical response when they follow instructions and draw uppercase D and lowercase d in the air.
In Unit 4, as a small group activity, students play a game called “Emotion Charades.” The teacher talks about the “Emotions” poster and the emotions the class has discussed. For ELs, the teacher reviews the emotions with visuals and has students identify the emotions. Before the game, the teacher shows students the gestures that identify each emotion. Students pull out an emotion card from the bag and act it out. The teacher provides support by asking, “What makes you feel...?” The teacher encourages students needing additional support to express the emotions verbally (e.g., “sad faces can have frowns and crying”). Students who need a challenge can verbalize ways to manage the emotion they are acting out (e.g., “What do you do when you feel worried?”). In the small group lesson “Fossil-Forming Fun,” students create their own fossil using modeling clay and discuss how fossils are created. The teacher supports ELs who need scaffolding by showing fossil photo cards and describing the process through which the fossils are formed.
In Unit 6, the small group activity provides EL support that encourages the use of the students’ home language to support learning. Students write their names and then compare them to a sample of their names written at the beginning of the year, which is part of the “Class Video Yearbook.” By this time, students can recognize their own names and those of others. For new students, the teacher shows them their name cards and has the other students in the group show theirs. The teacher writes the words change and grow on different cards and translates the two words into the students’ home language to develop linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic skills. The teacher shows visual examples of change and grow from previous units. The teacher shares a photo of herself when she was younger to compare to how she looks today. The materials do not consistently provide explicit teacher guidance on linguistic instruction.
The materials include year-long plans with practice and review opportunities that support instruction. Throughout all units, the year-long plan builds students’ concept development; it considers how to vertically align instruction that builds year to year. Materials provide review and practice of knowledge and skills in all domains.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Each thematic unit covers the domains in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines, which include “Literacy,” “Math,” “Science,” “Social Studies,” and “Social and Emotional Development.” The themes of the units are “Connecting with School and Friends,” “Our Environment,” “How Structures Are Built,” “Exploring Museums,” “Growing Our Garden,” and “How We’ve Grown.” These units provide a plan that is designed to build upon children’s current understanding, with connections between units. For example, letter knowledge is built throughout the units and the school year. Practice for this skill is embedded in lessons and learning centers. In Unit 2, in the “Fast Focus” activity “The Letter T,” the teacher plays a game: The teacher uses the puppet Lila Letter to look for the letter Tt in students’ names and count how many they find. In Unit 4, the material provides an activity in the “Show What You Know” center called “Beginning Letter Sort.” The teacher places down alphabet cards that students have reviewed; students sort and write words that begin with the letter on the card. Students draw or go on scavenger hunts to find more words that begin with a certain letter. In another example, focused on the review and practice of knowledge and skills in the Science domain, in Unit 2, students observe the characteristics of organisms during an outdoor scavenger hunt. After the activity, the teacher places photographs of the things the students saw on the scavenger hunt in a learning center for the students to sort. Students then describe how various animals move during the read-aloud activity for Do Goldfish Fly? Throughout the day, during transitions, the teacher encourages the students to move like animals in the story. Then, in the Unit 5 small group activity “Taking Care of Living Things,” the students discuss what living things need to survive and thrive. After the activity, the students continue to observe, describe, and discuss the radish seeds and the bean plants that they are growing. Materials provide multiple opportunities to build on the students’ knowledge of the characteristics of living things, which align with kindergarten skills.
Throughout the units and school year, the materials provide integrated lessons and activities that focus on the math skill of counting. Practice for this skill is embedded in lessons and learning centers. For example, in Unit 1, the Show What You Know center includes an activity called “Every Buddy Counts.” The teacher shows students how to use a camera to take pictures. The teacher helps students move around the room and take pictures of classmates working and counting. One photo has one student, the next has two, and so forth until 10. These pictures are then put on the bulletin board, and students can count the photos. In Unit 5, in the Fast Focus activity “Plant and Grow,” students play a game where they pretend to be seeds and grow by counting to 10. The material also guides the teacher to have students count back from 10 to zero by slowly lowering to a crouching position.
The materials provide students with math sorting activities across all units. In Unit 2, the students begin sorting surf shop items (by size, shape, color) in the small group activity “Coral Reef Surf Shop.” The materials then progress: In the Unit 4 learning center “Hannah’s Collections,” students make up and describe sorting rules with various objects. In the Unit 5 “Connect” activity, “Living and Nonliving: Worms,” students describe the similarities and differences between real worms and toy worms. The materials provide multiple opportunities for students to build on sorting skills, which align with kindergarten skills.
The materials provide lessons and activities that focus on “Emergent Literacy: Writing” throughout the school year. In Unit 1, in the “Compliment Card” small group activity, the students first begin with verbally sharing ideas for compliment cards with their peers. The materials then progress to students intentionally using marks, letters, or symbols to write compliment cards for peers in the Unit 1 small group activity “Our Class Compliment Chain.” In the Unit 5 small group activity “Helping Story Boards,” the students independently write about a problem and a solution. Throughout the curriculum, the materials provide multiple opportunities for students to build on writing skills in all domains that align with kindergarten skills.
The materials provide lessons and activities integrated throughout the units and school year that focus on social and emotional skills. For example, in Unit 2, the “Welcome and Read Aloud” lesson “Goldilocks and the Three Bears: A Problem-Solving Story” focuses on problem-solving skills; students “Think, Pair, Share” different ideas for taking turns. In Unit 4, the small group lesson “Emotions Collage” focuses on identifying emotions. The teacher provides magazines, newspapers, and pictures; students look for a certain emotion and cut it out. Students create a collage; they identify an emotion, name it, cut it out, and paste it. The materials provide review and practice of knowledge and skills in all domains throughout the curriculum; these align with kindergarten skills.
The materials include implementation support for teachers and administrators. The materials include the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines outlining the essential knowledge and skills. They include supports to help teachers implement the materials, guidance and resources for administrators in implementing the materials, and a school year’s worth of prekindergarten instruction with realistic pacing and guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials are aligned to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. The online portal includes the “Correlations” tab, which links a list of the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and corresponding units and activities that address them. The materials provide correlations to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
The “Teacher’s Handbook” supports the teacher in understanding the curriculum and how to use the materials. The materials provide the teacher with a rationale for each section of the school day; each unit has a handbook. The unit guides first show an overview of the unit with the main themes, unit projects, and vocabulary that will be covered. There is then a detailed overview of the learning centers and materials needed for each activity. Following this, there is an overview of each week and a summary of each day and lesson. The lessons are given in the order in which they will be taught, by day of the week. Each lesson has sections called “At a Glance,” “Ahead of Time,” and “C4L Processes.” The materials provide the teacher with detailed instructional strategies and steps for the easy implementation of the lessons. The materials include supports to help teachers implement the materials as intended.
An online portal provides the teacher with additional support in the implementation of the lessons. It includes a Correlations section, which outlines the sequence of instruction, and an “Assessments” section, which provides the lessons that include assessments and observations. The incorporation of both the online portal and a traditional “hard copy” format of all resources, including supplemental materials and resources, provides for ease and flexibility of use. The materials include visuals to support implementation, including environmental print cards and posters for lessons and learning centers, puppets and lists of materials for lessons, and book sets for the entire school year.
The materials provide administrators with the “Principal’s Handbook,” which includes information on supporting teachers and families, an overview of the program, the conceptual framework of the program, an overview of what a typical day looks like, the four domains of C4L, references, and an appendix. The Principal’s Handbook includes guidance on how to support teachers with the curriculum, guidance on understanding content knowledge, and a fidelity checklist on instructional practices. The section “Using the Schedule with Children” describes expectations for using the visual schedule and how it promotes learning through predictability and structure. Another section gives an overview of the formative assessment and how to collect data to monitor progress throughout the curriculum. The materials include resources and guidance to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended.
The materials do provide guidance for strategic implementation. They are designed in a way that allows users the ability to incorporate the curriculum into district, campus, and teacher programmatic design and scheduling considerations.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher Handbook” and “Unit Guides” support the teacher in the implementation of the content. The handbook includes rationales for the domains taught and the importance of integrating play throughout the lessons and learning centers. The material does not provide the teacher with learning continuums or a scope and sequence for the domains (e.g., “Math,” “Literacy,” “Science,” or “Social and Emotional Development”). The material guides the teacher in using the “Writing Scaffolded Technique” during writing lessons and small groups to support students based on their current writing skill level.
The materials provide guidance for strategic implementation without disrupting the sequence of content that must be taught in a specific order following a developmental progression. The materials include two separate daily schedules that support full-day and half-day programs. The half-day program does not include lunch, rest time, a small group, and select centers and free choice centers. Times in the half-day program are also shorter: for learning centers by 15 minutes; for outdoor exploration by five minutes; and for “Fast Focus” by 10 minutes. The materials provide the entire curriculum in Spanish to support a bilingual or Spanish program. The Teacher Handbook, the Unit Guides, the online portal, and all the resources, including the family letters, are translated into Spanish. The Spanish curriculum does not offer any extra support than is already provided in the English Unit Guides for English Learners. The materials are designed in a way that allows LEAs the ability to incorporate the curriculum into district, campus, and teacher programmatic design and scheduling considerations.
Unit Guides go into detail regarding the purpose of the unit, unit project, and vocabulary taught; they also list the learning centers and lessons that will be implemented during that unit. The guides give the teacher a choice of suggested activities for science, literacy, and math. The teacher has the flexibility to choose certain lessons and small groups that will support the students based on their current skill level, determined using the assessments given that week. The teacher also has the flexibility to choose the Fast Focus and small group activities on Fridays, dependent on student outcomes from the assessments given that week. The materials provide guidance for strategic implementation without disrupting the scope and sequence of content that must be taught in a developmental order following a developmental progression.
The materials provide guidance for fostering connections between home and school throughout all units. The materials support the development of strong relationships between teachers and families and specify activities to use at home to support students’ learning development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the online portal, under the “Resources” tab, the materials provide unit letters that support teachers in providing information to families regarding learning in the classroom. These letters encourage a line of communication from teachers to parents that keeps the families involved in their student’s learning and supports the development of strong relationships between teachers and families. The letters include an explanation of the learning going on in each domain; they also provide a section called “What Can You Do,” which includes activities that parents can do to support learning at home. These letters are available in English and in Spanish. The materials specify activities for use at home to support students’ learning and development.
In Unit 2, the small group lesson “Welcome to the Coral Reef Signs” provides the students with an opportunity to create signs for their coral reef project. In this project, visitors are invited to come and participate in a scavenger hunt created by the students. The signs welcome their guests—parents, family members, or another class. A family engagement note asks families to donate empty food cans as part of the exploration of cylinders for this week. The family engagement letter asks parents to go online to help their students play math games and make notes about their student’s learning. The parent is asked to find 2D and 3D shapes in the community and engage in talking about their features with their child (e.g., rectangles have four sides, four angles, and four vertices (the points on the corners) and the opposite side are the same lengths). The materials support the development of strong relationships between teachers and families.
In Unit 3, one of the activities sent home is “Help your child recognize quantities in small sets of objects without having to count them.” The materials specify activities for use at home to support students’ learning and development.
In Unit 5, the unit project focuses on learning, growing, and taking care of a garden. The unit project culminates with a garden party, where visitors are invited to come and see the work that the students have done in their garden and in the classroom. Family members, friends, and other important people join the students in their learning. The visitors have the opportunity to listen to the class book, read students’ science journals, and visit the earthworms. The materials support development of strong relationships between teachers and families.
The visual design of the student and teacher materials is neither distracting nor chaotic. The materials include appropriate use of white space and design that supports and does not distract from student learning. The pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning without being visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guides” are designed with clear, designated places for important information that is clearly stated and easily identified on the pages. Included in each unit is an overview of the learning and unit project. The teacher can easily identify specific information needed for the lesson; it is presented in a clearly laid out format. For example, vocabulary words for the unit and week are displayed in a word cloud. Materials are provided in a bulleted list. This list of materials includes graphic organizers to use in the learning centers and guidance to place certain posters and graphic organizers in various places within the learning centers so students can use them as references. The learning centers for the unit are organized into sections with bulleted lists. Color and font size separate the sections to provide more visual clarity and ease of use. Learning objectives, listed for each day, are organized into daily sections and are separated by a different color and font size.
Each lesson has a bolded large heading at the top, which indicates whether the activity is a “Welcome & Read Aloud,” “Connect,” “Small Group,” or “Fast Focus.” Under the heading, there is a bolded lesson title. The actual lesson is divided into sections such as “Teach,” “What To Do,” “Introduce Text,” “Read the Text,” “After Reading,” “Continue the Learning,” “Checkpoint,” “More Support,” and “More Challenge.” Additionally, the lessons are supported by the sections “At a Glance” and “Ahead of Time”; some lessons have boxes for “C4L Processes,” “Notes,” “ESL Support,” and “ESL Strategy.” The teacher’s guide primarily uses four colors throughout the units, which serve to organize the different sections.
The online portal provides a digital version of materials; these are well organized and easily accessible. For example, at the top of the main page, links provide relevant resources formatted in a way that is easy to understand and highly visible. This navigation supports teachers with instructional planning and implementation and facilitates the efficient navigation of materials and resources. The top of the main page of the online portal includes the links “Lessons, Games, Resources, Knowledge Base, Correlations.” In the Games section, for example, students practice math skills they are learning in the units. The graphics used on the online portal are simple drawings and clipart that the student can use to maneuver from game to game easily. The instructions are easy and age-appropriate. The pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
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