- Copyright Type
- Print Version
- Estimated number of pages:
- Digital Version
- Estimated number of click or scroll pages:
Pre-K | 2020
Publisher: Learning Without Tears
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.
Section 1. Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines Alignment
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 %|
Indicators 2.1, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, and 2.6 are under re-review.
The materials are somewhat cross-curricular and integrated in an authentic way to support students’ unified experience throughout the day. The materials include specific and intentional experiences that provide cross-curricular connections between concepts across the units. The materials do focus on specific domains, but they do not provide purposeful connections to domains that are intentionally reinforced in the units.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1” includes a “Scope and Sequence” that provides a quick overview of the program and its developmental progression. Additionally, each unit provides a “Week at a Glance” resource detailing which information is taught in each content area. While these resources detail which domains are taught generally, they do not detail how specific learning activities connect to the Prekindergarten Guidelines or how they are integrated and reinforced.
In Unit 1, the materials include specific, intentional, and purposeful cross-curricular connections. Students begin the day and lesson in “Language and Literacy” by reviewing the uppercase letter L; materials introduce the lowercase l using the song “Rhyming Riddles” and nursery rhymes. Students hear part of the song, and the teacher pauses, helping the students fill in the missing rhyming word. The teacher also uses picture tiles to practice words that rhyme with the students. For enrichment, the teacher and students recreate nursery rhymes with other words that rhyme. For example, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall” becomes “Humpty Dumpty sat on a ball.” Later on, in the “Readiness and Writing” small group, students use their “Stamp and See Screen” to create the letter L by stamping a big line down and a little line across. For “Numbers and Math” small groups, the students use their “My First School Book” and flip crayons to trace, while the teacher models making a cross, using words like little line down and little line across. Students continue to trace the middle of a window, scarecrow, and kite. The group makes a traffic light with the guidance of the teacher. The last lesson of the day is “Science,” where the class takes a nature walk to look for leaves and other materials to make a nature letter L. Materials include cross-curricular connections to build background knowledge, make connections, and explore concepts in a variety of ways. These lessons reinforce the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines, but they do not explicitly make the connection to them.
In Unit 3, the lessons’ focus is the letter C. The day begins with the Language and Literacy lesson. The “Identify Capital Letters” activity teaches students to recognize and name capital letters. It starts by reviewing the letter C and its sound. After this, students built the letter C with a big curve. Next, students place objects that begin with the letter C in the “Sound Around Box.” Students then search the box and name what was found. The teacher writes each students’ findings on the side of the Sound Around Box. Later, in the Readiness and Writing activity, students learn the capital letter C with “Roll-A-Dough Letters.” The concept is specifically connected as students roll lines and curves of dough to build capital letters. In the final lesson, “Describe Jobs,” the students learn about a job that begins with C, and the class focuses on costume designers. Before ending the lesson, students pretend to be costume designers; they use art supplies and paper bags to create costumes about the letter C. The lessons integrate the letter C through Language and Literacy, Readiness and Writing, and “Social Studies.” Lessons do reinforce concepts, but materials do not explicitly show how to connect the domains and how they are purposefully addressed.
The theme of Unit 6 is “Animals.” During a Language and Literacy lesson in this unit, the teacher reviews the letter D and its sound. Then, the teacher reads How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen. After reading, the teacher asks, “What did the book tell us dinosaurs eat?” The materials prompt the teacher to go back and reread pages about their diet if children need assistance. The children discuss what dinosaurs eat, which is a purposeful way for children to demonstrate that they can describe a topic after listening to an informational text. After the discussion, the teacher instructs students to put dinosaurs into groups based on what they eat (i.e., meat-eating and plant-eating). Later, there is a mathematical skill listed for this lesson: “Sort objects by function or kind.” This domain is met through the sorting activity. In this specific lesson, all of the skills and domains listed are met to some extent. For sorting, the topic is also revisited in other units. However, skills are not always purposefully developed or reinforced throughout all units and all domains in this same way.
The materials utilize high-quality texts as a core component of content and skill integration. The texts included in the units are strategically chosen to support content and skill development in multiple domains.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
There are a variety of texts in the “Books All Year” list in the “Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1.” The Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1, also includes a list of “Book Connections”; these are books that support different themes and topics of learning.
In Unit 1, the book My Five Senses by Aliki is an easy-to-understand nonfiction book about the five senses. The text gives examples of how to use each of the five senses; illustrations clearly depict the content. This text includes science concepts and discusses the senses in an accessible way for prekindergarten children. Aliki is a well-known author who has written and illustrated over 60 fiction and nonfiction children’s books. Also in Unit 1, The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins is a story about children who are going to share a plate of cookies their mother has baked. The doorbell continues to ring, with more and more children coming over, so they must redistribute the number of cookies each child gets to eat. There is a math component embedded within the text: The children must figure out how to share the cookies. The text is written in a predictable pattern that is easy for children to follow. Pat Hutchins is a well-known and award-winning author and illustrator; she has written and illustrated many early childhood favorites, a total of over 50 titles.
In Unit 5, the book Favorite Nursery Rhymes by Scoff Gustafson is a collection of 45 Mother Goose nursery rhymes. The book won the 2008 Silver Award in the category “Children’s Picture Books, Age 6 and Under” and is an Illinois Read 2013 selection for “Birth to age 4.” Scott Gustafson is well known for his illustrations. The book could be used to teach rhyming, problem and solution, counting, and several other skills. The materials provide one lesson using the book about problems and solutions with two of the nursery rhymes in the book.
In Unit 6, the book Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is an internationally well-known fiction story written by a well-known author. The book has been adapted into a short film and television series. It has won at least eight national and international awards, such as the Critici in Erba Prize, 1993 Bologna Children's Book Fair; 1993 Christopher Award; 1995 American Booksellers Book of the Year for Children's Book in 1995; 1995 Book Sense Book of the Year Award; 1995 Florida Children's Book Award; and the 1995 North Carolina Children’s Book Award. It was a 1994 nominee for the Book Sense Book of the Year Award. The book can teach social and emotional skills, make connections, problem and solution, and cause and effect, among other skills. The materials provide one lesson using the book, connecting it to another text.
The materials provide some support for developmentally appropriate practice across all content domains. The materials include guidance for teachers to connect activities to play and to facilitate activities to meet, reinforce, and practice learning objectives in a developmentally appropriate manner. Some specific instructions are provided for the teachers on classroom setup, and there is some lesson guidance to support planned learning activities. However, the materials do not provide consistent support for student choice throughout the units and learning areas.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher Guide” provides some information on child-led/free-play centers in the “Multisensory Activities & Centers” section. Most activities are labeled into child-led or teacher-led categories, and they are organized into “Language & Literacy,” “Readiness & Writing,” and “Numbers & Math” subsections. For the most part, these lessons include step-by-step teacher directions dictating how students must complete the activity. Directions include guidance describing how the center must be set up and which resources need to be prepared for instruction. While students engage in purposeful play, they do not always receive a choice of what to do or how to do it. For example, the child-led activity “Build the Puzzle” has students building animal puzzles that correspond to letters. While students are at the center of the activity, they do not have a playful choice in the activity. In the “Wet-Dry-Try App,” students choose between a capital, lowercase, or number, but then the personal handwriting coach leads the child through the app instructions and guidance. Other activities like the “Mix & Make Shapes” do center around unstructured free play. However, these are primarily found in the Numbers & Math learning area with some similar activities also in the Readiness & Writing learning area. This section on Multisensory Activities does not include a subsection on Oral Language or Science and Social Studies.
In Unit 1, during one of the first activities, students learn how to greet others when they meet people. The class sings and dances to the “Hello Song.” The teacher shakes the hand of each child while saying, “Hello, this is your right hand. I’m going to do something to your right hand.” The teacher adds a stamp or lotion to the student’s right hand. The teacher models and asks students to raise their right hand while saying, “This is my right hand. I shake hands with my right hand.” For “Enrichment,” the materials suggest the teacher ask about students’ left hands. Materials provide some opportunities for students to practice new skills through play, but other lessons, like this particular lesson, are teacher-directed.
During a “Language and Literacy” lesson in Unit 4, children learn to recognize and name lowercase letters. The teacher reviews capital P and introduces lowercase p and its sound. Using the “Sound Around Box,” the teacher says, “Let’s pretend this is an underwater treasure chest. Let’s explore and see what we find.” The materials guide the teacher to place Pp items in the Sound Around Box. Children take turns finding and naming items from the box. The teacher prompts children to talk about the item and writes the word on the Sound Around Box. This action repeats for each child. This activity teaches a new letter (skill) playfully, but there are no opportunities to broaden and deepen this knowledge, nor is there evidence of other related purposeful play in learning centers. The Language and Literacy lesson provides teachers with a script and instructions to follow for a playful lesson on the letter p, but it does not give guidance on creating more opportunities for play by exploring letter sounds or connecting to other domains.
The lessons in Unit 6 indicate the appropriate learning setting for instruction: small groups, large groups, and individual learning areas. There is an intentional balance of direct instruction and planned learning centers taking into consideration skill, content, and development. While some of these activities integrate play, the teacher directions do not always dictate which grouping to use or how to promote play when play is not integrated. In an activity that does integrate play, students playfully interact with the story, Mat Man Hats. After reading, the teacher takes out a few hats, and the children try them on. Children have a chance to select a role and talk about what each person will do before playing that part. In this case, there is clear teacher guidance for setting up the learning environment to promote positive learning. However, this lesson does not then provide learning areas that offer additional choice and related play. As with other units, there are play opportunities, but the materials do not include information to support the teacher’s understanding of the importance of play as a foundation, nor do they connect play to all domains.
The materials fit within a developmentally appropriate programmatic structure. While the materials do not explicitly state they are built for four-year-old children, most instruction is appropriately designed for this age group. Additionally, there are some explicit instructional alternatives specifically for three-year-old children. While organized to meet prekindergarten students’ needs, the materials lack comprehensive differentiation based on the level of development. There is a schedule for half-day and full-day programs, but the materials do not provide specific differentiated instructional recommendations for each aspect of the program.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provided in the “Teacher's Guide” do not identify age groups for most activities. The Teacher’s Guide does indicate the activities are for pre-K students, but there is no specific identification for three-or four-year-olds. The Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1, provides a skill sequence for two-to five-year-olds for “Language and Literacy,” “Readiness and Writing,” and “Numbers and Math.” This resource also provides a half-day and full-day schedule to implement the program. Both schedules include welcome activities, “Circle Time,” centers/small group, whole group, recess/gross motor play, and “Closing Circle.” The difference between the two schedules is the time allotments for each activity and the number of centers/small groups. The materials do not specify lessons that are best for half-day or full-day schedules. As well, there is no teacher guidance meant to help in planning and making instructional decisions for half-day or full-day schedules. The materials only provide guidance for centers and lessons.
At the beginning of the Teacher Guide, Volume 2, the materials provide an explanation of the “Week at a Glance” (a summary of the week); they state that it includes suggestions for prekindergarten with three-year-olds. Lessons seem most appropriately designed for four-yearolds; however, this is not specifically stated. Instead, the program summarizes how they are an
appropriate “Developmental Curriculum.” In this section of the Teacher’s Guide, the program acknowledges that students will enter with different and evolving abilities. “They will not at all be developmentally ready to learn the same skills at the same time.” The program“teaches in developmental order by starting at a level that does not assume prior knowledge or competency.” However, this section and the daily lesson plans rarely reference age specifically. It is clear the daily lesson plans are designed with development in mind; they include step-bystep directions with the objective, materials, and vocabulary. There is a daily suggestion for three-year-olds; however, this section is short and based only on one content area most of the time. These plans lack clearly differentiated instruction for the level of development.
In Unit 1, students start the day in Language and Literacy by reviewing the uppercase letter L; materials introduce the lowercase l using the song “Rhyming Riddles” and nursery rhymes. Students hear part of the song, and the teacher pauses, helping the students fill in the missing rhyming word. The teacher uses picture tiles to practice words that rhyme. For enrichment, the teacher and students recreate nursery rhymes with other words that rhyme. For example, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall” becomes “Humpty Dumpty sat on a ball.” Later on, in the Readiness and Writing small group, students use their “Stamp and See Screen” to create the letter L by stamping a big line down and a little line across. For Numbers and Math small groups, the students use their “My First School Book” and flip crayons to trace, while the teacher models to make a cross using words like little line down and little line across. Students continue to trace the middle of a window, scarecrow, and kite. The group makes a traffic light with guidance from the teacher. The last lesson of the day is “Science,” where the class takes a nature walk to look for leaves and other materials to make a nature letter L. The suggestion for three-year-olds is to discuss top, middle, and bottom using body parts. Materials provide pacing that supports the short attention span of three-years-old and four-year-old children, but they do not provide additional scaffolding for three-year-old children beyond the above suggestion.
During a week in Unit 4, children learn to identify Bb and its sound, as well as identify, count, and write the number 9. Children also learn about patterns and light. The suggestions for three-year-olds include using hands-on examples of words taught in “Oral Language,” such as having children shine a flashlight on the wall to see shadows. A suggestion for three-year-olds is also provided in a read-aloud. The teacher uses a picture walk with threes to teach students about bright light and dark shadows. Although this activity has a modification, there are no modifications for other academic domains or lessons. While reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, materials suggest using props to help three-year-olds understand the changes a butterfly goes through during its life cycle. When the class learns the vocabulary words sun and star, materials suggest teachers show children a globe and discuss that we live there, on Earth, and then have them draw or color a picture of the sun or Earth. These suggestions are found in the “Week at a Glance” and are the only ways the lessons or activities are differentiated for three-year-olds. There are additional supports for students in general and ELs specifically, but there are few additional supports that explicitly differentiate based on developmental level.
In Unit 5, students focus on the letter M, shapes, and machines. The suggestions for three-yearolds are using pictures/objects that have the /m/ beginning sound and allowing students to hear the /m/ sound at the beginning of each object by repeating the object’s sound and name. Three-year-olds also review shapes with puzzles and manipulatives, review building Mat Man, and review learning and practicing good manners. The materials meet students at their developmental level through review.
The materials include detailed guidance that supports the teacher’s delivery of instruction. The materials provide detailed and explicit guidance for teacher and student actions that support student development and proficiency of content and skills across all units. The lessons and activities include explicit instructional strategies and instructions to support teaching the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Although there are explicit guidelines for teaching each lesson, lessons rarely include specific support connecting students’ prior content knowledge and experiences to new learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provided for the lessons include guidance to support teacher instruction. The materials include scripted and specific lessons across all domains and units. Each lesson is set up the same way, with the domain labeled clearly at the top. On the left-hand side, the materials list any materials needed for the lesson, the objectives children are learning in the lesson across domains, and vocabulary words taught in the lesson. The right side includes the actual lesson. The lesson begins by giving guidance on grouping (e.g., whole group, small group, pairs). Then, the materials list the title of the lesson, such as “Make Two Words into One,” “Learn P with Roll-a-Dough Letters,” “Share a Set Evenly,” or “Study Plants.” At least once per day, the materials instruct the teacher to begin the lesson with a multisensory introduction that includes a song and movement. The lesson follows in a numbered format so teachers can follow the steps exactly as prescribed by the materials. The materials also script what the teacher says during the lesson.
In Unit 1, the teacher brings out a hat with some scarves inside and allows the students to guess how many are inside. The teacher waves a wand and pulls out scarves slowly while the class counts together, “1, 2, 3.” The teacher asks the students the number they just said. The teacher places the scarves in a line and checks with the students how many scarves there are by counting each one again. The teacher checks for understanding by observing the students while they count. Following the strategies for supporting English Learners (ELs), the teacher passes the scarves and other objects for the students to count. For enrichment, students count classroom objects with a partner. Materials engage students by using activities and new experiences appropriate for the age, but they do not provide detailed guidance connecting prior knowledge to new learning.
In Unit 3, students experiment with the size, weight, and speed of balls. The teacher displays balls of different sizes and weights. The teacher picks two and tells the class that one is heavy and the other one is light. The class rolls the balls down a slanted board, experiments, and sees that the heavier one is faster. The teacher models how to play “Ice Cream Relay.” The students pretend that the balls are ice cream scoops that they need to balance on cones. The students are divided into relay teams and race. After the race is over, the class discusses if the heavy balls or the light ones made a difference. The teacher checks for understanding by observing as the children experiment with their balls, seeing whether they understand the concepts of faster/slower and heavy/light. Following the strategy for supporting ELs, the teacher groups all the students into one team. For enrichment, the class makes a Venn diagram of two ice cream flavors, and the students choose their favorite flavor by filling in their names in the diagram.
In Unit 5, students describe roads, using wide and narrow, in a small group setting. The teacher tells the students that some roads can be wide or narrow. The teacher says they will see which of the cars and trucks she has can drive on narrow roads. The children sit around a table that has cars, trucks, and dough. The students help the teacher flatten the dough. The children take turns driving a car or truck on the dough. The group compares the tracks they made using the words wide and narrow. The children roll two cars next to one another to compare them. The teacher asks the students, “Does the road need to be wider or narrower than it was for one car?” The teacher checks for understanding by listening to the children discuss the tracks, using wide and narrow correctly. For support/ELs, the teacher tells the children to use their bodies to show wide and narrow. For enrichment, the students draw a map using wide and narrow roads. Although the concept of narrow/wide could be related to other lessons, similar concepts, or students’ prior knowledge, this lesson itself does not offer detailed guidance prompting the teacher to cultivate these relationships.
The materials include benchmark assessments at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. Teachers have access to “Classroom Observation Checklists” that they can use to determine students’ previous knowledge and understanding. However, these resources are not explicitly tied to lessons, activities, and student experience throughout the year. Teachers can assess prior knowledge at different points in the year, but when delivering instruction, teachers do not have lesson-specific guidance that connects prior knowledge to new learning.
The materials are clearly supported by child development research that enriches educator understanding of early childhood development. Research is academic, applicable to a Texas-specific context, and relevant. A bibliography includes citations that reinforce the validity of the recommended instructional approach.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1” discusses how the materials align with child development research. The instructional material is structured by the research written by Gessell, A., H.M. Halverson, H. Thomson, F.L. Ilg, B.M. Castner, L.B. Ames, and C.S. Amatruda: The First Year of Life: A Guide to the Study of the Pre-School Child. Gesell's work continues to be foundational research for developmental scales in four areas of growth and development: motor, adaptive (cognitive), language, and personal-social behavior. Originally published in 1925 and most recently updated in 2010, the Gesell Developmental Schedules continue to serve and guide pediatricians and psychologists throughout the world today (Gesell at Yale Program in Early Childhood, 2020).
The material explains that it starts with vertical and horizontal letters, then progresses to letters that curve, and finally moves to letters with diagonals. The material states that research says writing development is significant to academic performance and has a negative impact if overlooked. The Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1, describes the curriculum as a research-based approach that addresses different learning styles. It goes on to discuss how the materials acknowledge the developmental continuum for children and states that the materials meet the needs of all prekindergarten children, regardless of where they fall on that continuum. It does so by teaching in a developmental order that does not assume prior knowledge, instead of building knowledge and providing background knowledge to children. When describing the “Language and Literacy” academic content area, the materials lay out five different “Literacy” domains that are important for preschoolers to develop an understanding. These domains are linked to research-based strategies.
The Teacher Guide, Volume 1, contains instructional approaches used in the lessons supported by research for language arts. Concepts of print include parts of a book, “hold a book right-side up,” “pages are turned from the front to the back,” and “reading is from top to bottom and left to right.” It is based on research from 2004 by Nichols, Rupley, Rickleman, and Algozzine. Oral language includes the use of language to express feelings, thoughts, and observations; the approach is based on the book Starting Out Right by Burns, Griffin, and Snow.
A summary of the research framework can be found in the document, “Get Set for School: A Complete Pre-K Program for Kindergarten Readiness Success.” Included in this research are child development sources consistent with Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines research: International Reading Association, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Research Council, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, etc. At the end of this document are references and a bibliography that includes over 100 citations. These citations are primarily between 1990 and 2010; however, some research is as recent as 2018 and 2020. This research covers children’s development within and across all domains, including citations specific to English Learners (ELs).
Indicators, 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, and 3.5 are under re-review.
The materials include some direct social skills instruction and some explicit teaching of skills. Materials contain lessons that embed self-concept skills, self-regulation skills, relationships with others, and social awareness skills, as laid out in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Materials include appropriate texts used to support the development of social competencies and the development of competencies to understand and respond to emotions. The materials provide guidance on teacher modeling; however, they do not have consistent examples to support this skill across all activities.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Volume 1 of the Teacher Guide includes guidance on introducing and discussing particular topics. A sample “Circle Time” script contains guidance to include a social and emotional skills-themed book during this part of the day. The Teacher Guide also includes a list of all texts included in the materials. Many of the texts come from specific thematic units of instruction but can be used in a cross-curricular approach to support the development of the “socialemotional domain.” In the “Book Connections” section, which lists recommended texts for each unit, there is a specific “Social-Emotional Learning” sub-section. Titles on this list include Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud and David Messing; How Kind by Mary Murphy; Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems; How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? by Jane Yolen; and The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld. The materials also include suggestions for specific texts to support social and emotional competencies, such as I’m Like You and You’re Like Me: A Book About Understanding and Appreciating Each Other by Cindy Gainer and We Can Get Along: A Child’s Book of Choices by Lauren Murphy Payne. The materials include specific texts related to diversity, such as All the Colors We Are by Katie Kissinger; Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Mendez; and It's Okay to be Different by Todd Parr. In addition, three unit themes in the materials support student exploration of social situations, which enhances social awareness: “Get Set for School,” “My Body,” and “Community & Play.” Materials in the Teacher Guide also include school-home connections and parent resources to address social and emotional issues. The materials also provide a list of additional books to reinforce or extend learning, including A Sick Day for Amos, Good People Everywhere, Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?, Kindness is Cooler, and Say Hello Like This! Links to additional learning resources online from “The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning” support social competences and social development.
In Unit 1, students sing the “Hello Song,” which teaches how to say hello and shake hands with your right hand. The teacher models how to shake hands by shaking each child’s right hand. Then the teacher models and asks children to raise their right hand and say, “This is my right hand. I shake with my right hand.” Afterward, children take turns greeting and shaking hands with each other, which supports social awareness and relationships with others. This activity exemplifies direct teaching of social and emotional skills, which are gradually released, guiding teacher modeling. In addition, the materials integrate social and emotional skills throughout the daily lessons. For example, in Unit 1, children practice active listening during a read-aloud; however, this lesson does not include explicit instruction directing teachers to model active listening. While there are teacher models for certain skills, there are inconsistent social skill instruction models. The materials for each unit are linked to the Teacher Guide and identify texts to support social competencies development; for example, Should I Share My Ice Cream? examines social skills, and How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? supports social awareness by demonstrating peer interactions. In one lesson of the unit, students learn about the sequence and parts of the body by building a “Mat Man” while the teacher passes out each part. This activity is repeated multiple times throughout the year. After sitting on the floor in a circle, students “build Mat Man on the floor,” and teachers “give Mat Man parts to the children.” Students sing the “Mat Man” song and can add accessories. A Check for Understanding tells teachers to observe the students and states: “Do they take turns and name the pieces correctly?” While this is related to social skill practice, the lesson does not include instructional guidance for the teacher to model and gradually release the activity to the students.
Unit 2 provides lessons to teach self-control and relationships with others. In the theme “About the Body,” students count and name body parts; for example, “I have two eyes, two knees, two ears, etc.” This lesson supports self-regulation skills aligned with Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. In another part of Unit 2, students work in pairs, taking turns to compare sets of more and less. The materials provide guidance to support the small group activity, which builds relationships with others. Teachers are provided some guidance to model activities during the unit. For example, language and literacy activities, such as singing songs, require students to follow directions modeled by the teacher. Although the activities do provide modeling for some areas, not all activities include guidance for teacher modeling.
In Unit 4, multiple social and emotional skills are included in the lessons, with topics such as cooperation, demonstrating active listening, taking turns, and following directions. These skills are integrated within academic content. For example, in a math lesson on the number nine, children practice writing the number on a slate chalkboard. This lesson is identified as supporting turn-taking and listening skills since each child volunteers and waits their turn to model the writing skill demonstrated by the teacher. In a whole group oral language activity, children repeat the words shine and reflect, while a peer shines a flashlight on a wall (shine) and a mirror (reflect). The activity is identified as supporting turn-taking and engagement. Though there are multiple instances of social and emotional skills included or referenced in lesson plans, the materials do not include consistent teacher modeling guidance. Sometimes the teacher uses the instructional tool, Squawker (puppet), to summarize social skills, but these interactions often fall short of a full model. Teacher modeling in each lesson is limited to the specific skill identified as the lesson’s primary focus. The Teacher Guide provides some texts that link to social competencies. However, these books only relate to social skill instruction generally; while they are tied directly to some activities, they do not connect directly to social skill instruction or lessons specifically. Texts included in the Volume 1, “Books All Year” section are organized and connected to lessons via learning area (Numbers & Math, Science, Language & Literacy, etc.) and not via social skills.
The materials include repeated opportunities to practice social skills throughout the day. Materials provide consistent opportunities to learn, practice, and apply these skills throughout the day across the units. Practice opportunities are authentically integrated throughout all other content domains throughout the lessons.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher Guide” includes a materials list that provides additional activities to support lessons throughout the units. The materials provide a “Readiness and Writing” multisensory activity called “Shake Hands With Me.” This activity teaches children “how to meet and greet appropriately” while also teaching them about their right versus left hand. There is also a “My Turn, Your Turn” activity, which has the teacher take a turn while the child waits; then the child takes their turn and imitates the teacher’s actions. The instructional materials make recommendations of visuals, music, and structures that support children’s abilities to practice new skills and reinforce skills in a variety of ways throughout the daily lessons. The additional resources allow concepts and skills to be integrated across units while allowing children to continue to practice skills from earlier activities.
In Unit 1, students participate in a multisensory activity by taking turns greeting and shaking hands with each other; they follow the teacher’s model and use their right hand. This model repeats throughout the daily lesson, providing multiple opportunities for children to reinforce and practice social skills in a variety of settings. For example, the social skill of “taking turns” can be found in multiple units across the materials and in multiple academic domains within Unit 1. In a social studies lesson in Unit 1, children discuss what makes a friend and give examples of a good friend. Together, the class makes a list of ten things friends do. This lesson promotes social skills through collaboration while integrating math and literacy skills.
In Unit 2, children participate in a literacy lesson that encourages discussion with others. For example, children listen to a book about a farm, Growing Pumpkins, to make connections to learning about the letter F. Following the reading, children create the letter F using wood pieces and engage in a guided discussion comparing frogs and fish. Students have further opportunities to have conversations with peers when discussing words that begin with the /f/ sound. During a movement activity later in the day, students hop like frogs, which helps develop a sense of space and awareness.
In Unit 4, some examples of social skills taught in one day include practicing turn-taking within a language and literacy lesson, practicing sequencing and demonstrating active listening skills during a readiness and writing lesson, and demonstrating listening skills during a numbers and math lesson when they are given instructions to work in their “I Know My Numbers Booklet 8” and follow directions provided orally by the teacher. This schedule provides children with opportunities to practice new skills in a variety of ways and in different settings since each activity is different. The skills are repeated and reinforced throughout the day and across different instructional domains to support the integration of skill practice.
In Unit 6, additional opportunities to learn, practice, and apply previously learned social skills are included for whole group and small group instruction. For example, in a small group activity, children match and stack large shape pieces while working collaboratively with peers. In a large group math lesson, children take turns making a shape and showing the shape to peers to support turn-taking and interacting with peers.
The materials provide some information for ideal classroom arrangements that support positive social interactions. The materials include lessons with embedded daily opportunities for students to practice social skills. They also provide teacher guidance on classroom arrangements to support teacher-student interactions in small group activities as well as student-student activities in learning centers. Although the activities are addressed, guidance on how to arrange learning centers in the classroom space is limited. Materials do consider a variety of factors like time of activities and location of resources, and their impact on students’ social development; however, they lack suggestions to engage students in classroom arrangement to promote student ownership of the space.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The instructional materials provide guidance and visuals of effective classroom arrangement, including attention to the organization of the space and furnishings as well as daily routines to support students’ practice of social skills. For example, the materials provide suggestions for designated areas for both teacher-led and child-led activities. The “Teacher Guide” provides information on the structure of child-led/free-play centers. The guidance for classroom centers supports children to “explore and interact with their peers through play.” The materials suggest hosting these centers at either a table or on the carpet. Although the activities are included, the materials lack specific guidance for teachers to support the practice of social skills and social development. For example, in Volume 2 of the Teacher Guide, children engage in a letter hunt: They are given a touch-and-go ABC flip letter card and explore the room for objects that match the letters. The materials support peer engagement for the activity but do not include guidance on classroom arrangements for implementation in centers. The materials address the need to include positive transition activities to assist children with learning daily routines and rules while lessening potential behavior-related issues but lack steps to support classroom arrangements for this element of the day.
Materials in the “Introduction to the Curriculum” within Volume 1 of the Teacher Guide include how to organize a classroom and different areas in the classroom to support teacher-student and student-student interactions. For example, a visual shows the teacher on a carpet with three students working with letter cards, two students at a table sharing blocks, and a shelf with bins labeled with student materials. For Teacher-led activities, the materials suggest setting “...up your classroom to include one or more specific areas where children will know that a teacher or other adult should be present and directing the instruction. Make sure your children are situated so they can easily see and hear you. It is also important that children can easily participate in the activities during group exercises.” For child-led centers, the classroom guidance states: “these could be at a table, but they could also be on the carpet or another designated section of the classroom.” In the “Classroom Setup” section of the Teacher Guide, there is specific guidance on establishing a table for the teacher-led center, or centers, if there is a teacher’s aide. The materials also instruct teachers to leave all other tables as child-led centers. This setup ensures that there will be a space for teacher-student interactions and multiple spaces for student-student interactions throughout the classroom. The Teacher Guide also provides diagrams and websites teachers can use to help design space needed for the implementation of the curriculum. The materials do not include options to support a variety of classroom designs and sizes.
Volume 1 of the Teacher Guide also provides support for the teacher and considers some factors when discussing physical space but contains limited guidance on the impact of physical space on students’ social development. The guide explains the importance of organization for the teacher and for the students: “An environment where children can easily locate items, know what comes next in the day, and understand why they are participating in various activities provides structure and builds security. A cheerful, well-organized classroom helps you to teach effectively and allows the children in your classroom to easily access toys and materials that will help them grow and learn.” The materials make specific recommendations for the placement of materials; for example, “Stack the children’s copies of My First School Book and My First Lowercase Book on the shelf.” The materials also consider time, daily routines, and specific activities when they make recommendations for classroom arrangement. The materials do not make specific mention of how the physical arrangement of the space supports social development, but they do mention that predictability and consistency strengthens a child’s sense of security. As each activity is summarized in the Multisensory Activities section, descriptions sometimes include supplies lists, tips about lesson tools or manipulatives, and organizing and storing supplies. While the directions may indirectly support positive social interactions, the rationale is not clearly stated, the directions mostly remain general, and guidance does not consider a variety of factors and components that may impact social development.
The instructional materials are implemented easily and effectively within a classroom arrangement that supports positive social interactions. Volume 2 of the Teacher Guide provides lessons that may be used in small groups, whole group, or both, to support social interactions. Some lessons provide embedded social interaction based on classroom arrangements. For example, in Unit 3, students work together and take turns blending onsets and rimes using tiles. The teacher has a choice to do this in various group structures. The flexibility in classroom arrangements allows the teacher to adapt the materials based on the needs of the children. For example, Unit 2 includes the read-aloud Waiting Is Not Easy, which supports emotional regulation and interactions with others. The materials provide guidance for both whole group and small group reading and setup. Although materials provide support for flexible grouping in the classroom arrangements, these supports include few additional resources for teachers to effectively organize or manage space ensuring positive social interactions.
The instructional materials cover classroom setup before children arrive at the beginning of the year, but not what is done with children throughout the year. The materials suggest dedicating a shelf and area for specific resources and activities for each academic content area. For example, one activity guides teachers to “assemble the Sound Around Book and keep the Magnetic Wood Pieces inside the box, placing the box of Magnetic Picture Tiles and Color Tiles beside it.” The entire list can be found in the “Classroom Setup” section of the Teacher Guide, Volume 1. The materials suggest teachers plan ahead and keep all areas organized to make the classroom more efficient. Although there is guidance for teachers, there is no support for engaging and including children in a classroom arrangement. There is no evidence of classroom arrangements to promote student ownership of space.
The instructional materials include activities to develop physical skills and refine motor development, including gross motor skills, through movement. The materials include consistent daily implementation of these skills and opportunities to develop skills in fine motor areas other than writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Unit 2 focuses on “My Body” with various activities to promote children’s movement that develops gross motor skills. In the “At a Glance” section of the lesson guide, an icon of a person running indicates gross motor activities. Gross motor skills are incorporated in most domains per week, and they are noted multiple times throughout the unit. Some examples of physical skills and gross motor activities center on body awareness, balance, and the use of large muscle groups to maintain posture, position, and mobility. For example, in a science activity, physical movements are used to act out high and low stretches with body parts to promote physical awareness. Additional materials include the “Ants Go Marching” song, which guides teachers through a class movement activity. Most daily physical activities focus on writing, although there are some additional opportunities to develop fine motor skills that do not require writing. For example, a later Unit 2 math lesson includes finger-play: Children move fingers to show age. Other fine motor activities provide guidance on specific skills such as holding an item to stabilize it and using the hand to stabilize the tool in reading, developing pinch and grab.
In Unit 3, students dance and sing to a song called “I Am a Fine Musician,” which teaches them about various instruments. Movement is integrated within Unit 3 lessons, such as when students sing “Sing, Sound, and Count with Me” and clap the syllables in children’s names. Activities promoting child movement that develop gross motor skills are embedded during instructional time. In this unit, there are also activities to develop fine motor skills, such as when students use wooden pieces and dough to build capital letters and “Tag Bags” to measure a table. As an extension of the unit activity, students have a choice to create drawings or art to retell a story. Most daily activities and resources require writing with crayons, dry erase markers, or chalk. However, additional activities integrate other manipulatives and do not require writing. Additional manipulatives include wooden pieces, plastic shapes, play-dough, puzzle pieces, etc.
Unit 5 includes additional activities to promote physical skills and gross motor development. For example, students move around the classroom to pair up with students who have the same letter card as them; once found, the pair sits down together. There is also at least one multisensory introduction a week, which includes a song and movement to introduce a concept. All of these activities are integrated into lessons. The materials come with albums, which support the teacher in incorporating musical songs and movement. Also, in this unit, there is evidence of activities to support fine motor skills of grasp and roll. For example, students roll playdough to make the letter M. In another activity, children use scissors to cut and paste the letter N from a magazine or newspaper.
The materials provide some guidance for students to develop safe and healthy habits. The materials provide some information for teachers on modeling safe and healthy habits for students and some opportunities for students to practice and reflect on these concepts. Some lessons relate to personal safety and health. However, the materials provide a limited variety of opportunities to learn about, practice, and reflect on safe and healthy habits, and the materials do not communicate the connection between physical and mental health.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher Guide” includes all the resources that are mentioned throughout the lessons focused on health and safety. For example, if a lesson during the “My Body” unit needs a resource, it will be provided for the teacher. Most of the resources relevant to safe and healthy habits are the vocabulary cards that contain a visual representation and the word for various body parts, and the verbs that accompany them. These resources provide support for a variety of activities focused on safe and healthy habits, but they do not provide direct guidance for teacher modeling. Several CD albums are also included in the resources, with songs that encourage incorporating movement into the lesson to promote health. There are also some books included with the materials that support children in developing healthy habits, such as Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good For You: All About Staying Healthy by Tish Rabe; Germs Are Not For Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick; Pony Brushes His Teeth by Michael Dahl; and Wash, Wash, Wash: The Wash Your Hands Story by Grace Garrett. An additional list of relevant texts can be found under the “Book Connections” section of this resource. While there is a subsection dedicated to “Social-Emotional Learning,” the texts listed here are not accessible through the GSS portal. Teachers need to access the texts outside of GSS and develop their own lessons. The texts are summarized, but there is not an explanation communicating the connection between physical and mental health. While useful, it does not include activities ensuring students develop safe and healthy habits.
The materials do not provide opportunities for students to build on the lessons surrounding healthy habits, and there are no specific lessons on nutrition or exercise, so there are no corresponding activities. The materials in the Teacher Guide do not provide information for teachers about the importance of developing physical skills as a connection to mental health, and they do not provide support for teachers to learn about the importance of planning and encouraging safe and healthy habits in children’s activities. The only support provided to teachers in this area is found in the Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1, which recommends that teachers “alternate the level of physical activity involved as much as possible,” suggesting that, after students listen to a lesson while sitting, the teacher incorporates movement in the next lesson or activity.
Unit 1 introduces body parts in connection to healthy habits. There is a science lesson to teach children to identify their body parts and the senses that go with them by looking at a visual poster of “Mat Man.” Throughout the unit, other lessons integrate these body parts and practice using different senses. This lesson teaches children to identify body parts but does not explicitly connect to healthy habits and the importance of physical movement for mental health. This unit also does not provide opportunities for teacher modeling of these concepts. The materials do not communicate ways to make a connection for children between physical and mental health in an appropriate way.
In Unit 2, the materials include one entire thematic unit entitled “My Body,” which includes lessons on personal health and healthy habits. During each week of the unit, there are sub-themes, such as dental health, how the brain works, and how our arms work. The lessons are taught during the science, social studies, or oral language portion of the day, but they are not integrated into other academic content areas. Some science activities include identifying and describing body parts while singing a song called “Tap, Tap, Tap”; students find different body parts like their toes and nose. In another activity, students identify and describe parts of the body that are hard (bones) and soft (lips, skin, etc.). In a lesson on oral health, the teacher uses a parrot puppet to tell students what brush and floss mean. The next day, the teacher models, and students practice the skills. This activity is one example where teachers model healthy habits; however, modeling is not consistently included in most lessons on safe and healthy habits. Students also see how germs spread by placing glitter on their hands then touching other items. Afterward, students practice removing the germs by washing their hands. The activity also discusses proper hand washing, using warm soapy water, and singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. These opportunities allow students to practice and reflect on healthy habits after the teacher models the behavior. The oral language lessons all introduce relevant body vocabulary, such as knee, leg, reach, bend, think, brush, floss, lungs, sneeze, and illness, which reinforces health concepts for children. A social studies lesson teaches students about the community helpers who help them when they are sick. Although the materials address health and safety, there is no material to support the connection between physical and mental health. There is a week focused on the brain, but the lessons teach children that their brain is for thinking and remembering, rather than about mental health and feeling good.
In Unit 3, the materials include lessons related to safety. For example, the teacher reads Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good For You: All About Staying Healthy by Tish Rabe. After reading the book, the class classifies foods as healthy or unhealthy on a chart to be posted in the classroom. The materials also include the text Crossing Guards by Joann Early Macken. After the teacher reads the book, students practice “stop and go.” In this case, the materials do not include more specific guidance on how to model these habits further. Materials also do not include recommendations for teachers on how to address unsafe or unhealthy child habits in a positive and supportive way. While there are some lessons in Unit 3 that help students develop safe and healthy habits, this is not consistent, and children are not provided a variety of opportunities to practice and reflect on safe and healthy habits. There is also no information to support the connection between physical and mental health.
Indicators 4.1, 4.2, and 4.4 are under re-review.
The materials provide some guidance on developing students’ listening skills, but they provide limited teacher guidance on modeling active listening for understanding. Materials to support teacher guidance and scaffolding of listening skills are not consistently high quality. Materials do provide opportunities for students to hear sounds and use appropriate sentence structure and grammar in a variety of contexts across lessons. Some lessons also provide opportunities for students to hear conversations that follow conversation norms.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials included in the “Teacher Guide” provide some activities to support listening across the curriculum units. The “Language and Literacy” section of scope and sequence summarizes some opportunities for children to listen for sounds. The materials include activities that specifically focus on the sound of the week and provide daily activities that correspond to that sound. For example, in one week, the guide addresses the /s/ sound and identifies this as phonological awareness. The guide includes links to the “Sounds Around Letter” student apps, which are designed to help learners develop fundamental alphabet knowledge. Children use active listening to select the correct word or sounds produced in the game. The oral language section provides guidance on sentence structure and grammar across activities. In one activity, children learn two action verbs, say the verbs in the sentence, and use them in conversations, practicing sentence structures. The Teacher Guide also includes multisensory materials, such as the “Sound Around Box,” which can be used to teach children listening skills. The Mat Man Book Series is written to teach language and readiness skills as well as help children understand through listening. CD albums included with the materials give children practice with listening and following directions through movement and finger-plays. The “Books All Year” section shows the day and week in which texts are read. These texts expose children to a variety of sounds, appropriate sentence structure, and correct grammar. The materials provide texts that focus on rhyming, like Favorite Book of Nursery Rhymes and texts that follow predictable patterns, such as The Doorbell Rang. The “Book Centers & Connections” section of the Teacher Guide includes some scripted phrases to help teachers introduce and review texts. Although there are multiple resources provided for activities, the provided read-aloud scripts for each text lack detail. Teachers have access to some prompts and discussion questions, but they rarely include teacher think-alouds or visual supports to promote modeling of active listening behaviors.
In Unit 1, a language and literacy lesson includes a focus for children to “demonstrate active listening.” In the “Sound Detective” lesson, the teacher models active listening to the students. The teacher plays sounds and asks children to identify if two sounds match. In another activity, students listen to the story My Five Senses. After the story, students answer questions, such as “What body part do we use to hear?” These question-and-answer sessions allow students to listen and practice conversation norms. Also, in Unit 1, students sing the “Hello Song,” which models greeting conversations. The teacher “models and asks children to raise their right hand and say, ‘This is my right hand. I shake with my right hand.’” Afterward, children take turns greeting and shaking hands with each other. The materials provide guidance for the teacher in modeling nonverbal conversation rules. Throughout the unit, the scripted lessons provide students with an opportunity to practice active listening; however, there are few specific lessons to enhance understanding of grammar or sentence structure in a variety of contexts. The skills are implied through other active listening skills but are only sometimes specifically addressed. One such example includes different lessons with the teaching tool, Squawker the puppet. In some cases, the teacher uses Squawker to converse with specific students. Different lessons teach students words like look, listen, ears, pass, share, but not with the intention of directly teaching active listening skills.
In Unit 3, while the teacher reads Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, the class counts words in a sentence and the number of buttons. The materials include examples to support active listening for students in both a large and a small group structure. This lesson also includes a grammatically correct script to support the teacher in giving directions. The materials provide texts that include a variety of sounds, appropriate sentence structure, and correct grammar. Additional activities in Unit 3 provide support for teachers to guide and model sentence structures connected to conversational norms. In one activity, the teacher models how to greet someone and smile while making eye contact. Children then engage with peers to practice greeting phrases. The lesson extends communication activities by introducing the terms manners/respect and polite/rude. Children then engage in conversations guided by the teacher, practicing scripts that model the vocabulary terms. Although there are materials to support listening skills, activities in this unit do not provide opportunities for the teacher to model conversations in a variety of classroom settings.
In Unit 4, listening skills are embedded across multiple learning domains. In one activity, the teacher assigns specific pages in the “I Know My Numbers Booklet 10,” and the children trace and color the assigned pages. This lesson teaches academic content as well as active listening skills through asking and answering questions and following directions. Although active listening is inherent in the lesson, there is no specific guidance for teachers about the variety of ways children can demonstrate active listening skills. Each lesson provides one activity with one strategy, and it is not always specifically focused on reinforcing active listening skills. Another example in Unit 4 is in a “Numbers and Math” lesson. The teacher explains how children will measure lengths of items using “Tag Bags” as counting units. The teacher checks for understanding using specific question prompts, such as “When do we stop? We stop when we reach the edge.” Although the materials provide prompts, there is no support for the teacher to model active listening. One activity in Unit 4 provides grammatically correct, scripted lessons for teachers, but they are not consistent throughout daily lessons and content areas. Scripts that are present guide teachers to give clear directions; for example, in a math lesson in Unit 4, the teacher guides the children through a measurement activity using question prompts to address size and space. The teacher states, “Let’s find out how big our shapes are. We can cover them with small squares to find out. Let’s see if any take eight squares to fill. Let’s cover this medium square. How many small squares do we need?” This specific script prompts children to listen and understand to answer the teacher’s questions; however, this is inconsistent depending on the activity.
Unit 5 provides additional support for active listening. In one activity, the students role-play manners during a pretend dinner. The teacher models how to ask for items and how to leave the table, using phrases such as “May I have the salt, please? or “Thank you for dinner. May I be excused, please?” In another activity, students learn about the adjectives rocky and sandy through active listening. The teacher states the words and meanings and provides a sentence using the words. The students then answer questions about the terms to demonstrate understanding. Not all read-alouds incorporate prompting for students to recall and answer questions about the story read to check for understanding. For example, students read The Three Little Pigs for a science lesson. One teacher prompt states: “Many of the things we use to build roads and houses are NATURAL. We call them natural resources because they come from nature.” The next directions tell teachers to read the book and “have children identify the natural resources used to build each house.” To complete the lesson, students draw their own house using crayons. These directions do not provide the necessary scaffolds or supports to ensure students successfully listen for understanding. “Line It Up Cards” are sometimes used instead of read-alouds, and these sometimes include scripts that ensure listening for understanding. When students interact with the “Little Miss Muffet” story card and activity booklet, they look at the three story pictures, identify Miss Muffet’s problem and how she fixes it. These cards come with some scripted conversation starters for teachers to use with specific lessons: “this is an illustration (picture) from a nursery rhyme. Nursery rhymes are short poems or songs. Rhymes are words that sound the same at the end. Listen for Rhymes as we read. What is the nursery rhyme about? What rhyming words did you hear.” While the materials do provide some opportunities for active listening like this one, most lessons contain limited support for teacher modeling of the skills.
The materials provide students with some opportunities to practice sounds and appropriate sentence structure and grammar in various contexts. Materials provide some teacher guidance on setting up and facilitating activities that allow students to practice the production of sounds, appropriate sentence structure, and grammar, but this is not consistent across units. Materials do provide some guidance for students to work collaboratively to engage in discussion using conversation norms, but they do not provide teacher guidance on corrective feedback, speech production, sentence structure, and grammar.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provided in the “Teacher Guide” include resources to support students’ speaking skills. In the introduction, there is a section dedicated to oral language, which focuses on supporting children to use new words, develop oral language, and develop vocabulary skills through social interaction. The guide provides activities that encourage listening, retelling, answering questions, and narrating stories; these support children in producing a variety of sounds while practicing appropriate sentence structure and grammar. The Teacher Guide also provides some guidance on setting up centers to promote student interactions and discussions. The guide includes some information on language developmental milestones for prekindergarten children, stating that a four-year-old’s talking skills include that the child “recites nursery rhymes and fingerplays,” “begins to use irregular past tense,” and “compares and uses position and time words.” The materials state that a five-year-olds’ talking skills include that the child “speaks clearly, fluently, with very few errors,” “knows many songs, rhymes, and a few poems,” and “uses correct past tense for many verbs.” This information gives teachers guidance on what is developmentally appropriate speech production and grammar, but it does not provide guidance on corrective feedback. Finally, the “Word Time Activity Booklet” explains the structure for oral language lessons. Children learn verbs on Monday, adjectives on Wednesday, and nouns on Friday. Each lesson includes two grammatically correct sentences that use the new vocabulary words to promote proper sentence structure and grammar usage in students. Although the teacher models these words, there is limited support for these concepts beyond this activity. “Checks for Understanding” prompt teachers to engage students in discussion and evaluate student language. While this structure provides an opportunity for feedback, lessons do not explicitly direct teachers to provide feedback at this time. For the most part, these Checks for Understanding tell teachers to observe a specific skill and then ask teachers a question about the skill. For example: “Observe as children discuss plain and fancy. Do they understand the meaning of the words?” There is no guidance directing teachers on corrective feedback of students’ speech production, sentence structure, and grammar.
In Unit 1, the materials provide some guidance to support speaking skills. In a lesson focused on the vocabulary words meet and shake, the teacher sets up an activity to support appropriate sentence structure. The sentences used in that lesson are “We can meet new people at school” and “We can shake hands.” The guidance for teachers states that “saying complete sentences aloud develops children’s speaking skills” but does not provide additional guidance on supporting children to implement the steps. The Unit 1 lesson gives the teacher guidance to “observe as the class says the words. Do they repeat the sentences?” The materials for Unit 1 also include an oral language lesson system called “Word Time.” The materials outline the lesson formation and the materials to be used: a parrot puppet named Squawker, word cards, and an “Activity Booklet.” These lessons teach students two new words each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday using Squawker. Teachers are advised to use props to enhance lessons when appropriate. There is support for teachers to guide appropriate sounds, sentence structure, and grammar, but no support for corrective feedback. The material for Unit 1 does include suggestions to set up individual learning areas to support child practice of sound and sentence structure. In the “Readiness” section of the Teacher Guide, Volume 1, students use wood pieces to learn topics and the vocabulary to describe them. Materials also include a “Sound Box” that provides guidance to teach letters, rhyming, syllables, listening, cooperation, and more. Materials have checks for understanding in which students try to speak in a conversational form. Materials do not provide guidance on how to use all parts of the day to facilitate conversations. Some lessons have guidance on conversations, but this is not included across all lessons.
Unit 2 provides specific activities on speech through oral language lessons. In one activity, the students learn about the adjectives high and low. In this activity, students say the words in a sentence and use them in a conversation. Each oral language lesson used in the unit includes word cards and Squawker the parrot, which is used to model the words. The materials provide a consistent format across the unit to support the teacher in setting up activities for students to produce sounds and practice sentence structures and grammar. The format for each activity includes the following steps: 1) Look: Say the word with Squawker; 2) Do: Students imitate words; 3) Say: Repeat sentences given with words; 4) Talk: Conversation about words. Although materials provide consistent steps, they do not provide recommendations or scripts to facilitate conversations during unstructured times. Material is not provided to support corrective feedback.
In Unit 3, the materials use a song called “Letters Together Make Words” to teach students how to make words. Music and sound are used as a vehicle to increase speaking skills and speech production across content areas. Children engage in the practice of sounds by repeating the words from the song. Also, in Unit 3, Squawker the parrot is used again to model how to ask and answer questions about costume and clothing during an oral language activity. Students practice asking and answering questions like Squawker. There are additional opportunities to use and practice speaking skills across content areas throughout the unit. During a language and literacy lesson, the teacher reads The Tortoise and the Hare. The teacher says, “I will read a sentence slowly and quietly, just like a tortoise. When I point to you, you repeat the sentence quickly, just like a hare!” There is guidance for the teacher to listen to children accurately repeating the sentence.
A Unit 5 oral language lesson continues to build on speaking skills. In one activity, children learn the words scoop and dump. The teacher asks, “What else can scoop dirt?” Students have an opportunity to discuss the new vocabulary word as a large or small group. Other academic areas do not include open-ended questions as frequently; for example, a math lesson in Unit 5 has no scripted questions. The “Word Time Activity Booklet” includes support to set up activities to build oral language skills by acting out and describing words. There are also some specific activities included that focus on children practicing saying sentences; for example, in “Picture Game,” children take pictures out of a brown bag and say a sentence about what they see; in “Can You Say More?” the teacher reviews a sentence from the Monday or Wednesday oral language lesson and asks questions to encourage children to say longer sentences. This activity provides opportunities for children to use appropriate sentence structure and grammar. Also, in Unit 5, students listen to the story The Three Little Pigs. Following the story, students discuss natural resources and how they can be used for building houses. This activity provides opportunities to use language in discussions and conversations, but the resources contain no guidance for corrective feedback.
The materials support developing and expanding child vocabulary that is age and sequentially appropriate. The lessons provide strategies to support vocabulary development that are integrated and authentically embedded across content learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Word Time Activity Booklet” provides a variety of strategies to support teachers in developing children’s vocabulary. It emphasizes quality exposure to vocabulary and gives children opportunities to connect with words authentically. These connections are made during the “Oral Language Word Time” lessons on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. These lessons use vocabulary cards with the printed word and illustration, a parrot puppet to engage the children, songs, and theme-related vocabulary across content areas. The Word Time Activity Booklet also contains two pages of additional activity ideas to use on days when there is not a specific oral language lesson scripted in the daily lesson plans. These activities include “Act It Out,” where children act out the verbs learned on Mondays, and “Fill in the Blank,” where the teacher says a sentence that uses a word children have learned but leaves a blank. For example, “A…works with cars.” The teacher gives children three choices: mechanic, firefighter, or chef. Children complete the sentence by selecting the correct vocabulary word. The materials include suggestions to expand on the new content by reading specific texts that are included for each unit. The structure and sequence of the lessons support vocabulary development in an age and sequentially appropriate manner.
In Unit 3, there is a lesson focused on specific vocabulary terms. The teacher uses a macaw paper puppet (Squawker) to model the terms first and next and then provides the definitions of the new words. Students practice the terms by holding first and next cards and saying, “I am first in line. My friend is next in line.” Materials provide child-friendly definitions of new words while also including meaningful ways for children to interact with and use new vocabulary words in context. In another example, the students learn the words costume and clothing; students say the words with Squawker. The teacher says, “A costume is something you wear for pretend play. Clothing covers your body and can keep you warm.” The teacher provides visual representations of the words and has one child dress up in a cape. The teacher asks, “What is a costume? A costume is a kind of clothing.” The class discusses costumes they want to wear and clothing they wear in winter. This progression for the vocabulary lesson builds on prior knowledge and provides visual examples for students to integrate new vocabulary words authentically through the activity.
The materials provide a wide variety of rich and rare vocabulary words and repeated opportunities to hear and practice language within a relevant context that supports a developmentally appropriate progression and sequence. In Unit 5, the students learn the words wide and narrow. The teacher gives a brief kid-friendly definition; the students make wide and narrow paths by moving around the classroom. The next day, the words are integrated into another activity where students make and compare tracks using different cars and trucks and use the words wide and narrow. “Word Time” is also built into Unit 5 and guides teachers to “physically demonstrate speaking, reading, and writing in the classroom.” Word Time is also used in Unit 5 to practice a “Look-Do-Say-Talk” model. The teacher models the vocabulary words, such as wide and narrow; the children repeat and then discuss the meanings. This model stays the same for all units. Each day, children learn two new words for a total of six words per week. Most of these words are new and rare words that enhance vocabulary in a sequentially appropriate manner.
The materials include appropriate strategies for supporting English Learners (ELs) in their English language skills development. The strategies provided in the materials are specific to ELs, and the materials include a variety of strategies for the teacher to use to assist students. Much of this guidance also integrates the child’s first language as a foundation for learning English. Additionally, materials often develop student vocabulary in both English and the home language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide” lists key principles for teaching English Learners. In these principles, they include information about giving ELs “opportunity to develop sound-symbol awareness in the Home Language, in addition to English, because skills transfer cross-linguistically.” Furthermore, the materials also advise teachers that ELs come to the classroom with language that can be used as a resource for learning. This resource also includes specific classroom strategies for teaching ELs. These include: using labels in the classroom that include both English, Spanish, and other languages that children may speak; trying to incorporate vocabulary words in the languages children speak; pre-teaching vocabulary before read alouds; encouraging teachers to teach vocabulary in authentic contexts, including scripted lessons, but also during “teachable moments” throughout the day; and helping children create “Word Journals” to keep track of words as they learn them.
Each lesson also includes one support labeled as “support/EL.” Unit 1 lessons include supports such as verbal or tactile prompting, connecting body parts to the parts of a book, saying letters slowly, and showing children other things they can pass and share during a lesson that teaches those vocabulary words. The materials also include a “Making Predictions” lesson where teachers preview the pictures and repeat the names of objects in the pictures prior to the activity. This lesson integrates well with other specific tips for pre-teaching curriculum to ELs. Specific pre-teaching tips include saying the word in both the child’s home language and English; using tangible items to provide an authentic context for the word; using visuals, nonverbal cues, gestures, or physical prompts; creating drawings or art; and having struggling ELs work with a peer to help in their understanding.
In Unit 2 social studies lesson, students “learn that people speak different languages.” The teacher teaches students how to say hello in Spanish and then asks them if they or their family speak Spanish. The teacher repeats the activity in Chinese as well as any other languages spoken in the classroom. Generally, teachers also have access to research on cognates and how they can assist Spanish speakers with learning the English language. As well, EL students are encouraged to use provided digital tools and apps to support their English language acquisition. These tools give them an opportunity to hear sounds, interact with digital read aloud books, and use the “Word Time Word Cards” to create a class word wall.
In Unit 3, included EL supports guide the teacher to provide visual and physical prompts as well as shorten an activity for English Learners. Each vocabulary word taught comes with a word card that contains that word printed on it and an illustration. This visual helps to build language in a developmentally appropriate manner; the use of strategies like visual and physical prompts are helpful for ELs.
In Unit 5, students learn the words row and steer. The teacher uses a macaw paper puppet and vocabulary cards that depict the action. The materials provide child-friendly definitions of new words while also including meaningful ways for children to interact with and use new vocabulary words in context. The row vocabulary cards include a drawing of a canoe with a person rowing. Also, in Unit 5, students learn the words steep and level. The vocabulary lesson has the children incorporate physical activity and visuals throughout.
Indicators 5.1, 5.2, 5.4, 5.6, and 5.7 are under re-review.
The materials provide students with some opportunities to develop oral language skills, including authentic text conversations. Materials provide opportunities for students to listen and engage in discussions to understand the information in texts, but they do not provide opportunities for students to ask questions. Materials provide opportunities for students to engage in discussions, yet they are not consistent on how to build oral language through the texts. Materials provide few supports and guidance for students to work collaboratively to engage in discussion.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide some opportunities for students to engage in active listening, open-ended questions, and discussion throughout the units. In Unit 1, the students predict what will happen in the story Maria Had a Little Llama by Maria Tenia. The teacher shows the front cover of the story and asks the students to predict what they believe will happen in the story. The teacher then reads the title and asks the students if their prediction has changed. The teacher continues to read and stops periodically to get new predictions. After the reading, the teacher reviews the predictions and compares them to what actually happened in the story. The teacher checks for understanding by observing how and why the students make predictions and if their predictions make sense.
In Unit 3, the students learn about the people who create books, and they also learn about bullying when they read The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill. The teacher discusses an author and illustrator’s roles while showing the book to the class. The teacher takes the students on a picture walk of the book and asks them to make predictions before reading it. After the story, the teacher asks the students how the book made them feel and discusses what they can do if they are bullied. Students role-play different scenarios to practice solving conflicts. The teacher checks for understanding by observing the students during the picture walk and listening to their predictions.
In Unit 5, the teacher reads The Gingerbread Man by Catherine McCafferty and gives each child a gingerbread man cookie or cutout. The teacher tells the students to pretend they have caught the gingerbread man and want to share him. The teacher asks students how they can share the cookie equally in a group discussion. The teacher then uses a knife or scissors to model to the students how to cut the gingerbread man symmetrically from head to toe. The teacher checks for understanding by asking children about the process and listening to their responses. There are no specific tips for the teacher to expand upon children’s conversations related to this text.
Text-based discussions are meant to take place during read-aloud. Teachers are sometimes provided with specific prompting questions, but most prompts are general teacher-actions. Often students are directed to discuss predictions they have about stories and how to solve problems. The lessons include questions to ask the students, but they do not support further student collaboration or discussion. For example, the questions related to the Unit 6 text, Ready for Robins, include: “Can you make a home for the birds? What could the parents say to each other? What will they do next?” These types of questions sometimes require students to share information and ideas about the text, but as written, they do not provide enough additional support to ensure collaborative discussion or to ask questions.
The materials provide an extensive list of related books in the “Book Connections” section of the Teacher’s Guide, Vol. 1. These books are recommended to further expand the concepts in the Teacher’s Guide, but no further guidance is provided on when or how to teach these texts. The Scope and Sequence does not include suggested time to read these texts, nor is there a dedicated time for read-aloud texts in the example half-day and full-day schedules. The “Books All Year” section defines when text-based lessons are integrated into the curriculum; teachers read texts roughly 2–3 times a week, with some weeks lacking a scheduled read aloud. Beyond lessons that include text-specific questions, the teacher also has access to the “Book Centers & Connection” section in the Teacher’s Guide. This two-page section includes read-aloud interactive tips, pre-reading suggestions and prompts, a section dedicated to comprehension review, and a section describing how to connect the story to art. The comprehension review section provides some guidance for text-based student discussion. There are four bullet points, and suggestions include: “Check the children’s predictions and ask questions about why their predictions did or did not happen.” “Discuss any problems and solutions.” “Discuss how the story made each child feel.” “Have children retell the story.” While this guidance relates to the text, it does not ensure students consistently develop necessary oral language skills.
There are times when read aloud texts are replaced with “Line It Up Story Cards” and activity booklets. There are five story cards with associated activity booklets, and the booklets include additional teacher prompts that help promote discussion. However, these resources are not text-based in the traditional sense: there is some text for the teacher to read, but three pictures make up the foundation for each activity. While students may be working collaboratively in discussion, these resources do not ensure authentic text-based conversations.
The materials provide some direct (explicit) instruction and opportunities for student practice in phonological awareness skills. The materials follow some components of the continuum, but they do not explain the research-based developmental continuum nor how the publisher decided on the scope and sequence of phonological awareness. Materials include various activities that engage students in identifying, synthesizing, and analyzing sounds. These activities allow students some opportunity to practice phonological awareness skills in connection to alphabetic knowledge skills, but rarely do they practice these skills in isolation.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The introduction guide reference articles on phonological awareness, including “Structure of Preschool Phonological Sensitivity” (2002), “The Development of Cross-Language Transfer of Phonological Awareness” (1995), and “Phonics, Phonological Awareness, and the Alphabet” (2004). When examining phonological awareness instruction across the materials, the basis of instruction is the letter. Across units 1–5, students spend a week per letter and phonological awareness is included periodically. While some early lessons help students discriminate between noises and words, phonological awareness instruction seems to vary along the developmental continuum. For instance, during a single week in Unit 3, students identify words in sentences and letter sounds at the beginning of a word, and students build sentences into words. However, the materials do not provide a research-based scope and sequence detailing phonological awareness instruction. Based on the organization of phonological awareness instruction, materials seem to only somewhat follow the research-based developmental continuum of how children acquire phonological awareness.
In the Unit 1 lesson “Learn New Words,” the students learn new words that begin with the letter S. The teacher places pictures that begin with the letter S in the “Sound Around Box.” Students select a picture and share their experiences with that picture. In another lesson, “Identify Beginning Sound,” students learn to identify the beginning sounds of their names and others in the class in a whole group setting. The lesson uses the song “I’m Happy to See You.” Instead of saying you, the teacher uses the names of students in the class while holding a sentence strip with the student's name. To identify the sound, the teacher emphasizes the beginning sound in the student’s name. In Week 6 of Unit 1, there are multiple opportunities for phonological awareness practice. The lesson “Distinguish Letters, Words, and Sentences” includes scrolls listing a letter, a word, or a sentence, and students have to identify which one it is. In a different lesson, “Position Letters,” students are introduced to the letter L and its sound. In the final lesson, “Make Rhyming Words,” students use picture cards to produce a rhyming word. Distinguish Letters, Words, and Sentences; Position Letters; and Make Rhyming Words all connect to the weekly focus letter L. In Distinguish Letters, Words, and Sentences, the letter, word, and sentence all contain the letter L. In the lesson Make Rhyming Words, L words are used to introduce rhyming. Phonological awareness skills are connected to alphabetic knowledge, but they are rarely practiced in isolation.
In Unit 3, in the “Identify Final Sound” lesson, students identify ending sounds in words. In the lesson, students stretch the ending sound, /s/, to ensure they hear the final sound. For support/English Learners, materials suggest using harder sounds — /k/, /d/, /g/, /p/, and /t/ — to ensure the sounds can be heard clearly. In the lesson “Make One Word into Two,” students break down compound words into two words. In this whole or small group lesson, students select a picture card representing a compound word from the Sound Around Box and break the word into two (sunglasses becomes sun and glasses). The Sound Around Box contains compound words beginning with the letter J, as that is the week’s focus letter. In this lesson, students analyze words as they separate compound words. Week 16 has three days that focus on phonological awareness. In “Build Sentences with Words,” students are introduced to the letter G and its sound. Students use words that begin with G to create sentences like “Goats eat grass.” Students use colored tiles to help count the number of words in the sentence. In a different lesson, “Learn New Words that Begin with G,” students learn words beginning with the letter G: giraffe, goat, grass, glider, and goose. Students are encouraged to share their experiences with one of the words chosen. In the final phonological lesson in Week 16, “Combine Onset and Rime,” students blend onsets and rimes of words beginning with the letter G. This phonological skill is connected to alphabetic knowledge, but students do not have an immediate opportunity to practice the skill in isolation. The next five “Language & Literacy” lessons cover naming objects that begin with S, reviewing S and building its capital letter, repeating words that start with the letter S, identifying the lowercase S, and identifying when words end in S. After that, students divide compound words, name and build capital letter J, combine root words into a compound word, match capital and lowercase J, and identify when words begin with J.
In Unit 5, there are multiple phonological awareness lessons in Week 26. In the “Divide Onset and Rime” lesson, which is a whole or small group lesson, students group words into families using words with the ending /n/ sound. At the beginning of the lesson, students are introduced to the letter N and its sound. Students group words ending in -an and -un into word families. Students use the -an and -un ending sounds to create new words. Students synthesize words in this lesson as they add a different beginning sound to -an/-un: van, pan, can; sun, bun, fun. In the next lesson, “Review N and Its Sound,” students say the name and sound for N as they write. In the lesson, students look around the classroom to find words beginning with the letter N. The last lesson in Week 26 is “Sort Syllables.” In the lesson, students clap and count the number of syllables in a word to develop phonological awareness. Using the “1-2-3 Touch & Flip” cards, students say and clap the word and place the picture under the number of syllables. The lesson provides an enrichment activity that increases the number of syllables to four-syllable words. The lesson also focuses on using words beginning with the letter N. Again, most of the phonological awareness skills in Unit 5 are connected to alphabetic knowledge, and not enough practice is completed in isolation.
The materials provide direct (explicit) instruction and opportunities for student practice in alphabetic knowledge skills. The materials follow a research-based, strategic sequence for the introduction of alphabetic knowledge across the units. The materials also provide teacher guidance on directly introducing, modeling, and using letter names and sounds.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1” states that the curriculum is “structured around the research-based sequence of letters that best support fine motor development in children.” The research-based sequence is from The First Year of Life: A Guide to the Study of the Pre-school Child by Gesell, et al. Each week has a focus letter; for instance, in Unit 2, each week focuses on one of the letters Ff, Ee, Hh, Tt, Ii, and Uu, in that order. Unit 4 follows a similar sequence, with the letters Dd, Pp, Bb, Rr, Kk, and Aa. Unit 6 is the last unit and follows a different format, reviewing various letters each week since children have been exposed to all the letters of the alphabet at this point. There is a built-in review in the last six weeks during Unit 6. During the first few weeks, there is no focus letter, just an emphasis on learning names and familiar words.
In Unit 2, during a “Language and Literacy” lesson, the children learn the letter E. On Monday, the teacher shows the letter E card. The teacher introduces the letter and sound. The teacher places the E card on the ground with other letters that have been taught and asks a child to pick and name a letter. The children finger-trace the letter. The teacher repeats until all letters have been chosen. This activity gives children an opportunity to learn the new focus letter and review letters taught in previous weeks. On the same day, the “Readiness and Writing” lesson has the children practice with letter E by building the letter with wood pieces. The following day, the teacher reviews letter E before a read-aloud for Language and Literacy. For Readiness and Writing, children practice letter E by creating it out of playdough. Similar activities occur throughout the week, giving children opportunities to practice with the focus letter every day. Each week follows a similar format; though the actual activities may change, the opportunities to practice letters stay frequent. The materials begin by introducing the capital letter and then introduce the corresponding lowercase letter in the middle of the week. The materials thus provide a structured sequence for the introduction of alphabetic knowledge.
In Unit 4, the students learn the letter P in one week with various activities. During the Language and Literacy lesson, the materials guide the teacher to introduce P and its sound. Each week, the teacher is instructed to do this on the first day of the week so that children learn the focus letter. The lesson that follows is a phonological awareness lesson, but the words used to teach compound words all start with P, like pancake. The Readiness and Writing lesson builds on new knowledge by reviewing the letter. While building the letter P with wood pieces, the teacher says, “Watch as I build P. Big Line down, Jump to the smiley face, Little Curve to the middle. We made P.” Children imitate the teacher model with their own wood sticks. On Day 2 of the week, the teacher introduces P and its sound during Language and Literacy again. The phonological awareness lesson that follows is on another skill but again instructs the teacher to use words that begin with P when working on rhymes. The materials suggest pan/can as an example rhyme and pail/pig as a non-example. During Readiness and Writing, the teacher repeats the procedure of building the letter P (with the accompanying script), but this time out of playdough instead of wood pieces. The students again imitate these actions. These lessons are very explicit and give the teacher guidance on what to say and have the children do. All of these activities incorporate letter knowledge in meaningful ways. These hands-on activities to create the letters and gain exposure to them allow children to learn through multisensory methods.
The format across all units is very similar, though some activities do change. The earlier units have a heavier focus on letters, while later units also incorporate phonological awareness skills into alphabetic knowledge lessons. All the lessons are scripted and detailed, so the teacher has guidance on introducing, modeling, and using letter names and sounds.
The materials provide some direct (explicit) instruction in print knowledge and concepts and opportunities for student practice. The materials provide some instruction in print awareness as related to books/texts. There are minimal experiences for students to develop an understanding of print in context to the students’ experience at school. The materials do not provide a developmentally appropriate continuum for the development of print awareness knowledge, nor do they provide a research-based sequence of foundational skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide some direct instruction in print knowledge, but not in all units. Sometimes lessons state to review the parts of a book without additional support. When the materials have planned read-alouds, they include questions to use before the reading to help children develop knowledge about print, rarely do they include questions during or after the reading. Materials do not include recommendations for setting up a print-rich environment or engaging opportunities to experience authentic print within the school day. The materials do not include charts, lists, or big books.
Even though there are lessons that teach some print awareness components, they are not labeled as print awareness, and they are not in the scope and sequence. There is not a provided continuum for the development of print awareness or a progression of the teaching. That being said, some lessons become more complex as the year advances, and there are some examples of explicit instruction in print awareness. Students learn the part of a book in the first unit and distinguish letters by Unit 5.
All read alouds found in the “Scope and Sequence” include some guidance for the teacher to implement during instruction. First, teachers are directed to the “Books All Year” section of the “Teacher’s Guide, Vol. 1.” This section also directs teachers to the Statement of Correlation” and ‘Book Connections” sections. This information primarily consists of two book lists: one list of supplementary recommended books and another list of books integrated throughout the curriculum. This resource is supposed to include “tips regarding how to effectively integrate books into your Pre-K classroom each time you read a book with children.” However, the only remaining parts summarize research, support, and resources for learning; parent resources for school-to-home connection; and a sample circle time discussing opening, pledge, calendar, weather, songs, and closing. This last section, “Sample Circle Time,” does tell teachers: “Daily for at least a week, read a book regarding a social-emotional learning topic.” This section does not provide teachers with direct instruction (explicit) lessons in print awareness.
An additional section in the Teacher’s Guide titled “Book Centers & Connections” provides some general guidance for teachers when conducting read-alouds. Spanning two pages, this section consists of four subsections: fun and interactive read-aloud tips, read aloud time, comprehension review, and retelling the story through arts. Here, the teacher introduces the book by “going over parts of the book with each read aloud” and conducts a “Picture Walk.” The parts of the book reviewed include the spine, front, and back of the book. Then, teachers talk about the title, author, and illustrator before discussing each picture and making predictions. There is no explicit reference to any specific-text, nor is there any explicit connection to print knowledge. The directions are for general use and guidance. In the “Let’s Read: Read Aloud Time” section, teachers are reminded to show their excitement, keep the book facing the children, maintain a reasonable reading pace, summarize the title page, add voice variations for each character, and change reading expression. For review, teachers check children’s predictions, discuss problems and solutions, discuss feelings, and have children retell the story. This lesson is the extent of direct and explicit print awareness instruction found in Teacher’s Guide, Vol. 1.
Usually, within the lesson plans (Teacher’s Guide, Vol. 2), there are 3–5 questions or prompts meant to help teachers specifically teach the text. For example, when students read The Tortoise and the Hare: An Aesop Fable in Unit 3, prompts include: “Let’s read The Tortoise and the Hare. A tortoise moves slowly and quietly. A hare moves quickly. And, “Listen carefully as I read the story. I will read a sentence slowly and quietly, just like a tortoise. When I point to you, you repeat the sentence quickly, just like the hare!” Many lessons do not reference print knowledge and concepts; those that do, do so indirectly.
Also, in Unit 3, the students learn about jobs and school safety. The teacher explains that there are many jobs in the community, and one of them is a crossing guard. The teacher asks the students if they have a crossing guard. The teacher reviews the parts of a book and reads Crossing Guards by Joann Early Macken. After the book, the teacher uses a safety sign to explain “stop and go” on the sign. The students play “Stop and Go” using the safety sign. After the game, the class discusses safety. The teacher checks for understanding by observing if the students listen to the story and ask questions.
In Unit 5, the teacher reviews capital and lowercase letters and their sounds. The teacher passes out “A-B-C Touch & Flip” cards to the students, one to each student. Half of the students get a lowercase letter, and half get an uppercase letter. The students find their matching letters. The teacher asks the students with V and v to go to the front and tells the class an uppercase letter and a lowercase letter. The teacher repeats the step with other letters. The teacher checks for understanding by observing if the students match their letters.
The materials include a variety of text types and genres across content that are high-quality and at an appropriate level of complexity. The texts are all easily-accessible for children when read aloud by the teacher. The resources provide strategies to support children’s connection with background knowledge and through previewing books before the read-aloud if needed. The materials include both fiction and nonfiction texts as well as nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and songs. The texts selected are high-quality and engaging, with both familiar characters as well as high-interest topics for the prekindergarten age range. There is some support for the use of environmental print through guided activities.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The introduction of the “Teacher Guide” includes texts engaging to prekindergarten students as well as opportunities for students to interact with stories. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a repetitive story that allows students to chime in to answer what each animal sees. From Head to Toe is another interactive story. The book includes questions such as “I am a cat and I arch my back can you do it?” and allows characters/students to answer by demonstrating. The Three Little Pigs is another story students can re-enact as they build different houses, and the wolf huffs and puffs and blows the houses down. The materials provided in the Teacher Guide cover a range of concepts, such as body awareness and colors, that are developmentally appropriate for pre-K students. Across all units, there are engaging texts written by well-known early childhood authors; children have ample opportunities to interact with texts across a range of interests. The text list has many early childhood favorites, like Dr. Seuss and Karma Wilson, as well as newer titles like I’m NOT Just a Scribble by Diane Alber. The Teacher Guide, Volume 1, also provides guidance about how to set up a “Book Center” and help children make connections with books. Guidance includes making a read-aloud more fun and interactive through previewing the book, asking questions about the pictures in the text, and using voice variations for each character. The materials offer guidance for teachers on how to have students retell the story through other centers such as “Art,” “Music,” and “Dramatic Play.” The materials also suggest rereading books and putting new and previously read books in the Book Center to make them readily available for students to engage with.
The materials include a list of “Book Connections” in the Teacher Guide, Volume 1, divided into sections based on interest and content area. Sections include “Animals, Art, Chef/Cook/Healthy Food, Dramatic Play, Environment/Recycling, Letters, Motors and Machines, Science and Technology for Kids, Music and Musicians, My Body, Numbers, Counting, Colors, Shapes, Science, Flight, Light, Plants, Water Cycle, Weather, and Social-Emotional Learning.” This list offers suggestions of other titles that relate to topics pre-K students may be interested in, as well as the books included with the materials that fall into those categories. The texts identified in the Book Connections are appropriate for preschool-age children and vary in complexity to support the specific needs of the classroom.
The texts identified in the units provide children with content that is developmentally appropriate and includes a range of topics to support a range of student interests. For example, Unit 1 contains the text My Five Senses by Aliki that the teacher reads aloud; according to Scholastic, this text is written for pre-K through grade 1 and has a Lexile level of AD590L. Based on the by-hand qualitative measures of the IRLA leveling system, the Lexile accurately reflects this text’s difficulty when it is read independently. The purpose of this text is for the teacher to read aloud information to the students as an introductory activity to explore the hearing sense. The text contains a mixture of simple sentences and complex sentences, but each sentence has a corresponding picture to help students understand it. The simple sentences “I can hear! I hear with my ears.” are accompanied by a picture of a child highlighting his ears by pulling them forward. The more complex sentence, “When I see the sun, or a frog, or my baby sister, I use my sense of sight” has corresponding pictures of a frog under the sun and the baby sister crawling. My Five Senses by Aliki engages children to explore their surroundings using their five senses. This text also shows how to be aware by using multiple senses at a time: We see, hear, smell, and touch when playing with a dog. The text provides illustrations that support the reader to understand each page and provides guidance to directly engage with the text by mimicking the picture.
Unit 2 includes Waiting Is Not Easy! by Mo Willems. This text is recommended for ages 4–8, which includes pre-K children (4–5 years old). The text’s Lexile level is listed as Beginning Reader, which is appropriate for pre-K students. The text has easy-to-understand words, and the plot is easy for children to follow. The text can be incorporated into lessons and is a recommended read-aloud during a language and literacy lesson. The story is relatable to children: Piggy has a surprise to show Elephant, but Elephant cannot wait to see it. The text provides opportunities for children to interact by modeling the characters’ behaviors. While this text teaches the skill of patience using the characters Elephant and Piggy, the text also connects with children who are interested in animals, which can support a wide range of interests.
Unit 5 contains the text “Little Miss Muffet” from Favorite Book of Nursery Rhymes by Scott Gustafson, which according to Scholastic, was written for pre-K through grade 2; a Lexile level is not provided because it is a collection of nursery rhymes. Little Miss Muffet has a DRA level of 8, which correlates to a 200–300 Lexile level. The teacher reads the nursery rhyme aloud, and students describe the problem and solution. The students engage in the activity by moving the story cards to mirror the sequence and select answers to questions such as “What is Miss Muffet’s problem?” “How did she fix it?” and “What would you do if a spider sat beside you?” The activity provides material that is developmentally appropriate for this age group and supports student engagement across a variety of interests.
Fiction texts include:
Nonfiction texts include:
Examples of a variety of text types include:
The Teacher Guide, Volume 1, guides and provides pictures on setting up the classroom to incorporate environmental print. Teachers are told to label centers and the materials that belong to each center. Students use letter cards and vocabulary cards in the “Language and Literacy” center that contain a visual to help students decode them. The materials provide classroom environmental print to support print awareness development; however, materials lack additional activities to support environmental print in the classroom or in lessons throughout the units.
The materials give general guidance for teachers on approaches to develop students’ comprehension of texts read aloud, but they lack specific guidance to help teachers connect texts to children’s experiences at home and school. There is some support to guide teachers on basic text structures and understanding of text, but this is not included across all units.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1” provides guidance for teachers to use during read-alouds; this information can be found in the “Book Centers & Connections” section of the Teacher’s Guide. In one example related to basic text structure, the materials suggest using a picture walk to “teach children how to use pictures as clues to understand the story and make predictions about what might happen at the end.” The materials also include guidance around asking two to three “wh” questions about each picture during the picture walk. During the “Let’s Read: Read Aloud Time” section, the teacher summarizes the book title, author, and illustrator. After reading, the teacher checks the children’s predictions, discusses problems and solutions, and asks, “How did the story make you feel? What surprised [sic] about the story?” These questions give children opportunities to make connections to the text, but they do not guide the teacher to connect the text to children’s experiences at home or school. The strategies provide general guidance supporting the comprehension of the read-alouds, but they do not help teachers communicate how basic text structures impact the understanding of text.
The Teacher’s Guide also includes a section titled “Book Connections,” summarizing additional suggested book titles for teachers to add to their classroom libraries. The “Books All Year” section summarizes when each read-aloud book is integrated into the curriculum. This section also includes books specifically meant to “support social-emotional learning discussions in your Pre-K classroom.” These eight texts include a brief description of the book and how it can be utilized to support social skill instruction. However, these sections of the Teacher Guide do not provide guidance for teachers to connect specific texts to children’s experiences or connect basic text structure to understanding.
There is a page-long section titled “School-to-Home Connections” in the Teacher’s Guide that summarizes ways to build connections between school and home. Some of these suggestions include communicating during Pre-K events, sharing assessment information, sharing curriculum and music, reading to children at home, etc. While these suggestions are meant to increase student comprehension and success, the child’s experience at home is not being used to develop their comprehension of texts read aloud.
In Unit 1, the students predict what will happen in the story Maria Had a Little Llama by Maria Tenia. The teacher shows the front cover of the story and asks students, “What do you predict will happen in this story?” The teacher then reads the title and asks the students, “Now that you know the title, what do you predict will happen? Did your prediction change?” The teacher continues to read and stops periodically to get new predictions and check for understanding. The materials provide predicting questions for the teacher to use but no support to guide the teacher on how to use the text to teach and model making predictions and inferences. The materials also lack guidance for teachers to help children identify and use basic text structures to develop comprehension of the text read aloud.
Unit 2 uses the same guidance as previous units. In one activity, children listen to the story of the Growing Pumpkins and predict “What do you think will happen?” The students make predictions using illustrations and prior knowledge. The teacher checks for comprehension through the students’ responses. In another activity, children learn to detect characters’ feelings in a story. The lesson guides the teacher to read the “Story Cards for Little Miss Muffet.” During the reading of the story cards, the materials guide the teacher to have students make connections. The teacher asks, “What is happening?” about the first card (she is eating). The teacher asks, “How do you feel when you’re eating?” to help children connect to the character in the story based on their own experiences. Then the teacher asks, “How does Miss Muffet feel?” (happy), and the children answer by holding up an emotion face on a craft stick. This activity helps children understand emotion by connecting to their own life experiences. Specific strategies for comprehension are not provided for each activity in the unit, but the Teachers’ Guide can be used to support all reading activities in the unit.
In Unit 3, students learn about being a chef to build oral language. The teacher reads aloud Chefs and What They Do by Liesbet Slegers; after the reading, the teacher asks the students about their experiences in a restaurant or at home to assess comprehension. After reading the story, students pretend to be chefs and cooks. The materials provide guidance for the teacher to support children in making personal connections to texts: “Discuss the story and ask children about their experiences in a restaurant or at home.” In an oral language lesson in Unit 3, students learn the nouns, grandma and relative, while asking and answering questions. The text connects children’s experiences at home and at school. Later, in “Q&A with Nouns,” students look at the corresponding illustrated vocabulary cards, and then repeat words, say sentences, and discuss relatives that may live with or visit as a check for comprehension of the terms.
The materials include strategies that support English Learners (ELs) in their development of emergent reading skills. While some general strategies utilize the child’s home language, few strategies use the child’s knowledge of literacy in their primary language. When referenced, home language knowledge is not consistently used to build and transfer knowledge to English language and literacy skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher Guide” provides some strategies to support ELs. A list of books and folktales is included to support ELs, along with tips for implementation. Additionally, the Teacher Guide includes a “Resources” section dedicated to English Learners summarizing strategies to help them learn. Specific strategies include pre-teaching vocabulary words that will be present in the read-aloud so that children can comprehend what is being read; listening to digital read alouds in English to build comprehension and vocabulary; pointing out cognates; and using digital tools such as the “Sound Around Letters App” where students hear, use, and record their own voice when learning letter sounds. Some of these strategies use the students’ primary language to help them build English language and literacy skills. For instance, teachers use the students’ primary language as they label objects around the room and teachers start by saying vocabulary words in students’ primary language before teaching the word in English. Guidance in this section will be useful; however, it does not reference different language characteristics, patterns, rules, or tendencies that could be leveraged when teaching English Learners.
Some support for emergent literacy skills in ELs is provided in Unit 1. In one activity, students recognize their names in print to build language and literacy skills. Each child receives their own name strip. The teacher asks a child to say their name and asks, “What is the first letter in your name? What sound does it make? Can you find your name somewhere in the classroom?” The teacher repeats the process with the other students. The EL accommodation for this lesson is to help children identify the letters in their names and match the letters in the classroom. This activity supports appropriate strategies for emergent reading but lacks a variety of strategies for supporting ELs to develop emergent reading skills. In another activity, students learn concepts of print. In the “Recognizing Parts of a Book” lesson, students listen to the story Mat Man Shapes. Prior to listening to the story, students learn about the parts of a book: title, spine, front, and back. The support for ELs is to teach front and back by showing the front and back of the body and different items in the classroom. Finally, in an oral language lesson called “Q&A with Nouns: Friends/People,” students learn two nouns. The support for ELs has children repeat each word and sentence. The activities in the unit provide a variety of strategies to support ELs, but they do not utilize students’ home language as a tool for knowledge transfer into English.
In Unit 2, children predict what will happen in a story that the teacher reads aloud. The selected text is Waiting Is Not Easy! by Mo Willems because it uses the letter E, which is also the week’s focus letter. As general support or support for ELs, the materials suggest a picture walk-through of the book before asking for predictions. This strategy helps children who do not understand the concept gain a better idea of how to make a prediction, and it provides background knowledge for students. While helpful for ELs, the strategy is not specific to this group of learners. During another language and literacy lesson in Unit 2, the materials suggest previewing vocabulary for “feeling words” with ELs before using story cards to tell the story of Little Miss Muffet. The suggested support for students and ELs does provide a strategy to help students develop emergent reading skills, but that is not consistently the case throughout the materials. Since there is only one specific EL strategy listed per lesson, sometimes the support is limited in its potential to help build emergent reading skills. Rarely do these strategies build upon students’ home language to support emergent literacy and language knowledge in English.
In Unit 3, students match uppercase to lowercase letters. The teacher reviews J and introduces j. The teacher gives out “A-B-C Touch & Flip Cards”: Half of the students a J, and the other half a j. Students find a partner to match the uppercase to the lowercase letter. The lesson’s EL accommodation is to use fewer A-B-C Touch & Flip cards and prompt the students to use both sides of the cards.
Strategies used during language and literacy lessons in Unit 6 include using familiar stories to teach a concept, prompting children with the sound of a letter before asking them to identify it, using other books to demonstrate real versus make-believe after a read-aloud, and giving children more background knowledge about jobs by reading them more books about different career paths. All of these supports help build language and emergent literacy skills in English, but they do not include the use of students’ knowledge of literacy in their primary language. These strategies are also not specific to ELs and are labeled both as “support” and “EL support” for the teacher to use as needed.
Indicators 6.1 and 6.2 are under re-review.
The materials do not include a variety of experiences through which students can engage with writing as expected in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines’ writing domain. The materials include activities focused on specific letter formation but lack opportunities for children to imitate adult writing. The materials include guidance to teach writing in small and large groups but do not include materials for independent writing or for children to participate in group or shared writing experiences. Some activities include drawing to transfer to writing, but these are not included in all units. There are no activities to support children in writing in response to reading or making explicit connections between reading and writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, students learn how to build letters using wooden pieces. The teacher shares the wooden pieces with the whole group. Students explore the pieces by looking at similarities and differences in size and shape. The next day, the students dance and sing the “Wood Piece Pokey,” which helps the students name each piece (“Little Line, Big Line, Little Curve, Big Curve”). After the song, the teacher guides a conversation with the students about the names of each wooden piece while students hold the pieces. The following week, for four days, the students build “Mat Man” with wooden pieces for the head, arms, legs, and feet. On the fifth day, the teacher models how to draw a “Mat Man” one step at a time while the students repeat after every step. The instructional materials provide direct writing instruction on letter formation and drawing, but there are no opportunities for children to imitate adult writing in authentic ways. The activities also do not provide or lead to independent writing opportunities or provide shared writing opportunities. Although activities introduce letters with the wooden pieces and Mat Man, these activities do not transfer to writing opportunities. The materials also do not guide teachers to conference with children to support the writing process. In addition, in Unit 1, there are no opportunities to write in response to reading or make explicit the connection between reading and writing.
During a week in Unit 4, the writing lessons focus on teaching the formation of the letter P. The materials follow a similar format to other units: The week begins with the teacher using wood pieces to build P. The teacher says, “Watch as I build P. Big Line down, Jump to the smiley face, Little Curve to the middle. We made P.” Then, children imitate the model and build P on their own mat. The writing lessons that follow include using the “Roll-A-Dough” letters to build P; using the “Stamp and See Screen” to stamp or write P; using the “Wet-Dry-Try Slate” to practice forming the letter P with a variety of materials; and finally learning P through tracing, coloring, and drawing in My First School Book P. Some math lessons include instruction on writing with regard to forming numbers; for example, using I Know My Numbers Booklet 8, children trace number 8 and practice writing the numeral. These are all direct and explicit lessons on writing and letter formation, but they do not provide authentic opportunities to teach writing. The lessons in Unit 4 include teacher modeling and explicit instruction, with children then imitating and practicing on their own, but the lessons do not support independent writing activities. The materials do not provide specific opportunities for group writing on shared experiences throughout the unit. Unit 4 does contain one example of drawing to transfer to writing during a science lesson on plant life cycles. After reading The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle or another book about the plant life cycle, children create art that shows the plant’s life cycle. The materials review the five steps in the life cycle for the teacher to use to prompt children when they make their art. This activity is one opportunity for drawing in detail, which transfers to writing, but the activity does not provide other opportunities for children to write in response to reading.
Unit 6 focuses on developing correct habits for writing lowercase r. Children learn how to trace and copy lowercase r using multisensory magnetic blackboard sets. Students use the first lowercase book to finger-trace and name the image. Then they trace and copy r with their pencil and say, “Dive down, swim up, and over.” Although there are specific directions on letter formation in the activity, there are no extensions or guidance to support children in imitating adult writing. The lesson on the letter r is implemented in small and large group settings. The guidance supports teacher instruction during these activities, but there are no opportunities for independent writing. Materials do not include opportunities for group writing on shared experiences or opportunities for illustrations/drawing with details, which would transfer to writing. Unit 6 also lacks opportunities to write in response to reading; it does not explicitly link reading and writing.
The materials mostly instruct students along the developmental stages of writing. The materials provide information on letter formation and address specific skills for each age, but they lack strong guidance for teachers to nudge students along the writing continuum. Although a variety of activities focus on writing, there is little guidance for teachers on how to include appropriate student contributions to writing and the writing process, as specified by the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide” provides the teacher guidance on some writing skills but does not address developmental stages. For example, there is information on how to write capital letters based on specific ages. The process starts with recognition; top-to-bottom, left-to-right directionality; top start for letters; correct letter formation; and letter orientation. There is a visual showing how students who are up to three years old focus on horizontal and vertical lines; students up to four years old focus on circles and plus signs; students up to six years old focus on squares and triangles for writing. The materials focus on handwriting strategies and coloring rather than writing through a sequence of developmental writing stages. The materials recognize that children develop writing skills at different rates when writing letters, but they do not guide teachers to ensure that children recognize that writing has a purpose and that print is meaningful. In “My First School Book,” students learn to write capital letters in a developmentally appropriate order: vertical and horizontal letters, “Magic C,” Big and Little Curves, and then Diagonals. In “My First Lowercase Book,” the first set of lowercase letters have the same formation as their capital counterparts, and then they “continue to learn lowercase letters based on similar formations and frequency of use.
During a week in Unit 2, children learn about the letter F through multiple activities. Children begin the week building the letter F with wood pieces on the mat, using words for each step: “Big Line down. Jump to the smiley face. Little line across the top. Little Line across the middle.” The teacher models before children build on their own, following the “My Turn, Your Turn” instructional model. The following day, they move to stamping the letter F on the “Stamp and See Screen.” When using the Stamp and See Screen, children can stamp the lines of the F with magnetic pieces or write with the magnetic chalk stylus. In a follow-up lesson, the teacher models writing F with chalk on a slate chalkboard. Everyone uses a little sponge cube to trace the letter, a piece of paper towel to dry the letter, and then a chalk bit to write the letter. Finally, children get out their copy of My First School Book F. Children finger trace F and use a crayon to trace the letter, repeating the instructions they learned earlier in the week. Additionally, children review writing their names in small groups. First, they finger trace the letters of their name using the tactile side of letter cards. Then, using “Capital Practice Strips,” the teacher models writing each letter, and students imitate it on their own. This process helps children learn how to form capital letters with repetition; there are multiple opportunities to see the writing modeled for them; students write in different modalities. There are limited opportunities for authentic writing through the week of building letters, writing on different materials, and practicing tracing and writing. All writing is focused on letter formation. Guidance for struggling writers mainly focuses on grip, with few specific suggestions for teachers to nudge children along the writing continuum successfully. “Readiness and Writing” lessons focus primarily on letter formation, not on the writing process or taking an idea and using it to inspire writing. There are some opportunities for writing practice in “Language & Literacy” lessons, as well as integrated cross-curricular into other areas and subjects. Additionally, some “Line It Up Story Cards” ask students to complete writing tasks. In the “Growing Pumpkins” card, students generate a fourth story card to share their ideas. While students are primarily drawing, the teacher writes as children dictate, showing them that their spoken word can turn into print. Teachers work with children one-on-one to add text to their illustrations. Similar activities can be found in the story cards for “Isabel’s Birthday,” “LIttle Miss Muffet,” and “Ready for Robin.” While students create a butterfly journal in the “How a Butterfly Grows” card, there is less connection to the writing progress in this card than the other four cards. The directions state: “Invite different children to draw the habitat each day. Label their pictures with the life cycle stages or body parts. Welcome questions. Track class questions and answers in the journal.” This activity is actually framed as an “Explore Science” activity. While contributing to writing instruction, there are only five Line It Up Story Cards in total. They are integrated a few times into the scope and sequence and do not ensure teachers include appropriate student contributions to writing and the writing process.
By Unit 6, children have learned their uppercase letters. The objectives for Readiness and Writing lessons change to “develop correct habits for writing lowercase letters,” and there is a different focus letter each day of the week. Each lesson follows the exact same format throughout all units, no matter the letter of focus. The teacher begins with a “Multisensory” introduction, using the magnetic lowercase and blackboard set to review the size of J versus j. Using the “Wet-Dry-Try,” the teacher demonstrates j. Each child in the group gets an opportunity to try with the blackboard. Then, using My First Lowercase Book, children finger trace Jj and name the pictures on the page. Children trace and copy j with a pencil, saying the directions “Down, Turn, Dot.” The teacher reads the sentence on the page aloud, “J is for jeans.” Children trace Jj with a pencil and then color the picture and add detail. There are two different opportunities for teacher modeling of writing, but these opportunities do not explain how to differentiate based on students’ developmental stages of writing. The “Check For Understanding” guides teachers to observe as the children trace and copy letters and to make sure they start letters correctly. Beyond this general guidance, teachers do not consistently receive letter-specific or activity-specific guidance to identify malformed or misstarted letters or explanations for how to fix these mistakes. The lessons in Unit 6 are primarily focused on tracing and writing lowercase letters correctly. There is limited authentic writing, opportunities for dictation, or the creation of authentic writing experiences.
The materials support fine motor development alongside and through writing. The materials provide units where fine motor skills are a part of the writing process. The materials include a variety of opportunities for children to develop fine motor skills through different tools and guidance across all units.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the Unit 1 “Trace the Strokes” lesson, students trace vertical and horizontal strokes to support fine motor development. Students learn to hold a tool with a proper grip to write and a helping hand to stabilize the paper. In the lesson, students finger trace the post going down and the rails going across on the picture. Finally, students use the flip crayon to trace/draw and color the picture. The introduction “Teacher Guide” provides information on teaching grip through this activity. It suggests there are two types of grips: standard and alternate. This lesson uses the little crayon, which encourages fine motor development: “When students flip the crayon, they use in-hand manipulation skills, which lead to improved coordination.” The activity provides support for differentiation and uses different tools to support fine motor development.
In Unit 3, students learn to write the letter C using a “Wet-Dry-Try” slate. In the lesson, students develop a correct pinch grasp, hold a tool with proper grip to write, and use the helping hand to stabilize the object. When students receive the slate, a letter C is there as a model for students to trace. The teacher then demonstrates letter C formation. As the teacher is demonstrating, the teacher is also saying the words for each step (e.g., “big curve”). For the remaining portion of the lesson, the teacher models and students follow: Wet (child uses a little sponge cube to trace the letter); Dry (child uses a little piece of paper towel to dry the letter); Try (child uses a little chalk bit to write the letter). During the lesson, students focus on the fine motor skills of pinch and grasp and gripping as they use the sponge, paper towel, and chalk. Also, in the lesson, the teacher models for students how to form a letter C using the little sponge, the little piece of paper towel, and the little chalk. The activity provides students with multiple tools and surfaces to practice writing and provides support for the teacher to guide and differentiate writing instruction.
In Unit 6, children learn to write on double lines and to write the lowercase letters c, o, s, v, and w using different tools. When teaching children how to develop correct habits for writing on double lines, the teacher uses the magnetic lowercase and blackboard set to introduce the placement of lowercase letters. The teacher then uses My First Lowercase Book to show children that some letters are small; children finger trace the little lines. Children trace the small lines with a pencil, then the tall lines, then the descending lines. There are hand motions for each type of line. The following days are focused on specific lowercase letters. When teaching a lowercase letter, the teacher uses Wet-Dry-Try with students before they get out the My First Lowercase Book to finger trace, then trace the letters and the sentence on each page. In the unit, there is guidance within “Readiness and Writing” lessons for support/English Learners or those with specific needs. These include practicing capital Cc on the blackboard for students before copying and tracing only lowercase c; finger tracing the magnetic letter before copying and tracing o; using chairs to create curves and having children walk the curves to practice changing directions, like when writing the letter s; and reviewing the capital W and V on the Wet-Dry-Try slate. While there is not a variety of differentiation, these suggestions help children with letter formation specifically.
Indicators 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, and 7.5 are under re-review.
The materials follow a logical, mathematical continuum of concrete, pictorial, then abstract representations. The materials provide units that include concrete manipulatives to support progression from concrete, to pictorial, to abstract mathematical competencies. Throughout the units, the materials include activities that build conceptual understanding in counting, adding to, taking away, geometry, spatial sense, measurement, classification, and pattern skills as indicated by the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. The materials support the logical mathematical continuum by utilizing concrete manipulatives and pictorial representations.
Evidence Includes but not limited to
The materials across all units focus on five mathematical competencies: “Numbers and Operations,” “Geometry,” “Patterns and Algebra,” “Measurement and Time,” and “Data Representation and Probability.” These competencies are spread out through the “Scope and Sequence” of the materials, with the first few weeks focused on exploring math through the various manipulatives included with the materials. The following weeks include concrete lessons on math concepts. Children may learn multiple concepts in one week, and concepts are taught multiple times. Almost every math activity includes using some type of manipulative, starting with concrete, hands-on activities that progress to pictorial representation at a later stage through materials such as number cards. The materials include multiple concrete manipulatives to use while teaching mathematical concepts and to enhance lessons across the materials. Math manipulatives included with the materials are “1-2-3 Touch & Flip Cards” that help with number naming, one-to-one correspondence, and number formation; “Mix & Make Shapes” that teach geometry; “4 Squares, More Squares” that help teach geometry, spatial awareness, counting, matching, pattern making, and graphing; and “Tag Bags” that help teach counting, sorting, and measuring. These materials are utilized across units to reinforce mathematical concepts through a variety of lessons and support conceptual understanding of mathematical competencies aligned to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
In a Unit 1 lesson, “Learn 1 and Develop Correct Habits for Writing 1,” students learn to recognize and write the number 1 across activities that progress from concrete to pictorial to abstract, using concrete manipulatives. Students begin with concrete manipulatives, counting 1 using their bodies. Students hold up one finger and count down the center (e.g., “one head, one forehead, one nose, one mouth”). Next, students count one object using different manipulatives. As students are counting one object, they also engage in one-to-one correspondence: “One crayon in one hand; one block in one cup; one cap on one bottle.” Students then trace and write the number 1. Students begin by finger tracing the number 1, followed by writing the number using a crayon. Finally, students color and draw the number 1. The given coloring sheet shows how to write the number 1, a picture of one caterpillar, a picture of the representation of 1 (one finger), and more tracings of number 1. This lesson encompasses each mathematical competency (concrete, pictorial, and abstract). The activities in Unit 1 provide support to build conceptual understanding in counting. During this unit, students also learn additional math concepts aligned with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. In one activity, students learn about geometry by identifying, describing, and making squares through a variety of activities. The students begin by singing the “Shape Song,” while the teacher shows and describes a big square. Students then receive squares to explore through touch. Later, students receive a whole square manipulative to identify and describe. The next day, students use the My First School Book to trace and draw squares using straight lines.
In Unit 4, a lesson sequence focuses on growing patterns that include concrete manipulatives and pictorial representations. During the “Numbers and Math” lesson on Monday, the teacher uses the 4 Square, More Squares manipulatives to grow a pattern. Children have a turn growing the pattern with teacher support. The following day’s math lesson moves from manipulative learning to real-world exploration. The teacher says, “Now, let’s look for patterns on the butterflies. Do you see any stripes? What colors do you see?” Children describe the butterfly patterns and then create a tissue paper butterfly from the patterns they saw. This lesson sequence goes from concrete pattern building with manipulatives to pictorial representation when children identify and create butterfly wing patterns. During other weeks and units, materials use other manipulatives to teach patterns.
In Unit 5, children explore, recognize, and add numbers. Students use six red and four green Tag Bags to add numbers, while the teacher guides and asks students to identify the quantity of each color. Students continue to practice “counting on” from 1 to 20, using blocks, Tag Bags, and square pieces throughout the lesson. Later, they use Touch & Flip cards that contain a picture of tiles that correspond to a number. Students need to use the number and make the number using tiles. During small groups, the students count bottle caps, trace the number on a “Tactile Card” with their finger, and write the number on the “Wet-Dry-Try” chalkboard slate. The materials provide lessons and practice for the students that progress from concrete, using manipulatives, to pictorial, to abstract representation, focused on counting. The materials provide multiple opportunities and activities that build number sense in recognizing and adding numbers 1 to 20.
The materials provide instruction that builds on students’ informal knowledge about mathematics. Teachers integrate assessments and progress monitoring tools to inquire about students’ development status and mathematical knowledge. Materials integrate math concepts across curricula, while teachers use centers and other areas of the classroom as vehicles for math exploration.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide” provides an observation checklist to note development as students play and participate in math activities. The observation checklist evaluates skills such as building with blocks, completing shape puzzles, using positional words, sorting objects, comparisons, and counting aligned to the specific developmental skills for children between the ages of two and five. The lessons build upon a child’s informal understandings of mathematical concepts through shape, exploring measurement, and addition/subtraction. The lessons become more complex as they move through units. Materials provide cross-curricular opportunities for math to be integrated throughout the day. For example, during “Circle Time,” students discuss the calendar: days of the week, the month of the year, and date. They count from 1 to the current day, every day. The Teacher’s Guide also provides suggestions for classroom setup to support math exploration in the classroom. One example is to include a “Math and Number” shelf that holds the I Know My Numbers book, “4 Square, More Squares,” “Tag Bags,” and “Mix & Make Shapes.” These resources allow students to explore math concepts and skills using a variety of materials.
In Unit 2, “My Body,” children duplicate sound and movement patterns. The materials guide the teacher to introduce the lesson with the “Pattern Dance” and provide teaching scripts to support the activity. The teacher says, “Let’s find the pattern. Tap, tap, tap, clap, clap.” The teacher makes the sound and motion, and the children follow. The materials guide the teacher to observe as children tap and move to see if they can duplicate the sound and movement. This action is an example of an informal assessment, noted as a “Check For Understanding” throughout the materials. A Check for Understanding is listed for each “Numbers and Math” lesson daily. This check ensures that, throughout lessons, the teacher is inquiring about students’ developmental status and the knowledge they are acquiring. Although this specific activity is limited to math and does not have any cross-curricular ties to other academic areas, some “Science” lessons include math concepts during this unit. For example, students look for patterns, similarities, and differences when sorting classroom objects into hard and soft. In the same activity, teachers are using the classroom environment as a vehicle for math exploration.
Unit 3 focuses on “Non-Standard Units of Measurements.” Students use hands-on materials to measure a table using Tag Bags. Students begin at the edge of the table and add tag bags to make a row on the table. This activity promotes the use of materials in the environment to explore math concepts and skills. In another lesson, “Play the Ice Cream Relay Game,” students experiment with the size, weight, and speed of balls. They use balls of different sizes and weights and guess which ball will be the fastest. After experimenting to see which rolls faster or slower, students run a relay while holding different weighted balls. The lesson integrates the concept of prediction by guiding students to guess the outcome based on the weight of the balls. Teachers can use the observational check for this week to inquire about students’ developmental status in regards to this lesson.
In Unit 5, the lessons include building and describing triangles and rhombuses. The class sings and moves to the “Shape Song.” The teacher shows a triangle, explaining that it has three sides and three corners. The teacher asks the students, “Where have you seen this shape?” Three children lie down and make a triangle. The teacher models how to build different types of triangles by using wood pieces. Students trace triangles in a picture of real objects and then draw triangles using My First School Book. The next day, the teacher shows how to build a rhombus using wooden pieces, explaining that it has four sides and four corners. The students make their rhombus also using wooden pieces. The teacher asks the students, “Can you make a skinny rhombus? A wide rhombus?” Students use My First School Book to trace, using drawings of real objects, and then practice making their rhombus. This is an example where students are building connections to real-world concepts, and teachers emphasize how math is all around. Lessons also use the My First School Book, which provides students with pictures of real objects, like kites and crossing signs, that include triangles and rhombuses for tracing. In another activity in Unit 5, students use wooden pieces to make letters during “Readiness and Writing.” The materials allow for the resources to be used across content areas, and often lessons authentically integrate mathematics throughout the day.
Some activities allow children to ask thoughtful questions and recognize problems in the environment, but materials lack consistency across the units. The materials include some activities to support mathematical reasoning with familiar materials, but these do not always connect to familiar materials in the classroom or outside world.
Evidence includes but is not limited to
In Unit 1, teachers guide students to problem solve using familiar classroom materials. Students ask and answer thoughtful questions during the “Classify Same or Different” lesson as they describe things that are the same and things that are different. Students discuss the shape, color, and size of the objects shown using colored squares. Later in the unit, students repeat the activity using coins. In another activity in Unit 1, students develop a way to solve the problem of how many scarves are in the hat. The teacher waves a wand and pulls out scarves slowly, while students count together “1, 2, 3.” The teacher asks the students, “What was the number we said?” The teacher places the scarves in a line and says, “Let’s check. How many did we say? Let’s count again: 1, 2, 3.” In this lesson, the teacher asks all the questions, and students do not develop their capacity to ask thoughtful questions. While there is guidance meant to help students find a solution to the question, teacher guidance does not prompt students to ask questions or provide feedback. Even though there is an unstructured time for students to ask questions, this is not tied to the skill of problem-solving, recognizing problems, or using mathematical reasoning.
In Unit 3, students engage in activities to support mathematical reasoning using familiar materials from the outside world. In one activity, тhe teacher guides students to recognize a problem focused on sequencing steps in the correct order. The teacher tells the students, “I need to put on my shoes and socks. Help me figure out what to do first.” The teacher models the problem and asks the students questions while talking through steps. The teacher says, “First, I tie my shoes. Next, I’ll put my shoes on.” The teacher then allows time for the students to respond and correct the steps. The teacher then models the correct sequence by saying, “I have to put my shoes on before I tie them? Ok.” The teacher continues by starting to put on the socks. The children correct the teacher again. The teacher asks the students, “What should I do first? Next? Last?” Similar to lessons in Unit 1, the teacher is the primary person asking questions and leading the problem-solving. While “Checks for Understanding” provide a clear time for teachers to discuss and debrief with students, these opportunities do not provide the scaffold and support necessary for students to develop their own problem solving skills. The materials encourage the teacher to ask questions that build informal mathematical reasoning, but the lesson does not provide guidance or opportunities for students to ask thoughtful questions.
In Unit 5, students explore the concept of sharing, which is used in everyday life inside and out of the classroom, to solve the problem of how to divide a gingerbread man equally. The teacher reads The Gingerbread Man by Catherine McCafferty and gives each child a gingerbread man cookie or cutout. The teacher tells the students to pretend they have caught the gingerbread man and want to share him. The teacher asks the students, “How can we cut the gingerbread man so you can share it equally?” The teacher uses a knife or scissors to model to the students how to cut the gingerbread man symmetrically from head to toe. The materials encourage the teacher to ask questions that build curiosity about informal mathematics. Materials do not provide guidance for the teacher to have the students ask questions or for the teacher to provide feedback. Sometimes typical responses may suggest students respond with a question; however, this does not ensure students build their question asking capacity. Even so, this lesson utilizes an embedded, playful way to build mathematics interest in students.
In Unit 6, children participate in making and analyzing a pictograph. In this lesson, skills include using manipulatives to find a solution and representing data using pictures in a simple graph. After children place a sticker under dog, cat, or fish to determine their favorite type of pet, the teacher asks questions that force students to compare the length of the rows and determine the class favorite. Scripted questions for the teacher include, “Which row is longest? Which row has the most? Which row has the least?” The teacher explains, “The rows help us see the favorite pet.” Together, students work to problem solve the question, “What is the favorite pet for the class?” These examples expose students to many different types of questions and allow them to problem solve through discussion. However, there are no supports meant to elicit questioning from the students themselves.
The materials provide frequent, spiraled, and varied opportunities for students to participate in activities that build number sense across units, but they lack support for teachers to build conceptual understanding in math. The materials include multiple activities, but they do not have consistent formats of continuity between lessons.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1” includes information about how the materials build children’s conceptual knowledge in math. The Teacher’s Guide includes materials to support manipulatives, music, and rhymes to teach counting, comparisons, spatial awareness, patterning, sequencing, matching, sorting, problem solving, and geometry skills. The materials also include math concepts in the “Oral Language” lessons. The materials come with several activities that help build conceptual knowledge for children, including My First School Book and I Know My Numbers, which teach children to form numbers; the Sing, Sound, & Count With Me Music Album, which includes songs about math; “1-2-3 Touch & Flip Cards,” which promote number formation, naming numbers, counting, and sequencing; “4 Squares, More Squares,” which promote geometry and spatial awareness skills through activities; “Tag Bags,” used for counting, sorting, measuring, ordering, and building; and “Mix and Max Shapes,” which are multisensory materials that teach geometry. The materials provide support in alignment with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
During Unit 2, the “Numbers and Math” lessons provide several opportunities to participate in number sense activities. The materials include one lesson on comparing sets to see more and fewer, one lesson on matching shapes of objects, two lessons on the number 2, and one lesson on sorting shapes by sides and corners. There is some consistency that builds off of other lessons. For example, on Day 3, children learn to write the numbers 1 and 2 on the “Wet-DryTry” slate during a small group lesson. The next day, during a whole group math lesson, children count the number 2 with their bodies, then with objects, and then trace and write the number in their My First School Book. Although the materials provide support to implement the activities, there is no specific guidance for teachers directly related to promoting number sense.
Unit 3 builds on concepts introduced in previous units; After students count sets of objects in Unit 1, the Unit 3 “Combine Sets” lesson teaches students to combine sets of objects. In the lesson, students use Tag Bags and 1-2-3 Touch & Flip Cards 1–7. Using these materials, students combine sets to learn how many in all by counting. Students also connect numerals to quantities they represent. The first student counts the number of Tag Bags aloud and receives the corresponding number when complete. The second student adds to the first student, and the teacher asks, “How many in all?” (“three and two make five in all”). Although the concepts are reinforced from previous units and across Unit 3, there is no specific guidance provided to support teachers to build conceptual understanding.
During a week in Unit 6, children explore transformations, identify and describe shapes, count object sets, and review how to name and write numerals 1–5. Although different concepts are addressed, there is no connecting method between the lessons to build conceptual knowledge of number sense. For example, in one lesson, children identify and describe shapes. The teacher says, “We can make one shape out of two shapes.” This activity requires an understanding of those numbers to successfully comprehend and complete the activity. Other lessons include songs to promote number sense, such as when students sing a song to line up according to the number Tag Bag each student is holding. The song teaches ordinal number names, but it also requires students to recognize the numeral they are holding. No guidance is provided for the teacher to support the conceptual understanding at this stage.
The materials include opportunities to hear and practice vocabulary, but most terms are only sometimes repeated throughout the year. The materials include guidance to support students’ development and use of academic math vocabulary, but they only sometimes provide guidance for teachers to scaffold and support children’s learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
While math vocabulary is usually taught in the math lesson, sometimes vocabulary is introduced or practiced in Oral Language lessons. For these Oral Language lessons, instruction is organized into an “I Say, We Say, You Say” model, but it is not consistent in other lessons that teach math vocabulary. For instance, when students discuss more and less, the teacher does not define the terms for children, and instead, students learn the definitions through a hands-on activity. For example, the teacher scoops rice into a container for students to fill, and all directions and supports are verbal. No scaffold helps students understand the concepts if they struggle to understand through the provided activity. Students learn the terms heavy and light similarly in Unit 2.
Other vocabulary terms, like one in Unit 1, do have comprehensive instruction. During the math lesson titled “Number 1,” students hear and use the term in authentic ways. They build the number 1 and count one object. Students make the number 1 using dough and a stamp. The class names objects of which there are one, like a head, a nose, and a crayon. After a few days of making and counting to 1 using objects, the students use My First School Book and count the pictures in the book to make 1. The book also allows students to trace and write the number 1. In this unit, the materials provide a variety of repeated opportunities for students to hear and practice the vocabulary word one in authentic ways. Although the vocabulary is present, the instructional materials do not guide teachers to scaffold children’s academic math vocabulary development or provide strategies for layering academic math vocabulary.
In Unit 2, materials use math vocabulary within the lesson to listen and practice vocabulary related to the concepts of big and small. In a small group lesson, the teacher guides the children to identify stuffed animal sizes using the words too big, bigger, compare, small, and smaller. Children gain additional practice using the terms in a later activity, where they bring in photos of family members and describe who is taller and shorter. Although the lessons do provide support for vocabulary, the materials do not guide teachers to scaffold the vocabulary development of children. In another activity, children use the vocabulary words heavy and light. The teacher introduces the lesson and says, “We are going to hold things to learn about weight.” The teacher shows children a pair of items, such as an empty milk jug and one filled with water. The children pass around the empty milk jug to hold and observe its weight. The teacher says, “This jug is light.” This action is repeated with a filled jug, and the teacher says, “This jug is heavy.” The teacher models the math vocabulary for children several times before they move into partners. In partners, one child picks up both items in a new set to determine which is heavy and which is light. The activity provides repeated opportunities to apply the new math vocabulary to real-life items. The materials provide a script for the teacher to use while introducing the vocabulary words heavy and light, but there is limited guidance for teachers to scaffold and support students’ development of academic math vocabulary.
While there are repeated opportunities to practice vocabulary, there is not a variety of lessons that engage children with that vocabulary. This Unit 6 activity teaching students the words heavy and light is identical to the activity with those vocabulary words in Unit 2. While this does give repeated opportunities to practice with math vocabulary, it does not provide new vocabulary exposure or provide the vocabulary to children in different contexts. Heavy and light are sometimes integrated into other lessons, but these activities lack references connecting instruction between lessons. Children are not reminded of other opportunities they have had to use this vocabulary.
Indicators 8.1-8.4 are under re-review.
The materials partially build science knowledge through inquiry-based instruction and exploration of the natural world. The materials develop children’s observation of their environment, but there are limited opportunities to develop children’s questioning of their environment. While the materials provide hands-on opportunities for students to explore physical science, life science, and earth science, students do not explore scientific topics with scientific tools.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, students discover and explore objects in nature. The teacher reviews the letter L and discusses that the word leaves begins with L. The teacher explains that the students are going on a nature walk to collect leaves and other things to make the letter L. The teacher asks the students, “What other things do you think we may find while walking around outside?” The class takes cups to collect their findings and returns to the classroom. When the class returns, the teacher models how to write the letter L using a flip crayon: “Big Line down. Little Line across.” The teacher repeats using glue. The teacher takes the materials collected in the nature walk and puts them on the L. The materials provide a planned opportunity for children to learn through observation. The materials also guide the teacher to talk to children as they play, using an open-ended question that encourages children to think. Although the teacher asks guided questions, the materials do not develop children’s ability to use questions to learn. The materials do provide an opportunity for students to communicate ideas before their explorations and discoveries, but they do not include the use of scientific tools.
In Unit 4, children learn how to determine if objects will sink or float. The teacher begins the lesson by discussing how ducks float on water. The teacher asks, “What other animals float on water?” and discusses the concepts with the children. Children take turns placing different items in water to see if they sink or float and discuss the results. During this lesson, children learn to communicate, ask questions about sinking or floating, and learn through observation. Although communication is part of this activity, other science lessons in this unit do not provide other opportunities to learn various ways to communicate. For example, when learning about plants’ life cycle, children demonstrate their understanding by creating art to show the life cycle but do not engage in discussion or questioning. There are several other science activities in this unit that include hands-on activities. Children make rain during an earth science lesson, pretending a sponge is a cloud. They add water to a sponge with a spoon until the sponge becomes too wet and begins to drip. The materials instruct the teacher to give every child a turn to make rain. Although the activities support hands-on learning, there is no use of scientific tools throughout the unit.
In the “Observe & Demonstrate Force & Motion” lesson in Unit 5, students observe, investigate, describe, and discuss objects’ position and motion. This small group lesson begins with a review of steep and level. The teacher gives an example with the classroom floor and a ball: “Is our classroom floor steep or level? Level, that’s right. Watch as I set this ball on the floor. Did the ball move? No, the ball did not move because there was no force to make it move.” Students have opportunities to observe and communicate about the activity. The teacher asks questions to guide the lesson, but these are closed questions and are not the basis for further exploration. Instruction does sometimes utilize manipulatives and non science-specific tools to support measurement and provide hands-on experiences. However, students do not receive enough opportunity to explore science-specific tools.
The materials somewhat build social studies knowledge by studying culture and community. The materials do not follow a logical sequence of social studies; instead, they jump between the different stages in the sequence. There are some opportunities to explore commonalities and differences, but many of these opportunities are not deep or authentic. While there are some opportunities for children to learn about the past and the present, there are limited opportunities to learn about routines or the future. Additionally, there are no opportunities for students to learn about the roles of consumers in their community.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the social studies lessons begin with students comparing and contrasting qualities in friends and then moves into a lesson on maps. By Unit 2, students examine a world map and compare the sizes of countries. The focus is for students to use the vocabulary words big and small. The following lessons teach children that people speak different languages. During this lesson, the teacher teaches children how to say hello in Spanish and Chinese. The teacher includes any other languages that children may speak in the classroom. This lesson is one of the few examples providing children an opportunity to explore commonalities and differences in others. While these lessons are aligned with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines where students use geographical tools, students follow up these lessons with one where they talk about the people in their families. They number the members, discuss members, and draw members. Then, after discussing families, children learn to identify community helpers. During the activity, the teacher asks questions to have children think of helpers that play specific roles. For example, the teacher asks, “Who can help you when you are sick?” While these lessons cover self, family, community, and country, they do not progress in a logical sequence. In addition, few lessons in Unit 2 discuss routines or past, present, and future events. There are no lessons in Unit 2 that provide opportunities for children to explore the roles of consumers in their community.
Unit 3 focuses on specific jobs in the community. During the “Describe Jobs” lesson, the teacher discusses a chef’s job. The teacher begins the lesson by questioning students about who cooks food at school or in a restaurant. After the discussion, students listen to a read-aloud, Chefs and What They Do. Following the read-aloud, students discuss their experiences at home or a restaurant. Finally, students pretend to have a restaurant and cook, take orders, and serve customers. Although the lesson allows students to pretend to play different roles, each role’s importance is not shared in the lesson. While the lesson addresses community helpers and work, the lesson does not provide material to support students’ learning about the consumer’s role.
Finally, in Unit 6, the materials provide a social studies lesson for children to connect to life events by comparing themselves to their baby pictures. This lesson is a whole group lesson; children bring in photographs from home. Children show their baby pictures and model how they have changed over time. Although the unit discusses changes from past to present, there is no additional material to address support for the social studies continuum. Students discuss self and family, but there is no discussion of community, city, state, or country in the unit. During this same activity, children explore commonalities and differences and make a connection to life events during the discussion, but there are no other opportunities in the unit.
The materials include a variety of experiences through multiple mediums, but they do not emphasize the students’ engagement in the process of creating rather than the product that is created. There is often just one type of experience for the entire day; commonly, it is singing and moving to a song. Sometimes various additional experiences are integrated; however, a variety does not occur every day.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
When describing the Full Day Pre-K Class Schedule in the “Teacher Guide,” students have morning and afternoon “Circle, Music, and Movement Whole Group” time. Instruction primarily occurs in the four learning areas: Language & Literacy; Readiness & Writing; Numbers & Math; and Oral Language, Science, or Social Studies. The rest of the day is dedicated to lunch, rest time, two recess/gross motor play times, snack time, and small group free centers. As structured, the materials do not consistently guarantee a variety of daily fine arts experiences through multiple mediums. Lessons sometimes include coloring and encourage creative drawing, but there is no mention of the artistic process. Instead of being process-focused, lessons usually include directions to create a product. Learning centers partially expose children to fine arts through exploration, but this does not ensure a variety of daily experiences.
In Unit 1, students learn how to greet others when they meet people. The class sings and dances to the “Hello Song.” The teacher shakes the hand of each child, saying, “Hello, this is your right hand. I’m going to do something to your right hand.” The teacher adds a stamp or lotion to the student’s right hand. The teacher models and asks students to raise their right hand, saying, “This is my right hand. I shake hands with my right hand.” The students take turns shaking each others’ right hands. The teacher checks for understanding by observing that the students use their right hand when shaking hands. The materials include opportunities for movement and dance that are integrated across the instructional materials; resources offer a selection with a variety of songs and music. Although song and dance are included, students are not exposed to a variety of fine art mediums every day.
In Unit 3, the students practice building and writing the letters C, O, Q, G,S, and J using dough. Each student receives a letter card to use on a tray and dough to form the letter. The teacher models how to make the curves and lines of the letter with the letter card underneath. Students remove the card and make their letter on a blank tray. The teacher observes the students and checks to see if they made the letter right-side-up, using their letter card’s image. For support/English Learner guidance, the materials suggest helping students to use flat hands to roll the dough back and forth. For “Enrichment” guidance, the materials suggest having students trace letters in sand, shaving cream, pudding, or finger paint. The materials include opportunities for movement and dance that are integrated across the instructional materials; resources offer a selection with a variety of songs and music. Although there are multiple mediums provided to explore fine art, the materials focus on the product and do not emphasize students’ engagement in the artistic process of creating.
In Unit 6, a paintbrush symbol denotes when creative arts (or fine arts) activities are included in the lesson plan. When it is explicitly listed, the objectives include “use art as a form of creative expression” and “participate in imaginary and dramatic play.” Although arts are included in the unit, there is no explicit fine arts objective listed every day. The most common activity that is labeled as “fine arts” or creative arts is during “Readiness and Writing” lessons: “After practicing tracing the uppercase and lowercase letter, children color the picture on the page in their My First Lowercase Book.” Materials also guide teachers to encourage creative drawing on the page.
“Line It Up Story Cards” sometimes replace read alouds during the instruction. These five cards summarize a story using three images and some minor reading. Fine arts activities often accompany them. For example, The Miss Muffet story card includes an activity where students picture what happens in the nursery rhyme and then use their imagination to draw what happened. Here the focus is on recalling the events of the story instead of exploring the process of fine art. In the story card, Isabel’s Birthday, students conclude the activity with a music connection. Students listen to the song “Counting Candles” and sing along.
The materials link technology applications into the classroom experience at appropriate points throughout the year. While technology may not be utilized every week, the instruction allows students to explore and use various digital tools. Included teacher guidance ensures that this technology enhances student learning instead of distracting from it.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide multiple opportunities to link technology into the classroom experience. The teacher website associated with the materials contains the “Teacher Guides,” student activity books, the Mat Man books, assessments, resources, student apps, and support. The teacher website contains access to the user guide for each of the online applications used during instruction. For example, one of the user guides explains how the program is a keyboarding curriculum that teaches digital literacy, digital citizenship, and correct typing technique and fluency. It also provides links to lesson plans for the teacher to help students become digital citizens and have correct typing technique and fluency. The “Dashboard for Digital Teaching” allows teachers to grant access to the apps to appropriately support student use. The three applications included with the materials are age-appropriate and allow children to use various digital tools. One of the apps includes an activity where children record themselves, which is an opportunity to use a different digital tool. There are also opportunities for listening, writing, and learning through using these digital applications. Additionally, the teacher website includes digital versions of the manipulatives that match what students use during in-person activities.
The “Wet-Dry-Try” app starts by modeling how to write a capital letter, number, or lowercase letter using interactive chalk on a blackboard slate background. The students trace the letter or number using an interactive “wet sponge,” then with an interactive “paper towel,” and finally with interactive chalk. After every stroke, the interactive tool moves to where the next stroke begins. Once all the letter or number practice is complete, the student receives a star. The letters in the app are locked; to move on to the next letter, the child must complete the previous ones. The materials provide opportunities for children to engage with technology in a similar way that they do in the classroom during “Readiness and Writing” and “Numbers and Math.” The student app supports and aligns with Readiness & Writing and Numbers & Math lessons. Although there is no specific guidance provided to the teachers on using the apps to support appropriate learning, the apps allow the teacher to control access and minimize distraction. Some lessons also include a “click away” section that links to additional technology pieces. These are self-explanatory and usually integrate videos about letters or numbers of the week.
The “Sound Around Letters” app starts by displaying a capital letter card that flips over to show the corresponding lowercase letter. Next, the app displays the letter with one to two objects that begin with the letter sound; students interact with the app by making a puzzle piece or making sounds. Then, the app models the sound of the letter. The student has two opportunities to record themselves making the sound of the letter to hear how they sound. Once all the practice for the letter is complete, the student receives a star. The materials provide opportunities for children to engage with technology in a similar way that students do in the classroom during “Language and Literacy.” The student app uses digital flip cards with sounds and a computer microphone to record student voices to learn letter sounds. The materials provide tools that are age-appropriate to hear and practice letter sounds. The student app supports and aligns with the lessons in Language and Literacy. The pacing is based on student progress; the child must complete the previous task to progress.
The “Touch & Flip Numbers” app starts by displaying a card with a number that the student touches to flip to show the number of objects that correlates to the number. For example, the number 3 card flips to show three cows. Next, a new card displays the number, and the students need to touch the squares to make three squares. The app then displays the number as a word with new objects, which also correlate to the number. The student needs to touch the objects to color them. Finally, the app models how to write a number with a crayon. The materials provide opportunities for children to engage with technology in a similar way that students do in the classroom during “Numbers and Math.” The materials provide age-appropriate tools to model number identification and number writing. The student app supports and aligns with Numbers and Math lessons. As with the other apps, the pacing is locked until students complete one number.
Indicators 9.1 and 9.2 are under re-review.
The material includes developmentally appropriate diagnostic tools and guidance for teachers to monitor progress. Materials provide guidance to ensure consistent and accurate administration of diagnostic tools for formal and informal assessments. However, materials do not include tools for students to track their own progress and growth. Materials include diagnostic tools to measure three domains outlined in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (TPG), but not all areas outlined in the TPG include an appropriate diagnostic tool; for example, current tools do not assess “Health and Wellness.”
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1,” the materials state that assessments for young children should be “observational and holistic.” There are detailed assessment instructions in the digital resources on the materials’ website. Also, on the website, there are a variety of assessments, some observational and informal and some more formal measures. The assessments include formal benchmark assessments to be used at the beginning, middle, and end of the year for “Readiness,” “Language and Literacy,” and “Numbers and Math.” These assessments are all created for children in the four-to five-year-old age range. The materials also include “Classroom Observation Checklists” for the same three domains to be used weekly for progress monitoring. Finally, there is a “Check for Understanding” included in every lesson, to be used each day to see if children understood a lesson in real-time. The materials also include a two-page document on creating “Portfolios” for children. Portfolios are a holistic way to document a child’s progress over the year. A portfolio can include observations, work samples, videos, audio recordings, and photos. Portfolios are used to show a child’s growth and can be shared with parents and future teachers.
The materials include a formal assessment of Readiness and Writing. The assessment begins by showing children six images and asking them, “What is this?” Children are then asked to name the six basic colors and color two pictures to see if they can fill in and stay within the lines of the picture. The assessment then has children name and trace shapes and then copy the shapes independently. Following that, the children draw a person, and the teacher looks for a head, eyes, nose, mouth, ears or hair, body, arms, hands, legs, feet, and any extras. The teacher then shows the child 10 letters and 10 numbers and asks the student to name them. Lastly, the child tries to write their name.
The materials include a formal assessment for Language and Literacy. The first part of the assessment is naming capital letters and then naming lowercase letters. The next portion of the assessment has children describe and compare an illustration of an elephant and a bird. The children are then assessed on rhymes by repeating nursery rhymes, determining if two words rhyme or not, and then finding a matching rhyming pair. Following that, children are assessed on vocabulary by naming four illustrations and answering questions about them. The last portion has children create compound words from two word parts.
The materials include a formal assessment for Numbers and Math. This assessment has children name shapes, identify numerals 1 to 10, count and compare objects, name the position of items using positional words and ordinal numbers, describe the size of items, extend a pattern, and measure.
There is also a checklist for each of the three domains for which the materials provide a formal assessment: Readiness and Writing, Language and Literacy, and Numbers and Math. The Readiness and Writing checklist has teachers look for if children participate in different songs, fingerplays, and activities; demonstrate self-care skills; play cooperatively with others; follow directions; can say the alphabet; can count to 10; use correct names for colors and shapes; establish a hand preference; use correct writing tool grip; hold a paper with their helping hand; trace and copy shapes, letters, and numbers; draw generally recognizable pictures; write their name from left to right; and use letter-like forms or scribbles while writing. The Language and Literacy checklist has teachers look for if children listen and respond to directions or questions, engage in conversations, use words to express themselves, understand signs around the room, recognize parts of a book, imitate reading books by turning pages, recognize their own name and names of others who are familiar to them, can predict what will happen next in a story, can retell a familiar story, can share the steps of a simple activity, self-select books based on their interests, and use pictures and playwriting to express themselves. The Numbers and Math checklist has teachers look for if children build with different materials in the classroom, complete puzzles, use position words and time-of-day/sequence words, sort objects by attributes, share items equally with others, compare objects, count objects, create a set of objects, take away objects and count how many are left, and can write numbers using correct formation strategies. All of these checklists have spaces for the child’s name and date of observation, so teachers can track progress over long periods by looking back at the observations they have made.
Checks for Understanding are included in every lesson every day. These are informal assessments to gauge if children understood the teacher’s specific lesson at that time. For example, in Unit 2, after learning that people speak different languages and making a graph of the languages spoken in the classroom, the Check for Understanding guides the teacher to observe as the children repeat greetings in different languages. The materials ask the teacher to see if the children can say the greetings. In this example, the Check for Understanding does relate to the lesson’s topic, but it is checking to see if children are pronouncing words correctly rather than understanding the social studies concept being taught. In Unit 4, after learning how to write the number 10 during a Numbers and Math lesson, the Check for Understanding guides the teacher to observe as children trace on the “Wet-Dry-Try” slates. The materials ask the teacher if children are writing the numbers 1 and 0 to form 10 correctly. This Check for Understanding is a good indicator if children have grasped the content of the lesson, as it directly relates to the objective. In Unit 6, children think of a topic and write about it during a Language and Literacy lesson. Children are asked to draw what they want to be when they grow up. The Check for Understanding has teachers observe as the children draw and ask them to explain their choices and why they made them. This Check for Understanding is on using language and staying on topic, which correlates to the skill being taught in the lesson.
Although there are Checks for Understanding with each assessment, there is no support for students to track their own progress or check for understanding. For example, there is no student tracking tool or information about how students may track their own progress with formal assessments. There is no student tracking tool or information on how students may track their own progress with the classroom observation checklists. While teachers can include the student in their portfolio or connect their personal activity books to growth and progress, using these resources as a progress monitoring tool is not defined in the materials. The provided lessons and scripts do not ensure students track their own progress throughout the year.
In addition, the materials contain formal and informal diagnostic tools to measure Language and Literacy (emergent literacy: reading, language, and communication); Numbers and Math (mathematics); and Readiness and Writing (emergent literacy: writing, language). Materials do not contain diagnostic tools to measure Health and Wellness and some other domains in the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. Health and Wellness topics are addressed at points in the curriculum and sometimes have their own Checks for Understanding. While Checks for Understanding are useful in addition to the benchmark assessments and observation checklists, they do not provide enough feedback for teachers in themselves.
The materials include guidance and direction for teachers to respond to individual student’s needs, but they do not contain guidance for all domains or explanations on measures of student progress appropriate to the developmental level. Diagnostic tools are included and provide some meaningful information for teachers to use when planning instruction and differentiation. The materials do provide a variety of resources and teacher guidance on how to leverage different activities to respond to student data, but they do not provide guidance specifically for administrators to support teachers in analyzing and responding to data.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The online assessment guide refers the teacher to the “Teacher Guide, Volume 1,” to differentiate instruction. The Teacher Guide, Volume 1, provides teacher guidance for centers used all year long for all students. “Language and Literary” has 10 pages with resources, suggestions for breaking down instruction during the week, tips for the teacher to have in mind when teaching, and teacher-led activities for the teacher to use in the center. “Readiness and Writing” has 27 pages of resources, different types of grips, tips for the teacher to have in mind when teaching, teacher-led activities for the teacher to use in the center, and student-led activities for these centers. “Numbers and Math” has nine pages with resources, teacher-led activities for the teacher to use in the centers, and student-led activities for these centers. “Oral Language” has two pages with resources, suggestions for breaking down instruction during the week, tips for the teacher to have in mind when teaching, and teacher-led activities for the teacher to use in the center. The materials include various recommendations to support teachers to adjust instruction to meet child needs, but they do not explain how to choose which activity to use based on data from the assessments across a variety of domains.
The online assessment guide provides a timeframe, resources, an explanation of how to set up for “Benchmark Assessments” and the “Observation Checklist,” and the Benchmark Assessments script. The Benchmark Assessments are easy to read. The teacher checks off the skills the student answered correctly, so the blank areas are where the student still needs support. The Observation Checklist has several students on each page; the teacher writes the date and a minus sign if it is an “early/emerging” skill, a check if it is a “growing” skill, and a check plus if the student already meets the expectation of the skill. Each page of the Observation Checklist contains up to 10 weeks of data for up to 10 children. The Observation Checklist may be more complicated to read and track students’ strengths and weaknesses due to the volume of data on each paper assessment. The materials do not include guidance to support teachers in understanding the results of assessments or creating instructional plans for each student. Specifically, there is no guidance on selecting activities that specifically respond to child data. Teachers have a wide variety to choose from, but nothing connecting assessment results to these activities. The administrator experience would be the same as the teacher experience. While these resources are available and useful for administrators, the materials do not include specific resources, tools, or guidance specifically for administrators.
The materials provide information to support routine and systematic progress monitoring opportunities that accurately measure and track student progress. The materials also include schedules for assessments at an appropriate frequency for the age and content area.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include three ways to track student progress to support a systematic and routine approach to progress monitoring. Student progress is assessed through formal “Benchmark Assessments” at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. The benchmark is administered three times to document progress across the school year. The Benchmark Assessments’ time limit is 10–15 minutes per assessment. The benchmarks assess students in “Language and Literacy,” “Readiness and Writing, and “Numbers and Math.”
There are two types of informal assessments: the “Observation Checklist” and the “Check for Understanding.” The Observation Checklist should be done at least once a week. It also assesses students in Language and Literacy, Readiness and Writing, and Numbers and Math. The materials also provide a daily Check for Understanding, which assesses students in each taught area: language and literacy, readiness and writing, numbers and math, oral language development, and science and social studies. For example, in Unit 1, in the Numbers and Math lesson “Learn Position Words,” students identify the position or location of an object. The teacher checks for understanding by observing if students correctly pass the “Tag Bag” with the given directions. In Unit 3, in the “Find Words in a Sentence” lesson, students learn how to break sentences into words. The teacher checks for understanding by observing if students can independently identify how many words are in the sentence without pointing. In Unit 5, the teacher checks for understanding by observing students building roads with blocks during the “Learn About a Simple Machine” lesson. All assessments are aligned to standards for four-yearolds to support appropriate monitoring for the age.
Indicators 10.1-10.3 are under re-review.
The materials provide some recommended targeted instruction and activities for students who struggle to master the content; materials have limited support for students demonstrating mastery. Enrichment activities are provided, but there is no clear guidance for teachers on implementing or providing recommended targeted instruction for individual students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide” provides an introduction to the materials and lays out the developmental milestones across several domains. The materials give teachers guidance on setting up both teacher-led and student-led centers to ensure that children who need more teacher-focused instruction have access to content in that way. The materials across all units provide scaffolding prompts for children with difficulty answering questions. For example, during a read-aloud, a child may have trouble with vocabulary, and the materials instruct the teacher to prompt children to point at pictures to answer a question instead.
In Unit 3, the teachers support students as they repeat the names of items being removed from the “Sound Around Box”; when items are removed, the teacher emphasizes the first letter of the word, and children repeat. Scaffolding instruction is also provided through modeling and checking for understanding. For example, the teacher models the letter O’s shape with wood pieces. The teacher also shows children how to roll a big curve using dough. Teachers check for understanding by observing as children listen or do activities. The materials include printable activities and online activities that target specific skills and provide guidance for implementing differentiated lessons. The materials do not include specific support for other accessibility needs. The materials do not provide guidance to identify precursor skills or provide opportunities to support growth for children needing foundational skills in a specific area. In both the Teacher’s Guide and daily lesson plans, there are no specific lessons or activities that guide teachers in supporting students who have not yet developed these skills. The lack of material to support targeted instruction for specific learning needs limits the ability to support learners who struggle to master content.
The materials partially provide recommended targeted instruction and activities for students who have mastered the content. The materials include teacher-led and child-led activities side by side in “Book 1, An Introduction to the Curriculum.” Across all units, the materials give teachers guidance on setting up free play or exploration centers for children who have mastered content or have a deeper understanding. The materials include “Checks for Understanding” for each domain each day in the lesson plans. The knowledge checks provide the teachers with guidance to determine which students have mastered the content. Some differentiated instruction extends and explores new learning in small groups or centers. In Unit 3, the teacher reviews and works with the number 7 with the students. The “Enrichment” activity is “Have children review numbers 1–7,” instead of upward scaffolded or differentiated guided instruction for teachers to deepen their students’ learning. The materials lack specific guidelines and materials to extend learning for students who have mastered content within a specific unit.
Enrichment content is evident in the “Oral Language” section, identified throughout units, including discussions about different cultures and connections. The instructional material provides one enrichment suggestion per lesson; it includes guiding resources but lacks guidance on implementation. Materials include some guidance supporting understanding learning trajectories through numbers and math but do not specifically cite research-based guidelines. Materials include some recommendations, but they do not include differentiated writing activities. The lessons do not consistently target students who have mastered the content or include recommendations for upward scaffolds or deeper extensions of the material.
The materials partially provide additional enrichment activities for all levels of learners. The materials include enrichment activities for each domain across each day in the lesson plans. The enrichment activities include prompts such as “discuss,” “guess,” and “find objects that begin with a specific letter.” For example, in Unit 1, the enrichment activities include children tracing numbers in sand or shaving cream, and the teacher asking students to name more letters after they have determined the first letter in their name. Unit 4 enrichment activities include children searching for items in the classroom that begin with a specific letter, with the teacher encouraging further discussion of the oral language lesson and children pointing to the beginning letter of words on word cards. Many of the enrichment activities repeat throughout different units. In the Unit 5 student discussion about machines, children are introduced to the vocabulary words shovel and haul. Students then explore dirt in the schoolyard and discuss different construction machines. Enrichment activities directly connected to the theme are embedded in lessons. For instance, to support the identification of resources, musical icons indicate lessons where a song is a part of the lesson. There is also a list of compiled books to use in each section’s index, with specific titles and guidance on incorporating the books into activities. These resources are found across all units to support enrichment for learners.
The materials also include several different teacher-led and child-led activities for each domain. The materials include some enrichment activities that answer one specific question or give an example for exploration. The materials do not promote learning in a variety of ways consistently or promote project-based exploration. Learning materials follow a logical sequence to allow for in-depth focus or sustained time to explore beyond a specified timeframe. Although there are numerous extension activities, the activities are not differentiated for all levels of learners.
The materials include a variety of instructional approaches and methods that appeal to a variety of learning needs. Also, materials support flexible grouping and support multiple types of practices. These instructional strategies are appropriate and provide guidance and structures to achieve effective implementation.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Teacher Guide,” Volume 1, “Introduction,” the materials state that this program is “a research-based approach that addresses different learning styles.” These various learning styles are addressed through a multisensory approach, as detailed in the Teacher Guide, Volume 2, “Multisensory Lessons.” The variety of instructional approaches included in the materials incorporate music and movement, hands-on manipulatives, and listening and speaking activities. All materials emphasize multisensory learning to engage learners in different ways. The Teacher Guide, Volume 1, contains a section that lists 2-to 5-year-old children’s developmental stages and another section that gives guidance on how to use developmentally appropriate teaching strategies.
The “Multisensory Lessons” in Volume 2 of the Teacher Guide list the daily lessons for each learning domain. Before the lesson instructions, the materials provide grouping suggestions, supporting flexible groupings throughout the day. Groupings for activities are specified across the themes. For example, Unit 1 includes a whole group math lesson, “Count to Five”; Unit 2 includes a literacy lesson, “Verbs: Kick/March”; and Unit 3 includes the lesson “Find words in a sentence.” Small group lessons include Unit 4: “Learn Using Wet-Dry-Try on the Slate”; Unit 5: “Divide Onset & Rime”; and Unit 6: “Rhyming Words.” The Teacher Guide also has a section on language and literacy multisensory activities, which lists materials and gives illustrations for whole groups or small groups. Reading and writing multisensory activities also include songs and suggested activities that go along with the songs.
In Unit 1, the materials include activities designed specifically for direct and indirect instruction to support content mastery. For example, students sing and dance to “It’s Pre-K!” while other students toss and count “Tag Bags.” Students use “A-B-C Touch & Flip Cards,” which are textured on one side, to trace letters with their fingers. Students also make numerals using modeling clay. These activities support multiple types of practices and provide guidance and structures to achieve effective implementation in a developmentally appropriate way. Also, in Unit 1, students sing the “Hello Song,” which teaches how to say hello and shake hands with your right hand. The teacher models how to shake hands by shaking each child’s right hand. Then, the teacher “models and asks children to raise their right hand and say, ‘This is my right hand. I shake with my right hand.’” Afterward, children take turns greeting each other and shaking hands to practice the skill. This activity supports flexible grouping and can be implemented with both large and small groups.
In Unit 2, the materials include activities designed for daily large group instruction that support developmentally appropriate strategies for a specific age group. For example, large group activities include read-alouds, music, and movement. There are large group activities that are also designed for small group instruction. Direct small group instruction opportunities are included with activities such as “Show Me,” in which the teacher demonstrates and children imitate a specific skill. Another example is the activity “Name and Say,” where the teacher shows an object and the children identify it. The materials for direct instruction include hands-on movement (e.g., finger-play, modeling clay, singing songs) and applications beyond worksheets. Child-led activities are also provided and include activities such as “It’s in the Book,” where children explore books to find letters, and “Play and Create,” where children create independently. These activities provide multiple practice types and include guidance and structures to support teachers in effective implementation.
In Unit 4, a vocabulary lesson includes movement and music to engage the children. For example, when discussing airplanes and clouds, the teacher introduces a new song called “Puffy, Fluffy.” Then the teacher introduces new vocabulary. Students stretch out their arms and pretend to be airplanes. This lesson includes various methods of instruction (song, movement) to teach a concept. Throughout the units, materials utilize a variety of teaching resources to meet children's needs, including magnetic letters, modeling clay, wooden letters, little readers, books, and apps for technology use. The materials guide teachers in selecting appropriate teaching strategies with information on the development order of skills. The materials begin with age-appropriate skills for each domain at age two and go up to age five. This information supports teachers in understanding how and when to use developmentally appropriate teaching strategies. For example, teachers are given guidance on using a “Sound Around Box” in different ways. Teachers “place a familiar object in the box” and “have one child speak in sentences to describe the object without showing it to the other children”; children guess what the object is. The Teacher Guide supports the units, providing guidance on effective grouping.
In Unit 6, children explore and discuss animal habitats and then create animal art using watercolors. Later in the unit, children engage in animal walks to support mastery of content through multiple types of practice. Each unit also provides “At-a-Glance” suggestions, structure, and guidance for effective implementation. In some activities, the teacher models think-aloud questions scripted in the lesson. The “sort information” activity guides the teacher to ask students to get into groups and discuss a question. For example, “Have children put dinosaurs in groups by what they eat. How do we know which dinosaurs eat meat and which ones eat plants?” The instructional materials also contain several specific manipulatives and materials for activities that encourage various instructional approaches and support developmentally appropriate instruction.
The materials include some specific supports to help English Learners (ELs) meet grade-level expectations; however, these accommodations are not commensurate with various English language proficiency levels. Scaffolds are present for ELs, and some even encourage the strategic use of students’ first language to develop English.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1” includes some information and scaffolding meant to support English Learners. Entitled “Scaffolding through Engaging Multimodal Instruction,” this section explains that using various teaching modalities and hands-on activities help teachers bypass language differences. There is also a section on “Multimodal Scaffolded Instruction.” Here, the materials list several general strategies that can be used during lessons in the “Teacher’s Guide Volume 2.” These general strategies include using graphic organizers like Venn Diagrams and Word maps, using a word wall to display new vocabulary words, labeling drawing and pictures, and using visual prompts. This resource material references lessons that already include graphic organizers and mentions the hands-on materials that support these strategies (such as the Word Time Word Cards and the Sound Around Box color and picture tiles). This resource also includes some information on how to use students’ first language to develop linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic skills in English. Teachers use Spanish cognates and say vocabulary words in a child’s home language before saying them in English. While these supports are helpful, there is not enough point-of-lesson scaffolding and accommodations to fully ensure English Learners meet grade-level learning expectations. Additionally, the provided accommodations in Teacher’s Guide and daily lessons are not commensurate with various English language proficiency levels.
In one Unit 1 activity, students recognize and sort objects by color. The teacher collects classroom objects in a pile and asks students, “What color do you see?” The EL accommodation for this lesson is to “begin activity with just two different colors.” Although this provides an EL scaffold for the activity, the scaffold does not strategically use the child’s first language to develop linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic skills. Additionally, there is no teacher guideline detailing how to support the student depending on whether they are a beginning language learner or a more experienced language learner. Instead, the EL support is paired with support more generally, titled “Support/ELL.”
In Unit 2, children learn to break a sentence into words and count the number of words using “Frog Hops.” Five children sit in a line in front of the class. The teacher says, “I’m going to say a sentence. When I point at you, please stand up.” As the teacher repeats the sentence and points at the children, they stand and hop. The support for students is for the teacher to use a familiar sentence for the child. This support does not specify using the students’ first language to develop content knowledge or practice the skill.
In Unit 3, in math, students learn to take objects away from a set and count how many are left. The teacher passes out five crackers to each child and says, “I have 5 crackers. I take away 1 cracker.” The teacher eats the cracker while the students repeat the words and imitate the teacher. The teacher asks the students, “How many are left?” Students count the remaining crackers and respond. The EL accommodation is: “Start with three crackers. Take away one at a time. Count how many are left each time.” The materials provide an accommodation to use in small groups but lack instructional scaffolding that supports ELs or small group instruction that focuses primarily on language development. In another activity in Unit 3, students listen to the song “Starting Sound Shuffle”; then the teacher chants words beginning with the /s/ sound, such as sailboat, snake, soup, salad, show, slipper, sing, song. The EL support is to repeat each word before children say it. Scaffolding is provided in the lesson but not in the child’s primary language. In addition, no support is provided in the lesson to support EL students’ linguistic development.
In Unit 4, materials integrate learning the letter D and introducing compound words. The teacher takes two “Compound Word Picture Cards” of a dog and a piece of wood. The teacher says, “Look! One word turned into two. Dogwood became dog and wood.” The suggested support for this lesson, labeled as “support/EL,” is to use props, when possible, for the small words and the compound word. This support is the only accommodation for any student who is not mastering content. It is not specific to students who are learning English. There is no scaffolding or various strategies presented to support children at varying English language proficiency levels. Each lesson follows a similar pattern, with one strategy to support struggling students, including those who are labeled as EL. These strategies can help provide some accommodations for students with various English language proficiency levels, but the strategies are not specifically targeted to those students’ needs and do not address linguistic development.
Indicators 11.1, 11.2, and 11.3 are under re-review.
Materials include a year-long plan to build students’ concept development, but there are few resources or guidance on how to vertically align instruction that builds year to year. Additionally, materials provide consistent review and practice of knowledge and skills across most domains throughout the curriculum.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1” includes a “Scope and Sequence” that details the overarching skill being taught in each academic content area each day to support concept development. The Scope and Sequence goes week by week and day by day to give teachers a big-picture overview of what the year will look like and what skills will be taught throughout the curriculum. The weeks are organized into six-week units that have an overarching theme, such as “My Body,” “Earth,” and “Animals.” However, the theme is not always present in the lessons described in the Scope and Sequence. For example, during a week in Unit 2, “My Body,” the only lessons related to or tied back to the theme are the “Oral Language” lessons that teach children vocabulary words such as elbow, arm, bend, and reach. The materials also do not include ties to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines or the TEKS for grades K–2 for any vertical alignment. They only include a list of developmental skills children should reach by each age, from ages 2– 5, so teachers can make informed decisions based on their students’ development. While the materials do include a year-long plan for instruction, there is no evidence of vertical alignment in the plan.
The materials provide review and practice of knowledge and skills in math and language art domains and curriculum across the units. The materials follow a research-based sequence of teaching letters, which has teachers working on one letter a week. Letters are reviewed at different points in the curriculum. For example, at the end of Unit 2, the materials guide the teacher to spend a day reviewing L, F, E, H, T, I, and U, the letters taught so far. Again, in Unit 4, the materials guide the teacher to spend a day reviewing C, O, Q, G, S, J, D, and P. After introducing all of the letters, the materials go back and review them throughout Unit 6. A similar process is followed to teach and review the numerals 1 to 10. Another “Numbers and Math” skill taught in pre-K is learning to identify, extend, and create patterns. Patterns are introduced in Unit 1, with lessons that teach children how to identify things that are the same and different and sort by color. These are prerequisite skills to patterning. In Unit 2, children have the opportunity to duplicate a simple pattern and go on a pattern walk. In Unit 3, children practice patterns in a “repeat after me” activity and also have opportunities to explore patterns in the real world. In Unit 4, children review duplicating a simple pattern and grow or extend patterns. In Unit 6, children have opportunities to create patterns. This sequence allows children to have multiple opportunities to practice and build on their pattern skills. Other math concepts have a similar scope and sequence. Although math and language arts are addressed across the units, oral language, social studies, and science lessons are not reviewed throughout the materials, in the same manner, to support practice throughout the curriculum. Students are exposed to Oral Language, Science, and Social Studies topics once most of the time.
The materials include some implementation support for teachers and administrators. There is an included scope and sequence that outlines the year’s knowledge and skills. However, this resource does not outline how the knowledge and skills relate to specific Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (TPG) or how knowledge and skills build and connect across the year and into Kindergarten. The materials support teacher implementation of the activities as intended, but there is little support for administrators to help teachers in implementing the intended activities. The materials provide a school year’s worth of prekindergarten instruction, including realistic pacing guidance and routines to support teachers across the units.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials’ scope and sequence support knowledge and skills across the units. The “Teacher Guide, Volume 1” includes a “Scope and Sequence” with the essential knowledge and skills taught every day. The Scope and Sequence include 36 weeks of organized charts broken down into six units. It provides an overview of what is taught each day. For example, during one week, in Unit 2, “My Body,” in “Numbers and Math,” the lessons are all centered around the number 3. One day, the class reviews 3 and compares using the words long and short. The following day, they review 3 using the I Know My Numbers booklet. The lessons outlined in the scope and sequence all match the overarching skill listed at the beginning of the week. This outline allows teachers to quickly see what skills are taught in the curriculum and when skills repeat or review. In this example, while the number 3 is taught in Unit 2, the materials also include “Math Review” in Unit 5, where a day is spent reviewing numbers 1 through 5. In the Unit 3 weekly objectives for Week 1, the focus for “Language and Literacy” is on the sound and activities for the letter C; for “Readiness and Writing,” it is on letter building and tracing for letter C; for “Numbers and Math” it is on the number 5; and for “Oral Language/Science/Social Studies,” it is pretend play and jobs with the word costumes. All the units are written in the same order and follow the same protocol. While the materials contain a well-organized scope and sequence across all units, it does not reference the TPG. The activity titles are listed for each day of the week with no identification of their associated knowledge and skill or how these knowledge and skills build and connect over time.
Prior to each week’s worth of daily lesson plans, there is an additional “Week At a Glance” that defines the skills being taught each day. The knowledge or skill is listed here, but there is no direct connection to the TPG. Instead, each knowledge or skill is accompanied by a symbol representing the associated domain: “Approaches to Learning/Social-Emotional Learning, Language/Communication, Emergent Literacy, Emergent Writing, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Creative Arts, Physical Development.” Teachers can see which skills are taught and when they are presented, but this document does not explain how the skills build and connect across the year or into Kindergarten.
Additionally, teachers can download a Texas Correlations chart from the general Learning Without Tears website, “Correlations to the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.” Although not a Scope and Sequence, this document does list pages, resources, teacher tools, and manipulatives that align to each standard in the TPG. While the listed pages are specific, the other references remain general. This resource is useful to see which parts of the materials connect to specific parts of the TPG, but it does not list the order in which the skills are presented or how they build and connect over time.
Materials include supports to help teachers implement the materials as intended to support learning. The Teacher Guide, Volume 1, provides an introduction to the instructional materials, activities for the teacher to use in small groups and centers, information about the classroom setup, and guidance on the resources. It also explains the importance of organization for the teacher and the students. It states that materials need to be easy for the students to access and locate. There is a guide on setting up for the content areas of Language and Literacy, Readiness and Writing, Numbers and Math, and Oral Language. The teachers are guided through the implementation of materials for each area and the activities. For example, the Language and Literacy area has five resources that can be used and six activities. In the Teacher’s Guide, Volume 2, the teacher can find all of the multisensory lessons, listed in order, from Week 1 to Week 36. The lesson plans included scripted lessons, with a list of materials for each activity to prepare teachers prior to beginning their lesson. The materials include most of the items that are required for each lesson. With each set of manipulatives included in the materials, there is a small guide on using them and examples for activities. For example, “Mix and Make Shapes” are manipulatives included with the materials. The guide that comes with them details what these manipulatives can be used for, what explicit skills are tied to them, and 10 activities with scripted lessons to use with them. There are many supports throughout the materials to ensure teachers can implement them as intended. Although the materials provide support for the teacher on implementing the materials as intended, there is no guidance specifically to help administrators support teachers.
One specific resource for teachers is the “Learning Without Tears PD Hub.” Found on the Learning Without Tears general website, this yearly online membership provides videos, optional webinars, and the potential for virtual coaching. Five videos provide an overview of the materials and support for assessment implementation; these videos range from five minutes to 15 minutes. In the “Live Webinars” section, there are recordings of four previously recorded webinars that focus on building writers, developing fine motor skills, comparing direct instruction and play-based instruction, and teaching students how to fix pencil grips. There are no scheduled chats currently available for Virtual Coaching; however, one can schedule customized virtual coaching sessions for the school or district by contacting the program’s professional development team. This resource helps teachers implement materials as intended but does not differentiate support specifically for administrators.
The material includes support for a school year’s worth of pre-K instruction, including realistic pacing guidance and routines. The Teacher Guide, Volume 1, provides a Scope and Sequence and a full-day schedule to follow for a full school year. The Teacher Guide, Volume 2, contains all the lessons for a full year of instruction. The lessons can be implemented within the time constraints of a school year. The progression of Language and Literacy, Readiness and Writing, and Numbers and Math lessons follow realistic pacing that includes ample practice and review.
The materials provide some implementation guidance to meet variability in programmatic design and scheduling considerations. The materials also provide guidance for implementation to ensure content is taught, addressed, and learned in an order that follows a developmental progression for young children. The materials are designed to support LEAs’ ability to incorporate the curriculum into district, campus, and teacher programmatic design and scheduling considerations.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide guidance to support the developmental progression of learning, following a strategic plan for implementation. The “Teacher Guide, Volume 1” discusses how the materials are aligned to child development research. The instructional material is structured by research published by Gessell, A., H.M. Halverson, H. Thomson, F.L. Ilg, B.M. Castner, L.B. Ames, and C.S. Amatruda in The First Year of Life: A Guide to the Study of the Pre-School Child. The material explains that it starts with vertical and horizontal letters, then moves on to letters that curve, and finally progresses to letters with diagonals. The material states that research says writing development is significant to academic performance and has a negative impact if overlooked. This research explains the sequence of “Language and Literacy” and “Readiness and Writing” lessons in the instructional materials and why they must be taught in a specific order. Additionally, the Teacher’s Guide, Volume 1 also includes suggestions to make the materials work in a variety of classrooms. There is guidance on what to do for a 3-days per week program and guidance for preschool programs with less than 36 weeks in the school year. There are also example schedules for half-day and full-day programs.
The materials provide support for LEAs to incorporate the curriculum into the school. The Teacher Guide, Volume 1, includes a full-day schedule and a “Scope and Sequence” with the essential knowledge and skills taught each day. The Scope and Sequence include 36 weeks of organized charts broken down into six units. The unit charts contain six weeks with five lessons for Language and Literacy, Readiness and Writing, “Numbers and Math,” and “Oral Language/Science/Social Studies.” Materials are designed for easy implementation for a district, campus, and teacher to use, but they do not provide support for different programs to customize.
The materials provide guidance on fostering connections between home and school. The materials support the development of strong relationships between teachers and families. They include activities for use at home to support students’ learning and development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide information about “School-to-Home Connections” in the introduction “Teacher Guide” to support relationships between teachers and families. The guide provides 11 ways to make strong connections between school and home. Some of the suggestions are utilizing planned events such as teacher-parent conferences and school visits; communicating through letters, emails, and podcasts; encouraging reading to children as much as possible; sharing the curriculum with families; and sharing assessment information to identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement. The materials also provide a “welcome” parent letter, which teachers can print from the online portal. The letter provides information on the program’s curriculum and its use in the classroom. The letter also provides a “Letter and Number Formation” chart. There are also additional parent letters teachers can print from the online portal. Also on the online portal, there is a “Fine Motor and Letter Practice” home sheet, which suggests activities to do at home. Some of the activities include finger plays, stringing popcorn, and building objects with clay.
To support learning and development at home, the materials suggest teachers share the publisher’s website for parents to explore the resources. Some provided at-home activities parents can use to assist students who need extra assistance are in the I Know My Numbers and the Fine Motor and Letter Practice home sheet. The materials are available in English and Spanish to support the home language. Materials also suggest the teacher share specific classroom songs with the families for them to sing at home; families are encouraged to share fun songs they may sing at home as well. Materials provide resources for families to use at home that supports the curriculum being used at school and to support students’ learning and development.
The visual design of student and teacher materials (whether print or digital) is neither distracting nor chaotic. Materials are visually appealing and contain adequate illustrations and amounts of white space.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Both the online materials and physical materials are easy to find because they are clearly labeled. Lessons contain a list of materials needed, objectives, vocabulary words, and step-bystep directions for the teacher to follow, including questions to ask students. Text is bolded to indicate what the teacher says within a lesson. The resources are student-friendly, have specific purposes, and support fine motor skills. For example, students use sturdy wood pieces to build letters with their hands. Materials are designed to support student learning and are not distracting.
The materials include student resources with illustrations in black and white and in color, depending on the resource. The “Word Time” vocabulary cards have colorful illustrations; they are meant to teach children new vocabulary words. The illustrations support student learning. The “ABC” and “1-2-3 Touch & Flip” cards have black-and-white illustrations that correspond to the number or letter being taught. There are no authentic or real-life photographs or pictures, but the illustrations are clear and easily identifiable. The student consumables also include black-and-white illustrations, which are meant to be colored in, so they support student learning and fine motor development.
The materials also provide Mat Man books, which contain illustrations that help children understand what is going on in the story. The “Story Cards” contain colorful illustrations and are large enough to be seen during whole group instruction. Other materials that are meant to be used in the whole group are large enough to see during lessons as well. The digital resources mimic what the resources look like in person. This similarity makes them easy to navigate for children and supports their learning rather than distracting them.
Read the Full Report for Technology
(pdf, 191.11 KB)
Read the Full Report for Pricing
(pdf, 265.08 KB)
Read the Full Report for Professional Learning Opportunities
(pdf, 147.48 KB)
Read the Full Report for Additional Language Supports
(pdf, 138.59 KB)