Essentials of Teaching Writing in Grades PK-2 with Matt Glover

Join us for a 2-Day workshop with Matt Glover to discover the Essentials of Teaching Writing in Grades PK-2

Day 1 Nurturing Young Writers

Young children are capable of incredible thinking, which can be seen in their writing when they see themselves as writers and when adults honor children’s approximations of writing.  Using video clips and writing samples, participants will examine key beliefs about young writers.  This session will provide participants with practical, developmentally appropriate intervention strategies that support young children as writers.  In addition, participants will learn how these beliefs about young writers translate into instructional practices in early childhood classrooms, both in terms of a daily writing workshop and planning units of study across a year.

Day 2 Projecting Possibilities: Designing Responsive Units of Study

On Day 2 we will now look at how we decide what to teach day by day in units of study, and across the year.

One of the challenges teachers face is determining what to teach each day during a unit of study in writing workshop.  Even when teachers have curricular plans and resources that give teaching possibilities, only teachers can determine what their students need each day.  Even the most carefully created unit will change and evolve as the unit unfolds.  In this day teachers will learn and use a process for projecting units of study that meet curricular goals and respond to the individual needs of their students.  Teachers will actually gather a stack for a unit, study their stack like a teacher of writing, create their own writing to use with students, determine primary and secondary goals, and project a possible sequence of mini lessons for the unit.


  • Teachers will practice and understand the importance of reading like a teacher of writing as the starting point for designing a unit
  • Understand the difference between planning and projecting a unit
  • Learn strategies for creating and using their own writing throughout a unit
  • Understand strategies for gathering a stack of texts.
  • Use the entire process for creating a unit of study

Participants will receive a copy of Matt Glover’s book

Projecting Possibilities for Writers

Register by July 12th to receive $25 off

Use Code: Early25

Register by July 26th to receive $10 off

Use Code Early10

Register Here

STARting off the School Year Right with Conscious Discipline – July 9th

Conscious Discipline is a comprehensive, trauma-informed, self-regulation approach that integrates social-emotional learning into academics, promotes character education and creates a positive school climate. This all happens by changing our perception and response to everyday conflicts. Nationwide, schools utilizing Conscious Discipline experience immediate benefits including a significant decrease in discipline referrals, children who are intrinsically motivated, bullying being replaced by kindness and joy
returning to teachers’ hearts. This workshop will give participants an overview of Conscious Discipline while providing the necessary first steps of implementation to start the school year off with healthy relationships.

Register by June 28th to receive $10 off use code
WORKSHOP # SU1939186 – Register here

JULY 9, 2019
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
AUSTIN, TX 78723

Reasons to Re-Think “Letter of the Week” – Something to Ponder over Summer

While there is universal agreement that the ability to identify letters and sounds is essential for reading success, educators differ in the way they teach these skills.  A common approach is “Letter of the Week” This method generally involves introducing one letter per week through several whole group lessons. Children sing songs, read books, make crafts, and/or generate a list of things that start with the focus letter.

Though Letter of the Week (LOTW) has been used for many years and is even integrated into some state-adopted PreK curriculums, research suggests there are more effective ways to teach letters.  

Reasons to Re-Think “Letter of the Week”:

  1. LOTW is not rigorous enough for all students. Children in your class have different levels of letter knowledge. LOTW requires some students to spend instructional time focusing on letters they have already mastered and causes other students to forget letters they learned in past weeks. (Fountas & Pinnel, 2011)
  2. LOTW does not capitalize on a child’s intrinsic motivation to first learn the letters that are most important to her- such as the letters in her name, letters in the names of family members and friends, and letters needed to describe a picture she has drawn. (Justice, Pence, Bowles & Wiggins, 2006)
  3. LOTW does not teach letters in a way that makes sense to young children. Though many prekindergarteners enthusiastically participate in LOTW activities, letters presented in isolation are an abstract concept. Research demonstrates that children must develop letter knowledge “in coordination and interaction with meaningful experiences” (Neuman, Copple, & Bredekamp 2000)

Using a narrow “letter of the week” focus suggests that the most effective way for children to learn letters is in isolation (one at a time) and/or in sequence (ABC order).   Children learn most effectively by interacting with letters in context -recognizing and writing their names and names of classmates, reading environmental print, using labeled signs and systems in the classroom, composing writing as a class, pretending to read and write in center activities, singing alphabet songs, and playing letter games. Teaching letters in this way helps children become more competent, successful readers, especially later in elementary school when students must read to learn.


Justice L.M., Pence K., Bowles R., & Wiggins A. K., 2006. “An Investigation of Four Hypotheses Concerning the Order by Which 4-Year-Old Children Learn Alphabet Letters.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 21  (3): 374-89.

Neuman, S., Copple, C., and Bredekamp, S.  (2000) Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children.  NAEYC press: Washington, D.C.

Pinnel, Gay Su and Fountas, Irene C. (2011). Literacy Beginnings:  A prekindergarten handbook. Heinemann: Porstmouth, NH.


FREE Webinar – “I know language skills are critical later for reading comprehension, but children need literacy skills first to learn to read. Right?”

Join NAEYC for a FREE Webinar on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 from 2:00–3:00 p.m. Central Time on language development skills.

Research indicates that preschoolers should acquire foundational knowledge in two general domains related to literacy: oral language and literacy skills. However, many preschool teachers devote considerably more time to literacy skills than to oral language. The upcoming webinar,“I know language skills are critical later for reading comprehension, but children need literacy skills first to learn to read. Right?” focuses on this dilemma.

Presenters Judith Schickedanz and Molly Collins, authors of So Much More Than the ABCs, will discuss this dilemma and use examples to illustrate how language-related skills and literacy skills instruction can be integrated within classroom experiences. Participants will then have the opportunity to ask the presenters some questions.

Register HERE –




As you know, quality early childhood education and STEM education are top of mind concerns for our community, as well as across the nation. Believing these two topics to be inextricably intertwined, on May 1, 2019, Thinkery, (a member of the Greater Austin STEM Ecosystem Steering Committee Way for Greater Austin and KLRU-TV are hosting a convening on the state of early STEM learning in our community. Please join us to share your knowledge and understanding of STEM learning in early childcare and educational settings and discuss a vision for young children’s STEM education in the future. The convening will be held at Thinkery from 8:00-10:00 am. We will provide coffee and breakfast tacos to support our creative thinking. We will send an agenda in advance of the meeting. See parking details below.

We hope that you are able join us!

Trish Young Brown, CEO, Thinkery

Cathy McHorse, Vice President of Success by Six, United Way for Greater Austin

Ben Kramer, Vice President – Educational Services, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS

PARKING: Validated parking is available in the McBee Street Parking Garage (behind Thinkery), please bring your ticket to the Admissions desk for validation. Street parking is available for free until 10:00 am.

Free Webinar – Culturally Appropriate Positive Guidance with Young Children in Our Care

The article “Culturally Appropriate Positive Guidance,” featured in Spotlight on Young Children: Social and Emotional Development provides insight into how culture plays a role in classroom interactions and how educators can guide children to recognize and understand diverse cultural practices.

Join NAEYC on Wednesday, April 10, from 3–4 p.m. EDT for a webinar with author Zeynep Ercan where she will discuss ways early childhood professionals can transform their thinking around children’s actions by using culturally appropriate positive guidance, highlight examples from her article, and how educators can practice the idea of cultural responsiveness in the context of guidance issues linked to variations in family practices.

Register Here –


CLI – Developing Pragmatic Language Skills

Developing Pragmatic Language Skills

Oral language is the ability to comprehend receptively, to process and understand heard speech, such as a story read aloud or a question prompt. It also includes expressive language which is the ability to verbalize and communicate to others. These abilities include listening comprehension, conversation skills, vocabulary development, grammar and phonological awareness skills.

Pragmatics are the functional use of language in social contexts; essentially the conversation skills.

This is when appropriate use of language is used to communicate effectively in many different situations and for many different purposes. This involves how something is said, the intention of the speech, the relationship between those in conversation, and any cultural expectations that influence the meaning.

Very early on, babies learn the beginnings of pragmatics. Eye contact, little smiles and gurgles are all early pragmatic skills that babies acquire much like other milestones in their development. Through responsive interactions with others, children learn how to engage with others and take turns in conversation.

Children must learn the social scripts that adults use subconsciously: greetings, conversation openers, the rhythms of questioning and answering, and so on. Effective interpersonal communication is learned through practice in large groups, small groups, and one on one. By talking with others, children learn to:

  • Share ideas and experiences
  • Develop new insights
  • Dispel misunderstandings
  • Build relationships
  • Answer and ask questions
  • Wait for their turn in a conversation
  • Use body language that shows interest in a speaker’s message
  • Use appropriate volume and intonation for different situations

In the eCIRCLE course “Setting the Stage for Children’s Talk” emphasis on creating a classroom environment in which children feel comfortable—even eager—to talk is a critical part of developing and promoting conversation.

Every teacher must find their own style, their own way of engaging children in talk. That said, research tells us that children are most compelled to talk when there is a reason to do so, when opportunities for talk are presented in meaningful or authentic contexts (for example, asking children to describe their pets, or what kinds of food they like or dislike).

On a related note, children’s talk cannot be forced. When children are pushed too hard they tend to shut down, become less responsive, and at times develop a negative attitude toward speaking. Rather than push, teachers should always try to find new, fun contexts in which young learners can talk because they feel compelled to say something.

The following three components make up a teaching style that supports and scaffolds children’s talk. Through talking and listening, children learn:

  • Attention and Responsiveness

Good teachers pay close attention to children’s verbal signals and nonverbal gestures. By observing children, and listening carefully to what they say, we become aware of where they are developmentally, what interests them, and their level of engagement in activities. Teachers can respond to this information by drawing an excited child into deeper conversation, by giving a child extra time to respond to a question, or by asking children about the things that interest them.

  • Content and Stimulation

Rich language, rare words, and open-ended questions that make young children think and exercise their speaking skills are all examples of content and stimulation. When children are presented with meaningful language and language forms, they are quick to put them to use and build on them.

  • Emotional Support

Oral language lessons are most effective when teachers demonstrate enthusiasm and respect for both what children say and how they say it. A warm and accepting attitude toward children’s talk can be conveyed verbally with praise or through body language: gazes, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Remember to praise and acknowledge children for good speaking and listening behaviors.

By staying mindful of the components that make up a supportive teaching style and applying those components in an integrated way, teachers create classrooms in which children’s talk blossoms. A supportive teaching style also sets the stage for a well-managed classroom: children learn to take turns by being given their turn, they learn to listen by being listened to, and they learn to speak well and respect the words of others by being spoken to and respected.

teaching tips

Create social scripts to help better children’s ability to communicate in social situations. Scripted Stories for Social Situations help children understand social interactions, situations, expectations, social cues, the script of unfamiliar activities, and/or social rules. The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) provides prepared practices.

Find activities in the CIRCLE Activity Collection for Pre-K such as Greetings to help develop oral language pragmatic skills. The purpose of this activity is to develop children’s oral language skills by participating in a song. This activity and many others are aligned with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF), Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines, and the Kindergarten Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

Greetings Prekindergarten Activity

  • Domain: Language and Reading
  • Subdomain: Speaking and Listening
  • Setting: Center Time
  • Alignments:
    • Head Start: Goal P-LC4. Child understands, follows, and uses appropriate social and conversational rules.
    • Pre-K Guidelines: II.B.2. Child engages in conversations in appropriate ways.
    • Kindergarten TEKS: English Language Arts and Reading 16 (B)
  1. Introduce

“Every morning, we will get together on the carpet and sing a song to greet one another. Greet is another word for saying hello. You will each get a turn to be the greeter for the day.”

  1. Model and Explain

“When we greet someone, we shake hands, smile, and look at each other’s eyes. Let me show you.” Model how to greet someone by choosing a child from the classroom. “We will sing a song and you will get to greet your friends by shaking hands, smiling, and looking at their eyes to make our greeting fun!” Model how to greet everyone in the circle as the chant is sung.

Chant (Sung to the tune of “Farmer in the Dell” or other familiar tune):
_________ is here!
_________ is here!
It’s a great day because ________ is here!

  1. Guide Practice

“Are you ready to try it? Let’s begin with [child’s name] and have him decide how he would like to go around the circle to greet everyone. Everyone else sing along with me!” Select a child to be the greeter to greet their classmates. The child walks around the circle, greeting each classmate and shaking hands, as the chant is sung. Assist if necessary.

  1. Summarize

Let children know that they can greet anyone. They can greet their family members with a hug and a kiss, a friend with a hug, and a teacher by shaking hands.

Review the Infant & Toddler Developmental Checklists on CLI Engage, where you can find a complete list of developmental milestones related to language and communication for birth to 4 years of age. These checklists can help teachers become aware of what skills are expected at what ages and acknowledge what the child is accomplishing.

Complete the eCIRCLE professional development course Setting the Stage for Children’s Talk. This 6-hour certificate online course covers instructional strategies for supporting language and communication skill development.

Conscious Discipline Podcast – Setting Healthy Boundaries

Listen Here –

Episode Summary

Setting healthy boundaries is a vital skill that protects our identities and self-esteem. Without healthy boundaries, we open the door for others to determine our thoughts, feelings, and needs, losing a sense of self. Strong boundaries give us the confidence to make our own choices without yielding to a sense of sacrifice or obligation.

Lessons about boundaries begin early in life, first with our parents and then with our peers. Adult upset language becomes a child’s self-regulatory voice, which in turn sets the child’s boundaries. Attempting to teach children who they should be, what they should think, and how they should feel creates unhealthy boundaries. In addition, helping children create healthy boundaries requires that we model healthy boundaries ourselves.

Listen in as Master Instructor Jill Molli and her daughter, college freshman Meg Molli, share their experiences with setting healthy boundaries. While Jill has sometimes struggled with healthy boundaries, especially around work, Meg is not easily influenced by outside forces. The mother-daughter duo discusses why this difference exists, how Meg sets effective boundaries, and how Jill has learned to do the same through conscious effort. You’ll also hear tips on how you can set and strengthen your own boundaries.

Essential Takeaways

  • Healthy boundaries protect us from manipulation, violation, and being used. They express our values of respect and responsibility, keeping us safe because they allow us to separate who we are and what we think from the thoughts and feelings of others.
  • The adult’s upset language becomes the child’s internal self-regulatory voice, which in turn sets the child’s internal boundaries.
  • Parenting or teaching that tells a child who they should be, what they should think, and how they should feel creates unhealthy boundaries. Unhealthy boundaries can also stem from fear: fear of abandonment, being judged, losing the relationship, or hurting another’s feelings.
  • Keys to healthy boundaries include confidence and the ability to notice, name, and manage your feelings.
  • Steps For Tomorrow
    • It’s important to be in touch with and own your feelings, or you will try to take on and manage the feelings of others. Practice noticing and naming your feelings. This builds your awareness of what you think, feel, and need.
    • Once you can notice and name your feelings, you can regulate your inner speech and calm yourself in moments of upset. This process is helpful in setting boundaries without being overwhelmed by worries or fear of how others will react.
    • Reach out to your connection network when you need extra support. Knowing that you need help and asking for it is another form of healthy boundary.

    Important Links

    Product Mentions

    Show Outline 

    • :30 What is Conscious Discipline?
    • 1:05 What are healthy boundaries and why are they important?
    • 4:08 Internal and external boundaries
    • 7:37 Introduction of special guests Jill and Meg Molli
    • 10:20 Jill and Meg’s different approaches to setting boundaries
    • 18:36 Confidence as a factor in setting healthy boundaries
    • 25:50 Inner speech and healthy boundaries
    • 27:40 Naming and taming emotions
    • 38:30 Reaching out for support
    • 43:16 Recap: Tips for setting healthy boundaries
    • 46:25 What’s Becky up to?
    • 46:48 What’s Becky celebrating?

    Thank You for Listening

Free Event – Texas Early Childhood Learning Summit July 10-12, 2019 at the Marriott Marquis in Houston

TEA is excited to announce registration is open to public prekindergarten staff for the Texas Early Childhood Learning Summit on July 10-12, 2019 at the Marriott Marquis in Houston.

Please click the Registration Link and select “Attendee (ISD)” as “Reg Category”. From the drop box select your school district’s name.

Spots are limited – register soon!

Complete all the information requested. An email confirmation will be sent to the email you denoted within 24 hours of registering. Please ensure that you check all inbox folders, including junk/spam.

Hotel reservations will be made from the link provided in the email confirmation. Please ensure that you read the email confirmation in its entirety.

If you have any questions about registration, please contact TECL Summit Staff at

Region 13 staff does not handle registration, please direct all questions to TECL staff.

Can’f find the time to teach science? Come learn how literature can jump start your next Science Lesson!

Join Cynthia Holcomb, as we take a look at life science using engaging picture books that address the PK Guidelines and TEKS for organisms, ecosystems, and life cycles. Each story will be followed by Pk Guidelines and TEKS-aligned science activities and investigations, as well as strategies to promote literacy skills. Science is so much fun when you can find it right in your bookshelf!

Science Book Frenzy: Looking at Living Things Pk – 2nd Workshop ID: SP1940876

March 4th, 2019


Register Here: