TSR Connect
A Closer Look

Wednesday, October 2, 2013



Important updates to our child progress monitoring tool (known as CPALLS+ or MCLASS)

o New benchmarks for Phonological Awareness that improve detection of children that need more instructional support in areas like rhyming or blending and segmenting sounds in words and sentences.

o A revised Vocabulary assessment that includes updated pictures based on user feedback and child performance.


CLI offers Improving Teacher Preparation Grant

The Improving Teacher Preparation Grant seeks to support early childhood faculty in higher education settings in delivering high-quality research based instruction to future early childhood classroom teachers. The project offers faculty stipends to attend professional development sessions, implement cutting edge techniques in their classes, and engage with high school teachers to help high school students earn early childhood college credit. 

Welcome to another exciting year of the Texas School Ready! Project.

Welcome to another exciting year of the Texas School Ready! Project.

As children and teachers settle into their classrooms, TSR mentors and staff are working hard to begin an exciting new year of TSR. This year we are pleased that 38 Texas communities have joined the TSR family, and 11 are new communities. This year alone TSR will serve more than 2000 classrooms, and more than 40,000 young Texans. Our coordinators and mentors are receiving training, making those initial connections with their teachers, and preparing for a new year of helping schools create high-quality early childhood classrooms! 

If you are new to TSR here is a good primer on this research-proven model:

TSR is a comprehensive teacher training program that includes 3 components:

o Professional Development

o Curriculum

o Child Progress Monitoring

TSR serves teachers and children in Head Start, Child Care, and Public School settings, and encourages partnerships and resource sharing among these programs

This year the TSR project is reaching out to new audiences, deploying new advances in technology, and trying to build stronger community responses around early childhood.  Here are some of the new efforts we are bringing to TSR communities.

Remote Coaching:  Teachers in the remote model receive training, guidance, and support remotely. The Teachers submit videos of their practice electronically and conference with their mentors routinely via phone, email, and video conferencing.  This a great way to reach more providers while keeping costs low!

Little Texans. Big Futures: TSR is helping to connect providers to resources and build their skills for working with infants and toddlers. TSR Communities will be hosting free trainings on infants and toddlers as well as providing free copies of Little Texans. Big Futures: Texas’s New Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Guidelines. 

BEECH: BEECH stands for Beginning Education: Early Childcare at Home and it is a free online training system for home-based child care providers. The training is designed to meet the specific needs of home-based providers, and is focused on developing responsive caregiving practices in these environments. TSR is offering this amazing resource free to providers all across Texas.  We already have about 300 providers enrolled in the program.  Look for an email from us, inviting more to join BEECH soon! 

A Closer Look

Pre-K has changed a lot, but high-quality interactions are still the key

Today’s prekindergarten classroom looks a lot different than it looked just 10 years ago.  Learning resource companies have developed incredible new learning tools, activities, and manipulatives.  In some classrooms children can splash in water tables, dig in sand to find letters, or explore their world using scientific tools. Technology is also more present in pre-k today than it was in the past. More and more classrooms include technologies like tablets, desktop computers, or interactive white boards.

While new tools are great and can be used to facilitate learning in exciting new ways, they cannot replace the importance and value of high-quality teacher-child interactions.

Remember that in small group and topic-based learning areas (or centers) children cement instruction with guided exploration and hands-on experience.  Every center experience is an opportunity for engagement and conversation with young children. While teachers need to allow for lots of child-directed learning during center time, the teacher should also strive to be active in supporting learning and discovery. Be sure to remember that the teacher’s role during center time is to provide and encourage the critical interactions that turn play into dynamic learning opportunities.

Here are 5 evidence-based ways teachers can build dynamic learning opportunities during center time.

Arrange the environment and materials to encourage child-to-child interactions – look at the environment through the children’s eyes and think of arrangements that will stimulate child-to-child interactions.  Encourage collaboration and problem solving as the children talk and play together. For example, if one child needs help with a puzzle, see if another child has a solution.  Ask the children to come up with solutions together. “I wonder if Sandra can help you find where that piece goes.  Go ahead, Sandra.”

Engage in play with children – It’s great to pretend, play along, or act out games together. During dramatic play, enter into the scenario with the children.  If one child dresses up as a shopkeeper, pretend you are an eager costumer. 

Explain and describe what children are doing  – Observe the children and talk about what they are doing, describe their actions to them. Be sure to mix in new words and child-friendly definitions.  “That’s a bulldozer.  It’s used to move heavy things.”

Encourage children’s questions and comments – Use a positive, warm, and an inviting tone to acknowledge children’s questions and provide language-rich responses. “Great question! The birds in the story fly south once a year because the weather is warmer and there is plenty of food to eat.  When the snow comes in the North, it is hard for the birds to find food, so many birds fly south.  This is called migration!”  

Use open ended questions to extend thinking and encourage language. To promote conversation, avoid asking questions with a yes/no or right/wrong answer. “Tell me about your family?” “What is your favorite part of this book?” “Why do you think the dog in the book was barking?

A Closer Look

TSR highlighted in Dept of ED back to school bus tour

On September 10, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education, Deb Delisle, visited El Paso, to participate in panel discussion, Innovations in Pre-k STEM and to learn about high-quality local prekindergarten programs in the areaSTEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and it signifies an increased focus on science and mathematics in education.

CLI partnered with a valued TSR partner, Region 19 Education Service Center Head Start, led by Dr. Blanca Enriquez.  During the event, Dr. Susan Landry debuted a new research-proven STEM assessment tool, which will be adopted soon in TSR, and spoke about the wonderful contributions TSR has made to STEM in pre-k.  The tool was very well received and generated a lot of enthusiasm for science in pre-k!

At the conclusion of the event the Assistant Secretary, Dr. Landry, Dr. Enriquez, Dr. April Crawford, Dr. John Gasko and members of TSR team toured top-notch TSR classrooms at the John E. Uxer 1 Head Start Center, as well as the Intellizeum, an interactive museum-like environment that allows children to learn about science while having fun.  After experiencing all of the rich learning environments, the Assistant Secretary commented, “All children should have this.  I am very impressed.”

It was a great day for El Paso and for TSR and we were so honored to be recognized by such an important national leader in education.  Special and warm thanks are reserved for Dr. Blanca Enriquez and her team, who all contributed to a successful and engaging event!

Check out some more pictures from the event here!

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Children's Learning Institute at UTHealth
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Learn more about Texas School Ready! visit us at www.texasschoolready.org