Relevant Research

Sunday, September 18, 2016


We have several upcoming webinars. Check out our calendar to stay up-to-date on TSR trainings! Our next webinar topics are:

The Wave 1 assessment window is now open for all CLI Engage users. You can go ahead and start your beginning of year progress monitoring!

TSR Comprehensive users, please complete and enter the CECs into Engage by October 14, 2016.  COTs should be completed and entered by October 31, 2016. 

We will be attending the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children (TAEYC) Conference in Dallas from September 22-24. We will also be at the TASA/TASB Convention in Houston those same dates! Stop by our booths and say hello if you are in the audience!

The CIRCLE CDA Training Program has officially launched! The CIRCLE CDA Training Program offers all 120 hours of self-instructional professional development needed to apply for a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. The program is available through the CLI Engage platform, including resources for teachers to prepare their CDA professional portfolio.  For more information visit or send an email to

We are hitting the road this spring to promote our current resources on CLI Engage and to introduce the Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment! We will be hosting an outreach event at every Education Service Center. For more info, contact your ESC or email us at

CLI Engage Website

Texas School Ready Website

Children's Learning Institute Website

Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines

Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines

Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS)

Creating an effective room set up and design using the Classroom Environment Checklist (CEC)

The Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (2015) states that “Effective classroom management can set the stage for exciting possibilities for children’s learning. This includes attention to the organization of the space and furnishings, predictable daily routines, and responsive interactions between teachers and children. While these factors often are described as distinct, their interconnection is critical for promoting effective teaching and learning.”

Creating a stable, positive classroom environment provides benefits to both classroom learning and behavior management. Classrooms should be rich language settings that incorporate environmental print and accessibility to many types of play and learning materials (including lots of books!) in small, cozy corners and centers. Planning the physical room carefully can foster more rich language interactions and less conflict among students.

Jim Greenman (2005) describes the early childhood classroom as a place where students can build a sense of community when the environment promotes and nurtures these connections. “How we describe our expectations for children and what our environment says about our expectations often differ. Environments that expect children to be competent and responsible members of a community pay great attention to child scale and child access to all resources. Children contribute to daily life—both in the preparation and the cleaning. The program encourages children to work together and share jobs that need doing. Materials are organized and available to all children, and children can reach what they need to use during the day.”

Thus the classroom environment has a profound impact on how children feel, behave, and learn. 

The CIRCLE Classroom Environment Checklist is used to take a close look at the environment and measure key quality indicators to improve classroom arrangements. A web-based version of the tool is provided at no cost for programs enrolled in CLI Engage, and a PDF version is available for free download.

For teachers, the CEC is a tool to help self-evaluate their classrooms and identify where they need improvement. Coaches, specialists and other leaders that support teacher classroom instruction can use this tool to set goals, budgets, or plan for professional development needs. It should be used at the beginning of the year and revisited as part of subsequent classroom observations.

The CEC captures the presence and quality level of instructional planning tools (e.g. lesson plans, progress monitoring tools), meaningful literacy and print centers and materials (e.g. letter wall, availability of books), and the overall design and management of the classroom and individual centers (e.g. labeling centers, providing writing tools).

The CEC can:

  • evaluate and improve the classroom environment
  • track progress
  • provide direction for coaching and instruction
  • support accountability
  • meet district/community requirements and expectations

The CEC is a list of environmental indicators organized according to four primary areas:

  • Centers and Independent Workstations
  • Literacy
  • Meaningful Print
  • Instructional Planning and Delivery

The Classroom Environment Checklist describes essential features of the physical classroom arrangement as well as indicators of a well-organized, functional classroom management system. Arrangement of furniture, clearly defined centers, and a center management system by which children can self-regulate must all be in place before meaningful instruction can succeed. By focusing on the environment, the tool helps the teacher/observer recognize whether children have opportunities to be hands-on and self-directed in their learning. The tool places high importance on indicators of a print-rich environment to support children's early language and literacy.




The CEC uses a 3-point quality rating scale: 1-low, 2-moderate, and 3-high. Each rating corresponds to a generic description of the classroom environment. The accuracy and completeness of the CEC data you record depends on following two key guidelines:

  • Select the highest rating for which every part of the description is in evidence. If one or more elements of a rating description are missing, consider the lower rating to determine if each of the elements is present.
  • CEC ratings describe environmental supports only. Don’t be tempted to take away credits for elements that are present but not used effectively. Instructional/implementation concerns can be addressed with other observations tools, like the CIRCLE Classroom Observation Tool.

The digital CEC can be accessed within the Assessment Progress Monitoring tab on the CLI Engage dashboard. Enter the school name and locate the teacher. The CEC can be administered three times during the year (BOY/MOY/EOY). Photographic links are provided as examples for each item. 



  • Texas Education Agency. (2015). Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
  • Greenman, J. (2005). Places for Children in the 21st Century-A Conceptual Framework. Beyond the Journal, Young Children on the Web. 
Teaching Tips

Learning Center Tips

Setting up Learning Centers:

  • Establish well defined areas.
  • Separate noisy and quiet centers.
  • Integrate tables and chairs into centers as appropriate.
  • Arrange centers with 2-3 sides (using furniture, shelves, walls, tables, etc. to form centers).
  • Include books and writing materials in every center.
  • Include theme related materials in every center.

Centers to include:

  • Library/ Listening
  • Construction
  • Writer’s Corner
  • ABC Center
  • Creative Station
  • Pretend and Learn
  • Math/Science

Set up the centers in well-defined areas to promote higher quality verbal interactions and opportunities for increased cooperative play. This will also help children make choices more easily.

Center Management System

The center management system is a concrete way to manage the number of children allowed in a center at any given time and provides a visual method to help children make choices. This system allows children to: 

  • Manage themselves in centers.
  • Use print in meaningful ways.
  • Use their name in purposeful ways;

To see more tips on the center management system, please reference the Best Practices section of our CIRCLE Activity Collection.

Beginning of the Year Center Activities


  • Our School Book - Have children draw or provide a picture of different people in the school (Ex. Director, Teacher, Cook, Custodian, etc.).
  • Our Class Book - I see Susan (Have a picture of each child and their name so the children can learn who the other children are in class and make connections.).


  • Have a variety of paper and writing tools, so the children can make the books for the library/listening center.


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