New curriculum launched last year
Arlington ISD’s pre-K program didn’t have to start over. The district already had a great pre-K curriculum.
But the district’s early childhood learning department doesn’t settle for best. A pioneer in education for the littlest learners, Arlington ISD’s pre-K team is always searching for the most effective ways to teach and develop 3- and 4-year-olds and to equip and support their teachers.
That’s why they started from scratch and built a new, innovative curriculum in-house, added a robust institutional resource and implemented STEM. And they introduced it last year in conjunction with the launch of universal pre-K 4, which means all 4-year-olds go to pre-K in the Arlington ISD for free.
“We revamped the entire curriculum,” said Dr. Hildelisa Díaz, Arlington ISD early childhood learning coordinator. “We made sure there was seamless alignment between our pre-K guidelines and the new instructional resource Savvas, we connected STEM and we ensured integration across all domains.”
They developed the scope and sequence, a year-at-a-glance, units and bundles and lots of instructional documents that help the pre-K teachers plan and execute the curriculum.
So, what does all that educational jargon mean?
It means Arlington ISD has an innovative curriculum that inspires kids to learn and gets them ready for kindergarten and the rest of their educational journey. Here’s more about three of the curriculum’s major strategic components: play, Savvas and STEM.
What hasn’t changed in the curriculum is that play is still central to everything they do in pre-K.
“Play is the natural way children learn,” Díaz said. “It sparks that curiosity and also builds the foundation to later build on specific concepts.”
The play is purposefully and strategically incorporated into the curriculum and is designed to foster curiosity and encourage learning. Purposeful play in pre-K is detailed, intentional, engaging, data-driven and differentiated based on the learner.
“A child loves exploring and discovering and will be engaged in anything that is fun where they can play,” said Betania Payan, a pre-K teacher at Goodman Elementary. “Everything is done with the intention of teaching them practical skills they need to grow socially, physically and academically.”
New instructional resource
As part of the new curriculum, Arlington ISD introduced Savvas as its main instructional resource.
“Savvas is a great supplemental resource that has different components to enhance our daily instruction,” said South Davis Elementary pre-K teacher Sandra Regalado.
It includes all kinds of tools that help with every subject, from math and literacy to emotions and assessments.
“Savvas offers books, games, ideas for centers, and it’s easy to follow,” Payan said. “It has chants, themes, vocabulary cards, teacher guides, assessment tools, small group/intervention tools, etc.”
One of those tools is Centergize, which includes resources for more than 20 small group stations that can be incorporated in the classroom.
Centergize uses the power of small groups to spark imaginations and develop a variety of skills.
“Small group instruction is designed to target a specific skill or standard that is either extended from a whole group lesson or introduced as an entirely new lesson,” said Ken Foster, Arlington ISD early childhood learning instructional specialist. “The idea of small groups is to hone the skills required to be learned with trial and error.”
From sand and building blocks to arts and crafts, Centergize stations help provide tons of fun learning opportunities all year long.
STEM in pre-K
Another big change in the pre-K curriculum was the addition of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) for 4-year-olds.
“We are the only district in Texas with STEM in all pre-K 4 classrooms,” Diaz said.
STEM in Arlington ISD’s pre-K is a philosophy about making the lessons relevant to the real-world. It’s about providing hands-on activities that let kids participate in their own learning.
“We are integrating STEM through the whole day of instruction in all subject areas,” Regalado said.
“We incorporate STEM in almost everything we do,” Payan said. “It is about being more intentional in the planning and activities we choose.”
STEM activities involve touching things, experimenting, exploring and seeing how stuff works. They are purposefully designed to spark questions and curiosity. It’s often messy, and it’s always fun that brings learning to life.
“Students enjoy all the different hands-on activities,” Regalado said. “It makes them think and ask questions to go deeper in a subject.”
All the play, all the STEM, all the curriculum planning – it’s all about the student. It’s all about ensuring your child develops the foundation they need to succeed in kindergarten and life. It’s about making sure they have fun, learn, grow, develop and thrive.
If you haven’t signed your child up for pre-K yet, it’s not too late. But don’t wait. Registration is open online and in-person at schools (check the in-person schedule) now. And the first day of school is Aug. 16.
If you have any pre-K questions, please contact the pre-K team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (682) 867-9418.