Thursday, July 17, 2014

Imagining Career Possibilities

Imagining a career path can be quite hard for some students. Since there are so many different types of professions, starting the process of narrowing down the occupational possibilities can be daunting. Parents and local school districts should work together to expose kids to as many jobs as possible.

This will give students, especially those in high school, more information about the type of work they might like to do when they get to the workforce. The reality of our 21st century economy is that some of today’s jobs will no longer be around in 5 or 10 years, but entirely new jobs will be created.

To help us understand things parents can do to support their kids’ career exploration, take a moment to visit THE PARENT TOOLKIT. This week's featured article is on imagining career possibilities.  Read it today and BOOKMARK the site.

Go there now >>

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Branching Out HIGHLIGHT: FREE Fun Things to Do in and Around Houston

Branching Out is a weekly publication presented by SBISD to encourage students and parents to read this summer.  Each week we'll highlight interesting articles or information here. For more, visit and bookmark the Let's Try Reading blog.


FREE Fun Things to Do in and Around Houston

Houston is the 4th largest city in the United States. It has over 2 million citizens, but that doesn’t count all of us who live just outside of Houston. I know that the adults hate the traffic problems that occur because the city is so large, but there are many benefits to living in Houston. The greatest benefit is that there are wonderful things to do here. Many of those fun things don’t cost any money.

Free Things to Do in the Houston Area:
Discovery Green is located downtown near Minute Maid Park. Check out their web site ( because events change regularly. Through June they will have a children’s writers’ workshop every Saturday. All children are welcome.
JPMorgan Chase Tower Observation Deck is located at 600 Travis in Houston. It is the high-est public observation deck in Houston. The building is 75 stories high, but the observation deck is on the 60th floor. The elevator is so fast that it only takes a minute to reach the 60th floor. Go on a clear day and enjoy the view.
Hermann Park is a wonderful place to spend a day. This is the park’s 100th birthday. They have done a lot to update the park. The lake is lovely. You won’t be able to resist the play area. There are 2 water areas to run through. They have also added some interesting art throughout the park. Bring a lunch and enjoy the day out of doors.
Waugh Street Bridge Bat Colony is just north of Allen Parkway and south of Buffalo Bayou. A colony of about 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats live in the gaps under the bridge. They come out at dusk looking for delicious insects to eat. Be patient because sometimes they are a bit late.
Art Car Museum is not your typical museum. It is at 140 Heights Boulevard. You will have to see this one. It is wonderful. You won’t believe the art that can be created using an automobile.
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is right beside Memorial Park. While it is very close to downtown, you won’t know it during your visit. There are miles of trails to hike, interactive exhib-its that allow you to touch the things that interest you. It also has a garden built to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. If you like nature, try this one.
Port of Houston has a free 90 minute boat tour of the port. You can tour the channel coming up close to the enormous freighters that come into our ports. A guide will share information throughout the tour. The tour is free, but you must make a reservation.
Free Thursday happens at many of our art museums. Check with the museum that interests you for their free days.
Public Library is always free. Many of them have special activities for the summer. It is a great place to cool off, sit in a quiet spot and read.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Find the Zone, Branching Out & A New Blog

We encourage you to FIND THE ZONE.

Spring Branch ISD (SBISD) believes that literacy is critical for students to be successful in their learning and in life. Because of this belief SBISD has developed a new initiative called Find the Zone.  The initiative's goal is to empower all partners in student success (parents, educators, community members and students) to find their 'zone of excellence'.

From new professional development opportunities for staff,  to the development of new resources and tools for parents and students that align with instruction, Find the Zone's goal is ensure all our students are encouraged to read, inspired to learn and engaged in achieving more than they think possible. We believe everyone has a role to play in supporting the student educational experience and we invite you to be an active participant!

We're Branching Out

This summer SBISD is launching two publications for parents as part of SBISD's In the Zone initiative. The first is Branching Out. Branching Out is a weekly newsletter for parents and students designed to encourage summer reading. The second is a blog called Let's Try Reading.

The purpose of Branching Out is to provide resources to parent so they can keep their elementary students reading during the summer. We'll be posting materials, including these newsletters, to the Parent Toolkit all summer long. We encourage you to bookmark and visit this site, as well as the Let's Try Reading blog, for tips and ideas that will keep your student reading all summer long.
Links & Downloads: 

Highlight from this edition - The Flat Stanley Project

Take a look inside this month's Branching Out and you'll find a wealth of activities to kick off this summer. One in particular may be of's the Flat Stanley Project. Read about it and then join the fun all summer long!    

Visit the Let's Try Reading Blog:

Below is a link to the Let's Try Reading blog that's published in conjunction with the Branching Out summer series. Visit  and bookmark this new blog!  We will spotlight postings found there as the summer unfolds. For more information about summer reading, visit the Let's Try Reading - Good Readers Read Blog.                                                                                                                     

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What does it mean when I hear educators talking about LITERACY?

Literacy is a complex concept and there are some key misunderstandings about what, exactly, literacy is.

LITERACY = Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking

Building student literacy is a complex process that starts with children’s language and literacy experiences from their earliest months and continues throughout their early years as the effects of knowledge acquisition and skill development build.  Our goal is to provide parents with resources and tools that will assist them in helping their child excel on this journey.  Over the coming months we'll be sharing links and resources on this blog.  We believe parents play a critical role in their child's educational success.  We encourage you to bookmark this blog and visit often.

It's about more than just reading the words!
For many, the confusion about literacy arises when we're talking about the skills and knowledge surrounding literacy.

The SKILLS are essentially the foundation, while the KNOWLEDGE is the application of that SKILL.

For example, a literacy skill would be recognizing words, spelling, or knowing the alphabet.  Where literacy KNOWLEDGE is understanding a concept, expressing complex ideas or vocabulary.  When you combine SKILLS and KNOWLEDGE you are talking about a complete set of competencies that make up the developmental process and the whole when talking about LITERACY.

While skills-based competencies are usually master early, knowledge-based competencies must be supported during the entire educational experience.  For many children knowledge‐based competencies  are more likely to be key sources of academic difficulties.  In a knowledge-based, global economy, knowing how to read well  and then apply what you've learned is more important than ever.

Literacy is  JOURNEY not a DESTINATION
Children need environments that support reading skills, background knowledge and active discovery. Neither skills (such as alphabet knowledge, word reading and print awareness), nor knowledge (such as understanding concepts, oral language development and vocabulary growth) are enough by themselves.

Connected, engaged parents are crucial to children’s success. Even parents without strong reading skills can make important contributions to their children’s cognitive development and later reading success through conversation and joint engagement in learning via traditional and digital media.  None of the information posted here is to be considered a substitute for instruction.  Links and resources are strictly offered as resources and supplemental information.

Got a newspaper? You’ve got learning!

Most families have access to a newspaper. Either one arrives on your doorstep or a local community paper is available for free at the coffee shop or grocery store. Even just a few pages from the newspaper can be turned into lots of early learning activities. Grab your young child and a pair of scissors, and let’s get learning with a newspaper!


Letters and Words
Have your child cut out the letters needed to spell his first and last name. Have him glue these onto a piece of paper.

Ask your child to find capital and lower case pairs of letters. Glue the pairs onto a piece of paper.
Ask your child to find and cut out all the words in headlines that she can read. Paste them on a piece of paper and practice reading them together.

Cut out a few pictures from the paper. Ask your child to write a caption for each one. Compare their caption with the paper’s caption. Talk about ways captions help readers understand one small piece of the story.

Turn a recent family event into a newspaper story. Try to write a headline, the story, include a picture or drawing, and add a caption.

Ask your child to circle all the ads they can find in the paper. Discuss what makes a good advertisement and what does not. Discover what types of words and punctuation are often used in ads, and how those are tools writers use to capture a reader’s attention. See if your child can create an ad for their favorite game or TV show.

Understanding the News 
Help your child understand the structure of the newspaper. Browse through the different sections of the newspaper. Sort news stories into international, national, and local. Point out other sections such as sports, food and entertainment.

Talk about the difference between fact and opinion. Then, read one of the articles from the newspaper. Are there facts in the story? Are there any opinions? How can we tell the difference? What sorts of words are used for each? Within which section are opinion stories usually found?

Choose an interesting and age-appropriate story from the newspaper. Read the story with your child. After reading, ask your child if she can answer the “who, what, where, when, and why” questions about the story.

Learn more at:

Understanding Children Who Are Dual Language Learners (DLLs)

One third of the children enrolled in Early Head Start and Head Start are Dual Language Learners (DLLs). They are a diverse group who have different languages, experiences, strengths, and gifts. Recent research points out the

Similarities among ALL young children – those who are leaning one or several languages (e.g., children are born with natural capabilities for language and for learning);

Differences between children growing up with one language (monolinguals) and children who are DLLs (e.g., children may learn some ideas such as counting, in one of their languages but not the other); and

Diversity among children who are DLLs (e.g., individual differences of temperament, interests, etc.).

EHS/HS programs can best support the school readiness for Dual Language Learners when they understand each child’s unique characteristics and needs.

Read more:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

FAFSA Day 2014

We're excited to invite families in Spring Branch to participate in Houston's FAFSA Day 2014.

Houston FAFSA Día - 20 de febrero 2014
The goal of FAFSA Day is to increase the FAFSA/TASFA completion rate in the city of Houston.  Houston is the 4th largest city in the country and yet it has a very low financial aid completion rate among students.  Research shows that if students complete the FAFSA they are 90% more likely to attend college.  We hope you will join us at one of the FAFSA Day Trusted Centers to learn, prepare and apply for student financial aid.

Los estudiantes que completen la Solicitud Gratuita de Ayuda Federal para Estudiantes (FAFSA) es un paso clave en la educación continua después de la secundaria. La ayuda está disponible!​

I'm not sure what FAFSA and TASFA are? 
FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  TASFA is the  Texas Application for Financial Aid for undocumented students.

What can I do today to prepare for FAFSA Day 2014?

What type of assistance will I receive if I go to an official FAFSA Day Trusted Center on Feb. 20

From answering questions about the FAFSA and TASFA to assisting you and your student apply, individuals will be on-hand at trusted Centers to assist you with your FAFSA and TAFSA.  The new application for the FASFA is available online now(View schedules and locations at:

What should I bring with me when I go to the FAFSA Center?
Qué llevar al llenar la FAFSA / TASFA

  • Social Security Number
    (Número de Seguro Social)
  • Driver’s License (If You Have One)
    (Número de licencia de conducir)
  • 2013 W-2 Forms (Records of Money Earned)
    (Más recientes W-2 o de fin de año de pago talón)
  • You and Your Spouse’s, or Your Parents’ 2013 Federal Income Tax Return (IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040 EZ, Foreign Tax Return)
    (Más reciente declaración de impuestos federales)
  • 2013 Untaxed Income Records (Veteran’s Benefits, Child Support Received, Worker’s Compensation)
    (Registros de ingresos no tributables)
  • Current Bank Statements
    (Extracto de cuenta (s))
  • Current Business & Investment Mortgage Information, Business & Farm Records, Stock, Bond, and other Investment Records
    (Registros comerciales y de inversión)
  • Alien Registration or Permanent Resident Card if Not a US Citizen
    (Tarjeta de Registro de Extranjero (si no es un ciudadano de los EE.UU.))
  • If you were born before Jan. 1, 1992 you do not need to bring parental information.
    Los estudiantes que nacieron antes de 01 de enero 1992 no tienen que llevar la información de los padres.
When applying for the FAFSA, make sure you are on the official government website. 
There is no charge to apply for the FAFSA.
( )

Things to remember:

  • Merit-based scholarships often require a complete FAFSA.
  • Check for verification status to be sure you're finished and your application was submitted.
  • Compare award letters to get the best deal.
  • Mark your calendar to do the FAFSA again next year!