Blog Archive:

What’s New With the Beta Crew? December 16th-18th Edition


The Beta Museum was an Absolute Smash!

We are so incredibly proud of our Beta students!  The Beta Museum was an absolute success, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Beta class community.  We could not have been more pleased with the way the Betas demonstrated their knowledge as docents of the museum.  It was very apparent that the students took great pride in their work, and their excitement to share was contagious!  We LOVED all of the feedback from our fantastic Beta families, as well as from AHB staff and other AHB students.

What did you think about the Beta Museum?  What can we improve on?  

Let us know so that we can make the next museum even more outstanding! 

Please enter your feedback HERE on our Museum Improvement Plan.

Check out some of the photos from our special day! ↓

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Viewing Alpha PoP

We loved having the opportunity to watch the Alphas perform.  It is a super sweet experience to witness the accomplishments of the other AHB students.  We loved their sweet song and especially enjoyed their rendition of “Double, Double!”  Way to go, Alphas!

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Viewing Gamma PoP

The Beta class was invited to the Gamma class’ Readers Theater presentation, and to view their amazing portfolios.  The Readers Theater revolved around the Gammas’ recent study of planets and space.

Here is an article on what Readers Theater is and why it is used in the classroom.

We were thrilled to see what the Gamma class has been working on this semester.  Keep up the hard work, Gammas!

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Viewing Delta PoP

The Delta PoP presentation was awesome!  We enjoyed the puppet show immensely!  What a clever and entertaining way to show what you have learned!  We loved being members of the audience, and even took a moment to express our delight by taking a selfie!

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“If you look at projects of a particular child over a long period of time — such as through grades K-8, which is what I do every summer — one of the things you find out is that you get a very strong sense of who the child is, what they’re interested in, and actually what their process of learning is,” explains teacher Beverly Hoeltke.


Read more from this article about the use of portfolios in meaningful ways here!



Now Showing Night at the Museum

The Beta crew ended our fantastic semester together, and to celebrate we watched the funny film Night at the Museum!  The students really enjoyed the showing, and we all kicked back and laughed together.  Not only did we have a Beta movie theater experience, but we all wore our pajamas to school as well.  It was a laid back kind of day, and we truly enjoyed spending our final day celebrating the Beta crew.



Who Could Forget Our Beta of the Week?

We love celebrating a special Beta each week!  This student is sharing a few photographs with the class.  Can you believe we only have one more Beta of the Week left?



Muchos Gracias


Ms Kelly says TA-DA!  Thank you all so very much for your contributions to our classroom community and our school as a whole.  We feel so lucky to be able to spend our school days with our beloved Betas.  Thank you for the kind holiday gifts, hugs, and warm wishes.  We hope you all know how wonderful we think you are!

Have a fantastic and magical Winter Break!

♥Love from Courtney and Kelly

Filed December 21st, 2014.

What’s New With the Beta Crew? December 9th-11th Edition

Tying Up Loose Ends

Our first-ever Beta Museum is just around the corner, and we were very busy this week prepping the last bits of our projects!  We cannot wait to see all of our family and friends at the Museum Tuesday December 16th at 10:00!  Arrive ready to learn about our first semester’s journey!


 Beta Storytellers

Inspired by the Native American art of story telling, our Beta friends learned tribal stories to share with the classroom community.  The students retold stories they had learned, and shared a visual inspired by the story.  The students did a tremendous job engaging their audience in the terrific tales they told.  One of our goals as educators was to attempt to move away from the generalization of Native Americans, and begin looking at the traditions of specific tribes that lived in the plains region of the United States.  Many of our classroom projects were inspired by the Osage tribe, and we throughly enjoyed hearing stories from a variety of other plains tribes.

PBS has a wonderful site dedicated to Native American storytelling.  Check it out here.

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We are so proud of all of our storytellers!  We are also practicing the act of asking meaningful questions when a presenter is finished, and we were really impressed with the Beta’s ability to ask each other wonderful questions about their stories and/or visuals!


Curators of the Beta Museum

As the Betas prepare for their big day, they have been completing anything that may have been missed.  We also worked on creating a sign for our museum.  All of their hard work is going to pay off on Tuesday!

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One of our projects this semester has been an ABC book all about Westward Expansion.  Each letter in the alphabet is connected to a vocabulary word or term that we have talked about in our study.  Be sure to check out the ABCs of Westward Expansion exhibit at the Beta Museum on Tuesday to see what the clever Betas have come up with!

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The students have been working hard all semester long, and we stopped to take the time to reflect on our learning this week.  Each student selected a piece in Math and Literacy to reflect upon.  It is important for our community to reflect on what we are doing, why, and how we are doing it.  The students really enjoying looking through all of their work and choosing a piece that they are proud of.

“In his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the Brazilian educator Paolo Freirere enforces the idea that reflection

is an essential part of learning and of becoming an agent of change in the world:

“Within the word we find two dimensions, reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is

sacrificed — even in part — the other immediately suffers . . “

Read more from the above article here.

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Thinking and reflecting about what we have learned, what we are proud of, and what we can continue to work to improve upon.  So proud of our Betas!


Making Mathematical Magic

We learned the last few word problem strategies in math this week!  The Beta students have really enjoyed learning new ways to attack word problems, and of course they always enjoy adding a little pizzazz to their math journal pages!  The kiddos also worked on their Middle of Year assessments (known in the educational word as MOYs) this week.  It was super cool to see how far the students have come, and to know where we can support each one of them as we move forward.

Looking for another way to work on math?  Has your child tried Khan Academy?  If you are interested, follow the link and let us know what you think!

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Math magicians hard at work!  Check out a few of our new strategies!


We Are All Readers and Writers

This week may have been full of museum preparations, but our Beta readers and writers made sure that they still spent time practicing their skills.  If there was any chance for free time, you could often find a Beta cozied up with a good book or hard at work on their writing!

Writer’s Workshop was filled with the sounds of pencils and erasers, ideas being shared, and a general sense of excitement.  The Betas are truly exploring the world of a writer, and the stories they are coming up with are awesome.  Many students have stories that are still in progress, while others are working on editing their work.

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Betas are rock star readers!  It thrills us to see their love for reading blossom, grow, and reach new heights!

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We had the pleasure of Ms.Stacie visiting us this week to work with us on some yoga skills.  We LOVED the “buffalo” pose, inspired by our westward expansion study!

And who couldn’t love “lion breath!”

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Why Yoga and Kids go Together, a short article on the benefits of practicing yoga with children.  To read it, click here!


Founder’s Day

We were all so excited to have Georgie, the founder of our amazing AHB, visit the school on Wednesday for Founder’s Day!  In her honor, we wore crazy socks to celebrate her love for wild and wacky footwear.

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Sock circles, life-threatening shark socks (oh my!), and a lovely group photo with Ms.Georgie!



If there is one thing we hear about pretty much everyday in the Beta classroom, it would be the math cubes!  Throughout the semester many of the Beta students have spent any free time they may have building a variety of creations with the cubes.  Below are a few examples of what came to life this week.

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Check out the buffalo with rider on the left, and a dog on a horse on the right!


Beta of the Week

We had a great time celebrating our Beta of the week!  We can’t believe it, but we are almost through the entire class!



Next Week…

With our Museum making its debut on Tuesday, we thought we would schedule a few fun days for the remainder of our week together. Here is a basic outline of our upcoming week:

Tuesday: Beta Museum at 10:00!  

We would love to have snacks available to the students on their special day.

Please bring a snack to share, keeping in mind that we have gluten free and tree nut allergies within our classroom community.  We will send an email with more info!


Wednesday:  Bring a Toy and/or Game Day!

The Betas are welcome to bring in a toy or board game to share with their classmates.  Please no electronics.  We will have Math Pentathlon games available, as well as a variety of other games.


Thursday: Pajama Party!

Wear you pajamas to school and bring your lovey or blanket!  We will kick back with some good books, read aloud a few awesome stories, and maybe watch a short flick.


Dates to Remember

Monday December 15-Thursday December 18: Winter Faire

Tuesday December 16: Beta Museum at 10:00am; Alpha PoP at 1:30pm

Wednesday December 17: Gamma PoP at 1:00pm

Thursday December 18: Delta PoP at 12:30pm; End of Quarter 2

Friday December 19-Sunday January 4: Winter Break

Monday January 5: Classes Resume

Tuesday January 6: Leadership Council

Let us know if you have any questions!  We can’t wait to celebrate the Betas with you on Tuesday!

Filed December 13th, 2014.

What’s New With the Beta Crew?

Hello again!

We are back in the swing of things in the Beta classroom this week!  The students have been hard at work, both creating art and stretching their academic skills.   Check out all of the exciting things we have been up to!


Our Morning

Every morning we hold our morning meetings, including our news and announcements.  As you saw last week, the Beta teachers sure do make a lot of spelling and punctuation errors in their morning message!  The Beta students have become experts at editing our work!

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Not only do we have a morning message to edit, but our News and Announcements helper also shares a little math riddle as well!

Magical Math

The Beta students have been really honing in on their word problem skills this week!  They are learning five different strategies for solving word problems.  A few of the strategies they have learned include drawing a picture and making a list,  .  The Betas spend some independent time each week working on math that is differentiated to meet them where they are.  They work on practicing familiar skills, while also applying new knowledge.

“Designed differentiation is the deliberate act of modifying instruction or an assignment in order to customize the effect to match the particular developmental level and skills of a student or group of students.” -Ben Johnson

Follow the link to read more about differentiated instruction:

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Learning new strategies!

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Differentiated independent practice (and snack!).


Life as a Native American Plains Tribe

As we have delved deeper into the lives of the Native Americans living on the Plains, we have discovered their use of art in many areas of life.  From the symbols and paintings on their tipis, to the art of a handmade clay pot, the Native American tribes used art to express many aspects of life.  The Beta students have been creating their own symbols and stories, expressing them through a variety of projects from pottery to shields.  We have been impressed at the stories they have created behind their works of art!  The Osage tribe held family very high, and it has been very interesting to see that the Beta students often talk about their family through their art.

“Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of the little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.” — Black Elk, Oglala Sioux Holy Man

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We created our very own pinch pots.  Pottery held a variety of uses in tribal life, from ceremonial to carrying water in everyday life.

“Native Americans used pottery to hold water, store grains, and preserve seeds for the next planting season. Also among other examples of Native American pottery were the pots that would sit on open fires for cooking.”

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The Beta tribe then painted their pottery.  They were very intentional in the colors they chose and the way they painted and created their pots.  When you visit the Beta museum on Tuesday the 16th, be sure to read the placards to hear about what they painted and why.

The Betas also created ceremonial shields.  They again came up with their own signs and symbols that said something about their tribal beliefs.  We looked at several pictures of actual Osage shields to gain inspiration:


Then, the Betas took off on their creative journey…

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Lovely Language Arts

The Beta crew is constantly reading and writing!   Reading and following written directions is one of our ongoing goals (and just happens to be a continua goal for some of our students). We also like to spend time with books, reading and responding to literature.  We have been using Patricia Cunningham’s phonics program as well as Words Their Way to practice and improve our word recognition and spelling skills.  Words Their Way provides opportunities to address the many word patterns as well, such as when a word ends in -ck or-k.

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Building our phonics and spelling skills!

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The Betas are becoming word building masters!

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We have been spending some time practicing our handwriting using the Handwriting Without Tears program.  The Betas really enjoy this!

The students have begun to compose responses/reflections to what they have read in class.  They have a long list of sentence starters to help them think about what they have read, and to start a response.

      “Response activities provide students with the opportunities to relate narrative or expository text to their own personal experiences (Martinez & Roser, 1991). Through this personal transaction with the text, students formulate their own meanings and develop their overall abilities to construct meaning (Cullinan, Harwood, & Galda, 1983; Eeds & Wells, 1989). By responding to literature, students see models of writing that they will ultimately incorporate into their own writing (Dressel, 1990).” (source:

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Who could forget one of our favorite times of day…read aloud!

“Read-aloud weaves a rich tapestry of wonder and thoughtful
reflection that gains strength and momentum when built upon a wide range of
subjects and differing text structures.”
— Linda Hoyt, Author of the Interactive Read-Alouds: Linking Standards, Fluency, and
Comprehension series (Heinemann)


Writer’s Workshop

From what we are hearing, our Beta Writer’s Workshop has become a place of joy for our students.  They are all deep in the trenches of the written word, drafting, editing, and working towards their writing goals.  They have so many incredible ideas to share and the workshop has provided them with the space, time, and ability to express and share those ideas.  The students have the freedom to write whatever their heart desires, comic book, pictureless book, series, chapter book…the options are endless!  We start the workshop with a short lesson, and then the writers are sent on their way.  This week we talked about the 6 Plus 1 Traits of writing: Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions, and Presentation.  We will be working on addressing and using these traits in our writing over the course of the year.  Even the youngest of writers is able to use the traits in their writing!

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Coming up with ideas and planning our stories is an important first step!  Once we have our ideas/plans, we are off and writing!


Sometimes you have so many ideas you need to add more lines on the paper!

Read about Differentiation and the Writer’s Workshop here!

Beta of the Week!

Every week we celebrate one of our fabulous Beta students!  Here is a glimpse of what it looks like!

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Dates to Remember

December 10 – Founder’s Day!
December 10 – Board Meeting
December 15 – 28 – Winter Faire!
December 16 – POP:Beta (10am), POP:Alpha (1:15pm)
December 17 – POP:Gamma (1pm)
December 18 – POP:Delta (12:30pm)
December 22Jan 4 – Winter Break

Be watching for more information on Beta PoP!

Have a great weekend!

Filed December 6th, 2014.

What’s New With the Beta Crew?!

Hello Beta-tastic Families!

This week we have continued our journey into the life and culture of the Native American Plains Tribes.  We have been considering question such as:

What was it like to live in a teepee?  What was it like to pack up your home and all of your belongings to follow the buffalo, a major source of food and supplies for the tribes?

We began our journey this week by comparing and contrasting our modern day homes with that of a teepee.While our modern day homes have floors made our of things such as concrete and wood, the floor of a teepee was made of grass and dirt.  Many of the students discovered that there are also likenesses, such as that our modern day homes and the teepees of the tribes both provided shelter to our families.

We created a Venn diagram to share our discoveries in our travel journal.

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We also discussed the importance of the buffalo to the plains tribes.  They would use every bit of the buffalo to make food and supplies, from hooves to hair, the tribes did not let anything go to waste!  We chose some fascinating buffalo uses to include in our travel journals.

Did you know that the tongue was used to make hairbrushes???

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One of the things we learned about the buffalo was that the skin was often used as a canvas for story telling, or the retelling of a hunt or historical event.  In honor of this tradition, we created our own stories using picture symbols on “buffalo skins” (paper bags).

Betas, what does your buffalo skin say?

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We also began playing with the idea of building a teepee (tipi) village.  Some of the beta students started creating models for the village.  Both of these activities include geometry, both in the creation (or imitation) of native symbols, but also in the shape of the teepee itself!

“A tepee (tipi, teepee) is a Plains Indian home. It is made of buffalo hide fastened around very long wooden poles, designed in a cone shape. Tepees were warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Some were quite large. They could hold 30 or 40 people comfortably.”


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Mathematically, we are working on solving multiple step word problems. This week we used the 5 step process to dissect word problems, pulling out the important information such as what operation(s) is required and what information is important?  For other big ideas in math, and an interesting read by one of our favorite math mentors Marilyn Burns, check out this article.

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We continue to provide multiple opportunities and modalities for learning, using rotations through groups and one-on-one instruction in order to meet the students where they are working and provide guidance in meeting their personal goals.  You will often find students working on a variety of skill sets via games and activities throughout our math focus time.


This week we learned a new Math Pentathlon game, Fiar!

 Ask your beta about the “poison” chips!


It probably isn’t a mystery, but the beta teachers LOVE books!  By the sheer size of Ms. Kelly’s book collection, it is quite obvious that she holds a fondness for the written word.  Both teachers love to read aloud to the class, and this time of day is an  important part of our daily routine.  Our read aloud is a time to think, discuss, and reflect about what we are reading, and the beta teachers take every opportunity to make this type of learning possible!  Read this for more on the importance of reading aloud to your child.

building knowledge for their eventual success in
reading is reading aloud to children,” stressed
Becoming a Nation of Readers, a 1985 report by the
Commission on Reading.


Our goal is to build a strong love for reading in our classroom, and we hope that the beta students are spending time curled up with a good book while at home, too!  When students complete activities in class, reading in our comfy classroom library is always a popular go to!

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

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The Writer’s Workshop has become a fan favorite in the beta classroom!  This week we talked about criteria, and how it applies to our writing.  We used the idea of owning a pet as a way of creating criteria to establish a good home.  We then split into groups to create explicit criteria in a variety of categories.  We discussed our ideas as a class and then read Charlie’s Checklist, a story about a puppy who is looking for the perfect owner.  We will be working on creating a checklist of criteria to use as we write during our workshop.

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Maybe you have heard about all of the terrible writing mistakes the beta teachers make in our morning message?  Not enough coffee/tea?  Too early?  Nope!  Our morning message is a great way to practice our fluency skills, and to look at spelling, punctuation, and capitalization!  We work together to fix all of the “mistakes.”  :)


Mark your Calendar!

November 24-28th Thanksgiving Break!

December 2nd Strategic Planning Committee Meeting; Leadership Council

December 3rd All Day Budget and Tuition Q & A

December 4th Community Relations Committee Meeting

December 6th Asher’s Birthday!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Have a safe and wonderful break.  We are so very thankful for all of you!

Filed November 22nd, 2014.