Blog Archive:

Gamma News

 From the Gamma Classroom…

 December 19th,  2014


  • Have a safe and healthy Winter Break!  See you back at AHB on January 6th, 2015.
  • A huge THANKS to parents for all the sweet gifts from Ms. Amanda and Ms. Dee!  They are much appreciated!!


Gammas continue to share their accomplishments and enthusiasms in Circle!  


Navi sharing some facts and photos about football.


Clark shows his growing skill with guitar.

We continue our bi-monthly yoga classes with Ms. Stacie, who is helping Gammas make the connection between their bodies and their minds.  Gammas have been working on breathing and relaxation postures to help them focus on classroom work and playground excitement.



Yoga in Gamma with Ms. Stacie

We also managed to make “space” (a really bad pun on our theme ~ get it?) for some cultural studies.  We marked the Mexican celebration Día de los Muertos in Gamma with food and typical crafts. We set up an offrenda (offering) that included some of the items that one might find in a remembrance of those family and friends who have died.  Gammas made papel picado (cut paper flags), calacas (decorated sugar skulls), paper cempasuchitl (marigolds) and even made our own horchata (rice water drink)!


Alexander and Clark making horchata…grinding the rice in a molcajete is hard work!


We’ve done some amazing work, giving Gammas a feeling of confidence in understanding multiplication concepts, as well as some techniques for approaching new problems into simpler steps of math skills they have already mastered. The big topic this quarter has been multiplication, as well as reinforcing the addition/subtraction facts and place value concepts we worked on in the first quarter.

In January, we’ll come back to working on multiplication, and begin to reinforce rote memory of basic facts by applying them to two-digit-by-two-digit problems.  We’ve been using a grid method,  which has the added bonus of reinforcing basic addition facts as well as place value concepts. Gammas who already know the more standard algorithm for two-by-two problems will be stepped up to more complex multiplication.  After Winter Break we’ll also begin to reinforce multiplication facts with simple division concepts. Ideally, all of these things together will have students memorizing their times tables: for the second year Gammas, this will be ALL of the basic facts (through 10s), and for the first year Gammas it will be committing the 0s through the 5s facts to memory.



Jolie shows her graphs.

Nate shares graphs in his world.




Jojo‘s graphs.


Nate, Fess and Alexander tracking weather in their cities.

Weather work will continue throughout the Spring semester, culminating in a graphing project at the end of this school year. We’ll also begin to practice all five of the Math Pentathlon games in preparation for the spring MP Tournament.



Literacy has been action packed over the past few weeks and quarter. With our focus in theme being the Solar System, we’ve brought that topic to our work in literacy as well. Gamma students did research and read non-fiction books in order to get more information and write their own brochures. They had to write a rough draft, final draft, illustrate their work and come up with titles for each section of the writing. Hopefully you were able to take one with you at POP or look at a final draft!

One other area of focus during literacy has been writing refection sheets as we look over our work from the past quarters and compile our portfolios. It’s been interesting to have the students go back and think about previous projects in terms of what they’re proud of, what they would change, and skills they needed to use for the finished product.

We have also been reading the book Frindle as a class with each student taking turns to read specific pages. We’ve been working on reading strategies that can help us when we get stuck, recalling details from past chapters, and summarizing events in our literacy notebooks. The Gamma class has really enjoyed reading a book all together and following along with the story as a group.


Kahlil and Fess show their brochures.



Our Solar System unit culminated in POP, with a display of some of the fantastic work that the Gammas have done in recent weeks.  Each Gamma participated in the Solar System Reader’s Theater, a tale of empowerment and teamwork on the part of each of the Solar System family in letting the Sun know that she was “outshining” other smaller but equally important member in her realm.


Navi asks a question about some of the fossils we saw at the museum.

We rode the UT Shuttle down to the university campus to check out the Solar Observatory on top of one of the taller buildings in Austin!  We picnicked outside the Texas Memorial Museum and then visited the small collection of items that have fallen from space into Texas.



Sarah waiting for an answer about the UT rooftop telescope.




Richie and Finn high up on the UT roof.


Richie, Jojo, FessNate and Kahlil show Gamma fish-faces at the Texas Memorial Museum.









Gammas each researched either a personality or a program related to space, and presented it to one another.  Subjects from Skylab to Stephen Hawking sparked questions and conversations! Gammas got to interact with individual pieces by taking notes on what they heard during each presentation.




Kanai shows what he knows about the Challenger mission.


Alexander created a book on Robert Goddard and rocketry.

The Solar System Play!

The Solar System Play!


Ian reads his book on the Apollo missions to the moon.


Finn reads his conversation-provoking PowerPoint presentation about Stephen Hawking.





Ella chose a current event to present.


Planeteers Alexander, Kanai, Kahlil and Richie hard at work with papier maché.


Navi and Sarah painting planets for the Solar System project.





Other Fun


Sarah amazed by Jolie‘s fabulous dislocating finger!


Jolie, Ella and Sarah hanging around.

Getting Medieval in Gamma


Class Manor

Gamma News

October 7th -16th, 2014


Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences happen on the Monday before we return from Fall Break, October 27th, and other times for those not able to attend Monday’s meetings. A schedule will be emailed to parents during the Fall Break.


Gammas work on becoming conscious of their breath to help with focus.



Yoga with Ms. Stacey

Yoga with Ms. Stacey


Ms. Angie answers Gamma questions about Islam.

Ms. Angie answers Gamma questions about Islam.

We also had a guest speaker come in to speak with us about Islam, an important part of our unit on the Middle Ages. Ms. Angie, an Alpha mom, kindly came in  to chat with Gammas about the similarities of this faith to ones Gammas are more familiar with: Christianity and Judaism. Her goal was to help the Gammas see the common roots between these three faiths, and to help the Gammas understand that these religions have more in common than they differ.


Most of our focus in literacy this quarter was connected to our theme on the Middle Ages. We wrote our peep stories, read books about the Middle ages both fiction (Sir Givret the Short) and non-fiction information books that prepared us with the facts we needed to create or class manor. Gamma students also created Halloween Mix and Match books as we discussed the parts of speech (noun, verb, adjectives, adverbs). They’re pretty spooky, read them only if you dare! We also really enjoyed learning many new vocabulary words that were connected to our Middle ages study. We created a glossary of vocabulary words in their Literacy Notebooks and also made a matching game to practice and gain a stronger understanding about specific terms.

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We have finished our introductory unit on basic applied math, and WOW! So much math to use in what we are doing for theme!! Gammas have been practicing column addition (you know, adding a whole bunch of numbers) to find how much each of our Medieval spaces cost to create. We also determined perimeter and area of each space to make sure we have room for everyone’s work in our Medieval Manor. We used this information to place each of the completed spaces using our rulers to make sure it matched the “blueprint” of our manor’s layout. Gammas got LOTS of practice at measuring,  rounding and problem solving.  


Finding the areas of our buildings…we can count each square, do repeated additions or multiply length and width.


If you turn your notebook on it’s side…


…you have built-in columns to do your  Make 10 column addition!


We researched and readied a “taste” for  our Medieval Feast~ YUM!! No one brought in trenchers (the bread that medieval folks used to eat their food from), so we settled for tortillas, instead.  No forks, either~ spoons and finger-foods, only!  Wow~ very different from what Gammas are used to at their own dinner tables.



Lots of medieval foods to sample~

Sarah's exploration for medieval spices in cookery: a scratch-and-sniff poster!

Sarah shows her exploration of medieval spices: a scratch-and-sniff poster to go with her pork pie!

Nate shows/tells/shares his chicken brochettes.

Nate shows and shares his chicken brochettes.





Kanai shows his almond pudding.

Kanai describes his yummy almond pudding recipe.

Gammas toast one another's great cooking!

Gammas toast one another’s great cooking!



Ian and Reece working out what they need for their armory.


Richie and Kahlil hard at work on city walls.


Alexander shows us how it’s done


Clark modeling an anvil for his blacksmith’s shop.

Gammas worked hard at making sure we had everything in place, and that our Manor residents would have everything they might need in their village. We spent lots of time collaborating and cooperating to get ready for our final day “Museum” set up! The finished product was certainly impressive!  Great work, Gammas!

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Check out this tour of our Manor, narrated by Reece:

Other Fun: 


Filed October 29th, 2014.

Welcome to the new Gamma Blog!


Gamma News

September 23- October 2, 2014



We need building supplies!! In the coming weeks, we’ll be building a model medieval village, complete with houses, businesses and a posh manor house for our special guest Peep, Prince Magnus. We’ll be asking Gammas to look around their worlds to see if they might spot anything that is the right scale (Peeps are between 3” and 4” tall) to create furniture, floor or wall coverings or other props for our Theme project. The goal is to find ways to MAKE what we need, not use ready-made objects such as dollhouse or Play Mobile parts, so   Gammas can practice problem-solving and creative skills.

Things that can be used for our Peep buildings:
  • oatmeal boxes
  • yogurt cups and lids
  • scraps of fancy fabric that can be cut up for rugs or tapestries
  • empty matchboxes
  • bottle caps or lids
  • a cup or two of sand for some of our floors
  • small pieces of balsa wood
  • a variety of fimo, clay or modeling wax 
  • bits of nature~ rocks or sticks shaped like things a medieval Peep serf or lordling might use!

A taste of the Middle Ages will happen on Tuesday, October 7th.  Gammas will get an opportunity to eat the way a medieval See the Middle Ages Food Research page in the purple PnP folder! 



The Traveling Easel : it “eases” Gammas into their morning and travels between the two rooms before Circle.

We are settling into our school year, and the Gammas are doing some familiar things: yoga with Ms. Stacey every other Tuesday, singing in rounds, hosting visitors, showing/telling about our interests/enthusiasms/adventures.  We are also doing some NEW things that Ms. Amanda brings to us: a Gamma-made calendar and written appreciations of classmates are the great new routines! We have also added a Morning Question and our Journaling Prompt help Gammas learn how to interpret and summarize graphical information as well as articulate their thoughts and feelings on paper. 

Fess reads his appreciation for a fellow Gamma.

Fess reads his appreciation for a fellow Gamma.

Sue Butler, Clark's mom, shared some information about her recent visit to Britain. She got to see the manor of Lord Carnarvon, the patron of the expedition  that discovered King Tut's tomb.  Gammas learned about this in theme 2012-13.

Sue Butler, Clark’s mom, shared some information with Gammas about her recent visit to Britain. She got to see the manor of Lord Carnarvon, the patron of the expedition that discovered King Tut’s tomb. Gammas 2013-14 learned about Ancient Egypt and this amazing discovery in theme!

The Gamma-made September calendar, which featured two days from each Gamma with an interesting animal on the front, and a corresponding fact on the back!

The Gamma-made September calendar, which featured two days from each Gamma with an interesting animal on the front, and a corresponding fact on the back!

Yoga with Ms. Stacey

Yoga with Ms. Stacey


In literacy last week we worked on learning new vocabulary connected to our Middle Ages Theme study by creating a match up card game the students made and played with one another. We also finished the “Publishing” stage of the Writing Process, as we created rustic looking covers for our Peep Writing and bound our books. The Gammas are also getting very excited about our read aloud story called The Adventures of Sir Givret The Short. We’ve been practicing listening comprehension and  recalling ideas as we read the book in class. Next week we’ll be working on Words Their Way sorts to practice spelling patterns and starting our Book Clubs so students can read with one another in class practicing Reading Strategies and comprehension skills. 


Ms. Amanda helps binding Peep biographies.

Clark, Navi and Kahlil show their "aged" biographies of their medieval Peeps.

Clark, Navi and Kahlil show their “aged” biographies of their medieval Peeps.


These first weeks of AHB have been all about applications of what we already know in Math!  Gammas have reviewed money to calculate building measurements and costs. We have been estimating measurements for linear objects like string and yarn to the nearest inch, for estimating area to the nearest square inch to determine area and costs of fabric, walls, floors, roofing  and for three dimensional objects measured by weight. Once Gammas know how much individual building components cost, we can add up columns of numbers to find the total cost.  Some of the Gammas noticed that the area of a space like a shoebox are related: the area of a floor might be the same as the ceiling~ wow!  What is the simplest way to add these up?  Can you multiply by two!  Very cool!

After this “jump starting” of multiple math concepts (adding, measuring, area, geometry, multiplication, money), we’ll settle into Math Pentathlon during our Math week.

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How to find the area of a Peep cloak…


…now how much does it cost?

We find the area of the walls for the spaces we are creating so we know how much paint we need…


Kahlil painting.

Kahlil painting his Peep’s rogue hideout.

Collaborative painting with Jolie and Ella, who are making the manor's stable.

Collaborative painting with Jolie and Ella, who are making the manor’s stable.



The building of our medieval manor has begun! Our theme has been moving many of the reading, writing and mathematical topics forward this quarter!  The Gammas have been very busy learning about what interests them for the Middle Ages.  Here are a selection of  our manor building and the Be a Historian projects that Gammas presented to the class:

Historian Kanai hanging around showing his facts.

Historian Kanai hanging around showing his facts.

Historian Alexander shows us the parts of a castle he learned by building a scale model himself.

Historian Alexander shows us the parts of a castle he learned by building a scale model himself.

Historian Fess shares the book he has written.

Historian Sarah dressed as a medieval builder for her presentation to Gammas.


Historian Jojo shows and tells Gammas information about Joan of Arc.

Historian Jojo shows and tells Gammas information about Joan of Arc.

Historian Nate tells us something about medieval timekeeping.

Historian Nate tells us something about medieval timekeeping.

Reece letting us know  "Who knew the Middle Ages were so interesting?" during Clark's presentation on armor.

Reece letting us know “Who knew the Middle Ages were so interesting?” during Clark’s presentation on medieval armor.

 Gammas are also discovering the rudiments of ratios in the human face body with our Byzantine Portrait projects and through Peep-making.

Finn and Nate finishing illustrations for their Peep biographies.

Finn and Nate finishing illustrations for their Peep biographies.



Ian makes a Peep.

Ian makes a Peep.

Other Fun:



Jolie hanging around at recess.


Alexander cruising to avoid being tagged out during dodgeball.

Alexander cruising to avoid being tagged out during dodgeball.




Ed, Alexander's dad, shares a saxophone with Finn at the Band Petting Zoo.

Ed, Alexander’s dad, shares a saxophone with Finn at the Band Petting Zoo.

Jojo showing a Beta friend the "who, what, when, where, why" of a book she recently completed.

Jojo showing a Beta friend the “who, what, when, where, why” of a book she recently completed.