Blog Archive:

What’s New With the Beta Crew?!

This week we have continued on with our journey through the six

Simple Machines!

The wonderful Wheel & Axle, the stupendous Screw, and the wacky Wedge!

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A wheel and axle are two objects joined together at their center.  When one rotates, the other does too.

It’s fun thinking about what life was like in the past.  But can you imagine living before wheels and axles were invented?  We wouldn’t be able to ride a bike, or drive a car to school.  How would we open a door, or turn on the water?


After checking out some examples of real life wheels and axles (like door knobs, rolling pins, etc.) and discussing how they work, and how they make our lives easier, we partnered up to explore and create some wacky vehicles.  When they were complete, we had a challenge– who’s car will go the farthest?  And why do you think it did?  Did the size of the wheel and axle make a difference?? 


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 A screw is an inclined plane wrapped around a shaft.  It allows the screw to move in a circular pattern and pulls one thing toward another.

Screws, clamps, cork screws, light bulbs, drill bits, propellers- the beta’s were on a roll naming many different examples of our next simple machine- the screw! It’s so cool to take a moment and think about all the ways we use, and are dependent on, such a simple concept!


Check out this amazing artist and what he can create with the simple screw.  It’s pretty darned cool.


The Wedge has one or two sloping sides ending in a sharp point.  It is used to lift or split an object.  A wedge either moves an object or stops an object from moving.

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A doorstop is a wedge.  So is an ax.  And a zipper.  We even have wedges on our bodies- Teeth!  Can your foot act as a wedge?  How?


Top 10 Unusual and Thinnest Houses

This is “The Wedge” and is officially the UK’s thinnest home!  And with a thin point at just 6.7ft it really is a tight squeeze, and it is also in the Guinness Book of Records for having the narrowest recorded frontage of any house in the world.

 What did the coat say to the zipper?

If you want to know the answer, ask Ms. Kelly or Ms. Courtney on Tuesday!

Next time you enter the Beta classroom, check out our Simple Machine wall.  It has all sorts of examples of the machines we have learned so far!


Lovely Language Arts

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We practice reading in many ways- manipulating letters to spell common word families, practicing diphthongs, and reading with our book club groups.

What’s a dipthong you ask?

A diphthong is a sound made by combining two vowels, specifically when it starts as one vowel sound and goes to another, like the oy sound in oil. Diphthong comes from the Greek word diphthongos which means “having two sounds.”

And now you know! ;)


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Our class is brimming with excitement while creating and writing about their very own candy making machine, for their very own candy they have invented.

We sure love to see how they can take the concepts of the simple machines and use them in their inventions and writing!

This is only a sneak peek!  Much more to come in the following weeks!!


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We had a special treat this week- The Gammas stopped by to share their wonderful stories with us.  We so enjoy seeing our friends from next door!


Magnificent Math


When is lunch?  What time does morning meeting begin?

Ms. Kelly and Ms. Courtney think it is time to learn a bit more about time!

So over the next two weeks we have telling time boot camp!

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These guys are getting so good, they will be able to answer “What time is lunch?” all on their own!

Think your kiddo needs extra practice with time?  Just ask them what time it is!

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And of course we continue to keep our math brains super engaged and active with our Math Pentathlon games!


Coming Up

January 24th- Skate Fundraiser- 10-noon

January 29th- Spring Parent Night- 6:30-8:30

February 12th- Friendship Day

Filed January 23rd, 2015.

What’s New with the Beta Crew?!

Loco about Levers!

Last week we experimented and learned a great deal about the many types of force.

This week? All about the super amazing workhorse known as the LEVER!

This clever little tool has amazing strength- and we tested it out.

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Did you know that this simple machine is made up of a bar (arm) and a support called a fulcrum?  The Betas do!

They tried many different scenarios- moving the fulcrum closer and farther away from the load- how does that change the effort needed to lift the load??

What did Asher need to do to the fulcrum in order to balance his dinosaurs??

Who would have thought we could incorporate the action of the lever into a super cool art project?

We made our very own Jumping Jacks!

The jumping-jack is a toy whose origins date back thousands of years. The jointed jumping-jack figure is a cross between a puppet and a paper doll. The figures are generally made from wood and their limbs are jointed and tied to a pull string. When the string is pulled and released, the arms and legs move up and down.

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This activity incorporates both the fulcrum and the arm.  And when we apply effort (force) to the string, our load moves!

Next time you are in the hall, we encourage you to give them a try!


Do you think you could balance on a lever?

These brave souls tried our Bongo board!

Be careful boys! :)

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Levers used as Defense

Archimedes put the lever to use defending the ancient Greek city of Syracuse.  He build a catapulta machine that can lift things and send them flying!  In this case it threw massive boulders at the invading Roman forces.  Thanks to Archimedes’ weapons, the city of Syracuse avoided capture for almost a year.

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Ours only shot cotton balls, but boy could we shoot them far!  Watch out Alphas, Gammas and Deltas- we are prepared to defend ourselves if need be! ;)

Can you find the fulcrum on our catapult?  How about the arm?  Load?  Effort?


Got a few extra minutes this week?  Check out this fun little website.  It has simple activities about simple machines.  And it might help your child come up with some ideas for finding levers around the house (hint, hint!)

The kids enjoyed this video on the lever and may like to view it again! It also gives great examples of everyday levers.


Joke: What game needs a rock, paper, and a lever?

Ha!  We aren’t going to tell you the answer here!  Come ask Ms. Kelly & Ms. Courtney on Tuesday!  If you know the answer, whisper it in our ear!

Mad about Math

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These measuring maniacs have it going on.  The can measure in customary, as well as metric units, using a variety of measuring tools.  They can even plot their results on a line plot!  Way to go Beta team!


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We continue with our practice and learning of Math Pentathlon games.

This week we officially started RAMROD.  This game not only involves addition and measurement, but loads and loads of strategy.  Ms. Kelly continually lost to the Betas, but she would like to blame it on the fact that she couldn’t concentrate fully with other Betas needing help!

If you would like to learn more about RAMROD or sign your kiddo up for the tournament in the spring, visit last week’s blog post!

Loony for Language Arts


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Reading and writing are integrated in all parts of our day- from the moment we walk into the room and write about our Beta of the Week, during our morning meeting- correcting all of Ms. Courtney’s and Ms. Kelly’s mistakes on the News and Announcements, in math- reading and writing word problems, to theme- reading about something new, trying it, and reflecting on what we learned.

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Educator is Lucy McCormick Calkins, the visionary founding director of Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (and one of our language arts heroes) states that-

“…children ought to be given a “voice,” encouraged to discover and refine their own personal writing style, as they compose “stories that matter.”

Calkins is a “constructivist,” believing that children should generate their own texts, using material from their own lives. Her belief in self-expression as a key to learning extends to reading: children develop a passion for reading when they are given freedom to choose books that are meaningful to them.

In Beta, we not only want to teach the kids about the writing process, we want them to write in authentic ways- giving them the freedom to create fiction, nonfiction, poems, comics, reflections throughout the day.  This freedom gets them exited to write, so they want to write more!  And we see fantastic things happening here!


 Please Pass the Peace and the Pie

In honor of Civil Rights Week and Martin Luther King Jr.

“We celebrate by sharing stories, recipes, and encouraging conversations that bring us together. Join the peace movement and invite someone to the table.”

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How would you feel if you were judged by the color of your skin?

What about your hair?

What if you had blond hair, and having blonde hair was looked upon as the wrong color? The inferior color?  What if your teachers only gave new glue sticks and the best seats, and positive attention to brunets? What if the blonde children couldn’t use our cozy pillows in the Beta library?  And what if the brunets were told not to interact with those blonde children, even if they were friends?

How does that make you feel?

Ask your kiddo how our experiment made them feel?  Is it ok to exclude someone because they are different from you?


Learn more about the movement here

Coming Up

January 19th- MLK Day- no school

January 22nd- Shipe Park Day

January 24th- Skate FUNdraiser

Filed January 16th, 2015.

What’s New with the Beta Crew?!

January brings not only a new year, but a new theme as well!!


** Simple Machines!! **

We will spend the quarter learning how to think like a scientist!

* Scientists carry out investigations to find how the world works.

* Scientists look for answers, ask questions, design investigations, and think about more questions to test.


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The Beta’s took a survey- I Could be a Scientist!- and sure enough, these guys are ready for some science fun!

When asked- What do you know about simple machines, and how do they make our life better?- we got many answers.


                        They are robots        They need batteries                  It has a motor


Whelp,  we now have our place to start!  And that place is the basics.  Every scientist needs to learn a few basics to help with the bigger questions.  And that is what week one was all about!

Our goal this quarter is for each Beta scientist to create a Rube Goldberg inspired machine, so we wasted no time and got right down to business!!

Check out these Rube Goldberg inspired machines


Day 1- Motion and Velocity


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    How do we know that an object is still or moving?

This is a deceptively difficult question to answer, especially for a kiddo!  Talk about it with your child.  How do you answer this question?

We used a marble and placed it on a starting line, giving it a gentle push.  What happened?  How far did it move? (Ahh, measurement involved.  Funny, we are studying this in math!)

Now try it again and this time find the velocity.

We learned that velocity tells how fast an object is moving.  So we timed our moving marble as well as measuring it’s distance.  Important stuff to know when creating your own simple machine!

Day 2- May the Forces be with you!

The forces of push and pull that is.  And we threw in a little inertia for good measure!


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A force is a push or pull.  A force makes an object move, stop, or change direction.  When something moves, a force makes it move.

After learning what a push/pull force is,we thought we would try it.  We pushed and pulled small things, big things, light things heavy things.  We even partnered up and each pushed on object on opposite sides with the same force to see what would happen and recorded our findings.  


Was it easier to push some things and pull others?


We also answered the question “Why do we need to wear a seat-belt?” by investigating inertia.

Objects tend to keep doing what they are doing unless a force acts on them (Newton’s First Law!)

We took a toy car and placed a washer on top and gave it a gentle push into our travel journals.  

What happened? 

The car stopped, but the washer kept going.


We aren’t going to tell you!  Ask your kiddo!!

Day 3- What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Gravity (& Friction)!


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If we can’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch gravity, how do we know it exists??

Gravity is the force that pulls all objects to the Earth.  

In this investigation the kiddos used their observational skills to learn about the different mass (weight) in objects and their force of gravity that pulls them down.

And then ordered the objects from lightest to heaviest.


Want to learn more about the amazing Isaac Newton? 

Visit this kid friendly website.  It even has a quiz!


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What happens when you rub your hands together?


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We discovered that friction is a force that stops or slows objects in motion.

Rough surfaces have more friction than smooth surfaces.

The greater the friction, the more force needed to move an object.

We tested the theory using a piece of a brick and a spring scale that records in Newtons. (Hey, we’ve heard that name before!)

We pulled the brick on a smooth surface and a rough surface and observed the amount of force it took to  move the object.


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We even discussed and experimented with ways to lessen the friction.  One way to do that when rubbing your hands together is to add a dab of lotion.

Hey!  It worked!  It was much easier to rub our hands together!

It was also easier to pull the brick across the table with dish soap spread around under it.  We measured with our spring scale.  It took fewer Newtons to pull the brick using a lubricant!




Over the next couple of weeks we will continue our investigations of simple machines before we set the kids free to not only work as scientists work, but as inventors as well, as they create new inventions with projects in the classroom as well as at home!


Betas and the Candy Factory!


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Our read aloud this quarter is a favorite- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! by Roald Dahl

What a fantastic book to get our scientists thinking about simple machines.  AND to turn on those amazing imaginations and combine science, reading and writing by creating their own candy factory!

This week the kids warmed up their candy writing skills by writing about their favorite candy.

What does it look like?           How does it taste?                 What does it feel like?

This warm up will get them ready to invent, and write about, a new candy of their own creation.  Sounds delicious doesn’t it!!


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And of course our language arts block, wouldn’t be complete without our favorite activities- Words Their Way, building words with our phonics center, writing and sharing our stories during Writing Workshop, and our newest addition- The Fabulous Five.

The Fabulous Five- Each kiddo chooses 5 words per week that they feel are important to learn to spell correctly.  We practice these words throughout the week in many different ways.  One of the favorites- playdoh writing!

Want to read more about why Writing Workshop is so awesome?

Check out this short slideshow.

Measuring Maniacs in Math

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The Betas are crazy about measuring- learning both customary and metric- using different tools.  What’s right for the job?  They can let you know!

This practice will directly relate to skills needed in creating their machines this quarter, so measure away!

Challenge: Measure 10 things in your house using both inches and centimeters, feet and meters. It’s fun!


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Exploring RAMROD

“The game of Ramrod combines the ability to know all facts for each number family with strategic thinking.  In this game students must plan ahead to construct “RAMROD”
(addend) combinations of two rods that complete a rectangular (sum) box length in the playing area of the gameboard.
Such (addend) combinations result in captures that relate to the game goal of being the first to complete their 24 cm
rectangular region of the gameboard. The ability to associate each of the colored rods with their corresponding number
value facilitates students’ skill to mentally compute all of the facts for each number family represented on the gameboard.”

Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?  Not to this group!

These games stimulate creative thinking while developing problem-solving skills. A focus on conceptual understanding and the integration of spatial, computational and logical reasoning are key attributes of Mathematics Pentathlon.

And that’s why we love it!

Before we officially play a new game, we take some time to investigate and create with the pieces.  A “getting to know you” moment before jumping in to the real deal.  For this game it is imperative the kiddos understand  that each rod and color represent a different size.  And you can create a certain length using many different rods in many different combinations.

And this group picked it up speedy-quick!

We can never get enough of Math Pentathlon!

If your kiddo would like to sign up for the Math Pentathlon Tournament on April 18th Sign up here:

Coming Up:

January 12th-15th- Civil Rights Week

January 14th- Board Meeting 7:00

January 19th- Martin Luther King Day- No School

January 22nd- Shipe Park Day

January 24th- Skate Party 10:00-12:00

Filed January 10th, 2015.

What’s New with the Beta Crew?!


Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the love you showed the Beta teachers on Wednesday!  It felt so wonderful to be treated to a delicious meal, and showered with cards and hand crafted flowers from the kiddos!  We felt very special!




This week we have begun our focus on the the Native Americans- more specifically the Plains Indians because these tribes are the ones the pioneers would have encountered on their travels along the Oregon Trail.

We began by locating the tribes on the map and labeling a few. 

Do you remember where the Plains tribes were found??

Somewhere in the United States, right?  Were they located in the East?  The West?  In the Central US?  What do you think?  Look at Noah’s map if you need a clue!

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We have also done a bit of reading and learned some interesting facts about these tribes and jotted them down in our Travel Journals.

Did you know these Indians were nomads??  Do you remember what this means??

And they hunted a certain kind of animal.  Do you remember which one?  What parts did they use?

Why did they live in Teepees?  


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 We began a new project this week as well- we are researching, sketching, and creating our own Osage Blankets! These blankets would often be used in special ceremonies.

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And just like the Osage, the Betas came up with very thoughtful designs with lovely meanings, and paid close attention to detail.


We can’t wait to show off all the hard work at our Museum!!

Coming Up!

November 15th- Austin Home Brew Festival!

November 20th- Shipe Park Day

November 24th-28th- Thanksgiving Break

November 25th- Ms. Kelly’s Birthday

December 3rd- All day Budget/Tuition Q&A with Scott- come anytime throughout the day

December 6th- Asher’s Birthday!!

Filed November 14th, 2014.

What’s New with the Beta Crew!

Morning Meeting- A powerful way to begin the day.

It is good for students to be noticed, to be seen by their teacher. But it is only a start, not enough by itself.

They must notice and be noticed by each other as well. The sense of group belonging and the skills of attention, listening, expression, and cooperative interaction developed in Morning Meeting are a foundation for every lesson, every transition time, every lining-up, every upset and conflict, all day and all year long.

It is a microcosm of the way we hope AHB is for our kiddos—communities full of learning, safe and respectful and challenging for all.


One of our activities this week was called “Don’t Make Me Laugh!” Here Kellen’s job was to make Asher laugh using funny facial expressions and gestures.


Yoga is a part of our morning meetings every other Wednesday.  Ms. Stacie teaches us very useful techniques to calm our bodies and get them ready for focusing and learning.


We continue to spotlight one Beta each week, and we hope this makes them feel extra special. And it sure is fun to learn more about each of our kiddos!


During math we press on with our focus on fluency by playing games, creating math journal entries on an open ended problem, and working in our Math Mammoth packets.  Using many different methods to reach the same goal, we hope to lead each kiddo- in at least one of these ways- on the road to math fluency!

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 And of course we continue with our estimating jar where we are now having the kids take control over the sorting and counting.

We are also focusing on some new activities- like 4 Chip Line- to prep us for our next Math Pentathlon game titled FIAR- a deceptively simple game! Bwahahaha!

 Language Arts

Remember how we were taught to spell when we were students? Many of us were simply handed a list of words and told to write each word five times. We then had our Friday spelling test, after which we may have forgotten those very words.

Remember how we were taught to decipher new words we encountered when reading? I can still hear my teachers saying, “Just sound it out!”

Of course, we were also taught some reading and spelling rules such as, “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking.” But did you know that this rule, like many others that we were taught, holds true less than fifty percent of the time? (Clymer, 1996) Not only do these precepts lack reliability, but the teaching of rules is not really the best way to help our students learn. We learn best by active involvement and practice with the task at hand, which allow us to see word and letter patterns for ourselves. Research suggests that the brain is a pattern detector, rather than an applier of rules (Cunningham 2004). If our brains are indeed “pattern detectors,” then we should provide our students with plenty of opportunity to investigate and organize those patterns using word study activities.

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Word study activities call for active problem solving. Students are encouraged to look for spelling patterns, form hypotheses, predict outcomes, and test them. These activities require students to continually ask themselves, “What do I know about this new word, and how is it similar to words that I already know?”

And they have fun doing it!!


Our pioneers have made it across the country and they are ready to settle!

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We have been mixing, measuring and building three different houses- adobe, sod and log house– just like the ones the settlers created way back when.

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But we aren’t going to show you the final product until our museum is open for viewing! Sorry! ;)



Can you guess who this Beta is?  It’s hard to tell with these super sweet cube glasses in that super sweet face of his! ;)

 Coming Up:

November 8th- Ms. Courtney’s birthday- Thank you for all the wonderful love you all gave her on Thursday!

November 8th- 23rd Annual Austin Powwow & American Heritage Festival

November 11th- No School

November 12th- Board Meeting 7:00

November 15th- Austin Home Brew Festival!! 6:00 Be there or be square!



Filed November 7th, 2014.

What’s New with the Beta Crew!

We started off our week in a very special way–  Part of the Delta class payed us a visit for the day!!!

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They joined us for our morning meeting, and read with us…



… and jumped in to help us with our math!  Thank you Max, Kian, Lukus, Theo, Ben, Connor and Kien!  It was nice to have the extra helping hands!  Deltas Rock!!


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We also spent the beginning of the week thinking about and choosing our new goals we will focus on over the next little while.

“A growing body of research indicates that when students are working on goals they themselves have set, they are more motivated and efficient, and they achieve more than they do when working on goals that have been set by the teacher”- According to Hom and Murphy (1983)

We (both parents and teachers) as educators can nurture student self-direction and personal efficacy by providing students with opportunities to exercise some control over their own learning.


“An emphasis on student self-direction and efficacy means that we teach and engage students in specific strategies that offer them opportunities to make decisions and solve problems on their own without being told what to do at all times. It means we provide them with strategies designed to help them process information effectively and to be self-confident, believing that they have the abilities to succeed. And perhaps most important, we help students become more reflective about their thinking and learning processes.”


“When we help students develop an awareness about their own thinking and learning processes, we are helping them think about the effectiveness of the strategies they use in reaching the goals they have set. Essentially, they are “thinking about thinking,” a process known as metacognition. In general, use of a long-term metacognitive strategy of planning what is to be done, monitoring our progress, and evaluating the results is an effective way of helping students take more control of their own thought and feeling processes” (Barell, 1985).

 And THAT is a great thing!


Come check out the goal wall! This will help remind us what we are striving for. And don’t worry, a copy will be coming home to you too, so these goals can be worked on at home as well!


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 In math, many kiddos chose to work on  facts fluency as their goal.  Whether it’s addition, subtraction, multiplication or division they chose to work on, the kiddos had loads of practice this week.  Using dominoes to make addition problems, to showing all the different ways to make 18…


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… to figuring out which bears were needed to balance the number 8 on both sides, to counting up and adding all the different attributes on your move in Par 55.  (Check out last week’s post about Math Pentathlon if you missed it!)

We love to practice our math facts!!!! 



In language arts we did a really cool activity that helped the kiddos make process learning more concrete.

When young students get an insider’s view of the writing process, they realize that we don’t just “write to write.”  We write to think.  And as writing tasks get harder over the years, this understanding helps them stick with it until it is right!

In this lesson, the kiddos create colorful modeling clay sculptures to experience first hand what it means to follow a process.

“Create something.” was what they were told.  And we would not give them any more information, keeping it very open-ended.


At first the kids were stumped.  “ANYTHING???”  Ms. Courtney only wrote down their questions so we could talk about them later, but we would not answer them.  After a bit, the kids let go and gave it a try.


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They began to create.

Each child’s piece very different from the next.



They were asked to add something, remove something, make it different somehow, while all along not getting the answers from the teachers- just thinking about it for themselves.  (Like in the writing process- get it?!  We don’t just write something down and call it done!  We think, revise, edit, change.)


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When the masterpieces were complete, we visited each one and wrote a specific question or comment on each.

Each kiddo then reflected on their creative process, and the feedback given- just like in the writing process.

What a great activity to get us ready for writing workshop time!

What’s Coming Up

October 31st- Emil’s Birthday!!!

November 2nd- Daylight savings time ends :(

November 8th- Ms. Courtney’s Birthday!!!

November 11th- NO SCHOOL

November 12th- Board Meeting




Filed October 31st, 2014.

What’s New with the Beta Crew!

In Beta, we have a particular and deliberate way to begin the school day.

In our morning meeting, all classroom members- grown-ups and students- gather in a circle, greet each other, and listen and respond to each other’s news.  We take note of who is present, who is smiling and happy to be here, who is having a hard time smiling.  We practice academic skills, grapple with problems that are challenging our minds, and look forward to learning together.


Morning Meeting allows us to begin each day as a community of caring and respectful learners.


The components of Morning Meeting intentionally provide opportunities for kiddos to practice the skills of greeting one another, listening and responding, group problem-solving, and noticing and anticipating.  This daily practice gradually weaves a web that binds our class together!


Cool stuff, right!



We do many different group activities during our Morning Meeting. These are often short and inclusive, and reinforce learning and building class cohesion through active participation.


And one of this week’s activities was yoga with Kellen’s mom, Stacie. Ms. Stacie always knows how to get us moving and focused for the day!


Our Morning Message gives our kiddos lots of practice with academic skills and warms them up for the day ahead by reading (and fixing!) and discussing a daily note to the class by Ms. Courtney and Ms. Kelly.


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Over the last couple of weeks, we have been playing many Math Pentathlon activities to get us warmed up for our new game-

Par 55! 

For those of you unfamiliar with Math Pentathlon- read below!

“The Mathematics Pentathlon is a program of interactive problem-solving games, supportive curricular and instructional activities, and assessment tools for students in grades K-7. This motivational program strengthens basic math concepts and skills, aligns with National and State Mathematics Standards, and stimulates creative thinking while developing problem-solving skills. A focus on conceptual understanding and the integration of spatial, computational and logical reasoning are key attributes of Mathematics Pentathlon. By using specially designed games and activities that differentiate instruction, ALL students of varying abilities and learning styles are motivated to enjoy math and spend more time learning this subject matter. These factors are critical in improving students’ performance in math.”

And here are some of the AWESOME benefits of the program!

  • Differentiates Instruction
    uses specially-designed board games to motivate ALL students of varying abilities and learning styles to enjoy and spend more time learning math
  • Develops Active Problem Solving
    the ability to resolve problems that are continually undergoing change
  • Integrates 3 Types of Mathematical Reasoning
    spatial, computational, and logical
  • Stimulates “Right Brain” Thought
    creative thinking, spatial visualization and reasoning
  • Utilizes Mathematics Manipulative’s
    models to develop conceptual understanding

And do check out this link on Active Problem Solving!

Here, the kiddos are getting familiar with the pieces involved in Par 55.

Beta kiddos!  Tell your family about what you remember about these pieces you see below.  Do you remember the 4 attributes??? 

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This group is working hard creating an attribute train- where each piece must be one, and only one attribute different from the one before. This crew has it going on!!

And after all of our practice, we jumped into our first round of Par 55! It was exciting seeing the kiddos using their active problem solving skills in action.

Betas- Tell your family what is going on in these pictures.  What are Ella and Asher doing?

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Math Pentathlon isn’t the only math we have been doing this week!

We counted Sullivan’s Estimating Jar full of yummy peanuts! There were 291!

Betas- How many hundreds, tens and ones are in 291?  What is ten more?  10 less?  What two numbers could you add/subtract to get 291?  How many different ways can you show 291?

After all that counting…

We snacked!  MMMmath!

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We were so lucky to have Sullivan’s mom and grandparents come in and teach us all about music during the pioneer times.  We learned so much about life on the Oregon Trail, and ways families stayed positive, and had some fun, during those grueling months.

Often there was little room on the wagon for anything but necessities, so people got creative!  Using things you normally needed in your everyday life can be turned into something new and exciting if you use your imagination!

We used spoons, pots and even Ma’s wash board to create some interesting beats!


Did you know that many of the songs back then were really quite silly?  And did you know “doodle” meant “silly” back in the 1800’s?  We are going to bring that word back! ;)

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We danced!  Look at those square dancers move!


We sang!  Do you remember the silly song about all the clothes made of food?!

We listened to different instruments and guessed what they were and we even got to try out a real fiddle!

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Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!! To Sullivan’s family for ending our quarter with our first ever Beta Jamboree!  We are truly humbled by your generosity in helping us end our first 6 weeks on such a high note! -Pun intended ;)


Thursday was a whirlwind of awesomeness!

First the Jamboree, then

Around the World!

We celebrated some amazing young people from East Africa by enjoying an East African feast, followed by some lovely conversations with our visitors.



The kiddos asked many interesting questions- What’s the temperature there? Do people have pets? What do you eat?  Do you have candy? What kind of wild animals are around? What was your school/home like?  How do you say “hi” in your language? etc.  Our speakers were open, honest, and so very sweet.

They talked a great deal about how they were raised to respect and love all in their communities, and the importance of families.  Now doesn’t that just warm your heart. :)

After filling our tummies with great food, and filling our minds with new and interesting things, it was time to move our bodies!

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And man, could our guests move!!!!!

What an absolute delight to watch and be a part of!

Thanks y’all for another wonderful, spectacular week!

Enjoy your Fall Break and see you in a week!


K & C


Coming up:

Oct. 20-24- Fall Break!!!

Oct. 27- Conferences

Oct. 31- Emil’s Birthday & Halloween!

Nov. 8- Ms. Courtney’s Birthday!!

Nov. 15- Austin Home Brew Festival!

Filed October 17th, 2014.

What’s New with the Beta Crew

This week the focus in Beta was all about

Westward Expansion!

-Home projects, school projects and one awesome field trip to end the week!  We have been hard at work generating many wonderful pieces for our own

Beta Museum

Here are the amazing, spectacular projects from our amazing, spectacular Betas!

The best part was to see the kiddos’ pride and excitement of all their hard work.  They couldn’t wait to show them off!

After four weeks of planning, thinking, creating and writing, we finally got to show off!


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 Asher created a log cabin and included the dimensions of a real cabin at Pioneer Farms.

Kellen fashioned a diorama to depict one of the reasons people headed west- for the GOLD!


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 A replica of a Native American spear was whittled by Cohen.  He even added feathers he found in nature!

While Sullivan tested some old time recipes- Cornbread Skillet Meat– complete with pictures and recipes!


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Emil read a true story about a pioneer girl who was taken by the Indians, and constructed a tepee and people to represent what he learned.  His people come complete with shrunken apple heads!  How cool is that!

Miss Ella knew her teachers and class well- we love a good snack!  She researched a recipe from Laura Ingalls Wilder- Molasses cookies!  Not only did she make the cookies at home, she brought them in to share!  Yummy!


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 Christian and Evan worked together on a piece that encompasses westward expansion- from why people went, what kind of animals they encountered, to lovely maps showing their routes.  We all learned so much from these two kiddos!


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Our attention-to-detail-girl, Wren, created a fabulous “Little House on the Prairie” log cabin complete with people, animals, bed, chairs, table, blankets, you name it, it was probably there! ;) AND she allowed the others to interact with it.  Way cool!

Gabe clearly had a good time with his well rounded project and was so happy to share! It included Minecraft, amazing story written by him, and even math story problems using our theme!


Way to go families!  We love seeing the positive influences your teaching brings to your children!  We can’t do it without your teamwork!


In the classroom, the kids are working closely with their “wagon families” creating scenes for our shoe box wagons.  These scenes will depict what it looked like when the pioneer families stopped for a night or two on their way out west.  Through research and discussions, we have great ideas on how we will show all we learned!

We will show you a few photos of the progress, but will wait until our museum is open until you can see the finished product! HA!


As with any collaborative project, we always start with a plan. What are we going to add to our scene, and what supplies will we need.


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After collaborating on what needs to be added, wagon families get right to work!


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The kids thought of every detail- from the prairie grass, to the spider- complete with a wild turkey cooking on top of the campfire!


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What do you think so far??

Pretty cool, right! We love seeing our wagon families work cooperatively!

“Without the cooperation of its members society cannot survive, and the society of man has survived because the cooperativeness of its members made survival possible….  It was not an advantageous individual here and there who did so, but the group.  In human societies the individuals who are most likely to survive are those who are best enabled to do so by their group.”

(Ashley Montagu, 1965)

“Cooperation is working together to accomplish shared goals.  Within cooperative situations, individuals seek outcomes that are beneficial to themselves and beneficial to all other group members. Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning.”

From- An Overview Of Cooperative Learning

 By David W Johnson and Roger T Johnson

All year long in the Beta room, we will work together in many different ways- in language arts, math, theme and beyond. We are one big, happy Beta family who feel free and comfortable to share what we know, and question what we wonder about the world around us.  There are no “dumb” questions here and we can learn from EVERYONE!

Go Betas!!

 Ok, well, back to this week!  Sometimes we get excited about something behind the scenes in the classroom (like cooperative learning) and just have to share a bit with you ;)  Without further ado, we bring you the…

The First Ever Field Trip at AHB!!!

Courtney and Kelly’s Excellent Aventure

Starring: The Beta Kiddos


 We began our trip to the Bob Bullock Museum with the Spanish Conquistador and the Native Americans.

Betas-  What can you remember about this scene?  What did the Native Americans eat?  What was the conquistador wearing?  Tell your parents what you learned here!

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Do you remember who wore this?

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We got to meet a real cowboy!  He showed us a picture of his horse and everything!  And he was quite good at lassoing the children!  (Maybe Ms. Courtney and Ms. Kelly could use this technique to bring the kids in from recess! ;) )

Betas- Do you remember the picture of all the longhorns and the cowboys trying to round them up?  What can you tell your parents about it?  Who was in front?  Who was in the back?  What’s a “Chuck Wagon? 





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We watched a short snippet about Native Americans in a tepee, and Gabe checked out the pioneer woman hand washing clothes.

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We learned a lot about how hard people fought to create the Texas we know today.


We all got a kick out of the cool effects at the movie “The Star of Destiny” What was your favorite part?

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Not only did we learn a lot, we had a great time together with our friends.

AND we have lots of new ideas for our own Beta Museum!

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What was your favorite part???

** Thank you to all you wonderful, supportive families!  We couldn’t do it without you!

A few reminders:

Bring in your contribution to the Beta Basket for the silent auction NEXT WEEK!

Thursday morning we have a Beta Jamboree- brought to us by Sullivan’s family!!  We can’t wait!!

Thursday afternoon is “Around the World” Day- bring in an East African dish to share!

Mr. Scott’s birthday is Sunday, October 12th- wish him a happy one!

Fall Break is October 20-24  Ye-haw!!!




Filed October 10th, 2014.