Archives for ‘Alpha’:

Alpha Journal January 27-29

 Alpha’s Weigh Anchor…

We started the week talking about the smallest living things in the ocean: PLANKTON!


We watched a video about plankton.

Alpha’s learned that one teaspoon of ocean water can contain over one million plankton! We learned that out of all the plankton in the ocean 90% is phytoplankton.   Alpha’s already knew a lot about plants- we get the air we breathe from them, but they were surprised to learn that we get over half of our air from those microscopic plants in the ocean! Alphas also knew what all plants need in order to live: water, sunlight and nutrients, but they weren’t so sure how phytoplankton got its nutrients, because phytoplankton just float around in the water!


Waves stir up nutrients that feed phytoplankton!

Alphas thought phytoplankton must like to live in shallow water, because, they figured, that’s where the waves would be.

Alphas create their own Ocean Depth Maps...

Alphas create their own Ocean Depth Maps…

They realized that the areas phytoplankton lived would also be areas where humans would be too- with their trash and their chemicals flowing into the ocean from rivers and streams…One student exclaimed during circle, “So guys, that means: don’t litter- or there won’t be enough oxygen and you’ll die!”

We also did a demonstration about sunlight and water and discovered that even very clear water blocks out the sun.




Just a bit of sand…

Less sunlight...

Less sunlight…


Alphas realized that phytoplankton could only grow in the most sunlit part of the ocean- the top 30 feet!


Alphas measured off 30 feet…Over half of the oxygen on the earth gets made near land, within the top 30 feet of ocean water…!


Tracing phytoplankton for our Ocean Installation!


A 3-D version of plankton!

Not only do we get over half our oxygen from plankton,  it is also the base for all life in the ocean…Alphas liked playing the food chain game…

Orca-Mara sits at the top of the ocean food chain today!

Orca-Mara sits at the top of the ocean food chain today!

Alphas enjoyed sharing their journal-work with their peers. We went on a gallery walk in order to find inspiration for our  ocean-animal-research-project…


Closer to Home…

Thanks to Alexa, we got to host a visit from Dowser Dan!  20150127_134407_HDROur fellow Beta and Gamma friends got to watch a performance about water conservation.  Dowser Dan was surprised AHB students knew so much about water in our area…

Dowser Dan in a Q&A with his audience...

Dowser Dan in a Q&A with his audience…

We learned a lot about things we can do around our homes to conserve water and keep the ground water clean and healthy!

Watch out for the Oil Blog!

Watch out for the Oil Blob!

Alpha Practice…

Ms. Jennifer taught us handwriting tricks with the "magic letter "C"!"

Ms. Jennifer taught us handwriting tricks with the “magic letter “C”!”


Sorting coins by attributes...

Sorting coins by attributes…

Math Pentathlon!

Math Pentathlon!

Building compound words...

Building compound words…

Using a graphic organizer to describe a main character...

Using a graphic organizer to describe a main character…our beloved “TACKY!”

Doing "The Tacky-dance..."

Doing “The Tacky-dance…”

Here’s the author reading from one of her books!


Alphas have lots to share!

Sea creatures...

Sea creatures…


All the way from the Atlantic Ocean!



...more stories...

…more stories…

...even MORE stories- this one with sound effects!

…even MORE stories- this one with sound effects!



Displays of flexibility...

Displays of flexibility…

...and cheer...

…and cheer…

And on THAT note…

Kudos to…

Thanks to all of you who showed up to the Spring Parent Night- We appreciate your insight and support!  We LOVE our team!! What a wonderful community!

Thank you Alexa for connecting us to Dowser Dan!

Thank you Gabi for your amazing cleaning skills! Oceans can wreak havoc on a classroom…

Thank you Gabriel for all the library support!!!

Upcoming Events…

  • 2/5- Shipe Park Make-up Day!
  • 2/12- Friendship Day
  • 2/16-Presidents’ Day- No Monday Camp
  • 3/5-End of Q3

That about wraps up another week in the amazing world of the Alpha Class! We hope you all will have wonderful weekends and we look forward to seeing everyone next week!

Kim & Eliza

Filed January 30th, 2015.

Alpha Journal January 20-22

Where does sand come from?  



We explored different kinds of beaches from around the world – pink ones, black ones, white ones. Why were they different – what was in the sand?


Sharing research from PnP

And so our our week started…wondering about how ALL of the sand gets on the beaches. So we looked closely and found all kinds of bits in it – rocks, shells, crystals, & even bone.


Other ?’s we asked this week…

What makes a tide pool a tide pool? What are the creatures in a tide pool? If we make a tide pool how can we make the animals life size? 

We decided that we needed to use rulers and tape measures to help us.

What have we learned about Tide Pools that we didn’t know before?


Some animals are stuck to the ground

Tides are made from the gravity of the moon

Sea anemones can move

Some creatures don’t have brains, but can figure out how to get food

Big starfish eat other starfish

when you touch the se anemone from the spikes it will sting you.

Sun stars can kill the whole coral

We made simulations of wind and waves to understand how the geography of a beach is created. 



And where there’s sand…well, you have to build sand castles…even mini ones.

A couple ways we brainstormed that we could learn about oceans was to research and measure (sizes of animals, how deep the ocean is, etc). Our research included books and the internet to inform us of accurate measurements we would need to create a representation of a tide pool.


Some tide pool crabs are bigger than we thought they could be!




Sea stars are a favorite!



tide pool fish ~ life-size scale


sand and paint mixtures help create realistic models of sea cucumbers

Resource: Measurement around home

elimeasure fletcherfish

making rocks for our tide pool

painting process for rocksrockmakers


Some of our classmates have been to tide pools. Sally and Abbey shared pictures of them in Oregon and New England.


Another excellent resource to learn even more about tide pools:


Daily menus of skill building



Marley and Pavla play “Guess my Number.” They are learning to ask good deductive questions!


choral reading

The Gammas came to read ” Hummingbird” stories they had written about how one small act can make a big difference. 

You can read some of these stories posted outside the Gamma room.

 fess finnevan


What did you notice about the Gamma’s stories?


They had different kinds of colorings

Some did it by computer

Only a few had outlines of erasings

Stories were about fires and hummingbirds

They’re older and bigger and they know how to do it!


Yoga breaks…camel


hmmm…no one had informed us about this before now!

Wild rumpus (a favorite), tents, & games….Rainy Day Fun

20150122_131056(1) 20150122_123126 20150122_123211_HDR


Rock & Circus stars of the future

Dates to remember…

  • 1.24.15 Skate Party at Playland Skate 10-Noon
  • 1.27.15 Dowser Dan visits the Alpha & Gamma classes at 1:30 in the community hall
  • 1.29.15 Spring Parent Night (6:30) – please come for a community conversation about how Projects and Practice is working for your family
  • 2.7.15 Alternative Education Fair upstairs at Whole Foods 6th and Lamar 10-2 – Come visit our booth and talk with families interested in our school!
  • 2.12.14 Friendship Day

Merci Beaucoup

to Gammas for sharing stories

to Alexa for organizing a visit from Dowser Dan of the Austin Water Utility Dept.

to Gabi for sweeping up high tide tidal pool makings!


Filed January 23rd, 2015.

Alpha Journal January 13-15

This week in Alpha…


 Civil Rights Week is a long standing tradition at AHB.  The Alpha class started it off learning a poem by Langston Hughes.

Alphas completely empathized with the idea of exploding when you can’t get something you really want…

We read a lot of stories about the Civil Rights movement and shared our thoughts about fairness.

20150114_131648 20150114_131534

Alphas thought a lot about what things everyone has a right to, like clean air, water and food.  They learned through experiments with water that trash  can sink or float when it falls into the water is but either way, currents carry it into huge gyres, some larger than the state of Texas!

20150114_090452 20150114_09045920150114_091750

We talked about the real super heroes of the Civil Rights movement like Dr. King and Rosa Parks. They were people who saw something wrong and stood up against it.  The special power they had was courage.  We talked about Boyan Slat, who at 16 started to dream of a way to rid the ocean of plastic and how a few years later his plan was put into action!  Alphas thought of things they could do to make this world more safe and fair for every human on Earth.


We can be HEROES...

We can be HEROES…

Our week ended with the start of a new tradition: Peace Through Pie

Alpha’s serve…

pie serverspieservers2

Then, we shared our reflections of Civil Rights Week…


Deltas learned about discrimination in the field of science…

While Betas participated in an exclusion experiment…


Did someone say “PIE?!”


Practice makes perfect…

Alphas work hard learning to de-code words…reading to each other…and studying place value…

dice mathstory problemscoin investigation20150113_11104120150113_110105


Dates to remember…

  • 1.19.15: MLK Day (no school)
  • 1.22.15: Shipe Park Day
  • 1.29.15: Spring Parent Night (6:30)

That about wraps up another whirlwind or maybe we should say “whirlpool” of a week!  Thank you all for your contributions to our Peace through Pie celebration- We couldn’t do it without you!!



Filed January 16th, 2015.

Alpha Tidepool Links


Ranger Kristen from Oregon State Parks

 Our apologies, the second link, Tidepool Reader, is only available on our teacher account – we thought everyone could access it. We’ll share it with the Alphas in class.




Filed January 15th, 2015.

Alpha Journal January 6-8


Our artists continue to awe us with their creativity. Our Q3 warm and cool color self portraits

Water, water Everywhere!

This week we began our study of oceans by just exploring the properties of water. We talked about water as a precious resource, conducted experiments about different states of water, the water cycle, and how our human presence affects the earth’s water.

One team experiment was to create a place where land and water meet ~ some chose to make islands, others beaches and one team made a river.



After we created our land water sites we added “dwellings” (legos) and then sprinkled around waste. We then made rain to observe what would happen to the waste that was on the land….it ended up in the….water. This lead to our conversations about how to keep our waterways healthy.


We created splishy, splashy, wavy, drippy, wet water poems



We actively became water in a performance piece about how a small drop of water becomes a cloud


starting out as a drop…




gathering together to form a rain cloud.

Team Challenge

This week’s team challenge was to figure out how to draw 4 self-portraits on one piece of paper in…2 minutes!

sky blue table20150106_105129

20150106_105159_HDRgreen table

Even getting the final 4-way Self Portrait back to circle for Reflection was a collaborative effort!



If your child wants to register for the Math Pentathlon Meet do so NOW!

We investigated coin money, began a deeper study of story problems, learned strategies to help one another read when being a reading partner, and short a vowels and c-v-c-e words.

20150107_10464320150107_10465020150107_104738 20150106_102053_HDR      20150108_10095220150108_110914

monkeybars backwards

Estee going backward on the Monkey Bars!


A read aloud of “Kitten’s First Full Moon” by Marley


Class X-tra Helper, Jack, pulls the Choosing Stones for community sharing


A parliament of Owls!

Dates to Remember…

  • January 13 – Mid-Year Survey Closes 1.13
  • January 12-15 – Civil/Human Rights Week
  • January 19 – Martin Luther King Day (no Monday Classes)
  • January 22 – Shipe Park Day
  • January 24 – Skate Party at Playland Skate
  • January 29 – Spring Parent Night

Merci Beaucoup

  • to Gabriel for her on-going librarian services to keep fresh books and stories available for our Alphas!
  • Gabi for Thursday clean-ups – lots of sand this week wasn’t there, Gabi?!
  • All of the wonderful support creating our Alpha’s owls and books – they were amazing & they’re so proud of them!


Filed January 9th, 2015.

Alpha Times Herald 12.15.14

POP Go The Alphas!

Our week started with a bang…

The Alpha class worked hard to get their Portfolios on Parade ready to share and had a great time visiting all the other classes too.  It’s always inspiring to see what everyone has been up to all semester.

The Beta, Gamma and Deltas share their journeys with us…

Our first foray into POP was with the Beta class…It was really fun to see what our former students were learning.  They made amazing dioramas about life on the frontier, they learned a lot about different Indian nations and were great hosts to our class!


This docent knew a lot about Indian blankets!


The Gammas’ readers theatre performance held the Alpha’s rapt attention…


Alphas enjoyed the scientist-biography puppet show that some of the Deltas created!

 Our POP…


the author shares her writing…


Sculptures galore!


Checking out a colleague’s parent-pick…

We were blown away by our students this semester and love the new format of our portfolios.  It was gratifying to see all their hard work memorialized and even more gratifying for the students to have a day set aside in which to share their efforts with friends and family.  The Alphas were impressed seeing all their work hanging in the community hall.  It has inspired them to push their creativity to new levels next quarter!

Game Day!

How much fun can one class have?!

Game Day is one of our students’ favorite traditions. They love sharing things from home and it gives them the opportunity to be an expert and teach their friends how to play.


Pajama Day!

Just like how most slumber parties, not much in the way of slumber happened!  The Alphas were wide awake and rarin’ to go!






As we wind down 2014…

We want you to know how much we have appreciated your generous contributions to our class and all the hard work you have done to nurture your child’s academic progress.  POP is a great reminder to all of us of what amazing good we can do together when we each play our part.  Thank you all so much- 2014 has been a great year, we can’t WAIT for 2015!!


With warmest regards,

Eliza and Kim

Dates to Remember…

  • Winter Break: 12.18-1.6
  • Progress Reports available: 1.5
  • Mid-Year Survey Opens 1.5
  • Civil Rights Week: 1.12-1.16
  • Martin Luther King Day 1.19 (no Monday Classes)

Filed December 22nd, 2014.

Alpha News December 9-11

Upcoming Events…

  • 12/15-18 – WINTER FAIRE! Bring your handmade items to sell at the fair
  • 12/16 – Alpha Portfolios on Parade Presentation @ 1:30pm in the Community Hall!!
  • 12/17 – Alpha Games & Art Day
  • 12 17 – Alpha Pajama & Snow day
  • 12/22 – 1/2- WINTER BREAK!

** Please remember to submit the Parent Portfolio Pick by Tuesday morning so that your student can place it in their Portfolio for POP. **


The Amazing Alexander Calder 

was the focus of our art study this week. We started our exploration with a video from the Whitney Museum in New York City which houses the artifacts from Calder’s Circus. Here’s the video we watched and discussed:

to lean more about Calder:

We talked about the jobs mentioned in the video including Art Historian, Conservator and Archivist. We also thought about where artists get their inspiration. And then our room was transformed into an art studio where our sculptors created every afternoon.


Multi media materials on hand. You may want to consider keeping a tray or small table set up at your house with wire, wire cutters, pipe cleaners, buttons, beads, big flat rocks, sticks, hot glue gun, bottle caps, etc. for your Alpha. It’s fun for the whole family!

Watch this video about the Author, Illustrator Lois Ehlert on her life as a child and how she became inspired to be an artist: 



Sculpting helps to develop our fine motor muscles.


Oma (Mara’s grandma) assists in teaching us how to use wire cutters and other materials – all with sparkly fingernails ;-)

omahelps cutting

sanisculpture 20141209_135013


Balance was one of the concepts we used to create our own circus sculptures that can move

Sometimes we turn into sculptures!


Language Arts

We have been practicing Reading to Ourselves through the whole first semester. We started with 1 minute and are now reading for 15 minutes a day! Our skills and focus have developed so well that we’re now ready to Read with a Partner, if we choose. We had a lot of fun pairing up to share books and stories.




Studying the difference between short and long i


Handwriting with Ms. Jennifer: We’re focusing on capital letters for a few weeks, just to make sure we’re all making them the from the top. To begin, we air wrote our letters F, E, P, B, N, M starting at the top and frog hopping back. It’s good review for everyone.


Since we were focusing on the fine art of sculpture some of us explored how to create 3-D shapes. We found there were different ways to accomplish this and made comparisons.

 20141209_112240 abbeyshapes

Other Happenings

Taking time to talk about the artistic mural treasures we found around Austin ~ one family may even get to interview one of the mural artists!



Sharing nature art


Yoga with Ms. Stacie on Thursday mornings


We had a wonderful visitor all week. Sophie, a friend of Ms. Kim, is an education student who came to assist and learn in the classroom. If she didn’t already, she has a fan club now!


Our Founder, Ms. Georgie also came to visit. We presented her with a crazy sock garland that she says she’s going to hang in her office! We love you Ms. Georgie!

            Merci beaucoup…

to Gabi for coming to our classroom on Monday to give it a deep cleaning. She scrubbed shelves, door knobs, window sills and sucked up all the bits leftover from our flurry of activities into the vacuum. And then she came and gave it her loving touch again on Thursday!

to ALL of you parents who donated supplies for our multi-media art, including Hannah G. who donated last week for our Mural.



Filed December 12th, 2014.

December 2-4

Alphas come back with abandon…


What a whirlwind of a week!  We started it with a gallery-walk of the nature creations.  Everyone had such interesting ideas.We had sea shell art, a mosaic of Autumn leaves, a Thanksgiving Tree made of leaf rubbings and gratitudes written on the back, a mobile-chime made of painted sticks…and so much more that will be on display during our Portfolios on Parade day.









This week, Alphas looked at different ways artists paint…


Our Mural

We pondered how one might go about making a mural.  “It would take a long time…”  “It could be dangerous…” “Maybe you could get your family to help you. We talked about making an Alpha Mural that reflected our community.  We read a book called “The Big Orange Splot,” about a community that had to deal with issues involving personal expression and community unity.



Each Alpha made a house out of shapes.  They were identical “little boxes-on-the-hillside…” We talked about whether they used more skill or imagination to make those houses.  It took several math-skills and patience to get the pieces exactly right.  We were so proud of our neat and tidy houses…just like the people in the book loved their “neat street.” AND just like what happened to one character in the book, a dreadful accident befell our Alphas…Ms. Hannah had an accident with our orange tempra paint and got orange splots ALL over our Alphas’ neat houses… When this happened to Mr. Plumbean in the story, he stared at his orange splot for a long time  before doing anything and eventually all Mr. Plumbean’s neighbors came over and drank lemonade with him talking long into the night about their dreams before they did anything to their houses…So, the next day, the Alphas had a little peppermint tea party at their tables…they talked with their table-mates about what the orange splots inspired them to do to their houses…then they got busy!

20141203_132723 (1)

Bodhi gets beautiful texture with his paintbrush!


Jack turned his “splot” into the sun and the roof into a puffy-cloud sky…



Alphas wrote about their inspirations.  “My house is a haunted house…” “My house is a circus tent…”


Then Alpha’s talked about the environment in which we wanted to install our houses.  They came up with “Day and Night.”


Alphas working together, make short work of filling up a very long sheet of paper!


It was a team effort for our class to share paper-space, but they did it! They negotiated, compromised and used a lot of flexibility!


This week, Alphas thought a lot about “Theme.”  We talked about it in art:”What is Diego Rivera trying to say in the mural of painters painting a mural?”… in our reading “What do you think the theme is in the book “Snowballs?”  and in our math, “The number of the day is…”


We practiced our de-coding skills this week by listing words, listening for similarities, sorting them into groups and looking for spelling patterns.  When we approach learning this way, we are employing inductive thinking strategies.

It is a way of scaffolding information to allow students to start with what they know and move them to analyze data, find patterns and think critically about the world around them.

Here, Alphas create lists of soft and hard “C”  and “G” words…


Alphas create a “rule” to help them decide how the letter C should sound. They found a vowel-neighbor-pattern in each hard or soft sounding C word! “C sounds like “S” when an “E “or an “I” comes after it…”

We practiced thinking algebraically this week by considering all the different ways quantities can be created.  Some students played with a multi-digit number in a myriad of ways…

Some students had to figure out  3 number combinations that would add up to a particular quantity…

"I have 9 fish, goldfish, blackfish and bluefish...How many of each could I have?"

“I have 9 fish, goldfish, blackfish and bluefish…How many of each could I have?”


“I have a basket of 12 apples I pulled off 3 trees…some are yellow, some are green and some are red. Can you come up with a combination of apples that would add up to 12?”

And other stuff…

Lucky US! Ms. Jennifer came back to teach us how we can get our bodies warmed up for writing by using some Brain Gym techniques!



Writers keep feet firmly on the ground!


Criss-cross…right hand, left-knee…


Birthdays GALORE!

Alphas showered appreciations on Hope, Jack and Bodhi this week!

Upcoming Events…

  • 12/10- FOUNDER’S DAY! Our beloved Georgie will be honored by AHB by donning CRAZY SOCKS! Feel free to bring a thank you card or flower for Ms. Georgie!
  • 12/15-18- WINTER FAIRE!
  • 12/16- Alpha Portfolios on Parade Presentation @ 1:30pm in the Community Hall!!
  • 12/22-1/2- WINTER BREAK!

What a great week- and we look forward to lots more greatness as we amble forward towards end of Q2!!

Enjoy your weekends!


Eliza and Kim


Filed December 5th, 2014.