Archives for ‘Beta’:

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? 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.

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.