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.