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: http://www.eduplace.com/rdg/res/literacy/lit_ins3.html)

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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.