Category Archives: Parents

2016 Summer Opportunities

Summer is right around the corner and there are plenty of opportunities to continue the learning through June and July!  Feel free to leave a comment and add additional opportunities.

Omaha Public Library

Do Space

Although events and workshops haven’t been posted yet for June and July, make sure to check out Do Space’s calendar!

Camp for Creative Writers

  • June 20-24, 8:30-12:00 pm at University of Nebraska Omaha
  • Cost: $150
  • Ages 10 and up

Space Adventures, Robotics, and Survival: Zombie Apocalypse…All at the Strategic Air and Space Museum

Young Nebraska Scientist Camps:

KANEKO Programs:

Arts for All Inc.:

Lauritzen Gardens:

2015 Summer Opportunities



It is hard to believe that the last bell will ring soon and summer fun will commence!  The EY team will continue to provide a variety of learning experiences through our blog to keep those summer minds sharp!  We also wanted to pass along other opportunities available outside of our team and/or district.  We hope that these resources provide a starting point for your search into further enrichment opportunities.  Please note that these are suggested resources and are not endorsed or extensively researched by the Westside EY team.

TenMarks Online Math Summer Program                                                                                                   As you know, students lose an average of 2-3 months of math comprehension
over summer break. TenMarks offers a Free Summer Program that is proven to
reverse the loss.  Students that participated in the program last year not
only reversed their learning loss, they showed an 11% gain in math
This summer, TenMarks is making the Summer Math Program available to your
students for FREE! (previously $39.95/student)
Register at

Nebraska Association for the Gifted website list                                                                                         This list has various opportunities around the metro area and state.  Please be sure to contact the sponsor for availability and further information.                                                       

Metropolitan Community College – College for Kids and Teens

Arts For All is a nonprofit arts education organization dedicated to making the arts available and affordable for all ages throughout Metro Omaha. In 2013, over 1,500 students participated in Arts For All’s quality culturally-enriched programming.

Summer Kid’s Music Clinic 2015                                                                                                Sponsored By The Papillion LaVista Community Theatre  Contact MONIKA PETERS AT  for more information.

Camp Wonderopolis (online)                                                                                                                                 Camp Wonderopolis is headed to new frontiers this year with a theme of Mission to Wonder. Camp will enable programs, families, and individuals to customize their experience to their needs while campers explore different tracks of STEM-based exploration. Along the way they will build their vocabulary, background knowledge, and literacy skills

Leap Ahead in Math This Summer!  (online)                                                                                                    Research shows that students who are not exposed to stimulating, educational activities over the summer months easily lose a couple of month’s worth of math skills.  Instead of losing skills, sharpen skills and leap ahead in math this summer with LeapAhead!.          


EY Parent Meetings

Thank you to those of you who have submitted questions regarding the EY identification process.  The Google form is still available and we encourage you to enter your questions so we can prepare for the upcoming parent meetings.

reminder_handDon’t Forget!  We’d also like to have your input regarding your child’s strengths.  What you observe at home and outside of the school walls is equally as important as what goes on in school.   Please visit the following link to fill out a parent survey online:

Parent Meeting Dates

Tuesday, April 21 at Oakdale (6:30 pm in the library): This meeting is intended for parents of students at Paddock Road, Oakdale, Prairie Lane, and Rockbrook

Tuesday, April 28 at Swanson (6:30 pm in the library):  This meeting is intended for parents of students at Hillside, Westbrook, and Swanson

Thursday, April 30 at Sunset Hills (6:30 pm in the library):  This meeting is intended for parents of students at Loveland, Sunset Hills, and Westgate

EY Identification Questions

Thank you for using the Google form to submit questions about the EY identification process.  We are trying to be as transparent as possible and appreciate any questions you have.

Q. Under Tier 1, what does E/I time mean?

A. E/I stands for Enrichment/Intervention time (also referred to as I/E time).  It is a 43 minute block of time each day in the schedule for students in grades 3-6.  The EY team has tried to capitalize on the E/I block this year by providing a variety of resources.  We started the year by coming into all classrooms once every 6 days to explain our blog, Symbaloo, seminars, and various other opportunities.  We have also consistently communicated with classroom teachers about possible E/I activities/projects.  Check out some of the results from E/I time on our Student Showcase Wiki.

Q.  When does the next testing occur to move up a Tier?

A. Students take the SAT 10 and OLSAT in 3rd and 5th grade.  In the past, these two grades have been the typical time for a student to qualify for EY.  That being said, we are having discussions about how we can make the ID process ongoing based on a student’s need.  We are also exploring ways we can provide more enrichment opportunities for the primary grades.

Q. Is testing ever based on age instead of grade?

A. The SAGES (Screening Assessment for Gifted Elementary Students) is scored using a normal normative sample, which is stratified on the basis of age (as well as gender, race, ethnic group membership, and geographic location).

Q. These tests are one snap-shot of my child’s ability.  What if the child does not feel well the day of testing?  What else is taken into consideration?

A.  Instead of using a single piece of data or a specific cut-off score to determine a child’s ability, we want to paint a more complete picture of a child’s strength(s) by using various sources of data.  This includes input from the parents and classroom teacher.  Many times, the classroom teacher can speak to the individual scores and tell whether or not they are indicative of the child’s performance in the classroom.

Q. Are Tier 1 services different than services provided to all students? If so, how?

A. Tier 1 services are open to all students, however, we hope to use a child’s participation in Tier 1 opportunities as a way to discuss and modify services needed.  For example, a student receiving Tier 1 services might complete Math Minutes on a weekly basis.  This tells us that the student has an interest in math and might benefit from some of the services we provide in Tier 2.

Highlights from BOTB 2015

bookworm_red  Recipe for Sharing Your Love of Reading & Writing
  • 20 Books
  • Over 150 Authentic Book Projects
  • 3 Authors
  • 1 Playwright
  • A Dash of Competition
  • A Little Free Library
  • A Sprinkling of our Favorite Neighborhood Bookstore

Yields:  120 students receiving a message of inspiration, perseverance, and hope!


Battle of the Books took a different spin this year at Westside Community Schools.  The morning started off with kids arriving and putting their book projects on display.  For each book read, students chose one project to complete.  There were 3-5 project choices for each book ranging from dioramas, to writing a letter to the author, to doing further research on a topic in the book.

Drew, 4th grader at Swanson said:  I loved doing the Battle Of The Books activities, and reading the books! Most of the books were amazing! :)

Check out some of the student projects submitted!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next, Omaha Playwright (and Westside graduate, parent and community member) Ellen Struve talked about her profession and love of reading & writing.  Not only did she talk about her personal journey to becoming a playwright, but Ms. Struve also involved the students in creating their very own play!  Throughout her presentation, Ellen embedded information about characters, dialogue, conflict, scene, and setting.  Based on the engagement level and questions asked by kids, there will most likely be additional play writers emerging from Westside in the future!

We found 3 BOTB authors on Twitter and they graciously agreed to Skype with our students!  Katherine Fitzmaurice, author of A Diamond in the Desert was up first.  She emphasized all the research that went into writing the book and even showed us pictures of the real characters.  She also showed students a pile of rejection letters and the numerous changes suggested by her editor.  Her advice for students wanting to write a book:  “You have to really like what you’re writing about.  Believe in yourself and like your story!”  

IMG_9660 IMG_9661

Our next Skype call was with Valerie Hobbs, author of Sheep.  Many students chose to write Ms. Hobbs a letter for their book project and she graciously wrote letters back to all of them!  Talk about making a personal connection!  Several students read Sheep and fell in love with Jack, the border collie who tells the story.

Many students were excited when Ms. Hobbs shared information about the newly released sequel to Sheep.  At the end of Sheep, Jack finds Luke at the Good Shepherd Home for Boys.  Together, they are adopted by a couple and the sequel Wolf continues Luke and Jack’s story at their new home, a sheep ranch in Northern California.  Ms. Hobbs’ writing advice for the students: “Do a whole lot of reading of the type of book you’d like to write.”


Our final Skype call was with W.H. Beck, author of Malcolm at Midnight.  In addition to being an author, Ms. Beck is a school librarian.  Her advice for students was, “Make sure to set aside time each day to write.  You can make a list, write a short story, or just write down your random thoughts.”

Click Here for a Portion of our Skype Call With W.H. Beck



We didn’t forget the competition portion of Battle of the Books.  Students worked in teams to answer questions about all 20 books.  They used their iPads and participated in a Kahoot! created by Mrs. Lusero.  Students also took an individual test on a Google form.

IMG_9672 IMG_9673

At the end of the day, Marla Fries shared her love of reading by telling the students about her Little Free Library.  Marla is a WCS community member, retired administrator, and volunteer at Westgate Elementary.

After the event, one student was so inspired that she wanted to build her own Little Free Library!  Check out Ava’s work!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ellen Scott from our neighborhood bookstore, The Bookworm, also shared her personal story and love of reading with the students.  She presented the kids with an opportunity to be on The Bookworm’s Kid Advisory Board.  We are so fortunate to have a family-owned bookstore in our Westside community!

Friday, March 13th was truly a wonderful day to celebrate many accomplishments!  To all the students who participated, Thank You for all your hard word and willingness to try something new.  The EY Team learned a lot throughout the process and we look forward to hearing your feedback!

If you attended Battle of the Books this year, please consider leaving a comment and letting us know your favorite part!  Also, click here for a quick survey about the day.

WCS Spring Break Enrichment Classes

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 4.03.31 PM

Sorry…All Classes Are Full

Sign up now for Spring Break Enrichment Classes!

During the week of spring break (March 30-April 2), four enrichment classes will be offered to 2nd-6th graders at Westside Community Schools.  All classes will be held at Westgate Elementary at 7802 Hascall St.  Click on the flier below to find class descriptions and times.  Classes are limited to 20 students so sign up today!

Click Here for the Flier

Is it summer yet?


sun image taken from

Not quite, but it’s never to early to start planning ahead!  There are many great learning opportunities available for kids during the summer.  There are a couple options listed below, but if you know of others, please leave a comment with the details.

Engineering Learning Center:

The Studios at TAG Academy:

Strategic Air and Space Museum:

2015 Young Writers Camp:

Blocks and Bricks Learning Adventures: