Category Archives: Sindt Blog

Hello To Summer!

Well, clearly I didn’t do the best job this year of keeping up with my blog.

The year went by so quickly!  Some highlights for me were:

Novel groups – I especially enjoyed reading Anne Frank with all of my 6th graders, and Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs with my 4th graders.

Math groups – I enjoyed watching kids at Rockbrook fly through my Perplexor books!  I now have all the levels because they just couldn’t get enough!

Pull-out groups – we had a lot of fun creating the circuit cards.  Kids learned a lot about creating circuits!  We also enjoyed downloading Sketch Nation and creating our own video games and a marketing plan for them.

I’ve included a link to an EY Bucket List I e-mailed to the students.   They need to show evidence of completing at least six of the activities at the beginning of the next school year to earn a reward.  Happy Summer!!!!!

Quarter 1 is behind us!

First quarter is over!  Wow – this year is flying by already!

We have had a busy, fun first quarter.  Our focus has been on invention and innovation, which has always been a fun theme for students. We had a variety of events and experiences that provided students with the opportunity to explore invention and innovation both inside and outside the classroom.

One such event was the Invention Convention Seminar in September.  This was open to all students grades 2 – 6 (at two separate seminars) and had a focus on the engineering process, as well.  Fifth and sixth grade students had the opportunity to create their own musical instrument, work through the reverse engineering process, market their invention, and look at improving the world through inventions all while creating an engineering notebook.  Second through Fourth graders worked through the process of engineering by creating electrical circuits and they even got to put together a light up greeting card using a circuit they made.  It was exciting to see all of the innovative thinkers we have at Westside!

Math and Reading enrichment classes are in full swing now.  For reading enrichment, we are doing some higher-level novel studies.  The students enjoy digging deeper into their reading and writing.  When we’re not working on a novel, students are encouraged to complete their Current Events on the Google Doc, and look into Reading Enrichment opportunities in the EY Blog.  For math enrichment, we’re working off of a Math Enrichment menu, which gives students the opportunity to personalize their own math enrichment experience.

We continue to encourage all students to check out the EY blog regularly for enrichment opportunities in many interest areas both within their classrooms, and beyond.  Please encourage your student(s) to explore the blog at home as well.  Like I always say…the blog doesn’t ever take a day off!

Thank you for making this first quarter a success!

Welcome Back!!

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Welcome to the 2015-2016 school year!  I hope you had a wonderful summer! As you can see from my pictures, we spent the summer at baseball games, the zoo, and we also went on a trip to Kansas City where we visited Legoland, Oceans of Fun/Worlds of Fun and we took in a Royals game.  Lots of fun!!

There are a couple of changes this year to EY.  First of all, the EY schedule will follow a four-day rotation just like the other specialists.  On cycle days 1 and 3, I will be at Rockbrook the whole day.  On cycle days 2 and 4, I will be at Hillside the whole day.  Here is a link to our EY calendar so you can see where these cycle days fall.  During my time in the buildings, I will be providing enrichment opportunities and I will also be going into the classrooms to help enrich math and reading.  I’m very excited to be in the buildings on a more consistent basis this year! 

I am looking forward to seeing your kids and hearing about their summer!  Please don’t hesitate to e-mail me with any questions.


Summer 2015



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!.          

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!

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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!”  

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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.

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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!

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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.

Science Olympiad Recap

Question: What do you get when you gather 110 students interested in science and allow them to think creatively, problem solve, experiment and collaborate?
Answer: Learning at its best!

The 2nd Annual WCS Elementary Science Olympiad was a huge success!  Throughout the day, students participated in a variety of events that challenged their thinking.

The Zoo School facilitated a Wildlife Safari event where students practiced their observation and inference skills.  The Barge Building event challenged students to create a foil structure that would float in water and support the most pennies.  Mystery Powders had students identifying substances based on their reactions to different liquids.  Other events included Rock Hound, Straw Tower, Mystery Boxes and Edible Vehicle.

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It was a great day thanks to the organization of Sheree Person-Pandil and John Thomsen from ESU #3.  We also had 9 amazing WHS students who shared their love of science by helping out at each event and facilitating a Science Bowl.


It’s so great to offer these types of opportunities to our students.  Seeing the level of engagement and enthusiasm from the students is what makes our job so rewarding!  Thank you to everyone involved in making this day a success!  Click on the link below to watch a short iMovie trailer of the day.

Click Here to Watch the Video


Welcome back to school in this new year!  I hope everyone had a restful break!

As you all know, I missed the first 2 weeks of December due to my surgery.  The week before Winter Break, the EY team spent some time taking on the role of learner at teacher trainings, and diving into data in order to best meet the needs of all students in the district.  Although these tasks were important, this led to less time with students which is why I’m very much looking forward to the coming weeks.

Soon we will be ready to dive into our new 3rd quarter focus which is science-based.  Currently students are working on finishing their 20-year timeline (current events from our world, nation, and local community will be included for each year), as well as the Battle of The Books reading and activity keynotes.  These will wrap up in the next couple of weeks and will allow us to shift gears into our new science based focus.  Students were happy to learn that the due date for the Battle of the Book projects is February 19th!

During the 3rd Quarter, we will revisit our web-savvy friend Sylvia and her Super Awesome Mini Maker Show episodes.  These will serve as a springboard for our own super awesome science shows that will spotlight an experiment of each student’s choosing.  They will research and decide on an experiment to conduct and present.  We love science…mess and all!    If you’d like to check out Sylvia’s video series, please visit:

Upcoming events & opportunities to think about:

*The Science Olympiad is fast approaching and will be a great event for those 4th-6th grade students who have a passion for all things science!  This event will take place on Tuesday, January 27th.  Students interested in attending need to submit their plan for their edible vehicle to their classroom teacher by Wednesday, January 14th.  Here is the link to the activity:  We will be looking at effort and creativity to determine attendees.

*The Math Olympiad contests will begin soon.  Students in grades 4, 5 & 6 will have the opportunity to challenge themselves by participating in a math quiz competition.  There will be a total of 5 quizzes that the students can take, followed by an answer session.  It is a great opportunity to learn new math strategies and concepts!

*Check out a new spot on the blog:  Math Minutes!  A great way to tickle your math brain!

Thanks for all of your continued support!  Happy New Year!!

EY Update


Wow, is this year flying by!  From the “Choose Your Own Adventure” seminar, to the Spelling Bees, the Quiz Bowl and the Geography Bees, students have been taking advantage of a lot of great opportunities and we’ve been very busy!

Our big idea for the EY students this quarter is Current Events.  We spent some time checking out student-appropriate news websites the first couple of times we met this quarter.  More recently, I have introduced the project of the quarter.  For this project, students are looking at the current events from 10 years before they were born to the first 10 years of their lives.  For example, if they were born in 2003, their years are 1993 – 2013.  Students who were born in 2005 are doing the years 1995 – 2014, so they get off a little easier.  They will research and choose a local, national, and world current event and create a presentation.  I used Google Slides to create a fantastic model timeline I shared with them, covering the years 1962 – 1982.  To stretch them a little, we’re asking students to choose an event from those years and make a connection, saying how that event influenced their lives or personalities.  For example, I shared about the 1975 tornado that tore through Omaha.  I was only 3, but I have vivid memories of that day and the following days of viewing the destruction.  Those memories have forced me to become extra-cautious now when it gets stormy.  This project could lead to some interesting discussions at home.   Be sure to ask your students about the events the students are learning about.

For E/I times during the school day, I have different classrooms doing different activities.  I work with the classroom teachers to decide what’s best for their students, and E/I time activities are open to all.  Some students are involved in Battle of the Book clubs, some meet with me for math, and some are doing independent or group projects.

I wanted to inform you that I’m having  surgery December 3rd, so I will be out until after Winter Break.  Students will be set up with plenty to do through the weeks of December.  The timeline project outlined above will be due after Winter Break, so students have the month of December to work on it.  I will be an e-mail away from December 3rd through the 19th, and your students are more than welcome to e-mail me at home if they have any questions.  Also, please check out the other links on the EY websites – there are many great ideas!


Katie Sindt



Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year!

Hello!  I hope you all had a wonderful summer!  It sure flew by!

Our daily schedule looks different this year – you should have received an e-mail from me regarding days your student has EY.

Our focus this quarter is on exploration through reading and writing.  We will be looking at different kinds of “Choose your Own Adventure” stories and students will have the opportunity to write their own.  There are so many places students can take this!  I’m excited to see what they come up with.

During Enrichment/Intervention time, I plan to expose the students to all of the different online and other opportunities that are also available to them.   Check the EY website often to see all of the different options!

It will be an exciting quarter!

Mrs. Sindt

Programming Resources-Check these out!

We have lots of kids who are super interested in programming, and I just know we have a few app developers in our midst!  How cool would that be?!

On the iPad…

1. Cargo-Bot: Free on iTunes
This app has students writing programs that control a robotic arm to move, sort, and stack colored crates.  The computer language is simple enough for younger kids, but challenging for even middle school kids.

2. Hopscotch: Free on iTunes
This app is a great introduction to programming for kids.

3. Move the Turtle: $2.99 on iTunes
Teaches students the basics of programming (actual coding)

4. Daisy the Dinosaur: Free on iTunes
Similar to Hopscotch

On the computer…

5. Scratch: Download for free at
Great programming environment for kids!  This is a must!

6. Codecademy: Learn programming on the web with interactive tutorials.  Create an account at and then choose from JavaScript, HTML/CSS, PHP, Phython, Ruby and APIs.  (note from Mrs Spady: I have done this with my 2nd and 4th grader, but I usually have to sit down next to them and help them through it.  It’s a little higher level, but doable.)

7. Another great online resource to learn programming.

8. Khan Academy:  Yet another great online resource to learn about computer programming.