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 4/10/18    We will take our Early America unit test on Friday, April 13.  Students will be tested on the Articles of Confederation, Constitutional Convention, the Constitution, including the Preamble and Bill of Rights, and the first five Presidents.  While I have not updated the test date on the online study guide, all other information and questions are accurate and my be used if the study guide I handed to students in class goes missing.

4/9/18    Got back late and tired from the Cooper River Bridge Run.  I will be catching up on email and grading as the week progresses, but keeping students on track will be the priority.  Please be patient as I catch up.  Thanks!

4/1/18    I decided to make our spring break a true break to rest up, recharge, and get neglected things done around the house, and will spend next weekend running in South Carolina.  I will catch up grading, etc. when we return next week.

3/27/18    Because my 4th period continues to struggle to stay on schedule, since my  Preamble activities are an enrichment to the basic SOL, that class will not memorize and quiz on the Preamble.  Other classes will quiz and participate in the "incredible wind challenge" of saying the entire Preamble in one breath tomorrow while 4th period continues to catch up.

3/3/18    Due to the power outages/wind day we will now take our Colonies unit test on Monday, March 5!

2/27/18    Study Guide posted for Friday's test.  More resources on the Colonies unit page under U. S. History I

2/26/18    Between computer, printer, and network problems and some behavior issues, many students were unable to get Study Guides today.  I have decided to reschedule the unit test for Friday, March 2.  Any student that did not get one today will get one tomorrow in class.

Also, I would remind students that occasionally I may modify class expectations for individual students for reasons I am not always at liberty to share.  For example, just as a gym teacher would not expect a student with a broken leg to run the mile, if I have a student with a medical concern or that has just lost a family member, I will not always expect them to do the same assignment or meet the same deadline as other students in the class.  I would invite any student who believes this is unfair to discuss this with parents, administrators, or with me after any class.

2/24/18    Reminder that our Colonies Vocab Quiz will be on Tuesday, and the unit test will be Thursday, March 1.  Study Guides will be handed our Monday, but are posted in US History I on the Study Guide page.

2/16/18    As of today, several teachers have not yet turned in their vote totals for the LLS Sports Team Challenge.  I will be getting votes directly from them on Tuesday, and announcing the winners Wednesday morning.  In the meantime, from the votes that have been turned in, here are the current leaders:

Pittsburgh Steelers 34
Philadelphia Eagles 20
New England Patriots 11
Washington Redskings 7
Green Bay Packers 5

2/15/18    The "put your money where your mouth is" favorite sports team challenge for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was today, but not every teacher has their votes in to me yet.  I will post the vote totals tomorrow.

2/13/18    Explorers Unit Test will be Tuesday, Feb. 20 and students recieved their study guides today.  Additional copies in the U.S. History I section.

1/31/18    Our Pennies for Patients fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society starts tomorrow!  Students will recieve collection boxes and information sheets that explain the fundraiser and how to set up their own online donation pages.  If you do not want to set up a student page, but still want to donate online, please click the link at the top of the right hand column on this page. 

1/31/18    For students unable to watch or finish watching the State of the Union address, I have added video of the speech and the response!  CLICK HERE!

1/30/18    I will be live streaming coverage of the State of the Union address tonight!   CLICK HERE to watch coverage live on my State of the Union page or watch previous addresses or print out the extra credit worksheet.

1/28/18    Students will have an optional extra credit opportunity Tuesday night (Jan. 30) to watch and learn from the State of the Union address.  Using the extra credit worksheet, students will learn how the President informs Congress what their plans for the upcoming year, and how Congress will respond to the wish list, as well as where they agree and disagree with the President.  Students and parents with political concerns may also choose to watch one of over 10 previous State of the Union addresses online for the same extra credit.  Forms will go home Monday, but additional copies, previous addresses, and more information can be found on the State of the Union Page

1/22/18    Great to get everyone back in school after all the snow days!  Students will get copies of the first unit study guide in class tomorrow for the Geography unit test on Friday, Jan 26, but you can also CLICK HERE to download and print out a copy at home.

1/12/18    While we enjoy a 3 day weekend for Martin Luther King day, this is a chance for students to learn about and reflect on what he did, and the ways that it changed and challenged a very different world into the world today's students are growing up in.  The march was far more than a man standing up and saying "I have a dream."  To learn more, click the links below to read King's speech, and discover what it meant to others.

Text of King's speech from the National Archives (in PDF format)

Listen to John Lewis reflect on the march 50 years ago.

Watch a Zeega to experience the day of the march.

1/5/18    Two snow days to start the new year!  Hope everyone stays dry, warm, and safe!  With luck we will start Monday!

1/3/18    Looking forward to all my new students (and families) tomorrow for the second semester classes!  I'm reposting the beginning of the year welcome video below to help my incoming crew get ready for a great semester:

12/21/17    I hope everyone is enjoying their break and catching up on sleep.  I want to thank all my students who put in their best efforts over our last week on preparing for the post-test, and to especially thank all my students, families, and fellow teachers and staff for all they did in the most personally challenging semester I have ever had!  I cannot begin to express how greatful I am to everyone that made it smoother than it could have been.

12/11/17  It is CRUNCH WEEK!  Students will be very actively reviewing and preparing for our final test on Friday.  Please encourage them to work on practice quiz correction and make good use of the 3 course study guides and the 21 practice quizzes online that they got passwords for in class.  I'm asking a lot of them this week, but I know they are up for the challenge!

12/5/17    Our final unit test on the Civil War will be Monday, December 11 and our final Post-Test is scheduled for Friday, December 15.

11/27/17    Over the Thanksgiving break I was dissapointed to discover that the online trolling and criticism of my explorers study guide prompted by a recent column in a local paper is continuing.  Unfortunately, the article contained factual errors, and ommitted relevant details that caused significant misperception of the assignment and it's purpose.

The original article said the 20 questions on this study guide had to be completed in one night, gave 4 examples, and addtionally suggested the questions could be the subject of a doctoral dissertation.  The article omitted the fact that the answers were on the back of the study guide, came from the Virginia SOL Curriculum Framework, and that students were given a minimum of 2 classes, meaning 3 to 3 1/2 hours of class time to complete the study guide in class. 

Because of specific copyright restrictions allowing classroom photocopying but prohibiting electronic distribution of the answer page printed on the back of the Study Guide, I have been unable to post the back of the study guide on my website until now.  After hearing how the classwork assignment was misrepresented, and further misrepresented on multiple websites by candidates for office that used the study guide as an example of abusive homework, Five Ponds publishing has been gracious enough to grant permission to post their page of "essential information" with the answers that was on the back of the printed.study guide.  If anyone has concerns that this does not address, I invite you to email any questions to me at rbower@apps.fluco.org so I can fully address your concerns.

Full Exploration Study Guide    SOL Curriculum Framework

11/14/17    Students are working on their 1st 5 presidents fakebook project.  CLICK HERE if you need another copy of the instructions

11/11/17  Today is Veteran's Day.  Here is another look at the video I shared with some classes so the rest of my students can watch:  You can also CLICK HERE to learn more about Veteran's and opportunities to help them and learn from them.

11/9/17    SPECIAL UPDATE FOR STUDENTS PREPARING FOR THE GEOGRAPHY BEE!    Use this link to National Geographic to help you prepare!

11/7/17    TODAY IS ELECTION DAY!  I encourage every parent/guardian to get out there and vote, and take your students with you to see the process firsthand.  Three districts in Fluvanna have Board of Supervisors and School Board races as well, so students have an opportunity to meet candidates and ask questions at the polls.  Polls close at 7pm, but if you are in line by 7pm, you will be able to vote.  For more information about voting, where your polling place is, and links to the candidate websites to learn more aobut them and where they stand on issues, CLICK HERE for my Election 2017 page.


Thanks so much to everyone who came to hear me speak in my Digital Digging-Uncovering History with Technology session, and a special thanks for your patience as we dealt with some of the technology problems.  I have posted all of the videos we watched or were unable to watch on the new TEACHER PAGE of my site, a work in progress like everything else on my site.  Thanks as well for all of the wonderful ideas teachers shared with me that I will add to the site and incorporate into my classes in the very near future.  I always love how our students all benefit when we share our best!

11/2/17    Our unit test on Early America will be Thursday, November 9!  If you cannot find your study guide, you can print one from the study guide page.

10/30/17    The PREAMBLE QUIZ will be Thursday, Nov. 2, and after the quiz, we will have the incredible wind contest to see if you can say the Preamble without taking a breath!  You can also CLICK HERE to print out your own Preamble t-shirt onto iron-on paper! Stay safe on Halloween!

10/17/17    Our Revolution unit test is Friday, and the study guide is posted in the U.S. History I page under study guidesl  We will be working on them in class this week.

10/15/17  I would also like to publicly express my deep heartfelt appreciation for the outpouring of support I have had from school administration, my wonderful teaching colleagues, from parents and many former students and their parents, and most importantly, my current students who know what I do on their behalf best.  I cannot express how gratifying it is to have so many people have my back, but more importantly how much some of you have gotten out of my classes.  The many kind and thoughtful words of support have helped over a few challenging week

9/11/17    Today is the 16th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  Students will interview parents/other adults about their memories of that day for homework.  To watch the brainpop that summarizes events, click here.  You may need the id/password given out in class.

8/7/17    Our back-to-school day was overwhelming, and I think I saw over 80% of my students and their families!  I know it was very busy, and I hope I was able to answer everyones questions and concerns.  If there was something you were not able to cover with me in the rush, or you need more information, don't hesitate to send me an email so we can clear any questions up.  I'm energized for a terrific new school year and I look forward to all my new students on Wednesday!

8/1/17    Back to school time already!  Keep checking back for daily updates over the next week, including lots of new videos for US I, US II, and a new World History page requested by several former students to help them in the high school. 


5/5/17    IT'S CRUNCH WEEK FOR U.S. HISTORY!  We are focused on the Monday, May 15th  Post-Test, reviewing the entire course, unit by unit, with multiple practice quizzes, test corrections, and study and test taking skills.  Please make sure students are working hard and staying focused, with plenty of sleep.  There are also tons of resources on the U.S. History I page, including 21 new practice quizzes in ITest (now PowerTest) that students were given passwords for in class.  Enjoy the new Mr. Betts U.S. History review video (it covers US I and US II)


9/16/16    HAPPY CONSTITUTION DAY!  We are celebrating a day early since it falls on the weekend.  CLICK HERE to watch the video we watched in class from the Constitution Center.  Watch below to see another view of how a bill can become law.

9/9/16    With this weekend's 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I'm asking students to interview parents or other adults about their experience on that day.  Let them know things like where you were when you heard, you reactions, how your day progressed, and what you have seen change since that day.  I want students to understand how history affects everyone, so please be encouraged to share your stories.  Students will have time to type these up on Monday.  Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences with students!   Additionally for a brief video summary of the events of Sept. 11, CLICK HERE to watch a Brainpop video.


9/18/15    Despite the late start time, students that participated in the "Lunch with Supreme Court Justice Bryer" for Constitution Day seemed to enjoy the activity.  Personally I enjoyed the argument whether snails should be required to pay for a train ticket!  If you missed the event and would like to see it, you can click the link below.  (Please be aware that while the event was advertised as non-partisan and appropriate for elementary, middle and high school students, some people consider any material on the Constituion, the Supreme Court, or individual justices to be political.  Since some parents requested their students not attend our lunch viewing of this webcast, I ask that students check with their parents before viewing the video.  I also remind everyone of my strong suggestion that parents monitor all internet usage by students.)  Linked below are several other Constitution Day links.

CLICK HERE to re-watch the Lunch Talk with Justice Bryer
CLICK HERE to re-watch the Virtual Field Trip to the Constitution Center and conversation with Judge Rendell
CLICK HERE to see the new Interactive Constutition
CLICK HERE to see the actual Constitution at the National Archives
CLICK HERE to tour the National Archives and view a Constitution Day 2014 interview with the National Archivist
Bill of Rights Institute

9/16/15    Tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 17) is Constitution Day!  I got last minute word yesterday that the Constitution Center in Philadelphia was offering several online programs and rushed to take advantage of them.  During my 1st period class, they are offering a live virtual tour of the center and a question and answer session on the Constitution with Judge Margorie Rendell.  During our lunchtime, they are also webcasting a live session with Supreme Court Justice Steven Bryer, where he will discuss what Supreme Court Justices do and answer question.  I've selected students to join me in a lunch with Justice Bryer as a reward based on their responsibility turning in quality work in a timely manner.  While advertised as appropriate for elementary, middle, and high school students, I recognize that the Constitution can be interpreted in controversial ways and as a courtesy to parents who may not wish their children to be exposed to the Constitution beyond the SOL content, I am requiring written permission to view and participate in the webcasts.  Forms were sent home today.   I regret any inconvenience at the last minute, but I'm sure most parents will agree that this opportunity is worth the rush.

To view more information on these webcast presentations, CLICK HERE

4/9/15    As we have discussed the formation of Congress in the Constitutional Convention, students have been interested in today's Congress.  To visit, find your members of Congress, watch congress in session live, follow bills, e-mail your Senator and Representative, and much more, click the links below;

CLICK HERE to visit the House of Representatives

CLICK HERE to visit the Senate

3/17/15    Happy St. Patrick's Day!  CLICK HERE!

3/14/15   Happy Pi Day!  Click here to learn more!

1/20/15    Tonight is the STATE OF THE UNION address.  Students can earn extra credit by using the worksheet handed out in school or print it out from the website, then watching the speech.  CLICK HERE for the STATE OF THE UNION page.  You can also find or use previous addresses for extra credit. 


Use these resources to help you study:

Click here for another copy of the physical regions of North America map

Geographic regions’ locations and physical characteristics

Coastal Plain
– Located along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico
– Broad lowlands providing many excellent harbors

Appalachian Highlands
– Located west of the Coastal Plain, extending from eastern Canada to western Alabama; includes the Piedmont
– Old, eroded mountains (oldest mountain range in North America)

Canadian Shield
– Wrapped around the Hudson Bay in a horseshoe shape
– Hills worn by erosion and hundreds of lakes carved by glaciers

Interior Lowlands
– Located west of the Appalachian Mountains and east of the      Great Plains
– Rolling flatlands with many rivers, broad river valleys, and grassy hills

Great Plains
– Located west of the Interior Lowlands and east of the Rocky Mountains
– Flat lands that gradually increase in elevation westward; grasslands
Rocky Mountains
– Located west of the Great Plains and east of the Basin and Range
– Rugged mountains stretching from Alaska almost to Mexico; high elevations
– Contains the Continental Divide, which determines the directional flow of rivers

Basin and Range
– Located west of the Rocky Mountains and east of the Sierra Nevadas and the Cascades
– Varying elevations containing isolated mountain ranges and Death Valley, the lowest point in North America

 Coastal Range
– Located along the Pacific Coast, stretching from California to Canada
– Rugged mountains and fertile valleys



1/17/14    As we discussed personal finance in today's Flex class, we talked about the importance of learning to save early and consistantly, and how combining realisitic savings habits with the power of compund interest can provide a comfortable retirement if you start early.  CLICK HERE to visit a great compound interest calculator that shows the power and importance of saving early and using the power of compound interest!

8/29/13    Students were asking questions about pizza during one class today.  CLICK HERE to read an interesting Article from American Heritage about the history of pizza.  It looks like American Heritage is reworking some things on their site so if you get some weird text, scroll down to the article.

















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