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for Nov. 7th
Sept. 17th
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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 exporers 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 am glad to announce that my website is back with all the various resources.  As you may be aware, a recent article in local media with some inaccuracies was critical of some of the resources I provide to my students, and increasingly inaccurate and hostile postings began appearing on social media in response to the article.  In response, I decided to restrict the information on my site to the SOL material my classes are currently covering. at least temporarily, until the internet trolls got tired and moved on.  I would like to emphasize that it was solely my decision, just as the site is my personal site and not maintained by Fluvanna County Public Schools or the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that there was no pressure or suggestion that I change the site by any administrator. 

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 weeks.

I am in the process of some significant design changes to the site, but have reposted the old site files for the time being to bring these resources back as quickly as possible.  Many sections of the site may not be functional until later in the week.  If there is something you would like to see, please let me know.  Thanks again for all the support for the site and all the other things I do!
For parents and members of the community who are curious about the actual content of the study guide mentioned in local media, I have posted the front of the study guide below.  Due to copyright restrictions, I cannot post the back online with the answers, but have posted the SOL material from the Virginia Department of Education that the back of the study guide is based on.  All material was covered in class, and students had between 3 to 3 1/2 hours of class time to work on the study guide answers with help available.

CLICK HERE for the Explorers study guide

Answers to the study guide from the Va DOE:

Motivations for the explorations
 Economic—Gold, natural resources, and trade
 Religious—Spread Christianity
 Competitions for empire and belief in superiority of own culture
Obstacles to the explorations
 Poor maps and navigational tools
 Disease and starvation
Fear of the unknown
Lack of adequate supplies
Accomplishments of the explorations
 Exchanged goods and ideas
Improved navigational tools and ships
Claimed territories (see countries below)
Regions of North America explored by Spain, France, and England
Spain: Francisco Coronado claimed the Southwest of the present-day United States for Spain.
France: Samuel de Champlain established the French settlement of Québec.
Robert La Salle claimed the Mississippi River Valley for France.
England: John Cabot explored eastern Canada.
Regions explored by Portugal
The Portuguese made voyages of discovery along the coast of West Africa
Cultural interaction
– Conquered and enslaved American Indians
– Brought Christianity to the New World
– Brought European diseases to American Indians
– Established trading posts
– Spread Christian religion
– Established settlements and claimed ownership of land
– Learned farming techniques from American Indians
– Traded with American Indians
American Indians
– Taught farming techniques to European settlers
– Believed that land was to be used and shared but not owned
Areas of cooperation in economic interactions
Europeans brought weapons and metal farm tools. Trade Crops
Areas of conflict
Competition for trade
 Differences in cultures
 Language differences

Ghana, Mali, and Songhai dominated West Africa one after another from 300 to 1600 A.D.
Ghana, Mali, and Songhai were located in the western region of Africa, south of the Sahara Desert, near the Niger River.
Ghana, Mali, and Songhai became powerful by controlling trade in West Africa.
The Portuguese carried goods from Europe to West African empires, trading metals, cloth, and other manufactured goods for gold

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.

9/5/17    We are flying through out Native Americans unit this week, and students will be getting their study guides on Thrusday the 7th and testing Monday the 11th.  Click Here for the Study Guide if you do not want to wait for Thursday.

8/27/17    After a busy few weeks, our first unit test, the Geography Review, is coming on Wednesday, August 30 (4th period students that have turned in Helping Hands permission forms by Tuesday will take the test Thursday the 31st).  The study guide and practice quiz are posted under the appropriate buttons on the U.S. History I page.

8/11/17    Our first week went great and students are off to a good start.  Next week we will start in earnest, reviewing geography concepts and the regions of North America.  It will be a bit hectic since I have to be out 2 days, but students are ready to meet my strong expectations.

8/9/17    What a terrific first day of the school year.  It was great to meet all my new students, and it is clear that we are already headed for a wonderful first semester!  The focus this week is on strong expectations and a positive start, and we will be ready for our review of last year's geography next week.  Thanks students for such a positive first day and to parents for sending them ready to give their best efforts!

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!

8/3/17    I'm still updating and checking for outdated links, and I've uploaded a new welcome video for students, parents, former students, and site visitors!  Enjoy!

8/2/17    The new World History page is up! There are only a few resources and music videos up at this point, but more will be added as the month goes on!  Check it out!

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. 

1/16/15    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.


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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