Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Counselor's Corner

Each month our BSO counselors publish a newsletter that provides important information for our high school students. Please click on the link below to view this month's Counselor's Corner. 

Counselor's Corner

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Business as Usual!

A little snow won't stop our hard working Branson School Online students!

Check out these pictures of BSO students hard at work on a beautiful Colorado snow day!

Anna won't let a little snow stop her from learning!

Sukaina is super focused on her math!

These awesome BSO students are getting a little snow day help from their furry friends!

Future BSO kiddos are loving the snow too!

Mrs. Narayan's class is keeping warm and working hard!

Jonah REALLY knows how to make the best use of a snow day in Colorado!

Have a Wonderful Winter Break!

Wishing all of our incredible students, parents and staff a wonderful and relaxing winter break! 

Make sure to take some time and get outside to breathe the fresh Colorado air. 

                               See you in 2016! 

Monday, December 7, 2015

December Feature Teacher

Branson School Online is home to the most talented and dedicated teaching staff in Colorado! 

Each month we introduce you to one of our incredible Branson School Online teachers. 

Our Feature Teacher for the month of December is:


Mrs. Parlett teaches PE for grades 6-12 at Branson School Online. Read on to learn more about this talented BSO teacher

Years Teaching: 13 years

Years with BSO 8 years

Favorite food – Any Mexican food

Favorite color- Purple

Pets- 3 dogs and 10 ducks

Hobbies- Lifting weights and working out, coaching volleyball

Love about teaching – Helping kids get in shape and living a healthier lifestyle

Love about Branson – The students and staff I get to work with

Favorite Season – Summer... because I love warm weather

Favorite place – Dominican Republic

# 1 item on your bucket list – Go to Hawaii

Favorite author – Stephen King (all of his books)

Favorite sport - Volleyball

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Money Matters

Image result for saving money
Have you ever wondered how to take some of the topics taught in our math classes and make them more relevant to your student's every day life?

Our incredible BSO math teachers have put together the following list of activity ideas. You will find suggestions for all grade levels. Some of the activities will definitely work for multiple ages, so make sure to read through them all. Practicing these skills not only reinforces learning and teaches essential life skills, it also provides parents and guardians the opportunity to spend quality one on one time with students.

The upcoming winter break is a great time to practice money skills and apply learning from your student's math class!

Kindergarten and 1st Grade
Play Grocery Store
 Choose items from your pantry and label each with money amounts that will cost less than $1. Take turns with a sibling or parent to be the shopper and the clerk. Be sure to pay with real coins.

2nd and 3rd Grade
Grocery Store Estimation
Students should round the price of items to the nearest dollar and estimate a total. Start small 2-3 items,  and as they progress, have them choose more items.  Once they master this, give them a budget to make a recipe. Students can choose items needed for a recipe without going over the limit.  For extra fun, make the recipe when you get home.

4th Grade
Grocery Store Multi-Step Problems
Go to the grocery store and pick out several items for purchase. Calculate the change you should receive if you paid with a $20 bill, a $50 bill, etc. This reinforces solving multi-step problems, a skill frequently practiced in the 4th grade curriculum. 

5th Grade
Money Activity 1
1.    Write your weekly grocery list, leaving space next to each item for a dollar amount to be written.
2.    Ask your child to look over the list, think about what each item probably costs, and “guess” a total price for all of the groceries.
3.    Head to the grocery store with your child. On the way, explain that she will be rounding, adding and estimating the total cost of the groceries as you shop. Surprise him/her by telling them that they will get a prize if the estimate comes within $10.00 of the actual total.
4.    As you begin shopping, hand over the shopping list to your child. Every time an item goes into the cart, they should write the actual price and then round it to the nearest dollar (e.g. peas: $2.89 = $3.00). When you finish shopping, ask your child to add up the list of rounded amounts and get an estimated total (bring a calculator or help her do mental math). Compare the estimated total with their “guess” from home.
5.    After checking out and paying for your groceries, give the receipt to your child and have them compare the estimated total with the actual total. If it is within $10.00, offer a small prize. If they don't “win”, offer a “participation prize” to keep them motivated.
Follow-up questions for the ride home are a great way to focus in on what was learned. Try these: What items were least/most expensive? What patterns do you see in pricing? What types of food are more expensive? How can rounding and estimating help you as a shopper?
Money Activity 2
1.    Take out some old take-out menus for food choices your child enjoys. Prices are listed for each food item.
2.    Now tell your child that you will take turns “playing restaurant”, switching off roles of being the customer and the server. You and your child may wish to decide upon different names for yourselves during the role play.
3.    You should start out in the role of server, so you can model the procedure first for your child.
4.    Make sure your child has ample money to pay for items on the menu. Maybe they should even make a trip to the "bank" before going out on the town. When the "customer" arrives, they should be seated at the table and you should take down their order on a notepad.
5.    Total the items on the notepad for your child to see, state the price, and give your child the check. Make change if necessary (no tip required!).
6.    You can repeat this game as many times as you want, switching roles each time. Use a different menu to keep things fresh, or have your child create her own menu.
7.    When you've played a few rounds, your child is ready to graduate to another important, family-centered activity. Tell him that you'd like to arrange takeout for your family, but you need his help. Have him make an "order list" by copying down dish names and dollar amounts, and then calculating dollars for you.​

6th Grade
Cooking Fun
1. Help with cooking a recipe and try to convert the fractions on standard measuring cups into decimals. 

2. Using a recipe, make a double or half batch by adding/ dividing the fractions of the measurements. 

3. At the store (or with any money) try to covert the decimal of the cents into the equivalent fraction using the place value as a guide. 

4. Measure the amount of gift wrap you will need to wrap a present by measuring one of the sides, then add them together. Make sure not to measure to an even inch. You can measure in fractions or decimals. 

5. With the weather getting colder, try to relate the temperature to the equivalent integer when it is negative outside (basically just take the absolute value). This will help reinforce that all numbers, positive and negative, have a value on the number line. 

Middle School
Grocery Card Estimation
1. Have students estimate the price of the grocery cart; try to be within 10%.

2. When dining out challenge the kids with the game who can give the best estimate for the bill. Then have them calculate the tip.

High School
Interest and Principal
1. Practice a scenario where you make a large purchase with a high interest rate credit card and have to calculate the total cost with interest, if you make the minimum payment vs. paying extra towards the principal. 
Making a Living
2. The following is a webquest designed to simulate a student who has graduated from high school, moving out on their own and must create a budget to manage their money. There are links to help find average job starting salaries, rent calculators for varying areas of Colorado, utilities estimators, gas and car expenses, and of course... fun money. After finding income and expense values, it includes an Excel template to create a budget showing whether a surplus or deficit has been achieved. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November Feature Teacher

Branson School Online is home to the most talented and dedicated teaching staff in Colorado! 

Each month we introduce you to one of our incredible Branson School Online teachers. 

Our Feature Teacher for the month of November is:


Mrs. Beiriger teaches 5th grade at Branson School Online. Read on to learn more about this talented BSO teacher. 

Years Teaching: This is my 15th year teaching overall. 

Years with BSO: This is my 12th year teaching with BSO.

Favorite food: Chicken

Favorite color(s): Blue and Purple

Pets: 2 Dogs: Dozer and Diva 2 cats: Siyah and Cider  

Hobbies: Anything outdoors!  Hiking, mountain biking, and snowboarding are top on my list of hobbies. 

What do you love about teaching? Interacting with kids and learning from them.

What do you love about teaching with Branson? The fact I get to know the whole family, not just the student.

Favorite season? Spring is my favorite season because of baseball!

Favorite place you have traveled to? The Grand Caymen Islands

# 1 item on your bucket list: It used to be skydiving, I might have to rethink that one. :)

Favorite book/author: The Giving Tree by: Shel Silverstein

Favorite sport: Baseball

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Let's Get Moving!

Did you know that exercise is Miracle Gro for the brain?  That's right! There is a family of proteins called factors in the brain that are responsible for building and maintaining the cell connections between neurons.  The “big kahuna” of these factors is called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).  While that is a mouthful to say, the important thing to know is that this stuff is released during exercise and it causes growth in the area of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is in charge of long-term memory.  While completing the New York Times crossword puzzle or getting a dose of Lumosity are both excellent mental workouts, you and your brain will derive much more benefit if you get your heart beating hard for about an hour beforehand.  With your brain swimming in its very own special fertilizer, you are much more likely to remember the material in that Compass or Pearson lesson.  It is the "single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain," according to Dr. John Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  In his book SPARK:  The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (Little, Brown, 2008), Ratey states that "the benefit of physical activity (for the brain) is far more important---and fascinating---than it is for the body".  

In his book, Ratey talks about a school district outside of Chicago that implemented an optional before-school PE program that sky-rocketed 19,000 students into a fitness and smartness league of their own.  The district tracked the growth of the students who participated in the program versus those who chose to sleep in and take a regular PE class.  Divergent paths were immediately discerned.  After seventeen years of operation, the students in the "Zero Hour PE" program scored sixth in math and first in science IN THE WORLD on the TIMSS, a test designed to compare knowledge levels of students across different countries.  Put simply, it works!  Exercise makes kids fitter and smarter!  Remember, though, that exercise alone will not do the trick.  Neuronal connections that are not used are quickly pruned away and lost, so follow that exercise with learning something new!  Is anyone up for a run?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Taurid Meteor Shower

Are you looking for a fun and unique experience this week? Head outside on Wednesday or Thursday night, November 11th or 12th, and do a little star gazing!

The Taurid meteor shower is expected to peak on these evenings. This also coincides with a new moon, meaning the skies will be nice and dark, making for excellent meteor viewing conditions!

When viewing a meteor shower, the most important factors are patience and location. A little help from the weather doesn't hurt either!

Choose a clear night and get away from the city lights. Look straight up and give your eyes time to adjust to the dark. If possible, lay down or recline in a comfortable chair. A couple of blankets and a warm beverage are probably a great idea at this time of year as well. Once you are warm and comfortable, relax and wait. Enjoy the beautiful view while you wait for meteors to streak across the sky.

2016 Assessments

The fall semester is flying by, and it is time to begin planning for our 2016 winter and spring assessment windows. There have been many changes in assessment at the state level for the upcoming PARCC / CMAS test administrations as well as for the college preparatory and college entrance exams . With this in mind, we have added a page on the Branson School Online website that includes descriptions of all of the assessments (both state and local) that our students participate in as well as an assessment calendar for the 2015-2016 school year. The link to this page is included below. Please note that the assessment calendar includes the broad assessment windows. As we get closer to the assessment windows, we will share more specific information regarding assessment site locations as well as testing dates and times. If you have questions regarding state and local assessments, please feel free to contact Kelly Kenney (

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Fall Fun!

Happy Fall! Is everyone enjoying our beautiful, Colorado fall weather? Make sure you take a few short breaks from your computer and get outside to enjoy this gorgeous weather before it's too late! 

Our Branson families had a WONDERFUL time enjoying the weather and some great fall fun at the Colorado Pumpkin Patch. Hayrides, a giant jumping pillow, duck races, and the petting zoo were enjoyed by all! 

Check out the pictures of this awesome field trip below.

Watch your email for more field trip opportunities. Field trips are a great way to take a break from screen time and connect with other BSO families. We offer field trips throughout the state.

If you have an idea for a fun BSO field trip, please contact you homeroom teacher and share your thoughts. We'd love to know about undiscovered adventures all over Colorado!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

October Feature Teacher

Branson School Online is home to the most talented and dedicated teaching staff in Colorado! 

Each month we introduce you to one of our incredible Branson School Online teachers. 

Our Feature Teacher for the month of October is:


Mrs. Graham teaches high school English as well as English language learners with Branson. Read on to learn more about this talented BSO teacher. 

Name: Donna Graham

Years Teaching: 17

Years with BSO: 12

Favorite food: Enchiladas or Pecan Pie 

Favorite color: Purple

Pets: One cat

Hobbies: Gardening - I have huge vegetable and flower gardens.  Reading - I read at least 2 books a month. 

What do you love about teaching? I really like reading my students' writing.  It gives me a small glimpse into their lives and shows their personalities in ways that other assignments do not.

What do you love about teaching with Branson? I love working from home and getting to use such cool technology in my lessons.

Favorite season? Spring -  because I love spring flowers and baseball season.

Favorite place you have traveled to? I really love Virginia Beach, because we used to go 
there when I was a child. More recently, I spent some time in Ouray, Colorado; it was really beautiful.

# 1 item on your bucket list: Visit Ireland

Favorite book/author: It's hard to choose just one, but maybe Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.

Favorite sport: Football to watch and volleyball to play.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

There's an app for that!

Image result for parent portal app

Need a quick and easy way to check your grades or your student's grades at any time from any location? 

There's an app for that!

Follow the steps below to download and use the Parent Portal app to your smart phone.

1. Download  Infinite Campus Mobile Portal mobile from Google play or the Apple store.

2. After it has downloaded, you will need to enter the district ID: BYZXRS

3. Enter your username and password for Parent Portal.

4. The app will load assignments and grades from your Parent Portal account.

5. Click on the icon with three white lines to toggle between students, if needed, and to view overall grades, assignment grades and attendance.

6. From time to time, tap the refresh arrow so that you are viewing the most updated information for your student.

Are you a BSO parent/guardian, student or teacher with tips and tricks you would like to share? E-mail your ideas to or Your tips and tricks may be featured on a future blog post!