Sunday, October 14, 2018

October 2018

Welcome back from Fall Break! I hope you were able to spend time as a family and maybe even get away! I spent my time relaxing and hanging out with my was great! This month's blog post has ways you can help your child in math, reading, and writing. As we close up old units and begin new ones, your children will continue to grow their minds and hopefully be challenged along the way!

Thank you so much to Kelly & Gavin Binder for creating our awesome Digger Dash banner!

More information will be coming about our Halloween Party on October 31st. It will be from 8:45-9:30 with the parade right after. Immediately after the parade, class will resume as normal.

No School on November 6.

We are in collection mode right now! Please send in your Box Tops to our classroom. It would be awesome if we were able to win the Pizza Party! I'm also collecting at home and bringing them in. As of now, with a recent Costco run, I have around 50. I'll keep collecting! Please make sure they are not expired and are trimmed up. Thanks for helping our school!!


As we continue to analyze themes in a variety of stories we read in class, your children will continue to analyze themes in their own readings. We are going to begin full-fledged book clubs this week. Students will be running their own book clubs and analyzing and interpreting the books as they read them. I am excited to watch students embark on this new journey of discovering the joy of discussing books with peers! I will be a part of the discussion sometimes and an observer at other times. Please ask your student which book they are reading and encourage them to make sure they stay on track with their reading plans. Below are rubrics we are using to help us guide our learning and thinking. We use these in our journaling about reading as well.

We are working toward these standards:
  • I can explain the relationship between specific parts of a drama or story and the overall organizational structure of the text 
  • I can identify details in a text that develop a theme 
  • I can summarize a text by explaining how multiple details work together to communicate the main idea
  • I can identify details in a text that develop a theme 
  • I can compare characters, settings, or events in a narrative text 
  • I can explain how the narrator’s point of view influences descriptions of events in a text

Friday before Fall Break began, students finished up their small moments that they were working on. For the next week or two, we will be studying mentor texts and then using what we learn to improve upon those small moments that we wrote. After that, we will begin a paragraph boot camp. During this boot camp, we will be learning how to craft good paragraphs for a variety of writing genres. After that, we will begin a more in-depth look at how to craft a good reading response.

We are working toward these standards:

  • I can introduce a topic in an introductory paragraph 
  • I can provide a concluding section or paragraph at the end of a text 
  • I can create event sequences that illustrate a clear causal relationship 
  • I can use descriptive details to develop settings, experiences, characters, and events 
  • I can use dialogue to develop character personality and reactions

We have finished up our unit on multiplication and division, but we have not left it behind! We will continue to work with multiplication and division in the units to come, especially our next unit which has us focusing on Prisms and Solids. In this unit, students focus on the structure and volume of three-dimensional shapes, specifically on rectangular prisms and solids composed of rectangular prisms. Students will be building models and patterns for boxes that hold quantities of cubes and calculate the volume of these boxes, using a cube as a unit of measure. In investigation 2, students will understand and develop a formula to solve the volume of a rectangular and rectangular L-shaped prism. Ways that you can help your child at home would be to encourage them to explain their thinking to you. Also, you can access the following website to help your child understand cubic units as well as understanding more about prisms and volume-->

Rectangular Prisms
Standard Cubic Units
Volume of Rectangular Prisms (video)
Volume Formulas
Changing the Dimensions and Changing the Volume

How many packages in a box?

Many household items are packaged and sold in boxes. You and your child can take a large cardboard box and predict how many bars of soap (toothpaste, pudding, cereal boxes) would fit in that box. You might try a variety of boxes at home or explore the way things are packaged when you visit grocery stores or other stores.

Volume of a Room
Another activity for exploring volume is to compare the amount of space in different rooms. At school, students will find the volume of their classroom in cubic meters. At home, your child can find the volume of various rooms. Which room do you think has the largest volume? Which room has the smallest volume? Why? Discuss how to compare rooms of unusual shapes (a slanted ceiling or an L-shape).

We are working toward these standards:
  • I can determine the volume of right rectangular prisms by packing them with unit cubes. 
  • I can calculate the volume of right rectangular prisms arithmetically. 
  • I can calculate the volume of three-dimensional figures composed of right rectangular prisms.

I’m excited to be starting science this week! We will be learning about the Scientific Method and how we can use it to be scientists everywhere in the world, but mostly in our classroom (for now). Students will know and understand the characteristics and structures of living things, the processes of life and how living things interact with each other and their environment. To begin, students will be investigating the difference between living and nonliving things. Next, we will look at life process as well as the cell as a building block for all living things. We will then move on to human body systems and how all the body systems have separate functions, structures, and needs. This unit culminates with our yearly field trip to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to dissect a sheep's lung and see the exhibit, "Nature's Amazing Machines". I will be sending more information about this field trip as we get closer to the date.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Important Information Week of 9/17

Fall Conferences
The parent-teacher conference schedule has been released. Please sign up here. The password is digger. I would love it if your child joined us for the conference. While I know that this is not always possible, it is a great way to involve your child in their education because we will be discussing their growth and goals for this year. Conferences are Thursday 9/27 and Thursday 10/6. If the times offered do not work for you, please email me and we can discuss an alternative.

Picture Retakes
Picture retakes are September 19th. If you need to order pictures, please go to - Picture Day Id: CG878219Y1.

Digger Dash - 9/20
The GRE annual Digger Dash will be this Thursday. We will be racing from 10:50-11:35. As always, you are invited to come cheer us on as we race. While our race time is still in the morning, it could be very hot by the time we race (provided the rain doesn't decide to show up on Thursday). We are asking students to bring in their own labeled water bottles; PTO will not be providing water this year in order to save money on cups so it can be spent elsewhere. We will be bringing our water bottles outside with us and Parent Volunteers will be setting up a table to house those water bottles. We will resume our normal school day after Digger Dash is over.

No School this Friday, September 21--Teacher's have an inservice day.

Monday, September 3, 2018

September 2018

Wow! The year is off to a great start! Students are putting forth their best “growth mindset” effort and our learning has kicked off. Each month I will be highlighting what we have learned and what you can do to help your student. Please ask your student about Growth Mindset and what it means. It is pretty cool to hear it from them!

Important Dates

9/3 - Labor Day! No School
9/10, 9/12, 9/14 - CoGat testing (see letter send via email)
9/20 - Digger Dash
9/21 - NO SCHOOL
9/27 & 10/4 - Parent Teacher Conferences (also I will offer other days the week of the 27th and the 4th)
10/8-10/12 - Fall Break


Hopefully by now you have seen your child’s math homework. We have been working pretty hard on solving number puzzles and refining our understanding of even, odd, prime, composite, factors, and multiples. Today we talked about the Order of Operations (PEMDAS - Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction). We have not yet introduced exponents, but it will come! Students are working on understanding how to insert parentheses and work with them along with the operations that they need to solve in order for a number sentence to be true. Students are also working on learning their math facts. They need to continue to work nightly on them as we are finding out that it can be hard to see if a number sentence is true if we are struggling to solve the problem. I have encouraged students to think of strategies to help them solve those hard facts such as using facts you know to get to the facts you don’t as well as using multiples to help figure out an answer. This week, I sent home homework helpers each night. This is great information to help you help your kiddo. We are also working on different strategies to solve multi-digit multiplication problems: array method, stacking (partial products), and traditional method of multiplication. I encourage them to find the one that works best and then use it.

To help your child in the future for math, refer them to this page, Math Words & Ideas page for Investigations. This page can help your child if they are stuck on a concept that we learned that day or if they just need a refresher on how to do the problem. They find the topic, then click on the specified link that will take them to a tutorial or video. For example, we are learning about multiplication right now. They would find the multiplication hexagon, click on it and a menu will pop up, then they would click on Multiplication Strategies from the menu that pops up. Here is another link for math games that they can play online to help enhance what we are doing in class. They are the online versions of the games that we play. This week, we are playing Multiplication Compare.

Here is more information on helping your child with math homework:


Math homework can often be a frustrating experience for children and parents.  Parents were often taught traditional algorithms and do not know the strategies students are learning today.  While these strategies promote a deeper conceptual understanding of key math concepts, it is difficult for parents to see the benefits when they are unaware of them themselves.

We have a great resource that will help!  The Math Words and Ideas site from the Investigations Math Series has links to math videos that explain how all concepts are taught at each grade level.

Watching these short videos are a great way to review how and why concepts were taught a certain way.  You may even consider watching with your child.  The presentation below provides a few additional tips to promote a love of math at home.

 Click here to access this site.

Simply click on your child's grade level on the left-hand side of the screen.  When you click on a math concept additional subtopics appear.  Each subtopic includes a short video explaining strategies taught at school.  In the example below, third grade was selected on left and arrays was chosen under the concept of multiplication.

Click on the presentation below on how to help your child with math homework.


We are finishing up our “10 questions.” Students have been working on writing a piece modeled after the Time weekly article. They worked hard to come up with questions to ask themselves and then answer those questions with voice. They are great and I can’t wait to share them with you at conferences! These articles will segway into our unit where students write their own personal narrative. You can help by talking with your child about important events that have happened in their lives or encourage them to tell stories about events that are memorable to them. We worked on mapping our hearts and writing down the most important people, events, or things to them so that students had ideas to write about. We will begin writing about small moments in our lives on Tuesday.


We have been working on metacognition (which is thinking about our thinking), synthesizing, and determining importance in reading (writing and math, too). Students have been encouraged to keep track of when they become confused and how they clear up their confusion while they read. I have also been talking with the kids about how important it is to read just right books. We learn and grow when we push our thinking, and just right books can do that. We have also been refreshing our schema on story elements that help us identify plot twists and changes, character changes, and theme. Students have studied basic story elements (setting, character, problem and solution) in prior grades; but in 5th grade, we will be expanding our knowledge of story elements to help us see how they all work together to help us interpret challenging texts.

We have also started our new reading unit this past week. Students will be working from the following rubric to help elevate their reading to new levels this year. The rubric includes responding to reading, looking at story elements at a deeper level, looking at the story whole and how the parts contribute to that, developing the idea of a theme or multiple themes, studying the author's craft, and analyzing perspective. At home, you can help your child by talking to them at a deeper level of what they are reading. Instead of asking them the basic questions of who are the characters, what is the setting, etc, talk to them about how their thinking may have changed as they were reading the story. Ask them questions that are on the list on this handout from parent night. You'll find that they will dig deeper into the story and that will help them elevate their thinking and their reading.

Social Studies

We are underway in our Geography unit. Students are learning what geography is and how they will go about studying it this year. Students will be choosing a region and completing some research on that region. They will then present it to their classmates. I encourage students to get to know the 50 states and capitals, not just the region that they are studying. Here are some fun games and songs to help them learn those 50 states and capitals:

USA Geography - capitals, states, and landscapes
USA puzzle map
Fill in the States - states and capitals
Name the state (you can pick it or spell it)
Tour the States Song

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Back to School Night Slide Show and Quick Thoughts

If you are interested, here is the Back to School Night Presentation.

Here are some important points you can take away from the slide show:

  1. Reading Homework Log is the responsibility of the student. They need to get you to sign it. Also, it must be turned in weekly (on Friday) completed. Students should be reading a minimum of 100 minutes per week.
  2. Math: If a child forgets their math, they can get onto Pearson Realize (their username is their lastnamefirstinitialgre and their password is Dcsdlunchnumber). They can either copy it onto another piece of paper or try to print it.
  3. Quizlet is a way for students to study their words. Here is another way to study spelling: Spelling Homework Ideas
  4. We alternate between spelling and vocabulary. Spelling will start next week (September 4th)
  5. Check the blog for any updates. Make sure you bookmark our page! :) 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

First Week

I am so excited about the upcoming year! We had a great first two days of getting to know you activities and talking about how we can apply a Growth Mindset in everything we do inside and outside the classroom.  We will continue this discussion next week as well as how to apply it when we are working in the different subjects. This summer, as I was watching CBS Sunday Morning, a wonderful 3 minute piece came on that was the epitome of giving effort and growing your brain. Here is the piece if you are interested: Going the Extra Length. Enjoy! 

Here are some upcoming happenings that will be taking place next week...

Wednesday, August 15th is Back to School Night

Session 1: 6:05-6:35 PM
Session 2: 6:40-7:10 PM
Back to School Night will give families an overview of the grade level curriculum, homework practices, information on math resource guides, and general classroom procedures.

Tuesday, August 28th is our Assessment Day
Students will come to their scheduled time slot to complete reading and math assessments.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Welcome to the 2018-2019 School Year!

Dear Families,

Hello and welcome back!! My name is Kelly Broecker (pronounced Breker) and I am so excited
that I am going to be your child’s teacher for the 2018-2019 school year at Gold Rush. I cannot
wait for this year to begin so that we can get to know one another and have a fun, successful year
of learning!

Growing up in Colorado, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. 18 years ago I stepped into
my first classroom and haven’t looked back. Education is my passion and watching your children
grow to be strong, independent critical thinkers is why I teach. I have a BA in History from Colorado
State University, my Elementary Educators license from Metropolitan State College of Denver and
my Masters in Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction. I’ve taught both 4th and 5th grades over
the past 18 years as well as one of those years as an instructional coach. Last year was my first
year at Gold Rush and I couldn’t have asked for a better community and school to be a part of.

My family and I live right here in Parker. I love teaching in the community where I live.  It allows me
to stay connected to my children and the entire Parker community. I am married to my husband
of 18 years, and we have two wonderful daughters. Emily, 15, is a Sophomore at Chaparral High
School, and Abby, 13, is an 8th grader at Sierra Middle School. Both of our girls play soccer
and Abby runs track as well.  As a family we enjoy watching soccer, walking our dog Izzy,
and hanging out together during any free time we have! My own hobbies include reading,
rooting for CSU Ram Football, walking to enjoy our beautiful weather and scenery, and of course,
watching my girls play soccer.

Here is information from Dr. Brown’s back to school letter regarding the beginning of the school
year. Please read to the end as I know this is a lot of information, but it is important:

Wednesday, July 18th – July 31st  Online Express Check In
Online Express Check In will open on Wednesday, July 18.  Click here to login.  You will use
Online Express Check In to update your contact information, pay school fees and sign up for
volunteer opportunities.  Please note that some of the forms need to be printed and turned
in to your teacher during Meet Your Teacher Day on Monday, August 6, or the first day of
school.  All students must register via Online Express Check In by July 31st.  For assistance
please contact one of the individuals below:

Monday, August 6th - Meet Your Teacher
We believe that it is essential for students to have the opportunity to meet their teacher and
visit their classroom prior to the first day of school.  Families are welcome to visit their classroom
on Monday, August 6, and drop off school supplies.  

We want to ensure that families are able to spend time with the teacher in a small group
setting so we ask that you sign up for one of the times shown below by clicking here for our
online scheduler.  The online scheduler will be available July 18th through July 31st and the
password is digger.  The sign up is first come first serve, so please sign up as soon as possible if
you have a preferred time or wish to align siblings’ times.  If you ordered school supplies through
the PTO they will be delivered to your child’s classroom.  Click here for a map of teachers’

Meet Your Teacher Times on Monday, August 6th


Thursday, August 9th -  First Full Day of School
The first full day of school for students in grades K-5 is Thursday, August 9th.  Students will meet
their teachers on the front blacktop on the first day of school for an opening flag ceremony that
begins at 8:30 AM.  Click here for a map of your classroom location for our opening ceremony.  
All teachers will also have a sign with their name on it.

Friday, August 10th - Rolling Start to the School Day Begins
On the second day of school students will enter the building through the front door on their own
between 8:20 AM-8:30AM and walk directly to their classrooms.  Teachers and older students
will be available to assist younger students. Our rolling start ensures a smooth start to the day.
Parents of preschool students will need to walk their children into the building using the west
entrance and sign their child in.  School will be in session from 8:30AM-3:30PM next year.
Click here for the 2018 - 2019 Conventional Calendar
Click here for information regarding the Rolling Start to the School Day
Click here for general drop off and pick up procedures.
Wednesday, August 15th – Back to School Night for Parents Only
Classroom teachers will provide parents with an overview of the school year on Wednesday,
August 15th, during the following two Back to School Night sessions: 6:05-6:35 PM & 6:40-7:10 PM.  
The principal will share school celebrations and upcoming goals for the year in the gym from
5:45-6:00 PM.  We hope you will join us for these informative sessions.
Tuesday, August 28th – 1 Assessment Hour
In an attempt to gain more targeted information regarding your child’s academic strengths
and needs each child will come to school for one hour only on August 28th to complete
reading and math assessments.  The assessments administered allow educators to alter their
instruction to meet your child’s individual needs and learning style.
Click here for the online conference scheduler between July 18th – July 31st to select an
assessment time for your child.  The password is digger.  Because we value the information
we obtain on these days, it is mandatory that all children complete their assessments on August 28th.  
Please bring your child to the front vestibule and teachers will escort him/her to his/her testing
location.  Students will conclude their assessment hour in the gym where your child take his/her
school picture.  Our Before and After School Enrichment program (B.A.S.E.) will be available on
August 28th.  Please contact B.A.S.E. as soon as possible as spaces are limited.

I am looking forward to meeting you on August 6th so we can kick-off our year! Please feel free
to contact me anytime at Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Best regards,

Kelly Broecker

My family and I in Manzanita, Oregon!