Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May Update

May Update

First and foremost, please email me a current picture and a baby picture of your kiddo for our end of year slideshow.  This is an annual tradition that everyone loves.  Also, if you have other pictures from school events this year (parties, fieldtrips, etc) I'll gladly take them and add them to the show.  Thank you to those of you that have sent in the pictures already. I have emailed you back with confirmation that I received your pictures. If you did not get an email back from me, I did not get your pictures. 

Our "Growing and Changing Bodies" discussion will be on May 10th.  Genders will be separated for the discussions and questions.  We encourage you to start having conversations with your child about how their bodies will begin to change as they go through puberty.  We, as a fifth grade team, will be leading the discussions and we will send out a link to the video we will be showing for  you to preview if you wish.  More to come soon!

For those who are new to the Gold Rush family, our end of elementary send off takes place on the last day of school, May 25th.  Students will come to school as normal and we will board buses to go to Tallman Park (across from Legend High School) around 10ish.  There we will spend a good part of the day just celebrating and enjoying each other's company.  Families are welcome to attend.  Often times people bring chairs, blankets, lawn games, etc.  Sandwiches will be provided for our fifth graders, but unfortunately, we will not be able to provide lunch for additional family members.  Bring a sack lunch and come join us!!  I will send a signup soon to ask for donations of chips and water.  Around 1pm we will load buses and return to GRE.  We ask that parents head straight to the gym where we will watch slideshows from all five fifth grade classes.  When the shows are over, students will return to classes for a last goodbye while everyone gets ready for our traditional Clap Out.  Students get to walk the halls while the entire school claps them out.  We will direct parents where to go to be a part of the fun.  

Also coming up is our day at Outdoor Education at Stone Canyon Outdoor Education.  This will be May 22 for our class.  The cost is $60.00.

In order for your child to participate in this field trip/program you must register (includes online permission form)  & pre-pay on-line by going to: RevTrak > Elementary Schools > Elementary Schools E thru L > Gold Rush > Field Trips. The RevTrak link can be found on GRE’s website under Parent Info or click hereRegistrations MUST be completed by 2 days prior to your field trip. 
  •  Online registration is for your student only- please do not register yourself or younger siblings.
  • Free/Reduced students will have the option of selecting "no payment" but must still register. 
  • No refunds
There will also be an additional paper form that Outdoor Ed requires.  In order to have a full day there and experience as much as possible, we will be asking students to come to school early that day.  Students will need to arrive at GRE at 8:00 on the 22nd in order to get to Stone Canyon by 9:00.  We will be back at school before the normal dismissal time.

5/10 Growing and Changing
5/18 School Musical
5/22 Outdoor Ed
5/23 Field Day
5/25 Picnic, slideshows, clap out


We are continuing our work with the Thinking Strategies in Reading. Our thinking has been around Synthesizing and Summarizing. We have been using Social Studies articles and readings on Colonial America and the American Revolution to hone this skill. Here is an explanation of what synthesizing is and how we target it in our classroom: 
  1. Synthesizing Information
    at a text level, readers . . .
    continually monitor overall meaning, important concepts and themes while reading
    recognize ways in which text elements fit together to create larger meaning
    create new and personal meaning
    develop holistic and/or thematic statements which encapsulate the overall meaning of the text
    capitalize on opportunities to share, recommend and criticize books
    attend to the evolution of their thoughts across time while reading a text, and while reading many
    texts (getting to the "gist" of an article, reacting to text and facts, etc)
    at a word level, readers . . .
    select specific vocabulary from the text(s) to include in their synthesis because they know that specific language is highly meaning-laden
    know when certain vocabulary is critical to the text’s overall meaning, and therefore, must be understood if comprehension is to be achieved


We are working on our informational writing right now. Currently, we are finishing up our essay on a topic of choice regarding Colonial America. We will be done with these on Friday, May 4th and will begin working on researching a topic of choice around the American Revolution. Students have been working on growing their ideas, thinking about how geography and timelines impact a historically driven informational piece, and growing our thinking by adding in our own thinking to facts we have researched. Our American Revolution paper will be due May 18th. 


We wrapped up our Unit 7 by taking the test on Friday, April 27th. Students and I will still be working on concepts from that unit such as division and multiplication of fractions and decimals. We began Unit 5 today and we will focus our energy on analyzing patterns and rules. This strand has students focusing on using coordinate graphs, ordered pairs, tables, and symbolic notation to model real-world situations. Students will be working and analyzing temperature and height changes over time in a variety of real-world situations. We will also be working on perfecting our division algorithm so that we can divide successfully outside of school. 

Here is a link to videos and short lessons to help with Unit 5. 

Throughout the unit, students will be working on these goals: 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

April Update

Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope you had a fantastic time, whether you were on
vacation or hanging at home with your kids. If you had to work, I hope you were able to take
some time off. We are sliding into the last two months of the year (which, as I expressed to
many of you at conferences, I am terribly sad about). These months seem to go super fast
and have lots of “must knows” so I will do my best to keep you posted. Please make sure to
read Dr. Brown’s blog weekly and the weekly Thursday Folder email will be helpful for events
coming up.

Dates to remember
Testing: March 28th, 29th, 30th, April 2nd, 3rd, 4th 9th, 10, and 11th
Cimarron Visit: April 25th 1pm-2pm (Students only- more information will be sent in April)
Puberty Talk: May 10th (Tentative- more information will be sent in April, including links to the
videos that will be shown)
Field Day: May 11th
Outdoor Ed Trip: May 21st (More information will be sent home in May)
5th Grade Picnic and Slideshow: May 25th (More information will be sent home in May)


Students in grades 3-5 will begin their state testing when we return from spring break.  Students in the intermediate grade will be assessed in literacy and math using the state CMAS assessments, or the Colorado Measures of Academic Success.  Fifth graders will take an additional science assessment. The testing schedule is shown below.  Please refrain from scheduling outside appointments during all testing times.  We also recommend that students get plenty of rest and eat a healthy breakfast during the testing window.

March 28, 29 & 30 CMAS English Language Arts Assessment 
9:00-10:30 3rd Grade
10:15-12:00 5th Grade
1:30-3:00 4th Grade 

April 2, 3 & 4 CMAS Math
9:00-10:30 3rd Grade
10:45-12:15 5th Grade

April 9, 10 & 11 CMAS Math & Science
10:00-11:45 5th Grade - Science

1:30-3:00 4th Grade - Math 

Reading & Writing

We are working with the thinking strategy of Determining Importance. Through a variety of
nonfiction texts on Explorers, students have been reading to answer a question as well as
determine important information that they need in order to answer that question. We will
continue to use all other thinking strategies (schema, connections, questioning, and inferring)
in order to help us determine what is important about what it is we are reading. We will also
begin our work with synthesizing information. The following information is from PEBC
(Public Educators Business Coalition) regarding synthesizing information. These are the
look-fors I will be teaching and using to assess whether students can synthesize information
and determine importance in both reading and for the informational writing that we will
begin in a week.

Synthesizing Information, readers . . .
■ continually monitor overall meaning, important concepts and themes while reading
■ recognize ways in which text elements fit together to create larger meaning
■ create new and personal meaning
■ develop thematic statements which encapsulate the overall meaning of the text
■ capitalize on opportunities to share, recommend and criticize books
■ attend to the evolution of their thoughts across time while reading a text, and while reading
many texts

Determining Importance, readers . . .
■ identify key ideas, themes and elements as they read
■ distinguish between important and unimportant information using their own purpose(s),
as well as the text structures and word cues the author provides
■ use text structures and text features to help decide what is essential and what is extraneous
■ use their knowledge of important and relevant parts of text to prioritize what they commit to
long-term memory and what they retell and/or summarize for others
■ consider the author’s bias/point of view
■ use the filter of essential/other to clarify usefulness when applying other cognitive strategies
to their reading

We will begin our information writing unit where students will be writing about Colonial America
and then the American Revolution. I’m excited for students to begin exploring these interesting


As you have seen, your students are embarking in a mathematical unit where they are learning
how to multiply fractions. When we get back from break, they will learn how to divide fractions
and then we will move onto multiplying and dividing decimals. I have been assigning helpful
videos for students to watch at home. These videos will also help you to understand what and
how I am teaching the concepts. Just click on the topic, in this case Multiplication of Fractions
and Decimals or Division of Fractions and Decimals, and there are a couple of videos to choose
from. Here is an example of what we will be learning:


Our class is beginning a new science unit, the FOSS Mixtures and Solutions Module. We will be
studying basic concepts in chemistry, finding out how materials interact with each other. Children
will learn what happens when simple materials, like gravel, salt, and water, are put together.
They will also learn techniques for separating the resulting mixtures and solutions. As our studies
continue, we will investigate combinations of materials, like baking soda and calcium chloride
(the salt used to melt ice on roads), that react when mixed, producing new products, like chalk,
carbon-dioxide gas, and table salt. These are exciting discoveries!

The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) requires the following label to
be on student sheets associated with the use of these chemicals in the FOSS investigations:
calcium chloride, citric acid, diatomaceous earth, Epsom salts, and kosher salt. It is a reminder to
the students to exercise particular safety precautions when working with materials in the classroom.

You can bring chemistry to life at home by exploring familiar household materials in a scientific
way. Some of the interesting chemicals you may have at hand include baking soda, baking powder,
alum, table salt, Epsom salts, flour, sugar, cornstarch, and vinegar. Add to these a few pieces
of “laboratory equipment” such as jars, margarine tubs, plastic cups, and spoons, and you are
ready to extend the classroom experiences into your home.

We are looking forward to many weeks of exciting investigations with mixtures and solutions.
If you have any questions or comments, or have expertise you would like to share with the
class, please drop me a note.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

February Update

Our Valentine's Party is on Wednesday, February 14 from 2:30-3:15. Here is the link to the Sign-Up Genius. More to come about February soon!!

Our Valentine’s Day party is shaping up. Students will be writing the directions for the games tomorrow and I know they are looking forward to celebrating together. Boxes are not a requirement for students to bring to collect their Valentine’s, but they certainly can if they would like. If they choose not to bring a box, make sure they have a bag of some sort to bring home any Valentine’s that they receive. Below are updates on curriculum and what is to come with our calendar.

Conferences will be on Thursday, March 8 & Thursday, March 15. They will be sending the schedule out soon so you can sign up. If the dates/times cannot fit with your schedule, please email me so that we can make a time work for you!!

Dates to remember
February 14: Valentine’s Day party at 2:30
February 16: No School (teacher meeting day)

February 19: No School (Presidents Day)
March 8 & 15: Parent Teacher Conferences (schedule will be released soon)

Reading & Writing

We continue to work on inferring with fiction and nonfiction texts. We find ourselves inferring
every time we read science text or our group books. Students are learning that this is a critical
skill for them to understand more challenging texts. The formula we use is BK + TC = I.
(Background Knowledge + Text Clues = Inferring). You can help with this by asking your child
what they are reading about and then asking them to explain their thinking about the text. You
can follow that up by asking, “How do you know that?” Getting them to reach into the text to
pull out evidence to back up their thinking is what you are looking for. We are also working
on using our inferring skills to respond to texts. Students will begin responding to their reading
at home next week. A detailed description about requirements will be in Google Classroom
and on our Blog for students to refer to. They will use Google Classroom to write the
response. There will not be a question to answer, but this will be an opportunity for them to
respond to their reading.


Students have embarked on the world of decimals. Students will be learning how to order,
compare, round and add/subtract decimals all the way to the thousandths place. When
this short unit is over, students will be moving on to multiplying and dividing fractions and
decimals. In order to help your child, you could have them put the cost of a couple of items
on the grocery list in order from least to greatest. Here is an example of what the students
will be learning:


We are continuing to learn about water through our investigation of evaporation,
condensation, the effect of temperature on condensation, and more within the water cycle.
After that, we will learn about heat and the earth and how earth’s materials heat up at
different rates. All of this will help students understand the ever changing weather on our

Monday, January 15, 2018

January Update

Good Afternoon! I hope this blog update finds you refreshed after a long three day weekend (that is if you had today off). I really enjoyed my time off with my family over break, but I was excited on Monday to see your children! I missed them and I missed our daily laughter. Below are updates on curriculum and what is to come with our calendar.

Dates to remember
February 2: Sock Hop at GRE
February 16: No School (teacher meeting day)
February 19: No School (President’s Day)


This month and into next, we will be focusing on inferring while reading texts. We are also refreshing our schema’s to help us access information we have previously learned in order to understand texts. Book clubs will begin this next week. Students have chosen their books and are excited to get started! Beginning in February, students will be required to write me a reading response to whatever they are reading at home. This will occur on one previously assigned night per week. More will be coming in the next update. I will also discuss this with students in detail before it is assigned.


We have entered into a quick 2 week study of reading and writing poetry. Poetry fits nicely in with inferring and it is always fun to polish up on our word choice and voice while writing poetry. After this coming week, we will begin working on reading responses and will carry that into February. Please note, all information for reading responses will be posted in Google Classroom for students to access, which can be done from home.

We are continuing our study of fractions and will be wrapping up in the next two weeks
so we can begin looking at decimals. Students have been learning about equivalent fractions
and adding fractions. By the end of our unit, they will have learned how to add and subtract
fractions and mixed numbers as well as find common denominators to carry out the operations. 


We have embarked on our next science unit on water. We will be investigating evaporation,
condensation, the effect of temperature on condensation, and more within the water cycle.
After that, we will learn about heat and the earth and how earth’s materials heat up at
different rates. All of this will help students understand the ever changing weather on our earth.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December Update

Wow, I can’t believe it is already December; time sure has flown by! I will be emailing in the near future about our winter celebration. I need to talk with the kids first, which I will be doing this week. Please look for that email by Friday at the latest. Thanks!


We began our second round of book clubs last week. Students are well on their way to meeting new friends and going on some great adventures. Make sure to ask them what book they are reading and what they like about it. One way to help them further their understanding in their books is to have them give you a quick summary about what they have just read (not the whole book). You can use the format: Somebody...Wanted....But...So....Then.... We have been using this format to help us summarize the reading assignments and the whole book. Please see the picture below and the example to further help your student.

(Somebody) Auggie, an 11 year old boy who was home schooled because he was born with a facial deformity, wanted to attend regular school, be treated just like other students, and wanted to have friends. But, he discovered at school that even though he did make a few friends, others still would not accept him for who he was. So Auggie proved that he could be a leader in a tough situation and surprised many people, including himself. Then, the other students realized that even though Auggie looked different, he was just like them on the inside.

We have been working on understanding how imagery, in conjunction with our reading strategies, can help us understand the books we are reading. Students have been working on paying attention to keywords to help them visualize and understand poetry and books. For the rest of the week, we will be working on using visualization to help us infer, draw conclusions, and retell/summarize a text.


We have just finished up our Chocolate Milk research based argument essay. Our next step is to pick our own topic, research it, and then write a research-based argument. We will be brainstorming topics in class and then students will begin researching their topic. Students will also continue to write reading responses every Friday. Students will be assigned their reading response on Wednesday and it will be due Friday. I provide time in class to work on their paragraphs, but if they do not finish in that time provided, it will be homework. However, please note that the homework is only ONE paragraph per night, not the entire response. Students can consult the blog for which paragraph is assigned per night beginning on Wednesday.


We are underway in our fraction unit. I have expressed to students that the week back from break was an investigation for me. I am trying to figure out what they know and remember about fractions so that I can teach them at their knowledge level. Students will be working with equivalent fractions, ordering fractions, and adding and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers. Please see the information from Dr. Brown’s Principal’s Blog for more information on how you can help your child in math.


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.

Click here to access this site.

Simply click on your child's grade level at 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.

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 for the presentation.


Nico's all gloved up and ready to go!
Wow! What an experience we had on November 28th! The lung lab at the Denver Science and Nature Museum was a success! In 17 years of teaching, I have never experienced such a field trip and I think the kids had a blast. Please see your kids in action below. We will continue our study of human body systems until the end of the semester. Students will learn about the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive system. We will briefly touch on the endocrine, muscle, nervous, excretory, and skeletal systems as well.
Riley and Ashley digging in
Alyssa & Rylie looking at the lobes of the lung
Omid & Myles getting ready to cut

Jovan & Cooper getting a little help from our lung lab instuctor
Bella & Ava trying to figure out where to cut next