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

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November Update

Happy Fall! We are in the full swing of fall now and it is wonderful! Thank you so much to everyone who brought in items for our Halloween Party; it was so much fun and I know the kids had a blast. Thank you to all the mom’s that helped out as well!

This past month in math we have been working on volume this past month. Students have been developing strategies to find the volume of boxes in practice for finding the volume of rectangular prisms. This unit focuses on comparing the volume of different-shaped containers, finding volume relationships between solids, as well as building a prism with three times the volume of a given pyramid.

In reading, we are working on asking questions before, during, and after reading a variety of texts in order to build schema. Students have also been analyzing the different types of questions to ask during and after reading in both fiction and nonfiction texts.

Students are currently in the middle of their book club books. Each group is working on a differently literary element as well as questioning before, during, and after they read. Some students are working on symbolism within their stories, others are working on analyzing characters, and another book club is working on analyzing the storyline to make sense of what is going on in the story. Students are enjoying these books (and so am I, especially our discussions)!  Students are also learning to compose reading responses to analyze and summarize their readings. Pretty soon, the reading responses will replace the weekly reading log.

We are beginning our unit on opinion writing. Students have been working on understanding both sides of an argument to make an informed opinion. Eventually, students will be using evidence from both sides to build a strong argument on a topic of their choice.

Students will continue to take alternate between spelling and Wordly Wise tests. In order for them to study their words, I have provided them with a menu of spelling activities or students can use Quizlet to study their words.

We have continued our study of living systems. Students have learned about the makeup of cells and soon will be embarking in the study of tissues and organs. Friday, information about the field trip came home. Please see this flyer if you would like more information on how to register your child for the field trip on RevTrack as well as for volunteering for the field trip. I am looking for 5 volunteers to go on the field trip with us. If you are interested, please fill out the bottom of the flyer that came home and return it to me by Friday, November 10th. Names will be placed into a drawing to be determined on Friday, 11/10. I will notify you as soon as soon as names are picked. Thank you!

Dates to Remember

11/7 NO SCHOOL - In Service Day for Teachers
11/13 - 11/17 Book Fair
11/20 - 11/24 Thanksgiving Break (NO SCHOOL)
12/22 NO SCHOOL - Winter Break Starts

12/22 - 1/5 NO SCHOOL - Winter Break

Monday, October 16, 2017

October Update

Welcome back from Fall Break! I hope you all had a relaxing time if you went anywhere or just enjoyed spending quality time with family if you stayed here. I traveled all the way to Parker, Colorado and enjoyed the snow as well as the heat! :) Thank you to those of you who attended conferences. I really enjoyed talking to you and bragging to you about your wonderful children. Like I said many times over, I am so blessed to be teaching your children; they are wonderful human being who will make a huge difference in our world!

I'd like to make a shout out (insert music here) to our Digger Dash Banner creators Cyerra and Michelle Spencer! Thank you so much for making our awesome "Rainbow Brownies" banner. We all loved it!

We have a lot going on in the next five weeks before our next break and I wanted to update you on what we will be doing as well as what you can do to help your child. Please be on the look-out for our Halloween Party information later this week. Also, there will be NO SCHOOL on November 7th.


Right before break we finished up our unit on multiplication and division. However, please know that this will not be the only unit we work on our algorithms and understanding how to multiply and divide whole numbers. I will still be working with your children on this concept. As one of our students was working on some math on the dry erase board, her jacket said it all:

We all have "got this!" And will continue to work on it!

Unit 2 has us learning about prisms and solids. We will be working on discovering, through models and manipulative, the amount of space a 3-D object occupies. We will also be finding the volume of solids composed of rectangular prisms through the formulas of volume.  Here are some activities you could try at home to reinforce what we are doing in class:

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).

Please continue to work on math facts as students will be using these a lot in the coming months.


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.


We will be focusing our strategy work this month on the strategy of questioning.  All proficient readers question before, during, and after reading.  We will be talking about the types of questions we use, which questions can be answered and which questions cannot be answered from the text, questions that deepen our thinking, and how to ask research questions well.  The goal is for readers to identify and focus on questions that are meaningful and help them as readers.

You can support this work at home by discussing the questions you have while you are reading anything: a blog, the paper, magazines, books, emails, and more.  You can also ask your child what they are wondering before they read and afterwards to see if their questions were answered and if new questions arose.


Through this week, we will be finishing up our Personal Narratives. Students will be reflecting on their current personal narrative and reflect on how we can still improve as narrative writers. If you are interested, please have your child show you their personal narratives on Google Drive. They have put a lot of effort and time into writing these stories.

Following this week, we will be having a “Paragraph Boot-Camp.”  This will be a review of how to write well-organized paragraphs. This will be important work and lead us into opinion writing which will be in essay format. In order to write a great essay, we need to be able to write strong paragraphs. One way you can help your child write in a organized paragraphs is to ask them to speak in complete sentences.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

September Update

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

September 4 - NO SCHOOL (Labor Day)
September 6 - Legend Homecoming Parade (4:45)
September 6-8 - CoGat testing 5th graders 11:00-12:00
September 15 - Western Night
September 22 - NO SCHOOL
September 27 - Conferences
September 29 - Digger Dash
October 5 - Conferences


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. In the investigations to come, we will be working on multiplication strategies for solving 2 digit by 2 digit multiplication problems, creating story problems, as well as estimating the product of two numbers to help us solve those problems. From here, we will embark on an investigation of sharing (or division as we all like to call it). :) I will send more information and ways to help your child throughout the investigations. Your child can also access math tools, math games, and math words and ideas to help them in their homework through Pearson Realize. They know their log in and password. They can go to and click on sign in. It will take them to their log in page and they know how to access it from here. I also have many math resources on my Useful Links tab on my blog.


We have been working on metacognition (which is thinking about our thinking) 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 set up our reader’s workshop as well. Next week we will learn about the 40 Book Challenge. We will also refresh our memories about story elements that help us identify plot twists and changes, character changes, and theme. Students have studied the basic story elements (setting, character, problem, and solution) in prior grades. We will be expanding on these to help us see how they all work together to help us interpret  challenging texts. From there, we will be working on building our schema (background knowledge), making meaningful connections that allow us to build our background, as well as studying vocabulary and using vocabulary to enhance our reading experience. You can help your child grow as a reader by talking with them about the books they are reading at home. I will be addressing the 40 Book Challenge further in my next blog post. Basically, I will be challenging kids to read as many books as they can this year. I want them to see how much reading they do in a school year. It’s a fun way to see kid dive into different genres and have a purpose for reading as well! Plus, it’s fun to read! :)

Social Studies

Next week we will begin our unit on geography. This year, students will be studying United States geography and regions. I will be posting more about our unit as we get further along.


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 will start it off next week by mapping our hearts and writing down the most important people, events, or things to them. This weekend would be a great opportunity to talk memories so that they have a bank of ideas when they come in on Tuesday.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

August 21, 2017

These past seven days have been wonderful! Your children are eager to learn and have done a fantastic job setting up our classroom expectations and look-fors. Back to School Night and Assessment days were a success too! Thank you to the families who were able to come to Back to School Night, and for those of you that weren't, I sent home the packet that I handed out.  If you would like the slides, just let me know! One important thing that I forgot to mention that night is about homework:

  • Homework: 50 minutes a night should be expected in 5th grade. If your child is frustrated with the math homework, please write me a note or email, and I will help your child the next day. That goes for any homework that gets to the frustrating point for your child. By the time they are at that point, continuing to work on that subject will not result in learning that night. Homework is meant to be a review of what has been learned, not to become a frustrating time for all parties involved. Thank you for your help in this!
Any and all classroom expectations, homework policies, and so on can be found on my blog under Policies and Procedures. 

We've also written our Class Mission. When I get to school tomorrow, I'll post it on the blog. 

This week is Digital Citizenship Spirit Week.  A flyer came home on Wednesday outlining Spirit Week.  Here is a quick recap:

  • Monday: Wear your favorite sports team shirt or jersy
  • Tuesday: Wear crazy socks and/or shoes
  • Wednesday: Twin day!
  • Thursday: Dress as your favorite Super Hero (please leave masks and weapons at home)
  • Friday: GRE spirit wear
I will be updating our curriculum corner in a couple of weeks so that you can support what we are doing in school, at home. In the meantime, continue to work on math facts. Your child will be bringing home their Reading and Math Log on Monday. I will model for them how to fill it in so that they will know what to do.  It will be due on Friday. Please note, 100 minutes can be spread over the entire seven day week if you so choose. However, I will only be sending home the log on Mondays. 

Tomorrow will be an exciting day at GRE and around the world. Students will have the opportunity to view the eclipse using protective eye wear provided by Mrs. Brown (thank you!!). We will be talking in depth about the eclipse before and after it occurs. Students will be reading articles and watching videos to prepare them and then we will have a discussion about it when we come back inside. I am thrilled we are getting this opportunity to watch and learn about the eclipse! 

If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to contact me via email or call the school. 


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Back to School!!

I'm looking forward to meeting families tomorrow! Here is some important information for this first week of school as well as information on next week.  Have a great week!

Monday - August 7th

Meet your teacher! Please show up with your supplies at the time you signed up for. I can't wait to meet you and welcome you to our classroom!!

Thursday - August 10th

First day of School!! Meet me on the blacktop by my name.  I will be there ready to see you! We will have the flag ceremony and then enter the building to begin our day together. Families are welcome to stay for the flag ceremony.

Friday- August 11th

Second day of school and the rolling start begins. Here is information about drop off and pick up from Dr. Brown on the principal's blog.

We would like to continue a rolling start to the school day next year.  Instead of having students line up outside of the building each morning, students will enter the building from the main entrance between 8:20-8:30 AM and report directly to their classroom.  Teachers will supervise students in the classroom as they begin their morning routine.  We believe that this new routine will allow for a more natural transition to the start of the school day.

During Meet Your Teacher, parents will have an opportunity to show their child how to walk to his/her new classroom.  Students will meet their teacher in their line outside of school on the first day of school where they will participate in a flag ceremony with their class.  Classroom teachers will then review how students will walk to their classroom on the second day of school.  On Friday, August 11, students will enter the school between 8:20 AM and 8:30 AM.  Staff members will escort students to their classrooms that need additional assistance.  To ensure all students’ safety, we ask that parents:

1) DO NOT drop off their child before 8:20 AM
2) Say good-bye to their children outside of the building.

Supervision, including cross walk supervision, will not be provided prior to 8:20 AM so it is essential that students do not arrive prior to that time.

For more information on drop off, please click here.

Wednesday - August 16th

Back to School Night for parents only

We will host two back to school sessions in our classroom: 6:05-6:35 PM & 6:40-7:10 PM. I will be going over policies and homework requirements for the year. Dr. Brown will be sharing celebrations and information about the school year from 5:45-6:00. I hope to see you there!

Thursday & Friday - August 17th & 18th

Assessment Day - 1 hour time slots

From the principal's blog:

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 either August 17th or August 18th to complete reading and math assessments.  Having students complete assessments with their teacher at the end of the second week of school allows students to adjust to classroom practices and procedures.  The assessments administered will 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 17th – July 31st to select your assessment day and time.  The password is digger.  Because we value the information we obtain on these days, it is mandatory that all children complete their assessments on either August 17th or August 18th.  Please bring your child to the front vestibule and teachers will escort him/her to his/her testing location.  Students will conclude their assessment day 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 both August 17th and 18th.  Please contact B.A.S.E. as soon as possible as spaces are limited.

Friday, August 4, 2017


Dear Students and Parents,

Hello and welcome back!! My name is Kelly Broecker (pronounced Breker) and I am excited that I am going to be your child’s teacher for the 2017-2018 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!  

I am a fourth generation native to Colorado.  I was born in Denver, grew up in Crested Butte, and moved to Arvada for High School.  I stuck with the Colorado theme when I went to Colorado State University in Fort Collins and received my BA in History.  From there I began to pursue my true passion: teaching. I received my Elementary Educators license from Metropolitan State College of Denver in 2000 and my Masters in Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction in 2009.  I first began teaching in Adams 12 School District in 2000 where I taught 4th and 5th grades there for seven years before moving to Parker with my family in 2007.  I helped open and taught 4th grade at Mammoth Heights Elementary for eight years.  However, in 2015-2016, I stepped out of the classroom to pursue another passion of mine, which was coaching and mentoring teachers my last year at Mammoth Heights. However, I missed my students way too much and I went back to the classroom at Aspen Crossing Elementary in Cherry Creek where I taught 4th grade.  In total, I’ve spent 17 wonderful and blessed years in education. I am thrilled to be returning to Douglas County and teaching 5th grade at Gold Rush this year!  Education is my passion and watching your children grow to be strong, independent critical thinkers is why I teach.

As I said before, we 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 17 years, and we have two wonderful daughters. Emily, who is 14, will be attending Chaparral High School as a Freshman, and Abby, who is 11, will be attending Sierra Middle School as a 7th grader. 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, running, rooting for CSU Ram Football, walking to enjoy our beautiful weather and scenery, and of course, watching my girls play soccer.

As you know from the GRE website and our principal’s emails, our beginning of the year meetings will be just like last year.  We will be having a meet the teacher event on Monday, August 7th and the first day of school for everyone will be Thursday the 10th.  Every child will need to have a scheduled time for completing math and reading testing on our school-wide assessment days, August 17th and 18th.  

I look forward to meeting you on August 7th 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