Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Upcoming Dates

Writer's Afternoon with Parents: Tuesday, May 30th at 2:15 

Field Day: Wednesday, May 31st

4th Grade Class Picnic with Parents: Friday, June 2nd 

More details will follow via email regarding the writer's afternoon and the class picnic.  Field Day is organized by Mrs. Warner.  More information will come regarding this day as well.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Information Regarding Class Placement

Class Placement Process

Creating balanced class lists that meet the needs of all students is a difficult endeavor.  This process involves hours of thoughtful dialogue between classroom teachers, administrators, and other staff members.  We take this responsibility very seriously.  Our process for creating class lists is detailed below.

· Teachers identify the social and academic needs of each student.  They refer to existing data and record pertinent information to assist them in their decision-making.

· Teachers meet as grade level teams to form class lists that are balanced.  Balanced classrooms meet each student’s academic, social and emotional needs.  Teachers consider each child’s personality, academic strengths and needs and friendships.  Learning specialists and the specials team also collaborate with classroom teachers to provide feedback.

· Each grade level team types a draft of their class list, which is then submitted to me.  I review each child’s placement and ensure that all parent input has been considered. Classroom teachers approve any additional changes to ensure classes remain balanced. 

· Class lists are finalized in August to reflect the addition of new students.

This process is consistent across grades K-4.  Our 5th grade team collaborates with teachers at Cimarron Middle School to ensure students’ success in 6th grade.

We strongly believe that this detailed and collaborative process creates learning environments that benefit all students.  It is a delicate balance that takes tremendous thought by professionals who know and care about your child.  Please remember that our ultimate goal is always to create balanced classes that promote the success of each child.  Please also know that your child is placed in a classroom for very specific reasons and that our process benefits all students.  Because of the input and thought given by teachers, parents, and administrators, we are reluctant to make changes once this process is complete as moving one child can disrupt the balance of an entire classroom. 

We do value parent input and welcome any insight you wish to share about your child’s strengths, needs and learning style.  We will take into consideration all pertinent information that you share with me on or before FRIDAY, April 28th.  While we welcome your input, we cannot honor specific teacher requests.  Please put your thoughts in writing and address them to me (Jenny Brown).  I will accept either a letter or email (jjbrown@dcsdk12.org).

I cannot express enough how important it is that your thoughts are in writing.  As you can imagine, I receive a great deal of parent input and verbal information is nearly impossible to track.  Further, please direct all of this communication to me, as I am ultimately responsible for reviewing final class lists in July when teachers are not available.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What's Happening in April?

Young Ameritowne Field Trip

On Wednesday, April 5th we will make our much anticipated trip to Young Ameritowne Headquarters.  By now the kids have been well trained in their job responsibilities and they are ready to go to work!!  I will post pictures from our trip once we return.
(Scroll down for the YAT pictures.)

Reading Workshop

Starting the middle of April, we will begin our study of the comprehension strategy of summarize and synthesize.  Synthesizing information helps readers to see the bigger picture as they read.  The kids will learn how to be thoughtful readers who integrate new information with their existing learning to come to a more complete understanding of the text.  Their thinking will begin to evolve as they encounter new information.  I will model application of the strategy using text on the Maya, the true story of a young Afghan refugee, ancient Egyptians, and humpback whales.  As always, the kids will be given text at their reading level to read and independently apply the strategy.  

Writing Workshop

As you saw at conferences, the kids are very engaged in the informational writing process.  They have become experts on their selected topic and are currently in the process of completing their rough drafts, editing, revising, and publishing them.  At this point in the process they are paying extra special attention to using a teaching tone and incorporating text features in their piece.


Now that our unit on YAT has concluded, we will switch gears and focus on Science for the remainder of the year.  Our next unit of study will be on the sun, moon, and stars.  We will study the path of the sun and its various positions in the sky as well as how and why shadows are formed.  We will also gather and analyze shadow data to develop logical conclusions about the sun's position.  
Finally, we will study the various phases of the moon as well as constellations.  


During the month of April we will continue our study of fractions and decimals.  For the remainder of this unit we will multiply fractions by whole numbers, as well as multiply, add, and subtract fractions.

Upcoming Dates

Monday, April 10th Book Fair Preview Time for our class 

Monday, April 10th- Thursday, April 20th Book Fair

Friday, April 21st - No School

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March Update


Our current unit of study pertains to fractions and decimals.  The kids are using their fraction cards (area representations for fraction and mixed numbers) as they compare and order fractions on a number line.  We will soon begin comparing decimals in the same fashion using decimal cards,  representations that include decimals in the tenths and hundredths place.  We will then begin to add and subtract fractions and mixed numbers.  Problems that involve measurement will be incorporated into this investigation.  Finally, we will end the month and begin April by multiplying fractions by whole numbers and mixed numbers.  

In case you missed it in the email or last blog post, you and your child can log on to Pearsonrealize.com at home, just as we do in class.  On this site, your child can access their homework pages, instructional math videos that I have already assigned them in class on google classroom, as well as math games tied to our current unit.  


We constructed a fraction number line with the fraction cards created at home.  Throughout the process, the kids discovered many equivalent fractions and used the area representations they drew as well as their knowledge of parts and wholes to order their fractions between 0 and 2. 

Reading Workshop

This month in Reading Workshop we have begun reading a variety of fictional and nonfiction text.  We have used these readings to determine the theme and main idea as well as identify evidence from the text to support our thinking.  We have then written short essays (two to three paragraphs) based on our thinking.
Moving on, we have been using a site called Digital Readworks.  This site allows me to provide the kids with leveled text tied to our content.  They can highlight and annotate the text online and show their comprehension of the text by responding to multiple choice and open ended questions prior to electronically submitting their work to me.  We have used this site to explore theme and main idea.
Additionally, we have read narratives and then used the main idea from those narratives as a spring board to write our own narratives as we connect reading and writing.  
Finally, during our monthly co-taught technology sessions with Mrs. Fleet, we have introduced the kids to a new website called Discovery Education. This gives the kids access to leveled information presented in the form of reading passages, boards (similar to infographics), and videos.  We have used Discovery Education to study videos and boards as well as Digital Roadworks for articles all related to the same topic.  The kids then determined a common theme in all three resources and wrote essays stating the common theme using evidence from all three.  

Here are a few screenshots from Discovery Education and Digital Readworks.

Writing Workshop

During the month of March we will continue with the genre of informational writing.  Thus far, the kids have completed their research, they have used their notes to create an outline, and have used the outline to begin drafting their chapters.  This month's mini-lessons will focus on incorporating text features, crafting captivating leads by using questions or shocking facts, writing with a teaching tone, and writing a reflective and powerful ending.
The kids are becoming experts on their topics and can't wait to share their learning with one another and with you!

Young Ameritowne

As you know, YAT is our current Social Studies unit as it focuses on financial literacy. This has been our focus for the past month or so and will be until the middle of April when we begin our next Science unit.  As of today, the kids have been learning the importance of saving for short-term and long-term goals, budgeting, how to balance a checking account, and how to invest their money based on their personal assessed risk tolerance.  They have interviewed for their jobs at YAT and have been placed in their positions.  Next week they will begin their job training.  
As you know, our field trip is April 5th.  More details will come via email from the fourth grade team providing you with more information about the field trip.  Registration for the trip has been open for a few weeks now, and I have most kids registered.  Please let me know if you have any questions about this.  

Thank you for visiting and learning about what your kiddos are working so very hard on!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Instructional Math Videos (Originally from an email)

Good morning parents.

I am emailing you links to a variety of instructional videos for our current math unit on fractions and decimals.  These videos and the activities that follow some of them, come from our online curriculum resource.  Your children watch these videos throughout the math unit to supplement and help cement their learning.  I assign them to them on the Pearson Realize website.  (Your kids know their log-in info. It;s also written in the front of their HW planner.) 
Many of your kids have utilized the website at home as they have gone on to print homework they left at school.  These videos are also available on the site under math tools.  Your kids are very familiar with using the site. 
 I am sending these to you in case you want to familiarize yourself with the material we are learning in class.  (The kids have not viewed all of these yet as we are only part way through the unit.)
Please let me know if you have any questions.  I hope these videos prove to be useful tools for you. 
Have a great day!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kindness Week

Hello parents!

As you know, we recently celebrated Kindness Week here at Gold Rush.  Your kids came up with very creative and thoughtful ways to show their kindness to others.  In addition to engaging in acts of kindness, our class participated in the door decorating activity held throughout the building.  Mrs. Faulkner and her daughter, Amelia,  "kindly" helped create our amazing door display, and the students each contributed their part.  Here is the end result!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February Highlights

Reading Workshop

This month in Reading Workshop, we will continue to apply the comprehension strategy of making inferences as we read non-fiction texts.  As a class, we have been reading about Mt. Everest and the Cheyenne while exploring how we can make meaning out of inferential headings, how we can infer to answer our questions about the text, and how we can take our background knowledge, add it to information we learned from the text, and then make a strong and meaningful inference from our reading.  We can then continue reading the text and either affirm the validity of our inferences or make changes to them after acquiring new knowledge.  As always, these techniques are modeled during reading workshop.  The kids practice them together as a class and are then off to read their leveled text and apply their strategies independently while I circulate around the room and read with them.  Additionally, I have been modeling how to write a reading response using information from the text.  We are just beginning this response to reading and will work on enhancing our skills as the year progresses.

Writing Workshop

Our unit on informational writing will continue this month.  Thus far, the students have completed their note taking on their selected topic.  They worked very hard paraphrasing notes and quoting notes when necessary.  We then moved on to organizing our notes into an outline in order to plan for the drafting process.  Some students are still organizing their writing while others have moved on to the drafting process.  As they draft, I will model how to write with a teaching tone, how to incorporate transition words to make their writing flow, and how to write complex sentences and detailed paragraphs.  The next step will be adding text features such as charts or tables to each of their chapters.


By the second week of February the students will have demonstrated their knowledge of measurement and geometry and will have begun to explore parts of a whole as we begin our study of fractions and decimals.  As always, support with be provided as needed as will enrichment opportunities.

Social Studies

Our unit on financial literacy, Young Ameritowne, has begun.  The students are learning how to manage a budget, invest, weigh opportunity costs, and how to successfully interview and maximize their abilities, to name just a few.  This is an exciting unit that has the kids very intrigued.  There are many opportunities for parental involvement with volunteer positions as you have seen with recent emails.  As always, thank you for your support.


This week we will be back in the S.T.E.A.M. lab using our knowledge of area and perimeter as we write code with Dash.