Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Here's what's happening in our class this month....

The kids are currently participating in book clubs.  As they read each week, they are applying our current comprehension strategy which is asking questions.  Additionally, the kids are gathering and defining unknown and interesting vocabulary as they read.  The groups meet with me to discuss their text.  We discuss the theme of the book, the problems in the story, and how the characters take steps towards solving the problem.  On Fridays, they use share their questions and vocabulary with me on their google classroom page.

We are learning about the genre of opinion writing.  The kids are learning how to create a strong thesis statement, support that statement with powerful reasons and a multitude of expamples.  Thus far, we have practiced our skills by writing opinion essays about important people in our lives.  The kids have tried to be persuasive in their writing and convince others to believe in their thesis statement.  As we further develop our skills in opinion writing we will broaden our topics and begin to craft thesis statements based on bigger ideas that impact larger groups such as our community, country, and our world.  With the approach of Thanksgiving, the kids will also be writing an essay about the three aspects in their lives for which they are most thankful.  (This is great to share at the table on Thanksgiving!)

Our current math unit is on two-digit by one-digit multiplication and division.  The kids are learning how to decompose larger multiplication problems and use simpler, known problems to help them solve the larger problem.  Additionally, they are creating multiplication stories to help them take abstract multiplication problems and put them in context; they are creating a real world situation to help them make meaning of the abstract problem.  With regard to division, we are learning how to use multiplication to help us solve division problems.  Again, these division problems are embedded in division stories.  Some result in remainders.  The kids are learning how to interpret these remainders.  For instance, instead of stating 4 R1, the kids are interpreting the quotient and saying each student gets four dollars and the remaining dollar can be broken into quarters.  Each student can then get a $1.25.
The students are also completing a math performance task this week that is not only connected to Thanksgiving but allows them to apply their addition, subtraction, and multiplication skills.  They will be given a budget of $100, a guest list of five, certain parameters to follow, and they must then create a Thanksgiving Feast menu that may not exceed their budget.  (Thank you for the circulars you sent in for this project.)

Social Studies
After the end of our Science unit on ecosystems we started our first Social Studies unit for the year, Colorado History.  Thus far, we have studied the geography of Colorado and how the geography of where we live helps shape how we live.  In addition, we studied the early Native Americans who lived in Colorado and how they influenced how we live today.  As we continue our study of Colorado history, we will learn about fur traders, explorers and gold rushers.  Our main focus in the study of these individuals is analyzing how these groups positively and negatively impacted Colorado and how they influenced the way we live today.

Other Important Information

  • On Wednesday, November 16th we will have our annual Thanksgiving Feast.  Parents may register for this event online.  (Dr. Brown included information and links in last week's blog update.) You are invited to share a Thanksgiving Feast with your child during lunch.  Please note that the lunch times are a bit different this day.  Dr. Brown included the special schedule for that day in her blog.  I'll copy and attach it below.  In addition, we are having an open house technology session that day.  There will be a thirty minute session immediately prior to your child's lunch time that day.  During that session you are invited to our classroom so that your child may share some of the exciting and challenging work they have been doing with technology.  
  • The entry test for the school Spelling Bee is this Friday at 7:30 in the Gold Mine Room.  Your child just needs to show up if they want to try and qualify for the Spelling Bee. 
  • The Book Fair will be held the week of November 14th.  Mrs. Golish is still in need of volunteers.  Below is a copy of the information she asked teachers to forward to parents. 

Here is the sign-up for adult volunteers

Any questions and concerns can be sent to Stephanie Zimmerman at
Student volunteers (can not use sign-up link for parent volunteers) are able email Stephanie directly for volunteer service hours. Yeah!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

September Highlights

Hi parents!

We are off and running at full speed now!  Here are some highlights from this month.

Reading Workshop
This month in reading workshop the kids are activating their background knowledge and connecting new learning to that knowledge as they read a variety of nonfiction texts.  I've learned that your kiddos have a wealth of information in their invisible backpacks; they know so much about so very many topics.  It's amazing!

In addition, the kids are reading self-selected texts at their reading level and making meaningful and deep connections to their reading.  They have been working hard to explain how their connections help them better understand the text.  These deep connections have been made at home as the kids complete their weekly readeng logs.  I have seen enormous growth with their reading logs and the quality of their connections.  Thank you for your support with the weekly reading!

Next week we will move to a new comprehension strategy.  We will begin to focus on the strategy of asking questions.  A variety of nonfiction texts will be used as I model the strategy for the kids and slowly release them for independent practice.  You will see a change in the weekly reading log; it will soon focus on asking questions vs making connections.

This month in writing the kids have selected a topic for their realistic fiction piece.  We are writing a class story together so that I may model how to develop characters, draft a plan for the story, create a story arc to map out scenes, create a variety of leads to choose from, etc.  After modeling and shared writing with our story the kids spend workshop time applying the strategies they just learned to their own story.  As of today, we have created a story arc to map out our scenes.  We are about to begin the drafting process.  This will take us a few weeks.  The kids seem to be very excited about their stories and the problems they have created for their character to solve.

In math we are currently wrapping up unit 1 on factors and multiples.  The kids have been learning about prime, composite, and square numbers.  We have focused on finding the factors of numbers and creating arrays to represent the factor pairs of numbers.  Lastly, our focus has been on multiplicative comparisons; the kids have been writing and solving equations for the word problems in this portion of the unit.  Two math quizzes have gone home so far, one will come home in the next day or so followed by the unit assessment.  I hope you have seen these.  If not, I made copies to show you at conference time.

Next week we will begin unit 2 which will focus on data.  The kids will learn how to create survey questions, gather data, and represent data using a variety of graphs.  This is an exciting unit which the kids enjoy each year.

Finally, we have been using the Chrome books to differentiate and enrich our learning.  The kids have had the opportunity to explore a variety of different math games related to the current unit by accessing the google classroom I set up as well as logging on to and playing the math games introduced throughout the unit.

In Science we have been learning about ecosystems.  The kids have learned about biotic and abiotic factors, predator/prey relationships, the different types of ecosystems, and all about physical and behavioral adaptations.  Soon we will extend our study of ecosystems by investigating food webs and the relationship between biotic and abiotic factors within an ecosystem.  This unit of study will culminate with the creation of a brochure.  The students will select an endangered animal and demonstrate their learning of the unit as they detail the animal's habitat, diet, its place in the food chain, its adaptations, as well as create a call for action asking for steps to be taken to help take the animal off the endangered list.  Our fiedl trip to the Cheyenne Mountain zoo is on September 30th.

Buddy Time
We have begun Buddy Time!  The kids are so excited.  We are paired with Ms. Wilson's pm Kindergarten class.  Thus far, we have met our buddies, spent some time learning about each other, read together, and helped our "Kindie" use learning apps on their iPad.  This will be a weekly activity for both classes.  The kids develop a very special bond as the year progresses.  It's a beautiful thing to watch!

Next week will be our first co-taught technology unit with Megan Fleet.  Megan and I will co-teach a unit on fossils which is part of our Science curriculum.  We will utilize google classroom as well as teach the kids how to use multiple tabs as they investigate a mystery.  The premise of the unit is a based on a mystery that the kinds must solve regarding found fossils.  They will study a variety of texts while gathering clues about where the fossil could have been discovered.  Once they have concluded  where the fossils was discovered they will create a google doc which they will share with the class.  The is google doc will explain how they came to their conclusion.  It's going to be a very exciting unit!


  • Words Their Way, our spelling curriculum, has begun.  This is the first week of the program.  The kids went home Monday with their spelling words as well as an orange piece of paper which listed a variety of different activities the kids may do to practice their words.  Their test will be on Friday.
  • Please periodically check your kiddos HW planner so you can help me ensure that he/she is copying and completing the HW each night.  I've had quite a few friends in study hall during extra recess over the past few weeks.
  • Reading logs are given out on Monday and are due the next Monday.  Please sign your child's reading log after they complete it.
That's all for now!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Welcome to Fourth Grade!

Dear Families,

            Welcome to fourth grade at Gold Rush Elementary.  My name is Jennifer Poli, and I will be your child’s teacher.  I am excited for the journey of a new year to begin and to experience it with all of the children and you!

            Allow me to tell you a little about myself as I will be spending a great deal of time with you and your child.  I earned my undergraduate degree in psychology from William Paterson University, a small school in northern New Jersey.  My teaching degree is from Rutgers University in New Jersey, and I earned my Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Temple University in Pennsylvania. I have been teaching for twelve years; my experience ranges from Kindergarten to fifth grade.  I was a stay-at-home mom for three years after relocating to Colorado from New Jersey.  I enjoyed my time at home, and after three years decided it was time to re-enter the field of education.  I had the privilege of doing that a few years ago  here at Gold Rush as the full day kindergarten teacher.  Last year I was a teacher on the fourth grade team.

            Outside of school I enjoy spending time with my family.  I have two children; Brayden is seven and will be attending second grade at Gold Rush.  My youngest is five.  Her name is Brynn and she will start Kindergarten this year.  My “third child” is a black Labrador named Jack.  In my spare time I enjoy exercising, cooking/baking, and reading.  

            I look forward to working with you and your child in the upcoming school year!  If you have any questions over the summer, please feel free to email me at


Ms. Jennifer Poli