Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Happy December!!

There are a few things happening this month that I wanted you to be aware of!

This week, on Wednesday, is my present to the kiddos.  We will have a Read-a-thon where we will spend the majority of the day enjoying books.  This won't be a day of just free reading, but also guided reading, book clubs, Scholastic News, and others of the such.  I will also bring them some hot chocolate to enjoy.  They may bring their own mug with a lid, but I will also have some available.  They are allowed to bring in a small throw pillow and a personal blanket.

On Thursday there will be a substitute in class, so I will have the opportunity to read one-on-one with each student to see their progress.  They will be given the same type of assessment that they were given at the beginning of the year.  This is not the only measure of growth we use, but it is one we find value in.

Next week we will have our holiday party on Thursday from 2:30 - 3:30.  Earlier that day we will do a book exchange here in class.  I ask that each student bring in a wrapped new or gently used book to participate in the game.  This is usually a great way to build community and share our love of reading.

Thanks again for all your support!  Happy December!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Systems Thinking

Our 21st Century Skill for 5th grade that we will mainly focus on is Systems Thinking.  As a class we looked at the definition and expectations and annotated them as to make better sense of them.

We will look a Systems Thinking through every thing we do.  Currently our focus is on Human Body Systems.  We are looking at each system, analyzing the parts and functions, and discussing what parts are necessary for the system to function.  We have discussed a lot of Cause and Effect relationships as well as the difference between the terms dependent, independent, and interdependent. 

This concept of how systems work and how things can function, adapt, or fall apart will also be looked at through Social Studies after winter break, especially when we look at colonization.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Math Instruction

As you know from reading Jenny Brown's Blog, we have, as a staff, been having a lot of conversations around math instruction.  This is something that I've always been passionate about.  I believe in teaching kids to be true mathematicians, to build a solid understanding of numbers, and that everyone can be a strong "math person" (it's not a genetic trait lol).  This philosophy goes right along with the vision of the GRE math instruction.  We believe in our math program Investigations for the way it exposes kids to look at math as a concept and not a bunch of memorized items.  You can ask your kiddos what I say to them daily about being math thinkers.  Many of us here at GRE have also participated in a book study around Jo Boaler's book Mathematical Mindsets.  It's a fantastic read based on research on what really great math instruction looks like and what kind of progress can be made when done properly.  One of the fascinating facts I learned while reading this book was about structural brain changes.  New research overwhelmingly shows brains are plastic and not fixed as previously thought.  A recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health showed that when a group of subjects did a 10 minute mental task for  just three weeks there was evidence of structural brain changes.  That's only 10 minutes a day to see ACTUAL brain changes!!  This is one reason I am a strong believer in the Weekly Reading and Math Log homework assignment.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Celebration of Learning and Thanksgiving Feast

On Wednesday, November 16th, we at Gold Rush are excited to have a coming together of family and community to have a Thanksgiving Feast.  This is a fun tradition here at GRE that students, parents, and staff really enjoy.  Please consider coming to participate in building a great community of families.  The Principal's Blog has more information and explains how to purchase tickets.

In addition, this year we are adding a celebration of learning before in each classroom.  We are excited to open our doors to you to show you the great learning we have been doing and how technology has enhanced what we do.  We are thankful to the community for the funds raised last year to supply our school with enough technology to be a one-to-one school.  With this capability we have been able to do some great things and want you to see what we have been up to.  This is an open house style of event so if you happen to be coming to the Feast anyway, pop on in!

Lung Lab Field Trip

We are excited to add to the classroom learning of our Life Science Unit on Body Systems by going to the Museum of Nature and Science and experiencing a dissection of a lamb's lung.  Students will first rotate a few experiments and fill out a lab book to record their findings.  After, they will work in pairs to dissect a lung, getting hands on experience of the great things we have been learning in class.

In addition to the respiratory system, in class we will also learn about the circulatory system, digestive system, and excretory.  We will relate all these to Life Processes and show how they all are a part of a larger system that keeps us alive.  Students will look at this system and analyze its interdependance and functions of each part.  Students will also discover how parts and systems are affected when disease, illness, or breakdown occurs.  As we wrap up this unit, students will create a product using technology to demonstrate their learning.

As an extension, students will also get the opportunity to research other systems and discern how they work with the other systems and their functions (bones, muscles, central nervous, etc.).

Here's a link to the flier for the field trip that was sent home on Friday.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Conferences are approaching!  Make sure you see the Principal's Blog to sign up!  I look forward to meeting with you all.  Also, as learning is a collaborative effort, I always enjoy it when your child joins us to discuss their own progress.

Teamwork & Collaboration

As a way to analyze the connections between multiple texts, construct a broader theme, and annotate higher level texts, we read three different articles/blogs on teamwork:

A Great Metaphor for Teamwork from Steve Jobs
The Importance of Teamwork - Something I Learned from My Teenage Son
The Goose Story - Teamwork

Reading, annotating, and discussing these three articles brought a great understanding of what it means to be a team and why it's necessary to work with groups.  This also ties into several of our expected outcomes on Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Communication.  As a fifth grader, our goal is to have kids be able to listen to a different point of view, understand it, and either rebut it or perhaps change their thinking.

Please feel free to have these conversations at home and/or read the articles yourself! =)

Friday, September 2, 2016


Today we will start communicating weekly about how your child is doing behaviorally in class.  Stapled in their Homework Folder is a pink sheet like the one below.  On it, you will see that I will tell you if they received any Strikes this week or earned a Home Run!  Also, I will record how many Oops Slips they received this week.  I ask that you please sign it over the weekend and it is returned on Mondays.

Thanks for being a team in making this year a success!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

10 Questions

Our first writing assignment was inspired by the Time Magazine article "10 Questions."  We used this well known article as a mentor text to model out own writing after.  Students discovered that there we commonalities in the articles from week to week which included formatting, fun, easy language, and that previous research was done before the interview was conducted.  They then thought about what aspects make them interesting; what makes them special.  This was used as a starting point to ask questions around and answer.

I chose this assignment first, not only as a way to get accustomed to using mentor text, but also as a way to get to know each other in class.  If feel like all enjoyed the challenge and enjoyed writing about what makes them a cool kid.

This was also our first assignment using Google Classroom.  I created a template for them to download on to their Google Drive, which they can access from anywhere.  They were able to work on it in class and at home.  It also allowed them to get familiar with some features they might not have worked with before: using tables, bolding and italicizing, and importing photos.  Finally, students were able to just click "turn in" for me to look over and give feedback.  Overall this was a great first writing assignment!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cog At

Hello All! 
Here is a letter from Jenny Brown discussing upcoming CogAt testing.  It's been in her weekly blog, but I just wanted to make sure you all saw it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Family Survey

Please take a moment to fill out the following survey as to give me just a bit more information about your kiddo!

Monday, August 1, 2016

GRE Back to School Parent Letter

Repost: From the Desk of Jenny Brown

July 15, 2016
Dear Gold Rush Families,
I hope you are having a great summer! We are eagerly awaiting the start of another wonderful school year!  I want to provide you with important information regarding the start of the year.  It is my hope that this information will make you aware of upcoming events and timelines.
Monday, July 18th – Monday, August 1st – Online Express Check In
Online Express Check In will open at 12:01 AM on Monday, 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 Friday, August 5, or the first day of school.  All students must register via Online Express Check In by August 1st.  For assistance please contact one of the individuals below:
·       GRE Registrar Anita Rudman: anita.rudman@dcsdk12.org or 303-387-7700
·       GRE Administrative Assistant Janis Panico: janis.panico@dcsdk12.org or 303-387-7700
·       Student Data and Information Services Summer Hotline: 303-387-0016
·       Business Services: 720-433-1244
·       IT Support Center: 303-387-0001
Monday, July 18th - Class Placement
We know that your child is eager to know who his/her new classroom teacher will be!  Starting July 18th you can click here to access parent portal.  You will be able to view your child’s teacher by selecting your student and clicking on the schedule tab. You can look forward to receiving a welcome letter from your child’s teacher via email by the end of the month.
Friday, August 5th - 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 Friday, August 5, 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 between July 18th to August 1st  and the password is digger.  Each time slot is reserved for a maximum of six students.  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 an Edukit, it will be delivered to your child’s classroom.  Click here for a map of teachers’ classrooms.
Sign Up For One of The Following Times on Friday, August 5th
Monday, August 8th -  First Full Day of School
The first full day of school for students in grades K-5 is Monday, August 8th.  Students will meet their teachers on the front blacktop on the first day of school for an opening flag ceremony.  Each teacher will have a sign with her name on it.  On the second day of school students will enter the building through the front door on their own between 8:20-8:30 and walk directly to their classrooms.  Teachers and older students will be available to assist younger students.  This rolling start will ensure a smoother, safer 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 2016 2017 Split Fall Break Modified 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 17th – Back to School Night for Parents Only
Classroom teachers will provide parents with an overview of the school year on Wednesday, August 17th, during the following two Back to School Night sessions: 6:00-6:30PM & 6:35-7:05 PM.  We hope you will join us for these informative sessions.
Thursday, August 18th or Friday, August 19st – 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 either August 18th or August 19st 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 18th – August 1st to select your assessment day and time.  The password again is digger.  Because we value the information we obtain on these days, it is mandatory that all children complete their assessments on either August 18th or August 19th.  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 18th and 19th.  Please contact B.A.S.E. as soon as possible as spaces are limited.
We look forward to seeing your family in August!  Enjoy the rest of your summer vacation!
Jennifer Brown