Sunday, October 14, 2018

October 2018

Welcome back from Fall Break!
This month we will close up old units and begin new ones and your children will continue to grow their minds and hopefully be challenged along the way!  More information will be coming about our Halloween Party on October 31st. It will be from 8:45-9:30 with the parade right after. Immediately after the parade, class will resume as normal.

Important Dates:
October 15: Hearing and Vision Screening
October 17: GRE SAC meeting 4:00-5:00 and Joint Feeder SAC meeting 5:00-6:30 at Iron Horse
October 31: Halloween Parade/Party
November 6: No School


We are in collection mode right now! Please send in your Box Tops to our classroom. It would be awesome if we were able to win the Pizza Party! Please make sure they are not expired and are trimmed up. Thanks for helping our school!!

As we continue to analyze themes in a variety of stories we read in class, your children will continue to analyze themes in their own readings. We will continue book clubs this week. Students will be running their own book clubs and analyzing and interpreting the books as they read them. I am excited to watch students embark on this new journey of discovering the joy of discussing books with peers! I will be a part of the discussion sometimes and an observer at other times. Please ask your student which book they are reading and encourage them to make sure they stay on track with their reading plans.
We are working toward these standards:
I can explain the relationship between specific parts of a drama or story and the overall organizational structure of the text
I can identify details in a text that develop a theme
I can summarize a text by explaining how multiple details work together to communicate the main idea
I can identify details in a text that develop a theme
I can compare characters, settings, or events in a narrative text
I can explain how the narrator’s point of view influences descriptions of events in a text

Friday before Fall Break began, students finished up their small moments that they were working on. For the next week or two, we will be studying mentor texts and then using what we learn to improve upon those small moments that we wrote. After that, we will begin a paragraph boot camp. During this boot camp, we will be learning how to craft good paragraphs for a variety of writing genres. After that, we will begin a more in-depth look at how to craft a good reading response.
We are working toward these standards:
I can introduce a topic in an introductory paragraph
I can provide a concluding section or paragraph at the end of a text
I can create event sequences that illustrate a clear causal relationship
I can use descriptive details to develop settings, experiences, characters, and events
I can use dialogue to develop character personality and reactions

We have finished up our unit on multiplication and division, but we have not left it behind! We will continue to work with multiplication and division in the units to come, especially our next unit which has us focusing on Prisms and Solids. In this unit, students focus on the structure and volume of three-dimensional shapes, specifically on rectangular prisms and solids composed of rectangular prisms. Students will be building models to assist in their thinking. In investigation 2, students will understand and develop a formula to solve the volume of a rectangular and rectangular L-shaped prism. Ways that you can help your child at home would be to encourage them to explain their thinking to you. Also, you can access the following website to help your child understand cubic units as well as understanding more about prisms and volume-->
Rectangular Prisms
Standard Cubic Units
Volume of Rectangular Prisms (video)
Volume Formulas
Changing the Dimensions and Changing the Volume

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)

We are working toward these standards:
I can determine the volume of right rectangular prisms by packing them with unit cubes.
I can calculate the volume of right rectangular prisms arithmetically.
I can calculate the volume of three-dimensional figures composed of right rectangular prisms.

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.

Monday, September 17, 2018

September 2018

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.

September 19: Picture retake day
September 20: Digger Dash at 10:50 (Leuschner Lattes!)
September 20: Texas Roadhouse Community Night
September 21: No School (Teacher PLC Day)
September 27: Parent-Teacher Conferences
October 4: Parent-Teacher Conferences
October 8-12: Fall Break

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. We have 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 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. We are also working on different strategies to solve multi-digit multiplication problems: array method, stacking (partial products), and clusters. I encourage them to find the one that works best and then use it.

To help your child in the future for math, refer them to this page, Math Words & Ideas page for Investigations. This page can help your child if they are stuck on a concept that we learned that day or if they just need a refresher on how to do the problem. They find the topic, then click on the specified link that will take them to a tutorial or video. For example, we are learning about multiplication right now. They would find the multiplication hexagon, click on it and a menu will pop up, then they would click on Multiplication Strategies from the menu that pops up. Here is another link for math games that they can play online to help enhance what we are doing in class. They are the online versions of the games that we play. Last week, we are played Multiplication Compare.

Here is more information on helping your child with math homework:
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.  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 to access this site.

Simply click on your child's grade level on 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.

Students are working on writing 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 worked on mapping our hearts and writing down the most important people, events, or things to them so that students had ideas to write about.

Spelling and Vocabulary
In the classroom, we have officially started our week alternation of spelling and Wordly Wise (vocabulary). Last week we worked on Wordly Wise Lesson 3. Students are trying to use the vocabulary they are learning in both verbal and written communication. Spelling this week has gone smoothly. We will have our first spelling test this Thursday. Just a reminder that spelling homework will not be turned in. Students will be responsible for practicing their words at home by learning the spelling patterns, writing the syllables out, utilizing, or whatever else has been a good tool for them in the past. If you need more ideas on how to practice words please let me know!

We have been working on metacognition (which is thinking about our thinking), synthesizing, and determining importance 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 also been refreshing our schema on story elements that help us identify plot twists and changes, character changes, and theme. Students have studied basic story elements (setting, character, problem and solution) in prior grades; but in 5th grade, we will be expanding our knowledge of story elements to help us see how they all work together to help us interpret challenging texts.

We have also started our new reading unit this past week. Students will be working to elevate their reading to new levels this year. We will work on responding to reading, looking at story elements at a deeper level, looking at the story whole and how the parts contribute to that, developing the idea of a theme or multiple themes, studying the author's craft, and analyzing perspective. At home, you can help your child by talking to them at a deeper level of what they are reading. Instead of asking them the basic questions of who are the characters, what is the setting, etc, talk to them about how their thinking may have changed as they were reading the story. Ask them questions that are on the list on this handout from parent night. You'll find that they will dig deeper into the story and that will help them elevate their thinking and their reading.

Social Studies
We are underway in our Geography unit. Students are learning what geography is and how they will go about studying it this year. Students will be choosing a region and completing some research on that region. They will then present it to their classmates. I encourage students to get to know the 50 states and capitals, not just the region that they are studying.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

About Me

Welcome to 5th grade! My name is Kristen Leuschner (pronounced Leshner) and I will be your child's 5th grade teacher. I am very excited to be doing what I love at such a wonderful place. My goal this year is for each student to learn in a stimulating and responsive learning environment. In my classroom, your child will feel secure, as well as challenged. It is my hope that each child in my class will develop a joy of learning that will endure. I have discovered that the truly magical part of my job is watching my kids’ faces light up when they discover they are capable of so many wonderful things.

This will be my tenth year of teaching. I have taught 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade and I am excited to begin a new school year! I earned my Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Regis University. I also have a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Creighton University and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

I am not a Colorado native as I grew up a Navy B.R.A.T. and we moved every two years. However, we always called Colorado home so after my dad retired we settled down in Colorado. I enjoy spending time with my husband and our 2 sons, Carter and Peyton. When I am not at school, I can be found spending time with my amazing family, watching my boys play sports, enjoying a Starbucks, and following my beloved Denver Broncos!!

I am thrilled to be starting this new year with your child. The best way to contact me is via email at