Sunday, January 13, 2019

January 2019

Happy New Year! We have had a nice first week back to school and I enjoyed listening to all the kids share their stories from break! Below you will find some information regarding our curriculum and dates that are important to remember.

Important dates
January 14 - Spelling Bee 2:00
January 18 - NO SCHOOL (teacher inservice day)
January 21 - NO SCHOOL (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
February 18 - NO SCHOOL (President's Day)

Reading
Our focus for this semester will be on nonfiction texts; however, students will still be working in fiction book clubs and focusing on the work we have done around themes. Right now, we are learning about complex nonfiction texts and all of the features that we need to muddle through in order to understand the text itself. In order to do this, we are focusing on text structures, text features, vocabulary, main idea & supporting details. In order to help your child with nonfiction, and continue to foster their love of reading, you can help them gather materials that are nonfiction. Going to the library or encouraging them to read magazines like Sports Illustrated for Kids, Time for Kids, Scholastic News (they have access to this online), and more can help spark their interest in learning.

Our goals are:
I can summarize a text by explaining how multiple details work together to communicate the main idea.
I can identify the claims presented in a text.
I can explain how a claim in a text is supported by reasons and evidence.
I can explain the relationship between specific parts of a nonfiction text and the overall organizational structure of the text.
I can compare how two texts from the same genre approach similar themes and topics.
I can determine the meaning of unknown words and phrases.
I can describe the meaning of common idioms, adages, or proverbs.
I can identify symbolism, metaphors, and imagery in a text.
I can use headings and images to signal logical groupings of information.
I can link reasons and evidence or details to main ideas using words, phrases, and clauses.

Writing
Students will begin working on formulating a research based argumentative essay. In the beginning of our unit, we will be working on writing on a common argument: Should Chocolate Milk be served in schools? Once we are done with that, students will be invited to research an argument of their own.

Our goals are:
I can identify the claims presented in a text.
I can explain how a claim in a text is supported by reasons and evidence.
I can introduce a topic in an introductory paragraph.
I can use headings and images to signal logical groupings of information.
I can link reasons and evidence or details to main ideas using words, phrases, and clauses.
I can provide a concluding section or paragraph at the end of a text.
I can state clear claims about a topic or text.
I can provide reasons for claims that are supported by evidence.
I can integrate information from multiple sources into a text.
I can write for the purpose and task described by a prompt.
I can edit for subject/verb agreement and inappropriate shifts in verb tense.
I can edit for correct capitalization.
I can use italics, quotation marks, and underlining to indicate the titles of works.
I can use commas to set off elements of a sentence and to form lists.
I can edit for spelling.

Math
We will be finishing up our work on addition and subtraction of fractions and we will be working on decimals next. Students will be learning how to order, compare, round and add/subtract decimals all the way to the thousandths place. When this short unit is over, students will be moving on to multiplying and dividing fractions and decimals. In order to help your child, you could have them put the cost of a couple of items on the grocery list in order from least to greatest. Here is an example of what the students will be learning:



As always, you can refer to my weekly newsletter for more specifics on what we do each week. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

December Update


Important Dates
December 19 - Field Trip to Museum of Nature and Science
December 20 - Class Party at 11:40 (more details to come)
December 21-January 4 - Winter Break
January 7 - School Resumes
January 21 - No School (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)


Upcoming Field Trip & Science
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.

Our field trip to The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is on Wednesday, December 19th, 2018. The cost is $14.50. In order for your child to participate in this field trip/program you must register (includes online permission form) & pre-pay on-line by going to:

MySchoolBucks.com > Login > Add your student if you have not already done so > Go to School Store in upper right corner > Field Trips > GRE - 5th Grade Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The MySchoolBucks link can be found on GRE’s website under Parent Info or click here. Registrations MUST be completed by 2 days prior to your field trip.

· Online registration is for your student only- please do not register yourself or younger siblings.
· Free/Reduced students will have the option of selecting "no payment" but must still register.
· No refunds

Happenings in class…
Math
In math, we have been working hard on our Fractions Unit. Students have been modeling fractions by using array models and using what they know about equivalent fractions. This week we began using clocks as a model to help add fractions. Throughout the unit students will be comparing and ordering fractions, adding and subtracting fractions, and adding and subtracting mixed numbers.

Standards that will be addressed:
· I can add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators using a diagram or model.
· I can add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators arithmetically.

Reading
In reading, we are using our book clubs to analyze themes more in depth. Students are writing and talking about different texts to uncover life lessons, challenges, and important shifts. Additionally, thought prompts are continually being used to push their thinking.

You can help your child with reading at home by asking questions that explore the similarities and differences in themes across texts. Examples: Where do you see your theme being conveyed in another text? How is the theme similar? How is it different? Additionally, students might consider how characters are similar and how they differ as well as characters’ problems and relationships. When sharing ideas on theme students should use evidence from the text to support their thinking.

Writing
In writing, we have started our unit on response to literature. In workshop, students are responding to prompts after reading a passage of text. We have been working on the organization and structure of our responses as well as the content.

Science

In science, we are continuing our study of our human body systems and connecting them back to health and wellness.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

November 2018

Important Dates
11/6 - No School; Election Day!!
11/12 - 11/16 - Fall Book Fair
11/14 - Celebration of Learning & Family Feast
11/19 - 11/23 - Thanksgiving Break
12/21 - No School; Winter Break starts
12/21 - 1/4 - Winter Break

Celebration of Learning (12:30 - 1:00) & Thanksgiving Feast (1:00-1:20) See Mrs. Brown's Blog for more information.

Reading
We are continuing to look at theme, however we are constantly trying to dig deeper and analyze the texts that we are reading. Last week, we compared theme between two texts. We also started new book club books. The hope is that we can continue our comparison between two or more texts. 

The standards in fiction texts we have been working towards are:
I can compare how two texts from the same genre approach similar themes and topics
I can identify details in a text that develop a theme
I can compare characters, settings, or events in a narrative text
I can describe relationships between events in a narrative text

To help your child, after they finish reading, ask them what is the author trying to teach you in the story. You can start with, "The big lesson is..." or "Sometimes in life..." You can ask them what the big idea of the story is and how the characters or setting influence that idea. Asking them questions like, "What does this book say about (the big idea, ie Friendship, hope, family, etc)?"
After Thanksgiving Break, we will begin a four week study of nonfiction.

Writing
We wrapped up our narrative unit by looking at mentor texts. We dug into the author's craft to study how the author's wrote their stories and then we picked small craft's to work on in our own writing. You will see this writing at the Celebration of Learning. The current unit has been our paragraph boot-camp getting students ready to write strong multi-paragraphs. In a week, we will begin our study of responding to literature. Students will use short stories and have to formulate a response based on a question this is provided to them. 

The standards that we have been working towards and will be working on are as follows:
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
I can separate run-on sentences in a draft
I can edit for subject/verb agreement and inappropriate shifts in verb tense
I can edit for correct capitalization
I can use italics, quotation marks, and underlining to indicate the titles of works
I can use commas to set off elements of a sentence and to form lists
I can edit for spelling
I can write for the purpose and task described by a prompt
I can write for the audience identified by a prompt
I can integrate information from multiple sources into a text
I can state clear claims about a topic or text
I can provide reasons for claims that are supported by evidence

Math
We have finished up our unit on volume and will be taking the test on Wednesday. After that, students will be working with equivalent fractions, ordering fractions, and adding and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers. During the unit, students will work on the following:




Here are some things that you can work on with your child at home:



The standards that we have been working toward and will be working toward are as follows:
I can multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.
I can divide multi-digit whole numbers using strategies based on place value, the properties of operations, and the relationship between multiplication and division.
I can use the properties of place value and multiples of 10 to simplify and solve problems.
I can shift a decimal value in relation to its decimal point by multiplying or dividing it by a power of 10.
I can compare decimal values.
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 can analyze the relationships between numerical patterns.

Science
We have continued our study of living systems. Students have learned about the makeup of cells and soon will be embarking on the study of tissues and organs. After Thanksgiving, we will be sending home information regarding the field trip we will be going on. This field trip to the Museum of Nature and Science will further our understanding of body systems including a dissection of a lung. Students will also learn about the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive system. We will briefly touch on the endocrine, muscle, nervous, excretory, and skeletal systems as well.

More information
Please continue to collect box tops. We will have another collection in February or March. Also, if you can spare some more canned foods or non-perishable foods for donations that would be awesome! I am trying to dig through my own pantry for donation. The pantries become bare around holidays and if we fill those pantries at the Parker Task Force, we will be helping our fellow community members! Thank you so much!!

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

BOX TOPS:



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!!

Reading
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

Writing
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

Math
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.

Science
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.

DATES TO REMEMBER:
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

Math
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:
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.



Writing
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 www.spellingcity.com, 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!

Reading
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 Kristen.leuschner@dcsdk12.org.