Sunday, December 3, 2017

December Details

It's hard to believe December is already here and that we only have three more weeks until the end of the semester.  Our last day of school for 2017 is December 21st.  I will be in touch shortly with information on our holiday party that will be in the afternoon of the 21st. 

We had such a wonderful field trip to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science!  The kids did an amazing job with the lung dissection and learned a lot through all of the exhibits.  I've loaded the pictures I took into a shared Google folder.  You can access it with this link.  I hope your child told you all about the experience!

I also truly enjoyed seeing so many of you at our Celebration of Learning a few weeks ago!  I hope you enjoyed seeing just a taste of all the deep learning we've been doing so far this year.  If you weren't able to attend, your child has a collection of files to show you saved in his or her Google Drive.

Curriculum Updates

Every student is finishing up our first round of book club books.  Your child should be completing his or her book in the next two weeks.  Each week when we meet, we discuss all kinds of thinking about the texts and predictions for our next section. We will be doing some final writing about our book clubs books when we are done.  Make sure to ask your child about their book and help them finish it!

Our current reading strategy focus is around visualizing and sensory images.  We are examining how making mental images helps us understand a text differently, what language writers use to help us visualize, and how we can demonstrate our thinking using images. 

Students have picked their own topic for the next bend of our research based opinion writing work.  Please ask them what topic they've chosen and the claim or thesis they are planning to argue.  We have begun our research to support their opinion and are now currently in the phase of organizing research and our own thinking.  We are spending time in class for research, but if students don't use their time well or need more time, it may get added to our nightly homework.

We will finish our study of body systems by examining the circulatory system and digestive system.  Students will then have a chance to research more about either the immune, nervous, or musculoskeletal systems.

We have started our fraction unit by revisiting our work from 4th grade on identifying and representing fractional amounts.  We are now looking at equivalent fractions and strategies for comparing and ordering fractions.  Our work will then move on to adding and subtracting fractions with like and unlike denominators.  With the holiday baking season upon us, this is a GREAT time for looking at fractional amounts in recipes and measurements at home.  Also, please keep the work up with practicing multiplication and division facts at home.  It is incredibly hard for students to make common denominators or equivalent fractions without being secure in their fact families. 

Also, if you haven't yet read Dr. Brown's Principal's Blog, she included this great information about a website to help parents understand our math work and the way students are learning concepts.  The links that would be really beneficial for our current unit, would be under the "Fractions" hexagon and the "Addition and Subtraction: Fractions" hexagon.

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.

 Click here to access this site.

Simply click on your child's grade level at 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.

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.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November News

It was wonderful to see so many of you at our Halloween party.  Thank you again to everyone who made that possible!

We have some exciting events in the next few weeks.  Hopefully, you are reading Dr. Brown's Principal's Blog that highlights big school events.  Last week, the blog discussed our annual Thanksgiving Feast and Celebration of Learning, which will be Wednesday, Nov. 15th.  This is a chance for you to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with your child and come see some of your child's great work in our classroom at the Celebration of Learning.  Our class schedule is the Celebration of Learning from 12:30 - 1:00 and then lunch from 1:00- 1:20.  You can read more about ordering tickets and volunteering on the Principal's Blog.

Also, last week I sent home a flyer and an email about our first field trip to the Museum of Nature and Science on Wednesday, Nov. 29th.  You will need to register your child using the school's RevTrak system.

We have the week of Nov. 20-24 off for Thanksgiving Break.  I hope you know how thankful I am to have such wonderful families and students to work with each day.  Enjoy your family time together!

Here are the highlights of what we are focusing on in class at this time:

We are just wrapping up our volume unit this week.  Students conducted a performance task of measuring the volume of their desks, supplies, and cubbies to help us determine how to best organize their belongings.  They will also be taking our summative assessment online this week.  Next week, we will start our first unit on fractions.  Fractions are a HUGE part of fifth grade curriculum.  The first part of our study will be on how to represent fractional amounts, making equivalent fractions, and ordering fractions with like and unlike denominators.  You can help this work at home by involving students in cooking and baking and observing fractional amounts in recipes, talking about pizzas, pies, teams, families, and other fun things in fractional ways.  For example, 3/4 of the Hawk family are girls, 1/4 of our neighborhood kids are boys, Dad ate 5/8 of the pizza..... :)

As always, your continued work with multiplication facts at home is crucial in everything that we are working on!

We have spent a lot of time focusing on the strategy of questioning and will finish our focus on that strategy next week.  After Thanksgiving Break we will turn our attention to visualizing and sensory images.  We will look at how we use that strategy as readers, scientists, mathematicians, and writers.  This is a great time to talk to your child about ways they can "paint a picture" for you of their day, which parts of their reading they can see like a movie in their heads and why, and how they can picture the fractional amounts we are talking about before trying to solve a math problem.

Students are also all engaged in some wonderful novels in book clubs.  They have weekly reading assignments and need to be prepared each week for a lively discussion with their peers and myself.

We spent several weeks looking at how to organize a paragraph well and we are now looking at how to organize an essay.  We have all focused on the same topic of "Should Schools Sell Chocolate Milk", and have planned, researched, and written all together.  As we finalize these essays, students will then get to pick a research based opinion topic of their own to write about. 

We are loving our life science unit of systems of living things.  We first examined the processes of all living things and the cell as the building block of life.  We are now looking at how cells turn into organs and systems and the functions of different body systems.  First, we have been learning about the respiratory system, and will then move onto the circulatory system and digestive system. 

Students are alternating between a vocabulary lesson and spelling sort every other week.  Students need to be studying spelling words using a variety of approaches and analyzing the common spelling patterns within their words.  The vocabulary lessons (Wordly Wise) focus on understanding new words and using them correctly in a variety of contexts. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall Fun!

I hope you all had a wonderful fall break!  It was so nice to have such beautiful weather after the quick snowstorm. 

I loved meeting with all of you for conferences before break and feel very lucky to work with such amazing families.  We will be starting some interesting new units this week and I wanted you to have our latest curriculum news!

We wrapped up Unit 1 before Fall Break.  Students have developed some wonderful approaches and thinking strategies for solving multiplication and division problems.  While the unit is over, our work with computations continues all year.  Unit 2 focuses on volume of rectangular prisms, so we will be discovering how to calculate volume, how it is measured, and what the different dimensions represent.  While we will be focusing on calculating volume with "boxes" in class, you can support your student's understanding of volume by looking at any types of containers and estimating volume, comparing volume, and how we use volume in filling drawers, packing boxes, filling containers, and more.

Please continue to have students practicing math facts at home!  We have a lot of games and activities in class that students are welcome to bring home if you need more ways to practice.  I cannot emphasize how important fluency with number is for success in every aspect of math.

We will be focusing our strategy work this month on the strategy of questioning.  All proficient readers question before, during, and after reading.  We will be talking about the types of questions we use, which questions can be answered and which questions cannot be answered from the text, questions that deepen our thinking, and how to ask research questions well.  The goal is for readers to identify and focus on questions that are meaningful and help them as readers. 

You can support this work at home by discussing the questions you have while you are reading anything: a blog, the paper, magazines, books, emails, and more.  You can also ask your child what they are wondering before they read and afterwards to see if their questions were answered and if new questions arose.

Students turned in a published narrative story before break.  We will reflect on this work this week and how we could still improve as narrative writers.  If you haven't read your child's final story, please ask to see it on their Google Drive.

Following this work, we will enter "Paragraph Bootcamp"!  This is a review of how to write well-organized paragraphs.  This work is crucial as we will then move on to opinion writing which will be in essay format.  In order to write a great essay, we need to be able to write strong paragraphs.  One way you can help your child write in organized paragraphs is to ask them to speak in complete sentences!

We finished our geography unit before break.  Make sure to ask your child where they decided to put a new NFL team!

We will now begin our first science unit around life science.  Our goals in this area are to analyze the structures of all living systems and the living systems interact with their environment.  We will begin this by looking at living and non-living things, life processes, and the cell as a building block of 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.

Upcoming Dates to Know
Oct. 31st - Halloween party and parade - more details to follow but it is always first thing in the morning.
Nov. 7th - No School for Students

Thursday, September 7, 2017

September Happenings

We are well under way into our fifth grade journey and we are getting into some great routines and learning experiences.  Below is information about the focus of our work right now in each subject as well as important dates to know.  There are a lot of fun opportunities going on or starting soon at GRE, so please make sure you are reading the Thursday folder email and the information on our Principal's Blog.

As mentioned in my August 20th post, we are focusing our reading strategy work right now on making connections.  This will also be discussed as using our schema, and activating our background or prior knowledge.  Right now we are focusing on our schema of different genres of text and how making new connections in any text adds to, modifies, or confirms our schema.

The best thing you can do at home with your child in reading is to support all kinds of reading activities!  Talk to your child about what they are reading and what you are reading.  Ask them about the plot, what is surprising, what predictions they have, or how the character is acting or changing.  Go to the library together, read news articles together, create a parent/child book club, and/or listen to audiobooks in the car or while you make dinner!  The more that students are thinking about text, what they already know about a subject, what is new, etc... the more they are thinking about what they read.

The students finished their "10 Question" articles last week and they are wonderful! The students did such a good job of coming up with creative questions and topics to interview themselves about.  We are now generating ideas for our personal narratives unit.  These are stories from our own lives, sometimes called "small moments".  You can support this work at home by reminding students of funny, exciting, sad, or milestone moments they've had in their own lives.  Help your child add details to the story as they retell it out loud.

This week we are practicing how to do a Words Their Way spelling sort.  This is an activity that most students will be doing as spelling practice at home starting next week.  I will send home ways to practice these sorts with their first lists next week.

We are focusing our mathematical minds right now on multiplication strategies.  The goal is for students to truly understand what multiplication represents and how to manipulate the numbers mentally and when solving on paper.  We are analyzing where in the world we use multiplication, what the numbers represent in our solution strategies, and multiple strategies to get to an answer.

We added math fact practice to our homework routine this week.  Students are expected to do 30 minutes of math fact practice at home during the week and record it on their reading and math log.  We are discussing ways to practice this each day in class.  Students have access to some great games through our Pearson website that students can access through any computer from here or our Google Classroom site.  We also have played games that students can play at home, and have discussed how to even do it orally.  Yesterday in the car, I practiced facts with my own daughters for 10 minutes by asking them to count by 12, 9, and 8; find all the factors of 96, 100, and 48; and did a random set of multiplication facts.

Dates to Know About:
Western Night - Sept. 15th
Teacher Professional Development Day (no school for students) - Sept. 22nd
Digger Dash - Sept. 29th
Parent/Teacher Conferences - Sept. 27th and Oct. 5th

Sunday, August 20, 2017

What's Happening in Fifth Grade?

It has been a really wonderful beginning to our school year together.  The first five days have been filled with activities to get to know each other and to build a collaborative community in our classroom.  It was so nice to see so many families at Back to School Night and to have time to read with each child individually on our assessment days.  Thank you so much for making all of that possible.  I am so excited about the year ahead with all the wonderful young minds and personalities we have in our class!  If you were unable to attend Back to School Night, you can access my presentation here.  

I wanted to let you know about how we will be starting all of our curriculum units this year.  We have a lot of great learning to do!

Our first unit is on properties of numbers and multiplication and division strategies.  We began the year reviewing different properties of numbers such as factors, multiples, square, and prime.  Next, we will be looking at a variety of ways to solve multiplication problems and to read and write story problems having to do with multiplication.  Our goal is to analyze a variety of strategies for multiplication and to find an efficient and accurate method for students to use in multi-digit problems.  We are really working on being flexible, critical thinkers and problem solvers so that we can question or own work, other people's strategies, and approach math in more than one way.

This week, we will begin having a nightly math sheet to complete that is due the next day.  Next week we will begin adding math fact practice to our homework routine.  Students will be expected to do math fact practice beyond the nightly math sheets for 30 minutes a week.  If you would like additional ways to practice math facts, please read this resource.

We are spending the first several weeks establishing our routine for reader's workshop and discussing metacognition - paying attention to our thinking while we read.  The first reading strategy we will focus on is using our schema and making connections to help us understand new text.  As fifth graders, we want to grow beyond just naming connections to our lives and other texts as we read.  Fifth grade readers should be able to discuss how confirming, modifying, or adding to schema help them understand their text more deeply.  Readers should also be able to make connections across a variety of texts and genres to make connections on theme, message, or content.

Students will be responsible for completing a reading log this week.  Students are expected to read 100 minutes a week as homework.  The log is due every Friday before school.  The link can be found on the homework tab of this blog.  Please help ensure that your child is reading at least 100 minutes a week with any kind of text!

This week, we will be finishing up one of my favorite beginning of the year writing assignments, titled "10 Questions".  It is based on the interviews that Time Magazine does in every issue.  Students will be interviewing themselves for a personal "10 questions" assignment.  These will all be composed and turned in through Google Classroom.  Much of our work this year will use Google Classroom, so a great activity to do at home with your child is to look through their Classroom work together.  Kids can access it anytime and anywhere.

Our first in-depth writing unit is on narrative writing.  We will spend a lot of time over the next few weeks generating ideas of where to get unique stories from our own lives such as time with special people, places, or milestones such as first times or last times of an experience, or a time that provoked a strong emotion.  You can ask your child about the ideas they have come up with and help share your own unique stories.  Students will also be developing stamina for writing by writing portions of the stories from their idea list every day.  We will be talking about how to raise the quality of our writing to show the significance of the moment and engage our readers.

Digital Citizenship Week
To continue to celebrate the fact that Gold Rush is 1-to-1 with technology, and to review being the importance of being a responsible digital citizen, we will be doing lessons this week around online responsibilities and safety.  Students have also brought home a technology device contract that I would like for you to review together and both sign.  A flyer went home last week about how kids are welcome and allowed to dress up for the week.  It can be accessed through the principal's blog or Thursday folder resources.

Social Studies
To kick off our study of United States geography, we will begin analyzing and learning about our country's regions.  This is a great time to discuss where you have been in the country, what you know about different states and regions, and resources and industries in each region.  We will culminate our study of geography with a fun activity around the NFL, so be on the lookout for that work in a few weeks.

I'm looking forward to diving deep into all these subjects with the kids.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.  Thank you for all you do!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Welcome Survey

I am so excited to get to know all of the students and their families better!  Parents, please take a few minutes to fill out this welcome survey so you have a chance to tell me all about your special 5th grader!

2017-2018 Welcome Survey

Friday, July 7, 2017


Hello!  My name is Allison Hawk and I am so excited to be your child’s teacher at Gold Rush for the 2017-2018 school year.  I am truly looking forward to a wonderful year working with you and your child.

I grew up in Littleton and received my undergraduate degree in biology and psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  After working for several years at a non-profit serving at risk youth, I returned to school and received a Master’s Degree in education from CU Denver.  My first seven years of teaching were spent teaching 4th – 8th grades in Denver Public Schools.  My husband was a teacher in Douglas County, and I decided to move districts after moving to the area and watching what a great family the schools here in DCSD create.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to open Gold Rush in 2008 and feel lucky to work in a school with such an amazing principal, staff, parents, and students.  After teaching fourth grade for five years at GRE, I decided I was ready for a change and moved to fifth grade four years ago.  I really love fifth grade, and I am looking forward to another wonderful year with great curriculum and amazing children.

I live in Highlands Ranch with my husband and our twin daughters, who many of your children may know, as they will also be in fifth grade this year at Gold Rush.  I spend a lot of time with our extended family entertaining and enjoying my daughters.  Other hobbies I enjoy are reading, walking, enjoying music, and following CU and Bronco football.  My biggest passion though is working with children and I am committed to creating the best possible learning environment for your child.

As you know from the GRE website and our principal's emails, our beginning of the year meetings will be just like last year.  We will be having a meet the teacher event on Monday, August 7th and the first day of school for everyone will be Thursday the 10th.  Every child will need to have a scheduled time for completing math and reading testing on our school-wide assessment days, August 17th and 18th.

I am looking forward to meeting all of you and having a fun and successful year!  Please feel free to contact me anytime at Enjoy the rest of your summer!


Allison Hawk