Letter to Parents

September 2014

Dear Parents of Fifth Graders:

We know this is a long letter, but we want you to be thoroughly informed for the upcoming school year.  Please fill out and sign the back page and have your child bring it back to school ASAP.  

We are looking forward to a new year with your 5th and 6th grade students! We want to partner with you to make this a great year for the students.  For the 5th graders, this year will hold a lot of change.  The major change is that your child will now have four teachers for the core subjects.  Language Arts (LA) is comprised of Reading, English, Spelling, and AR.  Mrs. Wallevand will be teaching 6th grade LA and 5th grade Math, Mr. Setterholm-5th and 6th Social Studies and LA for his homeroom, Mrs. Lundquist-5th and 6th  Math, and Mrs. Dirckx-5th and 6th  Science and LA for her homeroom.  We hope that our various strengths will give your child the best possible education.


Each student will receive a Homework Planner.  The cost of these is $4.00 per student.  Please contact the school if it is a financial hardship for you to buy one.  We will encourage them to write their daily assignments and other information needed and to bring it home every night.  Please check their Planners at home and communicate with your child about his/her assignments. There is a spot on each day for parent and teacher comments.  We may write notes to you in this section, and we encourage you to communicate with us through the Homework Planner.  However, they will be responsible to show us the note.  They must have their Planner back in school every day.  If they lose it, they will need to purchase another one.  

All students have a right to learn.  A student who chooses not to follow class rules interferes with his/her own learning and the rights of other students.  We will be using a “Passport” system to communicate information about behavior problems, incomplete work, and missing materials (ie: no pencils).  You will find these monthly Passports in the front of the Homework Planner.

A student’s Passport will be signed for incomplete or forgotten/lost/eaten by the dog homework, (This includes AR weekly pages not read.) not having materials for class, or inappropriate behavior. (BMW)  This is meant to be a communication tool.  It is effective if we have support from parents.  If a student continually has trouble with study habits or classroom behavior, we will try to develop an individual plan to help that student.

A PARENT SIGNATURE IS REQUIRED ON THE PASSPORT EVERY WEEKEND.  (Please sign by writing your first and last name in ink and date it.)  This way you can be informed weekly how your student is doing in the in the study/behavior area.  It will be your child’s responsibility to ask you for your signature.  Please help us with this routine.


    *Homework needs to be completed BEFORE the next school day begins.  

    * If your child says he/she doesn’t have any homework, encourage him/her to study any notes that have been taken or read ahead in AR.


    The guidelines in the Student Handbook specify that students have one day more than the number of days absent to make up work.  Work must be turned in according to the guidelines.  If you would like to pick up your child’s make-up work you need to call by noon so that we have time to organize it.  We will send the work to the elementary office.  Attendance is very important for student achievement.  What they miss in class cannot be replaced.


    Our philosophy is that teachers don’t give grades; students earn grades.  There are no surprises.  The grading scale is in the Student Handbook.  Class expectations and grading guidelines are explained in each class.  Our program is geared for student success and with reasonable student effort, every student can succeed.  You will receive a midterm report after nine weeks of each semester and a report card after 18 weeks, but please feel free to contact us about your child’s grades at any time.


    The students have very little homework in Science, other than studying for tests.  The students take notes after each section of a chapter in their Science book.    Your child should be bringing Science notes home frequently.  The tests will be 70% of their grade, and daily work/homework is 30%.   There are no retakes for tests unless a large part of the class doesn’t do well.  A student’s grade can go up or down significantly after a test so ask your child to show you his/her tests.  They are usually handed back to the student the day after the test.

Because I feel that responsibility is such an important part of learning, I do not accept late work.  Work that is not done or handed in on time will receive a zero.  Work that is partially done will receive credit for what is completed and correct.

Small amounts of extra credit may be earned by bringing in any piece of science news (health, space, natural disasters…).  It must be written with the name of the source (e.g., ABC News).  All extra credit must be in one week before the end of the term.

When students are absent, they may miss presentations, class discussion, demonstrations or hands-on activities that can really help them to understand concepts, so attendance is very important.


I am looking forward to working with your child.  My goals include preparing your child for a successful year and future using math.  After all, math is everywhere!  New this year in 5th grade- we will be implementing a team teaching approach.  Mrs. Wallevand and I will be working closely with all 5th grade students for 90 minutes each day. Due to an increase in school designated math time, your child should not have math homework most evenings.  We are wrapping up a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of math, focusing on the four basic operations (multiplication, division, addition & subtraction), number sense, noticing patterns, beginning functions and other topics-in algebra, data analysis, probability, spatial sense, geometry and measurement.  These topics have been selected based on the recommendations of the State of Minnesota.  The state of Minnesota has developed standards emphasizing algebraic thinking throughout elementary grades in preparation for all students taking algebra I in 8th grade.  The incorporation and mastery of algebraic thinking will propel Minnesota students beyond national leaders into world class leaders in education.

While we will be preparing to meet state requirements; I personally feel helping students understand the connection between everyday life and math is extremely important.  We will also use the Accelerated Math Program to manage your child’s progress along with the Everyday Math Series.  Accelerated Math is a computer based program that creates assignments and tests based on each individual student’s progress as your child shows understanding and mastery of each objective. (Objectives are smaller parts of concepts e.g. Place value, or dividing by 2 digit divisors).  Current research emphasizes the importance of homework in improving academic achievement and teaching life skills to students.  Parental support is essential in creating a successful partnership between school and home.

  • ACCELERATED MATH HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS- Homework assignments are called “Practice” or “Exercise”.  Practices contain the new daily objective and a few past objectives are spiraled back into assignments 10 days after your child has mastered an objective. If your child stays caught up with the class, they would not typically have skills practice homework over the weekend.  Exercises are similar to practices, except they do not contain any review material.  If a student is struggling, the weekend will provide an opportunity for them to get caught up.  If a child has been absent or needs a little extra practice, it is possible for a student to be assigned a Practice and Exercise.  

  1. Homework assignments are designed to take approximately 30 minutes.  Each day your child will have at least a 20 minute in school study period during the afternoon.

  2. Each student has a “Math Log” to take notes from all objectives presented in class.

  3. A supplemental text book called “MATH AT HAND” and/or “Everyday Math Student Reference Book” is available to check out at any time.  These books contain explanations of all objectives.

  4. Students MUST SHOW ALL WORK!  When work is shown, we have the opportunity to analyze and determine a students understanding as needed.  No calculators!!  We will have a small unit on calculator use.  I will send a note home to let you know when that will happen.

  • TESTING- Each week we will typically be testing  and homework quizzes on FRIDAYS.  On a typical Accelerated Math testing day each student will have the opportunity to test and show mastery on as many objectives as they can complete during our math class.  Students will also complete written tests from the Everyday Math Series after completing each chapter.  There will also be an Everyday Math chapter test approximately one time per month.

  • PARENT REPORT- Every 2 to 3 weeks a parent report will be sent home on Fridays.  This report will contain information about your child’s progress including the number of objectives your child has mastered as well as the class median for reference, homework percentage and test percentage.

  • GRADES- Students grades are based on the following: Tests 40%, Homework 20%, Review 20% and Number of Objectives Mastered 20%.


    Language Arts in the upper elementary is a combination of Reading, AR, English, and Spelling. They will be graded on each separately, so you can see where their strengths and weaknesses are.  In the reading portion of class we will use a Reading textbook some of the time and novels some of the time.  Students at this age love the novels we’ll read and are very excited about them.  We will work on reading skills that go along with the novels.  For the English (grammar and writing) part of class we will be teaching from a new Language Arts textbook. For Spelling we will use the Houghton Mifflin Spelling workbook.  The word lists will be taken from Rebecca Sitton’s most common words list. Some of the words are repeated on several tests. These are words used in everyday writing so it is important for 5th graders to be able to spell them correctly.

For 5th graders this year Accelerated Reader (AR) time is significantly shorter than in previous grades.  Because of this their point goal will be lower, but some of the reading for AR will need to be done outside of reading class and/or at home.  Your child will need to bring his/her AR book home each night and bring it back to school each day.  Each 5th grade student is expected to read at least 75 pages a week.  We will check weekly, but please check frequently to see if he/she is keeping up.  We will be giving your child a semester point goal which will be written on the AR Reading Log.  The school website is http://www.battlelake.k12.mn.us .  You can check this for information on the school and to find the list of AR books and quizzes.  The public library also has this list specifically for Battle Lake School.


    The highlight of 5th grade is a 3 day trip to LLCC! This is scheduled for May 18-20.  We will be selling items to raise money for this.  The cost is $116 per student.  The fundraiser kickoff is October 2nd. I need a parent volunteer(s) to count the money each student brings in.  Please contact Mrs. Dirckx.  


    Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns during the year.  Be sure to contact the teacher of the subject for which you have questions or concerns.  The number for the elementary office is 218-864-5217.  The best time to reach us is between 2:40 and 3:05 or after school.  Our email addresses are:





    Emails may not be read until late in the day, so if it is urgent please call.  We ask that you complete the attached sheet so we know how to best contact you.  

    Thanks for your time.  We look forward to partnering with you to make this a successful year for your children!


Jean Dirckx, Stacy Lundquist,

Beth Wallevand and Bret Setterholm




Student name (printed): ____________________________________________________

I have read the letter attached and am aware that I will need to check and sign my child’s Homework Planner every weekend.

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(Please sign your full name in ink.)

Contact Information

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