5th Grade



January Update

Happy New Year and welcome back! I hope this email finds you and your family filled with joy and comfort after the two week break. Hopefully you survived two winter storms and stayed warm between the freezing temps and inches of snow! My family and I enjoyed lots of time together and an unexpected road trip due to a flight cancellation (ugh). However, memories were certainly made!! I can't wait to hear about all of your adventures from the last two weeks! If you have had difficulty accessing your child's Elementary Progress Report (EPR) please click here for helpful directions from the district.

Important Upcoming Dates

Tuesday, January 10th- Students return

Monday, January 16th- No School

Monday, February 20th- No School

Curriculum Updates


Next week we will be starting a new fiction unit. In this unit we will be learning about the reading strategy of making inferences. When we make an inference we have to use a combination of details stated in the story with our own background knowledge to infer what the writer means without the author directly stating it. This can be a difficult reading skill because the author doesn't directly tell the reader the answer. We use the analogy of being a detective as we identify the author's clues that they state to figure out the important details or ideas that aren't directly stated. In addition to inferring, we will continue our work with analyzing first and third person points of view and determining the theme or author's message. Throughout the unit we will practice these skills in fiction excerpts, plays, poems, and a historical fiction journal.


Our next writing unit, Taking a Stand, will be focusing on opinion writing. Throughout the unit students will be looking at important issues, choosing a side or perspective about the issue, and then writing a piece that tries to persuade the audience to agree with their argument. As we analyze opinion writing, we will look at the different elements that all opinion writing includes. For example, students will learn about the importance of a clear and convincing thesis statement. They will gather information from other sources and determine details that would be convincing in their argument and organize their details in meaningful ways. Students will revise their writing focusing on the lenses of structure and elaboration.


Fractions here we come! Students will begin Topic 7 by activating their schema about the different parts of a fraction, comparing and ordering fractions, and then finding equivalent fractions. Once we feel confident in those skills we will be off to the land of computation! We will begin with adding and subtracting fractions with like and unlike denominators. As I mentioned with division, the most important work your child can be doing at home is practicing their multiplication and division facts. I challenged your child to practice their facts for five minutes a day over break. Oftentimes, students can remember the steps of finding equivalent fractions, but when they aren't fluent with their facts, they get the small multiplication or division conversion wrong and then they have decided they will never like fractions! We will also extend our math fact practice to include using the words factors and multiples. So for example, in the car if you can ask your child to list the factors of 20, you are asking them to list all of the multiplication combinations that equal 20, 1x20, 2x10, 4x5. Multiples are when we skip count by the starting number. So multiples of 20 would be 20, 40, 60, etc.


We will be finishing our unit on Water Sources next week. Then we will begin studying how Energy transfers within different ecosystems.

December Update

I cannot believe we are already in the month of December! Let alone the fact that we are only weeks away from 2023! It has been a quick year, but one that has definitely been memorable! We have formed bonds within our classroom community and we are laughing daily! It truly is a joyous time of year!

Important Dates

December 21 - Winter Celebration (see more information below)

December 22-January 9: Winter Break

January 10, 2023: School Resumes

January 16 - NO SCHOOL Martin Luther King Jr. Day


We have finished our third reading unit, Our Changing Constitution, which uses nonfiction texts to highlight how to read text features/graphics, analyze the text structure of compare/contrast, first-person point of view, using context clues, determining importance, and deepening their understanding of figurative language. I will send home their Benchmark Unit 3 mentor text booklet this week. I encourage you to look through it with your child and chat with them about what they learned. As of now, we are completing a mini-unit on theme. We are analyzing book club books that we are currently reading to figure out the theme by looking at what the character learns in the story and what the author is trying to teach the reader. We will then read a short story and compare the theme in both books. We will start unit 4, Distinct Voices, Diverse Perspectives, after break which goes back to using fiction texts. Within this unit students will be focusing on analyzing first-person and third person point of view, analyzing author's and character's point of view, using context clues, inferring, identifying elements of a drama, determining importance, and deepening their understanding of figurative language.


As of now, we are learning how to write a literary essay. This is a fun and engaging unit that prepares students for our next writing unit: argumentative essay writing. Last week, students picked a short story and have been analyzing it looking for an idea that they can write about. We have been learning how to write a thesis and find evidence to support that thesis. By the end of this unit, students will have written a five paragraph essay that includes an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.


We have finished our topic on dividing whole numbers and will now be tackling dividing decimals. In this topic, your student is learning to divide decimals by decimals and by whole numbers. He or she will be asked to divide decimals to the hundredths place in a variety of ways, including using models and strategies based on place value and number sense. Your student will also develop proficiency in estimating when dividing decimals. Try this activity with your student to help him or her practice dividing a decimal number by a whole number. Students will take a test on this toward the end of the week. Once done, we will be going over fraction basics and how fractions and decimals are related. When we get back from break, we will be diving into adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators.


Your child is about to begin a new journey as he or she explores water on our Earth and the protection of Earth’s resources and environments. Your child’s mission will be to create a TV news segment that reports on where water is located, how it is used, and what people can do to conserve it. As your child works toward this goal, he or she will be exploring many phenomena while learning the following concepts:

  • Earth’s major systems (geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere) interact with each other.

  • Most of Earth’s available water is in the ocean, and most of Earth’s freshwater is frozen in glaciers and ice caps.

  • People can use information about Earth’s systems and water to protect Earth’s resources and environments.

  • We will do many investigations in class over several weeks to help your child learn these concepts from firsthand experiences.

Encourage your child to share these experiences with you and to teach you what he or she has learned. Ask your child to identify examples of what he or she is learning in everyday life.

Winter Celebration

In order to celebrate this semester, we will be having a winter celebration all decked out in snowmen! Please see the Sign-Up Genius to contribute to our party. The party will be from 9:45-10:45 on Wednesday, December 22. Like the Halloween party, I will be asking for only a couple of parent volunteers to help out.

October Update

We had such a fun week! I will send pictures in a separate email from the Digger Dash. Thank you for all you did to prepare your child for all of our festivities last week. I appreciate each of you! Thank you also for coming out to support us! We actually had a supporter that came all the way from the Late Cretaceous period! He seemed to know one of our classmates, but never failed to cheer everyone else on!

An extra huge thank you to Mrs. Egan and Mrs. Ryan for taking our creative Talking Takiis name and making it come to life through our banner!

Thank you for taking the time to read through the entire email! I appreciate it!! Have a great rest of your Sunday! GO BRONCOS!!

Upcoming Classroom Dates

* Monday, October 4th @ 1:30 Schoolwide lockdown drill

* Monday, October 4th - Chick-fil-A Spirit Night for Gold Rush PTO

* Tuesday, October 11th & Thursday, October 13th Parent Teacher

Conferences- Please click here for the sign up link.

* Monday, October 17th- Friday, October 21st Fall Break

* Friday, October 28th Halloween Party/Parade- more information to come, but it will be in the morning.

*Monday, October 31st - No School

Curriculum Updates


We are starting our second unit, Characters Develop Relationships, this week in reading. Within this unit students will be focusing on analyzing character relationships and conflicts, explaining the Author's Purpose and Message, and determining the theme in different genres. We will analyze different types of realistic fiction texts and poems. Within these passages we will interpret figurative language such as similes, metaphors, and hyperbole.

I will be sending home their Benchmark Unit 1 mentor text booklet this week. I encourage you to look through it with your child to see the types of annotation we did around the ideas of determining importance, identifying the main idea, and using context clues to figure out words we don't know. Each Benchmark Unit will have a new mentor text booklet to annotate and practice our daily reading lessons.


In writing, students are continuing to write a fictional narrative piece. Next week we will take all that we have learned about personal and fictional narratives and apply that to text based narratives. During this unit students will be asked to rewrite texts from another character's point of view, extend the story after the conclusion, and write a different beginning to the story. While they get to be creative in their responses, they will need to demonstrate their understanding of the story elements of the original text through their responses.


This week we will be finishing up our unit on multiplication of whole numbers. We are taking our test tomorrow. Please anticipate the plastic sleeves with the tests to come home on Wednesday for you to review. Our next unit will be taking our understanding of multiplying whole numbers and learning how to multiply decimals. As we start this unit, I will be asking students to estimate the answer to every problem before they solve it. Although they will think I am crazy, I have found this helps SO MUCH when multiplying decimals. If we are multiplying 5.27 X 8.93, we know the answer should be close to 45. This estimated answer will help them as they determine where the decimal should be in the answer. I hope by having them show that multiple times on their work at the beginning of the unit, they will internalize that habit and do it mentally towards the end of the unit.


This week we will be starting our first science unit of the year. During this unit we will use the following questions to guide our understanding of the Earth's rotation:

* What patterns does Earth's movement cause?

* Why do we experience day and night?

* How do shadows change throughout the day?

* Why do the hours of daylight vary throughout the seasons?

September Update

I can't believe we have been in school for over a month! I wanted to take a moment to give you a quick snapshot about what we are working on in our various content areas.

Important Dates

9/16 - Western Night

9/23 - No School (Professional Development Day)

9/30 - Digger Dash


We have started our first reading Benchmark Unit. It is all organized around the inquiry question, "How do living things help one another survive?" We began the unit by identifying the importance and purpose of asking questions before, during and after reading. We practiced on multiple nonfiction articles and discussed their role in helping us make meaning from the text. We then focused on the reading skill of determining importance and identifying the central idea of a text. Next students had to name the supporting details that helped them determine the central idea. Lastly, we talked about two different strategies to determine the meaning of unknown vocabulary words. We looked at how to use context clues from the text and how to break the word down into its parts to help us understand new words. Next week we will look at how readers use these skills in fiction pieces that continue to support our inquiry question, "How do living things help one another survive?"


In writing we have been working on the genre of personal narrative. Students have been using their writing checklists to elaborate on their ideas and push their writing from a retell of an event to explaining their piece from inside their story. Students have published two pieces so far and will complete an on demand writing piece on Friday where they can show all they have learned about this genre.

We will next go into fictional narrative, where students craft a fictional story and create the story elements to make their text come to life. The last piece of our narrative unit will include text based narratives. This is when students will be given a fiction text and asked to take all that they have learned about narratives and apply it to another author's work. For example, students will be asked to create an alternate ending to a story that still honors the setting, characters, problem and solution the author developed. Students will also be asked to rewrite a passage from another character's point of view.


Our second math unit has been teaching students how to add and subtract decimals. We began each problem by using the skill of estimation. I wanted the kids to build this routine so as we get into more complicated decimal operations, they will understand how estimating can help them determine if their answer seems reasonable and help them determine if the decimal is in the right spot. Our next unit will be a review on multi digit multiplication before moving into multiplication of decimals. Please continue to encourage your child to practice their math facts at home.

Social Studies

This week students will be presenting information that they learned about a specific United States region. In this unit we began by learning about the Five Themes of Geography and used that lens to research all of the United States regions. Students researched the regions using two different digital resources and a paper resource. We practiced synthesizing our learning and determining importance across multiple texts.

Our next Social Studies unit will be Early Explorers. In this unit we will talk about reasons for exploration, challenges with exploration, technology developed during exploration, and the different interactions between groups and people while exploring. They will learn various Explorers grouped by the country that funded their journey, their "Intended" destination, and their reason for exploring. See below for a picture of their projects!


Digger Dash season is underway! We had so much fun at our Digger Dash assembly on Friday. Your child brought home a flyer from the PTO about our school's upcoming fun run.

Thank you to our Digger Dash Banner volunteers for signing up at Meet the Teacher! We can't wait to see it!!

As always, if you have any questions, please let me know!

Back to School Night Presentation

Dear Families,

Hello and welcome back!! I am so excited to meet and see you all! My name is Kelly Broecker (pronounced Breker) and I am so excited that I am going to be your child’s teacher for the 2022-2023 school year at Gold Rush. I cannot wait for this year to begin so that we can get to know one another and have a fun, successful year of learning! Please read to the end as this has a lot of important information for you and your child.

Growing up in Colorado, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. 22 years ago I stepped into my first classroom and haven’t looked back. Education is my passion and watching your children grow to be strong, independent critical thinkers is why I teach. I have a BA in History from Colorado State University, my Elementary Educators license from Metropolitan State University of Denver and I have a Masters in Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction. I’ve taught both 4th and 5th grades over the past 21 years as well as one of those years as an instructional coach. This will be my sixth year at Gold Rush and I couldn’t have asked for a better community and school to be a part of.

My family and I live right here in Parker. I love teaching in the community where I live; it allows me to stay connected to my children and the entire Parker community. I am married to my husband of 22 years, and we have two wonderful daughters. Emily, 19, will be a Sophomore at Colorado State University studying Business, and Abby, 17, is a Senior attending Chaparral High School and plays soccer year round. As a family we enjoy watching soccer, walking our dog Izzy, and hanging out together. My own hobbies include reading, rooting for CSU Ram Football, exercising, watching Marvel and Star Wars shows and movies (especially anything Baby Yoda {Grogu} which you'll soon see), walking to enjoy our beautiful weather and scenery, and of course, watching Abby play soccer.

As we enter this year, please know that working together as a cohesive team will ensure that your child has a successful year as they prepare for middle school. Communication is very important to me and to the success of your child. E-mail (kbroecker@dcsdk12.org) is typically the best way to reach me. During the school year I will be working with your student during school hours, so if I am not able to respond immediately, I will do my best to respond after school or the following morning. I look forward to working with you and your child. This is their last year of elementary school and I want it to be a memorable and fun learning experience. I can't wait for them to experience all of the fun and exciting lessons and activities that I have planned!

I look forward to hearing about all your summer adventures! I made my way to Dallas, Texas for the first time and WOW! I was expecting it to be hot, but it was definitely hotter than I expected. I was down there with my daughter who was playing in a soccer tournament in that heat. Despite the heat, it was fun to watch her in her element and explore Dallas including the 6th Floor Museum which is in the Book Depository overlooking the grassy knoll. You will soon find out I seek out history wherever I go when I travel because I love learning about the past. Something I'm excited to pass on to you! We also went to San Diego for a week around the 4th of July. We spent much of the time at the beach and exploring the area and then the 4th on the ocean paddle boarding and conquering the fear of jet skiing about a half mile off the coast in the ocean. Then, watching fireworks over the ocean atop a cliff was definitely a bucket list item I got to cross off! See some some pictures of us below on our various adventures. (Yes, I love Disney; Yes I love Star Wars; Yes I LOVE Marvel and The Avengers!!)

I am looking forward to meeting you and your student at our Meet the Teacher on Friday, August 5th. Please CLICK HERE to sign up for a 15 minute increment time slot that starts at 8:30 with the last slot at 10:50. You can sign up anytime from July 18-29th if you haven’t already done this. (Select Gold Rush Elementary and the password is digger.) Students will drop off their supplies this day and take their pictures in the gym after our visit. If you could please also fill out this form (also found on my website) to help me get to know your child before the first day of school, I would appreciate it! With the limited amount of time we have at Meet the Teacher, this will help give me additional information privately prior to our first day of school. Please remember to bring the majority of your supplies with you (if possible) on this day so that students don't have the burden of carrying their supplies on the first day as we will have the traditional Flag Ceremony on the first day of school.

Have a great rest of your summer, I can’t wait to meet you on August 5th and see you for our first day on August 8th!

Best regards,

Mrs. Broecker

Me with my favorite flower!!

My family and I near Salzburg, Austria in 2019.

Space Mountain Summer 2021

My girls & I on a bike ride in Crested Butte (2021) where I grew up.

Emily & Abby

San Diego 2022

My husband and I

San Diego 2022