January 2021 News

Happy New Year!!

I hope you were able to have a fantastic two weeks and were able to make some new memories; I know we were! While celebrating without extended family was hard, it also provided us with an amazing opportunity to sit back and watch our Senior and Sophomore enjoy the holidays in a different way. I would have never had the ability to have this time with my 17 year old before she goes to college, and for that, I am truly grateful! With a new year upon us (yay 2021) I am so excited to welcome back kiddos starting Tuesday, January 5th! This email will hopefully outline information for you and your child for the coming weeks. As always, we could switch to remote learning at any time, so I plan to be prepared and help your child to also be prepared. Please send back in the labeled pillowcase with your child so that we can keep it in the classroom in case of an overnight switch.

Our schedule remains the same for full in-person learning (and can be found on my website). If your child sees other teachers for academics, they will continue without changes to their schedules. New remote schedules will be provided to students by the end of the week for an in-case need to switch to remote learning.

Important Dates

January 5: return to school in person

January 18: No School (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)

February 12 &15: No School (Professional Development Day & President’s Day)

March 15-19: Spring Break

Classroom Expectations & Needs

All expectations set forth at the beginning of the year and on our return to full in-person learning will remain the same. Snack time will be limited to 10-15 minutes max. We will take mask breaks when the weather permits and we will remain diligent with hand-washing.

Please send all materials back to school with your child on Tuesday. This includes the second math book that I gave them right before Thanksgiving break. If they would like, they can choose to leave half of their pencil supply at home and half of their sticky note supply there. They also need to bring in their dry erase boards that they took home. Finally, please continue to keep the charging cord for the Chromebooks at home and make sure to charge nightly.

Homework Expectations

Some things will be changing when we get back regarding homework, students can anticipate 50 minutes of homework each night again. I will be instituting a Reading Log and Math Fact Log. Students will bring home a reading log on Monday and need to return it Friday completed. Students will need to have it filled out and completed by then. How and when they complete their reading requirements will be up to them. I require 100 minutes of weekly reading and at least 5-10 minutes of math practice daily. Only students who need to practice will be assigned this, but daily practice of division facts does not hurt either! Students will still be working on their 40 Book Challenge where they will record the books they read, their reviews of the books, and any other information they would like to include. Other homework will consist of reading, responding to reading (either through an annotation, in their reading notebook, or on a Google Doc), a math activity, math fact practice and charging their chromebooks.

If we are every remote, these homework assignments will be stopped and we will continue them when we get back to in-person learning.

Lunch/Recess/Library Schedules

As we return to school full time, there have been a few modifications to schedules. In order to accommodate students safely, students will remain in their cohorts during lunch and recess. One week each month our class will be eating lunch in the Mini Miner Diner. This will continue the second half of the year. At recess, we will rotate playground locations each week. Lastly, our library time will be on Tuesday mornings from 10:10-10:45

Curriculum Updates

Reading: Students will begin a new unit when we get back: Argument and Advocacy Reading. In this unit, students continue using their newly learned research skills to research a variety of arguments. At many times during this unit, students will have flash-debates where they will present the information they have researched and then learn what more information they need in order to have a successful debate. This unit ties in perfectly with our writing on Argument and Advocacy which will start in a week.

Writing: Students will be finishing up our Literary Essay Unit by examining a variety of opinion texts. As you can see, our theme for the next two months will be arguments and learning how to write and read them. Typically, students love this unit because they are able to explore topics close to their hearts and argue in favor of their beliefs. I have seen some passionate arguments regarding cell phone usage, lockers in middle school, and school uniforms. I can’t wait to see what your kiddos decide to research and write about!

Math: For the next couple of days we will continue to work on long division and then we will be working with fractions. In this topic, your student is learning how to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators. He or she will learn how to replace given fractions with equivalent fractions with like denominators. To add 1/2 and 1/3, for example, first rename 1/2 as 3/6 and 1/3 as 2/6, and then add the numerators 3 and 2. The sum of 1/2 and 1/3 is 5/6. Your student will also learn how to estimate sums and differences of fractions.

You can help your student practice renaming fractions as equivalent fractions by

playing a game together in which the players add fractions with unlike denominators.

Fraction Add-Up


paper and pencil, index cards

Step 1

Make a set of fraction cards with one fraction shown on each card. Use

fractions with numerators of 1 through 5 and denominators of 2 through 6.

Step 2

Player 1 turns over two cards and finds the sum of the two fractions

shown. Then Player 2 turns over two cards and finds the sum of those two

fractions. The player whose fractions have the greater sum wins.

Another Way to Play

  • Both players turn over three cards and find the sum of their fractions.

  • Each player records their sum.

  • After 5 rounds, add each player’s sums for each of the rounds.

  • The player with the greater sum wins.

Science: We will continue with the science unit we began before we had to go remote. Since students learned about human body systems while we were remote, our next unit will be Mixtures and Solutions. We will be studying basic concepts in chemistry, finding out how materials interact with each other. Children will learn what happens when simple materials, like gravel, salt, and water, are put together. They will also learn techniques for separating the resulting mixtures and solutions. They will conduct scientific experiments on separating a powder, gravel, and salt. Then, we will be learning about concentration and evaporation. To round out our unit, we will be making a mixture of our own and testing out the concentration of that mixture.

November News

What a week! Learning that we were switching to eLearning was not expected, and I cannot tell you how appreciative I am of you being ready to go and flexible with this. When looking at the positive this week, a clear star shined brightly: meeting with you all and your children. They are so resilient and flexible. I am so incredibly proud of them. They smile through our day and they make me laugh constantly. I don’t know if there would be another group of kids I would want to do this with...they are truly AMAZING! I’m hoping, as I told you during conferences, to keep this as close to the school day routine as possible. So far, it’s been great!

Please let me know how your child is doing with all of this...especially if it is affecting them emotionally. We are here for them and you any way that we (myself and support staff) can be. Remember, during this time and anytime really during the school year, if your child is having heightened emotional stressors and/or needs, please email me right away. We also have our counselor at school, Mrs. Fitch, who can help out. Check out her website for resources. We also have Mrs. Evans and here is her webpage that has some great resources for your kiddo at home to help with different stressors as well.

Below you will find information about what we will be working on the next couple of weeks while at home.

eLearning Schedule

9:20-9:40 Community Circle

9:40-10:00 Reading Mini-lesson

10:00-11:00 Reading Groups

11:00-11:10 Break (this may be extended depending on what time we finish with Reading)

11:10-12:10/12:30 Writing

12:30-1:20 Lunch (I highly recommend the kids get out and run around or do some physical activity)

1:20-1:35 Read Aloud

1:35-3:05 Math

3:05-3:15 Wrap up for the day

**This will not change at all throughout the day. I’ve had kids ask if we have math in the afternoon or if we just aren’t doing a subject. Please note, that is not the case and it will be like a regular school day.


We have gone into text complexity. Your child will be reading quite a bit of nonfiction texts. Since they do not have nonfiction texts readily available, we are using EPIC! as a resource. They already have an account and it can be used for free during the school day. Beginning this week, we will be working on text structures and main idea/details. Students will be setting goals each day to work towards during their at home time.

Reading will be the only required homework during our remote learning. I am asking students to read at least 30-45 minutes a day off of the computer.


In writing, we will begin our Literature Essay unit. For this unit, students will be reading common texts on EPIC! or using stories I send to them on Google Classroom. We will be analyzing a lot of literary pieces in order to strengthen our writing. Writing will be due daily so that I can check their work online. It will be virtually impossible to see how they are doing if they do not do their work during the times I give them. Please reiterate this to them how important it is to work hard during this time. I don’t want to lose any ground we have gained! I appreciate your help here!


We are working on multiplication of decimals in this unit as I stated at conferences. Because I do not have easy access to their work, I am relying on our math program to help out. I assign an exit ticket every day for kids to do. It provides me to be able to differentiate for them the next day or help them out if they did not understand.

Science will restart when we get back into the classroom. Until then, we will be talking about mixtures and solutions in our reading unit. :)

I will email you separately if your child is not completing their work or participating in our live sessions, as I would if they were not completing their assignments in class. Right now, our partnership will ensure their success! I thank you so much for your help! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you or your child! Also, if you have internet issues, please let me know. I completely understand these, but they can be super stressful for your child. I want to reassure them that things happen and I am flexible with this. I will work with your child outside of the whole group to talk with them so make a stressful situation, less stressful.

We are back to school, Wednesday, November 18th!!! Until that time, we only have 8 more days of online learning!

October/November News

I hope that your family had a relaxing and recharging Fall Break. I am so excited to see our whole team together in the same room at the same time! As we return from Fall Break, I wanted to give a few updates about the topics listed below.

Important Dates

Curriculum Updates

Graded Work

Homework Expectations


Parent Teacher Conferences

Important Dates

October 30: Halloween Party & Parade (weather permitting)

November 3: No School

November 23-27: Thanksgiving Break

December 18 - January 4: Winter Break

Curriculum Updates


For the next two weeks, students will be participating in a new book club with the focus of comparing universal themes across texts. Students will have nightly reading homework and annotations to prepare for daily book club meetings. Once done with our unit on themes, we will be embarking in a nonfiction unit where students will take a look at text complexity and summarizing.


Students will be participating in a three week Paragraph Boot Camp unit. We will be analyzing the components of a powerful paragraph and extending a single paragraph into a multi-paragraph piece. From here, students will begin a unit on writing literary essays. This is a fun and engaging unit that prepares students for our next writing unit: argumentative essay writing.


Multiplication here we come! Our learning outcome for this unit will be to fluently multiply multi- digit whole numbers. We will continue using our mathematical skill of estimating to determine if answers seem reasonable. As your child engages in this unit, it is of the utmost importance that they are continuing to engage in math fact practice. Being able to recall their multiplication math facts in an accurate and efficient manner will help them to fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers and decimals (in our next unit). Eventually we will be learning division of whole numbers and decimals and this will also contribute to their success.


Students are going to be so excited to kick off our first science unit! We will begin by setting up our science notebooks and looking at the scientific method as a framework that will guide our work as scientists. The following week our class will begin a new science unit, the FOSS Mixtures and Solutions Module. We will be studying basic concepts in chemistry, finding out how materials interact with each other. Children will learn what happens when simple materials, like gravel, salt, and water, are put together. They will also learn techniques for separating the resulting mixtures and solutions. They will conduct scientific experiments on separating a powder, gravel, and salt. Then, we will be learning about concentration and evaporation. To round out our unit, we will be making a mixture of our own and testing out the concentration of that mixture.

Graded Work

* Sign & Return Work

In their homework folder the week of October 26, I will include three of their published writing pieces that they have completed throughout our Narrative unit. The first piece was graded informally and was a baseline for their goals for our Narrative unit. A Workshop Writing, (their grade is on Google Classroom with comments from me and I will try to print this out) which will be the writing piece that your student developed over a few weeks in class and applied each of our mini lessons directly to that piece of writing. Lastly, an End of Unit Writing piece (green rubric), that was written on Thursday and Friday before Fall Break. Typically we could go over these together at conferences, but because they will be virtual, I wanted you to be able to see how the writing has progressed throughout the unit. Please initial each writing piece or rubric, place it back in the homework folder, and return it to school. I will keep these in their student portfolios and will return them at the end of the school year.

I will also be sending home their Topic 1 & 2 math tests. On the test are two scores. The first is the initial score, the second is their corrected scores. I believe in correcting mistakes made so that students have an opportunity to correct their thinking. You will also see two quarter sheets: one filled out by the student, the other by me. This is a self-evaluation of where the students see themselves in the math concepts and then the evaluation by me is based on their understanding of the concepts over the unit. These are in correlation to our report cards. The goal is to see growth. I will continue to work with students on these concepts so that they have a clear understanding of them. These do not need to be returned.

* Daily Work

Students will also have graded math work and other class work that is loose in their backpacks. This work can stay at home and doesn't need to be returned.

Homework Expectations

Now that we are back in school full time, students can anticipate 50 minutes of homework each night. That homework will consist of reading, responding to reading (either through an annotation, in their reading notebook, or on a Google Doc), a math activity, and charging their chromebooks.

Halloween Parties/Parade- Friday, October 30th

Although Halloween will look different this year, we are planning on having Halloween Parties in our classrooms and then a weather contingent outdoor Halloween Parade. Students will come to school dressed in their costumes with their school clothes underneath it. We are trying to limit all kids from needing to go to the bathroom to change after the parade, so it is important that your student is able to take their costume off in the classroom or the hallway and place it directly into their backpack. For our party, students can bring a snack for themselves, but we will not be bringing snacks to share. We will also be playing a game/games or participating in a craft activity. As long as the weather cooperates, we will have an outdoor Halloween parade that parents will be invited to. 5th grade's parade time will be at 9:45. More specific information about where parents can stand to see the parade will be communicated through Dr. Brown's weekly blog (Friday email).

Parent Teacher Conferences

Fall Conferences will be held over Zoom the Monday, November 2nd; Wednesday, November 4th; and Thursday, November 5th. Please take a moment to sign up for a conference time here.

Lunch/Recess/Library Schedules

As we return to school full time, there have been a few modifications to schedules. In order to accommodate students safely, students will remain in their cohorts during lunch and recess. One week each month our class will be eating lunch in the Mini Miner Diner. This will begin tomorrow, Monday, October 19. At recess, we will rotate playground locations each week. Lastly, our new official library time will be on Tuesday mornings from 10:10-10:45.

Thank you for sharing your child with me each day! As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.

September/October News

What an amazing start to the school year! I have really enjoyed getting to know your children and couldn't be prouder of them for showing such perseverance and grit in this new way of learning! Sorry I haven't gotten an update out sooner...I have been also trying to show perseverance and grit while getting to know this new way of teaching! Below you will find information about what we have been learning and where we will be going over the course of the next month.

Important Dates/Information

9/28-10/2 : Legend/GRE Spirit Week

Monday: Twin Day

Tuesday: Pajama Day

Wednesday: Sports Gear Day

Thursday: Super Hero Day (no super hero masks...just regularly required face masks)

10/1: Virtual SAC meeting @ 4:00-5:00 PM

10/12-10/16: Fall Break

Library - Cohort A & B schedule

Cohort A - Monday, September 28

Cohort B - Tuesday, October 6

Parent Resources for Tech Troubleshooting with Google

The above linked resource can help you troubleshoot at home with our Google Suite Apps. Please utilize this if you have any tech questions.


We have taken on realistic fiction book clubs and many students have finished their first book. We are learning how important it is to write about our reading and how important it is to our Reading Life! We have been sharpening up our reading and thinking skills by reading great stories, studying skills and strategies of interpretation, and by writing and talking about literature.

Once we have learned to identify and discuss themes actively with in our book clubs, we will compare and contrast the ways in which themes are developed across texts. We will then be studying the way in which a theme can be develop differently in different texts.

Students will be working from the following learning progressions to help elevate their reading to new levels this year. The rubric includes 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.


We have been generating personal narratives and setting goals using a checklist to assess our growth and set new goals.

We are currently moving through the writing process by drafting, revising and editing our personal narratives. We will continue learning throughout October and moving on to study mentor texts to develop our "writer's eye."


We have finished our first and second unit in math. The first unit was on decimals to the thousandths. In this unit, we covered the idea that the value of a digit depends on its place in a number—for whole numbers to hundred millions and decimals to thousandths. He or she is learning that a digit in any place has 10 times the value it would have in the place to its right and 1 10 the value it would have in the place to its left. For example, in the number 105,558, the value of the 5 in the hundreds place is 1 10 the value of the 5 in the thousands place and 10 times the value of the 5 in the tens place. Your child will also learn to use whole-number exponents to write powers of 10. You can expect to see work that provides practice in place value with whole numbers and decimals. Here is an activity you can do with your child.

In Unit 2, we learned about adding and subtracting decimals. In this topic, your student developed proficiency with adding and subtracting decimals. These skills will enable your student to solve mathematical and real-world problems efficiently. These skills will also help your student estimate sums and differences in order to determine the reasonableness of solutions. Here is an activity that you can complete together to help your student practice estimating and calculating sums and differences of decimals to hundredths.

Rolling Decimals Materials: 1 number cube (labeled 1–6)

Step 1) Roll a number cube five times. Use the digits rolled to write two decimal numbers, such as 2.3 and 42.5.

Step 2) Write an addition sentence and a subtraction sentence using the two decimal numbers. For example, 2.3 + 42.5 and 42.5 - 2.3. Subtract the lesser decimal from the greater decimal. Step 3) Estimate the answer to each problem. For example, you might round 42.5 to 43 and 2.3 to 2, and then perform the operations. Use a calculator or paper and pencil to find the actual answer for each problem. Compare the actual answers with your estimates.

Step 4) Take turns creating numbers and estimating the sum and difference of the numbers. Then, play this game together: Choose an estimation goal, such as 100 or 25.5. Write an addition sentence or a subtraction sentence with two decimal numbers that will result in a number as close to the estimate as possible.

In Unit 3, which we will begin next week, your student will be learning how to fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers. Students will understand multiplying by powers of 10, by 1-digit numbers, and by 2-digit numbers. This will eventually lead us to multiplying decimals. Students will learn through the area-model (partial-products) and the traditional method for multiplication.

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. I encourage students to get to know the 50 states and capitals, not just the region that they are studying. Here are some fun games and songs to help them learn those 50 states and capitals:

Find the US States

USA Geography - capitals, states, and landscapes

USA puzzle map

Fill in the States - states and capitals

Name the state (you can pick it or spell it)

Tour the States Song

September 3, 2020

It was so great to see many of you last night at Back to School night! I think our first Virtual night was a success. Here is the presentation that I gave. The biggest take-aways for parents are:

1) In 5th Grade we foster independence at school and at home learning to prepare them for a successful career as a Middle Schooler and beyond.

2) Attendance on at home learning days is taken through completed assignments in Google Classroom. All learning done on at-home learning day should be marked as done in Google Classroom in order for the child to be counted as present.

Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Welcome Back!!


Dear Families,

Hello and welcome back!! I am so excited to 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 2020-2021 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!

Growing up in Colorado, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. 20 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 College of Denver and my Masters in Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction. I’ve taught both 4th and 5th grades over the past 20 years as well as one of those years as an instructional coach. This will be my fourth 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 20 years, and we have two wonderful daughters. Emily, 17, is a Senior at Chaparral High School, and Abby, 14, is a Sophomore at Chaparral High School. Both of our girls play soccer. As a family we enjoy watching soccer, walking our dog Izzy, and hanging out together during any free time we have! My own hobbies include reading, rooting for CSU Ram Football, exercising, walking to enjoy our beautiful weather and scenery, and of course, watching my girls play soccer.

As we enter this year, I recognize that our classroom and school procedures will look different than previous years. Please rest assured that my number one priority is to keep everyone safe. As we experience this new adventure together, you can support our classroom by encouraging your student to maintain good hand hygiene and a positive, flexible attitude. I am here to support you and your family in all ways possible. 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 is typically the best way to reach me. During the school year I will be working with our students 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, despite the unique challenges we face. I can't wait for them to experience all of the fun and exciting lessons and activities that I have planned!

I am looking forward to meeting you and your student at our Meet the Teacher. Please CLICK HERE to sign up for a day and time. If you are not able to attend, or feel more comfortable meeting remotely, I am more than happy to chat via Google Meet. There are time slots allotted for virtual meetings only. If we need more of these time slots, please sign up closer to that 10:30 slot. It is supposed to be super hot that day and I would like to protect us all from the heat. Thank you for helping me out with this! Please remember that all family members MUST wear a mask while on school grounds and social distancing (6ft) from other families and all teachers is required at all times. Additionally, supplies should not be brought to the Meet the Teacher this year since we are not meeting in our classroom. If you could please also fill out this form (also found on my website) to help me get to know your child, I would appreciate it! We will talk at Meet the Teacher, but this will help give me information prior to meeting your child/children and you. If there is anything personal about your child that you do not want to share with other families around, please make sure to fill out the form so that I can learn more about your child. I've included a few pictures of our classroom so you are able to see where your child will be spending his/her day.

Have a great rest of your summer and I can’t wait to see you when Orientation Week starts August 17th! If you want me to add another email for you, please let me know.

Best regards,

Mrs. Broecker

Me with my favorite flower!!

My family and I near Salzburg, Austria in 2019.