January News!

Important Dates:

January 18th: NO SCHOOL (Teacher Inservice Day)
January 21st: Martin LaterKing Jr. Day
February 14th: Valentine’s Day Party ~ Time TBD

We have been working all year on building our stamina during reader’s workshop and finding books that are just right for us. Since it is the new year, we are working on/setting personal goals to improve our decoding and comprehension. Reading is thinking and we have been using our thinking for new learning from all the nonfiction text features that authors use and thinking strategies to help us understand and interact with texts. Our thinking strategies include determining importance, paraphrasing, keeping track of our thinking and learnings we read.

*Make sure your kiddo is reading a mixture of fiction and non-fiction texts*

The kiddos have published their narrative writing books and have become real authors! They are so excited and have worked so hard during their small moment writing unit. We have moved to our informational writing and have begun “teaching books”, where the students have become experts on a topic and will teach their readers about their topic. They have been flying through books and have really fostered a love for writing. This unit goes perfectly with our determining importance strategy, nonfiction texts that we are reading and our social studies unit with american heroes and symbols.

We have been working on our unit 3 and focusing on addition and subtraction.  We will be working on developing strategies for adding and subtracting numbers by counting on or back, solving problems that involve adding more than two numbers, and finding many different combinations for the same number.  We are focusing on explaining our thinking and solving problems in different ways. We will also begin to work with place value as we represent the teen numbers as a group of ten plus a group of ones. We will soon be introducing: telling time to the hour, measurement and fractions.

Social Studies/Science
We have begun our unit on American Heroes and Symbols with a discussion about Martin Luther King Jr., as well as Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges. In February we will learn about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln for President's Day.


Wednesday, November 14th -
Thanksgiving Feast & Celebration of Learning!
We invite families to join us in the classroom so the children can share some of their recent learning with you.  After the learning celebration, you are invited to join your child in the cafeteria for a Thanksgiving feast! You can pre-order lunch tickets at MySchoolBucks.com.  
Celebration of Learning will be at 11:15-11:45pm
Lunch will be at 11:45-12:05pm.

November 19th- 23rd - Thanksgiving Break - NO SCHOOL

Reader’s Workshop
We have been focusing on...
*Understanding that reading is thinking!
*Using our “tool box” to pull strategies out when we get to tricky words
*Listening to our inner voice
*Leaving "tracks" of our thinking by making notes when we learn new things, make connections, or have a question about what we read (We use LOTS of sticky notes!)
*Become problem solvers who can use lots of strategies to decode and understand what we read
*Continuing to build stamina and independence

You can help at home by:
*Keep up with the nightly reading routine
*Encourage students to "think aloud" as they read and share their questions, learnings and reactions to text
*Model asking questions as you read
*Continue to support sight word and spelling pattern homework

Writer’s Workshop

We’ve been continuing with our small moment unit, writing stories from our lives. We discuss how writers use various strategies to help our readers understand our writing.  Next week we will begin practicing "Bringing our stories to life" - making people talk, move, think, and feel. We are also trying to tell our stories in "itsy-bitsy steps" - writing what happened first, then next, then next and using lots of detail.  We will look closely at mentor texts and notice things authors do in their writing that we can try in our own writing... things like "pop out words" (bold face words), elipses (...), and onomatopoeia (words that show sound, like "ding" "whoosh" or "clickety clack." We are also focusing on editing our work, correcting spelling and adding punctuation.  We will be finishing up our narrative unit in about a month or so by "publishing" one of our stories, then move on to writing information pieces about topics we are "experts" on.

Ask your child to share how they are bringing their stories to life when they write!

Math Workshop

Look for and make use of structure:
I can see and understand how numbers and shapes are organized and put together as parts and wholes.

Our geometry unit focuses on two dimensional shapes and the relationships among them. Our goal is for students to describe shapes according to their attributes (triangles have 3 straight sides and 3 corners), and to understand that shapes can be put together or taken apart to make new shapes. Students observe, describe, compare, classify, represent, and build with 2-D shapes. We use what we know to recognize shapes in the world and to use geometric vocabulary to describe them.

We will finish up this work in the next few weeks, then move on to our next addition and subtraction unit.

Ask your child to find geometric shapes in the world and describe them using our math language!

Social Studies

We have begun our history unit on Family & Cultural Traditions in the United States in the past.  We have been discussing our Thanksgiving Holiday, analyzing how it has changed over time and why.  We will go into December with this unit, discussing various other traditions.

Begin to talk about your family traditions and customs!


We finished up our science unit on Pebbles, Sand and Silt. Be sure to have your little geologists share their Geology Notebooks and all of their learning with you!

Important Upcoming Dates:

Thursday, September 20th - Digger Dash!

Friday, September 21st - NO SCHOOL - Teacher Training

Our fall Parent Teacher Conferences are scheduled for 
Thursday, September 27, and Thursday, October 4th.
 Look for information about how to sign up soon!

October 8 - 12  NO SCHOOL - Fall Break

Dear Parents,
I can't believe it is already September!  I have been enjoying getting to know your children!  They are such a wonderful group of kiddos!  This newsletter is designed to keep you updated with what your child is learning at school.  Use this as a tool to communicate with me and with your child about their learning. We are very busy in first grade, as you will see!  

Reading - 
We have "Reader's Workshop" everyday.  We've been focusing on finding "Good Fit Books" and building our stamina for reading them in class, adding more time to sustained independent reading each day.  Reading for an extended period of time can be a challenge to many first graders this time of the year!  We start small and build on it every day.  It is so important for the kids to spend time in class - and at home - practicing the skills they are learning!  The best way for your child to become a proficient reader is to spend time reading books on their level every day. We have been busy working on good reading habits and tips and tricks for solving hard words!

Before Reader's Workshop we have"Word Study" everyday.  This is a time to focus on phonics and patterns we see in words.  This year we are using a program called Words Their Way. I've given the class a spelling test to see what they know about letters, letter combinations, and the sounds they make.  This helped me start them at the appropriate Words Their Way level and differentiate for each child. Each week your child is given a "Word Sort."  It has words that focus on a particular pattern, such as short vowels, blends (two letters whose sounds, when put together, blend closely - such as bl, st, dr, cr....), digraphs (two letters that, when put together, make a new sound - such as ch, sh, ph, th..), and long vowel patterns (two vowels that make one long vowel sound ("magic e"or "silent e" as in cake, and other combinations like oa, ai, ea...).  

Another part of literacy is our Writer's Workshop: 
Right now we are working on writing and telling "small moment" stories from the events in our lives.  A small moment is one moment from our day.  Unlike a huge "watermelon story," such as a trip to Disney Land, a small moment is a "seed story" - or one event from our trip, such as riding on Splash Mountain. First graders love to tell stories!  They come in everyday with a story about going to the park, loosing a tooth, or playing with friends. But sometimes they struggle with coming up with ideas to write about.  As they share their stories tell them, "That would make a great small moment for you to write about at school!"  

In Writer's Workshop I teach them to go through the Writing Process.  Our steps are:
1. - Think of an idea.  For a small moment, this could be something you do (like riding my scooter or going to gymnastics), or something that has happened to you (like getting caught in a rain storm or making cookies with Dad.)
2. - Plan  I tell them this is the most important!  We will learn various ways to plan our story. Right now we are thinking about what happened first, then next, then after that and are "touching and telling" (touch each page as you tell the story out loud and think about what would go on each page), then sketch(draw a quick sketch on each page to help you remember your plan)
3. - Write!  As you can see, we don't begin with writing our story!
4. - Revise  I tell them, "When your done you've just begun!"  We add detail to our story using "spider legs" and think how can I make my story better?
5. - Edit We check spelling and punctuation.  We are talking about leaving spaces between our words, writing with lower-case letters, learning strategies for spelling words we don't know, and using punctuation. Of course not all of our spelling is expected to be correct!  We focus on the patterns we are learning in our Words Their Way sort, and we use our Word Wall to help us spell.  First graders spell phonetically and that is what we want them to do for most words right now.  

Ask your child to tell you about the small moment stories they are writing.

We've been working on our first Investigations unit on counting, addition, and subtraction. This first unit develops students' ideas about counting and quantity, place value and the structure of the base-10 number system.  It develops computational fluency, and focuses on the operations of addition and subtraction.  

We began with counting. We counted items in a "Mystery Bag" with a partner, then had to record what we found.  We talked a lot about strategies that help us keep track when we count, like moving an object or grouping them when counting large amounts.  Our representation of what we counted should be easy for someone to see how many we counted.  We looked at each other's work and had discussions about what we noticed, then worked to make our representation more organized.
Students use the strategy they best understand.  They begin with counting all and work through the strategies when they are developmentally ready. Most first graders still need concrete examples they can see and count before moving to the abstract.  They move to the abstract when they are developmentally ready. If your child still needs to count on his/her fingers, or use a manipulative to see numbers, that is just fine!  

To build on these concepts, count often with your children.  Practice counting by ones, fives, tens, and twos to 120.  When they become fluent, try starting at a number other than one.  
Make story problems for your kids, such as "We are having people over for dinner.  One family has 6 people, one has 5, and we have 4. How many plates will I need?  

Social Studies: 
It is so important to take the time to build a strong classroom community in the beginning of the year in which all students feel safe and can learn.  We talk a lot about our school motto, Going for the G.O.L.D.:  Give respect, Own your actions, Listen and Learn, and Do your best. We've been discussing how to be a good citizen, and characteristics of a good citizen.  We've been reading books by Mary Small and Jill Lynn Donahue about being responsible, honest, considerate, respectful and other important behaviors good citizens possess.  The kids will be collaborating in small groups to create posters that explain how to be good citizens at Gold Rush and go for the G.O.L.D. around our building.  We will post these around the school.  

We are working with our technology teacher, Megan Fleet, to learn how to use an app on our iPads called Seesaw to share our work with our peers and our families. I have shared a link for you to sign up so you can see items in your child's "portfolio."  This is an exciting way for them to share their thinking and learning with you! Make sure to check out your kiddos amazing work!

Ask your child to tell teach you about what it looks like and sounds like to go for the G.O.L.D. at Gold Rush.

What's coming next?
Reading:  More work with good habits for solving tricky words, looking for meaning in words, and setting goals for ourselves as readers
Writing:  Extend small moment writing to study mentor texts and use the 
              "craft moves" we notice from these texts in our own writing.
Math:  Subtraction story problems, more efficient counting & adding strategies,
              and beginning geometry in October.
Science:  A unit called "Pebbles, Sand, & Silt" - an introduction to Rocks & Minerals.

Welcome! Welcome!

I am very excited to begin this First Grade journey with you! I hope you enjoyed your summer and I am looking forward to all the wonderful growth and memories we will be making this year.

Please mark these dates in your calendars & let me know if you have any questions!

From the desk of Dr. Jenny Brown:

July 11, 2018
Dear Gold Rush Families,
I hope you are having a wonderful summer!  We are eagerly awaiting the beginning of the school year.  I want to provide you with important information regarding the start of the year.  It is my hope that this information will make you aware of upcoming events and important timelines.
Wednesday, July 18th – July 31st  Online Express Check In
Online Express Check In will open on Wednesday, July 18.  Click here to login.  You will use Online Express Check In to update your contact information, pay school fees and sign up for volunteer opportunities.  Please note that some of the forms need to be printed and turned in to your teacher during Meet Your Teacher Day on Monday, August 6, or the first day of school.  All students must register via Online Express Check In by July 31st.  For assistance please contact one of the individuals below:
·       GRE Administrative Assistant Anita Rudman: anita.rudman@dcsdk12.org 303-387-7704
·       GRE Registrar Christi Dismang: christi.dismang@dcsdk12.org 303-387-7707
Wednesday, July 18th Class Placement
We know that your child is eager to know who his/her classroom teacher will be.  Starting July 18th you can click here to access parent portal.  You will be able to view your child’s teacher by selecting your student and clicking on the schedule tab.  You can look forward to receiving a welcome letter from your child’s teacher via email by the end of the month.
Monday, August 6th - Meet Your Teacher
We believe that it is essential for students to have the opportunity to meet their teacher and visit their classroom prior to the first day of school.  Families are welcome to visit their classroom on Monday, August 6, and drop off school supplies.  

We want to ensure that families are able to spend time with the teacher in a small group setting so we ask that you sign up for one of the times shown below by clicking here for our online scheduler.  The online scheduler will be available July 18th through July 31st and the password is digger.  The sign up is first come first serve, so please sign up as soon as possible if you have a preferred time or wish to align siblings’ times.  If you ordered school supplies through the PTO they will be delivered to your child’s classroom.  Click here for a map of teachers’ classrooms.

Meet Your Teacher Times on Monday, August 6th

Thursday, August 9th -  First Full Day of School
The first full day of school for students in grades K-5 is Thursday, August 9th.  Students will meet their teachers on the front blacktop on the first day of school for an opening flag ceremony that begins at 8:30 AM.  Click here for a map of your classroom location for our opening ceremony.  All teachers will also have a sign with their name on it.

Friday, August 10th - Rolling Start to the School Day Begins
On the second day of school students will enter the building through the front door on their own between 8:20 AM-8:30AM and walk directly to their classrooms.  Teachers and older students will be available to assist younger students. Our rolling start ensures a smooth start to the day. Parents of preschool students will need to walk their children into the building using the west entrance and sign their child in.  School will be in session from 8:30AM-3:30PM next year.
Click here for the 2018 - 2019 Conventional Calendar
Click here for information regarding the Rolling Start to the School Day
Click here for general drop off and pick up procedures.
Wednesday, August 15th – Back to School Night for Parents Only
Classroom teachers will provide parents with an overview of the school year on Wednesday, August 15th, during the following two Back to School Night sessions: 6:05-6:35 PM & 6:40-7:10 PM.  The principal will share school celebrations and upcoming goals for the year in the gym from 5:45-6:00 PM.  We hope you will join us for these informative sessions.
Thursday, August 28th – 1 Assessment Hour
In an attempt to gain more targeted information regarding your child’s academic strengths and needs each child will come to school for one hour only on August 28th to complete reading and math assessments.  The assessments administered allow educators to alter their instruction to meet your child’s individual needs and learning style.
Click here for the online conference scheduler between July 18th – July 31st to select an assessment time for your child.  The password is digger.  Because we value the information we obtain on these days, it is mandatory that all children complete their assessments on August 28th.  Please bring your child to the front vestibule and teachers will escort him/her to his/her testing location.  Students will conclude their assessment hour in the gym where your child take his/her school picture.  Our Before and After School Enrichment program (B.A.S.E.) will be available on August 28th.  Please contact B.A.S.E. as soon as possible as spaces are limited.
We will also be releasing a new website in the coming weeks.  Our website address will remain and you will be rerouted. We hope you enjoy our new platform!  

We look forward to seeing your family in August.  Enjoy the remainder of your summer vacation!
Jennifer Brown

2018 Beginning of the Year Schedule
Monday, August 6: Meet Your Teacher
Parents show their child how to walk to his/her new classroom.
Thursday, August 9: First Day of School
Students meet their teachers on the front blacktop for an opening flag ceremony by 8:30 AM.
Teachers show students how to walk to their classroom.
Friday, August 10: Second Day of School
Students walk to their classrooms between 8:20 AM - 8:30 AM.
Parents say good-bye outside of the building.
Tuesday, August 28: Assessment Hour
Students take classroom assessments for one hour.
Students take their picture at the end of their assessment hour.

Bell Schedule
8:20 AM First Bell
Students can enter the building.
Crosswalk supervision begins.
Students should not arrive to school prior to this bell.

8:30 AM Start of the School Day
8:35 Tardy Bell