Monday, November 27, 2017

Winter Party and Book Exchange

Book Exchange
The last day before winter break, we will have a holiday book exchange in our classroom.  This activity is completely voluntary.   Students that would like to participate should bring in a new or gently used 5th grade appropriate chapter book.  The book should be wrapped as a present so that other students can not see the title.  Every student that brings  a book for the exchange, will receive a book.  If you are interested in donating a second book for a student that may not be able to bring one in, please let me know via email.  Books may be brought to school as soon as you have them ready.  All books MUST be in the classroom when school starts on December 21st.  

Winter Party
Our winter party will be held on December 21st from 2:15pm-3:15pm.  Please click here to sign up for treats and assistance.  The party is in the afternoon, so if you sign-up for something that needs to remain cold, please bring it around 2:10, as I do not have the ability to keep it cold in the classroom.  On the day of the party, students may bring in board games they would like to play with their classmates, as we watch a movie and enjoy a little down time with their classmates before heading off on winter break.  

Curriculum Update:

Reading- As we move into December, students will be focusing on finishing their first round of book clubs.  During this time, students are applying the reading strategies we have discussed in class to their own reading.  Each time the book clubs meet, students are given a specific focus such as identifying the questions they have or using evidence from the text to support their predictions.  Additionally, students are working to improve their communication and collaboration with the peers in their group.  You can support your student's reading growth by making sure they are reading at home for at least 20 minutes each night.  I have encouraged students to read aloud to improve their fluency.  

Writing- Our students did such an amazing job with the chocolate milk debate! I hope they have shared their findings with you.   As we begin new opinion papers about topics we are passionate about, I will conference with each student to provide feedback from their work and provide next steps that should improve their second paper.   I encourage you to ask your student about the topic they have chosen and see if they are able to defend their claim.  Please know that all research should be done in class, but hearing the opinion of another person can help your child to think through their writing and identify areas that need additional support. 

Science- This week we are headed to the Denver Museum to  dissect a lamb lung.  This field trip will further help students understand the respiratory system.  Throughout the month of December, we will continue to explore different body systems and determine how they are interdependent. 

Math- We have officially started our fraction unit.  Students are starting to understand how to compare fractions to 1/2 by creating conjectures about fractions.  We are also learning how to justify whether or not fractions are equivalent by using pictures and numbers, as well as ordering fractions. As we progress through this unit, it is imperative that students know their basic multiplication facts.  I strongly recommend that ALL students continue to practice their basic multiplication facts at least three times a week. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Field Trip

Our first field trip will be to the Denver Museum On November 29th.  During this trip, students will get the opportunity to dissect a lamb lung to support what we have been learning  in class about the respiratory system.  Please use the information below to register for the trip. The deadline to register is November 27th!  Students will need to bring a disposable bag lunch and drink the day of the trip. 

Our field trip to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. The cost is $12.75.

In order for your child to participate in this field trip/program you must register (includes online permission form)  & pre-pay on-line by going to: RevTrak > Elementary Schools > Elementary Schools E thru L > Gold Rush > Field Trips. The RevTrak link can be found on GRE’s website under Parent Info or click hereRegistrations MUST be completed by 2 days prior to your field trip. 
  •  Online registration is for your student only- please do not register yourself or younger siblings.
  • Free/Reduced students will have the option of selecting "no payment" but must still register. 
  • No refunds

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

November Update

Scholastic Order:
Our next Scholastic order is due November 9th.  This will likely be the last order before the holidays.  You can place an order by clicking here and using the class code: MBNGY.  If you would like to place an order as a gift for the holidays, please email me so that I know to contact you when it arrives instead of giving it to your child. Our class was very excited to get new books for our class last month.  Thank you to everyone that placed an order and helped us get new books. 

During math workshop, students have been exploring the concept of volume.  They worked to create boxes, using linking cubes, to help them determine how many cubes were in a rectangular prism.  Since then, they have been able to use the formula V= l x w x h to find the volume of rectangular prisms.  It is extremely important that students are practicing their basic multiplication facts. 
We started working on opinion writing when we returned from fall break.  Currently, students are researching the pros and cons of having chocolate milk served in our school cafeteria.  Once we  walk through the process of creating a solid argument, students will have the opportunity to select their own topic.  We are also conferencing about our published narratives.  Students will have an opportunity discuss their strengths and areas of growth one-on-one as we review their work together. 

Students spent a few days evaluating how authors use sensory images to create visuals for their readers.  We practice visualizing and determined how it helped us better understand the text.  We are now working on questioning.  Students are learning the difference between thick and thin questions.  They are also finding ways to push their thinking by asking questions that require more thought.  I encourage you to ask your student what questions they have about the text they are reading.  This can start a conversation about the story they are reading and encourage them to think critically about their book. Please make sure that your child is reading for at least 20 minutes a day!

During our co-teach technology lessons, students used what they learned about questioning to create an info-graphic.  You are able to view your student's info-graphic in Google Classroom.

We kicked off our body system unit by determining what living things need to survive.  Over the next few weeks, students will focus on  different body systems and determine how they are interdependent.  Our field trip to the Denver Museum to dissect a  lamb lung is scheduled for November 29th.  More information will be sent home in November.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Halloween Party Sign-up

Please click here to sign-up for our Halloween party. Our party will take place October 31st from roughly 8:40-9:20, followed by the annual GRE Halloween parade. I will confirm the exact times when we get a little closer.  Please keep in mind that this is a breakfast party so we are trying to balance sugar with food that will help the kids learn throughout the day.

Thank you in advance for helping make this a great party!


Monday, October 2, 2017

Our next Scholastic order is due this Friday, October 6th. You may order online at using our class code: MBNGY.

This is our last week before fall break! When we return to school, I will send out information regarding the Halloween party and a sign-up sheet for donations.  Below you will find a summary of what we are finishing in class before our break.

Reading: Students have been working on making meaningful connections to the text they are reading. They have differentiated between connections and coincidences and are learning how to explain how the connections are helping them better understand the text. I encourage you to read with your child and ask them to make connections as they read. Please remember that students should read for 20 minutes each day at home.  I highly recommend that you continue this expectation through fall break.

Writing: Students are finishing their narrative writing this week.  Published pieces will be available in the Google Drive and submitted through our Google Classroom.  When we return from break, I will conference with each student to review their work so we can celebrate their successes and discuss next steps. When we return from break, we will transition into opinion writing.  

Social Studies:  After researching different regions, students have been working in collaborative groups to determine where the next NFL team should be placed.  Students will present their work this Friday.  When we return from break, we will begin working with body systems as we prepare for our lamb lung dissection lab that will take place toward the end of November.  

Math:  We have been busy finding new strategies to solve multiplication and division problems.  I am happy to report that many students are less afraid of division than they were at the beginning of the year.  Please know that many kids are still working on finding strategies that work for them and it is okay if they still need a little practice.  Hopefully you will see a huge increase in their confidence in the next few weeks.  When we return from break, we will move into finding the volume of 3D shapes. 

I hope everyone has a great fall break and I look forward to hearing all of the fun stories when we return October 16th.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Fall Conferences

Fall conferences are scheduled for September 27th and October 5th.  In addition to the times that will be available on the online scheduler, I also offer a variety of different days and times in an attempt to accommodate everyone's schedule.  You will be able to sign up online for the two conference days on September 17th.  However, if you would like to get to consider a different day, you may CLICK HERE  to sign up. When signing up on the link provided, please use your child's name.  If you are unable to find a time that works for you, please let me know and I will be happy to send home the conference form and/or schedule a phone conference.  

We are starting Wordly Wise this week.  I have updated the spelling and vocabulary schedule and we should be good to go now.  Typically, students will be introduced to the vocabulary words in class and expected to complete the activities for homework.  They may also do this during our support time during dismissal. However, this week, students will complete the activities in class so that I am able to answer any questions they may have. Please know that my goal isn't to test students in vocabulary, but to help them gain a strong enough understanding of the words where they feel comfortable using the word verbally and in their writing.  We will take the time to share examples of the words as we find them through the literature we read, while discussing how we can use the words in our everyday language. 

Our first Scholastic order has arrived and I am so excited to share the books that we were able to get for our classroom!  The kids are really excited that I was able to use our class points to get many of the books they request.  Thank you to everyone that placed an order and helped build our classroom library.  Our next order will be due October 6th.  You can order online by clicking here and using our class code: MBNGY

Sunday, September 3, 2017


Happy September!  It is hard to believe that we are already on the 15th day of school!  Our students are doing a fantastic job transitioning into 5th Grade!  Below you will find a quick review of what we have been doing in class, as well as where we are headed in each subject.

This week we completed our 10 Question Essays.  They will be posted in the hallway during fall conferences.  Next week we will begin our narrative unit. 

During our reader's workshop, students have been developing fix-up strategies they can use while independently reading a text. They are learning that reading requires us to think about the text so that we are able to gain information.  Students have also explored using thinking stems to help them think deeply about what they are reading.  Students are meeting one-on-one with me to discuss their personal reading goals that we are creating using the reading assessments that were completed on assessment days. We will share those goals with you as well a the progress your child has made during fall conferences.  We have also practiced writing and submitting reading responses through Google Classroom.  Hopefully, this will eliminate any issues or concerns once we make this a routine assignment.  We will start with a "Boy Week" on September 11th.  Please see the calendar on the right side of the blog. 


Below you will find a few of the math charts that we've been using together in class.  For the past few days, students have been exploring Order of Operations and a variety of multiplication strategies.  As we discussed at Back to School Night, my goal is for students to have a solid foundation of the concept or multiplication and division.  Once they have explored a variety of strategies, we will move our work from effective to efficient.  Not all strategies work for every kid.  Please encourage your student to try new strategies in order to build critical thinking and number sense.  However, if they become frustrated, please allow them to solve the problem with the strategy that makes the most sense to them.  Please use the charts to help support your student at home as needed.

Students are also exploring how they can use arrays to determine factors of numbers.  We have been discussing the differences between multiples and factors.  Students are learning to communicate as mathematicians and create logical arguments to share their thinking through accountable talk.

Each day, we discuss our daily number. We are counting toward the hundredth day of school.  We take our daily number and create a fraction that represents how close we are to the hundredth day.  Students then discuss the factors of the numerator and denominator to determine if the fraction can be simplified.  After we discuss the fraction, we find the equivalent decimal.  Although we do not start our fraction unit until late fall, this daily activity helps expose students to fractions and allows them to become more comfortable working with them. I encourage you to ask your student to talk you through the daily number at home.  

Our Investigations curriculum offers an online experience for learning.  Please see the information below to access this website at home.  While in class, students will use the website to take assessments from time to time and explore a digital version of the games we play together.  I highly recommend that students log in and play math games a few times a week.  Last week, we played Multiplication Compare.  All of the materials are online and this is a great way for your child to show you what we are doing in class. Additionally, they have access to all grade level games.  This can be used to help a student review challenging concepts they may be struggling to master.  Students will also have access to their Student Activity Book and will be able to print a page if their homework is left at school. 
This year students will focus on a variety of new math concepts in preparation for middle school.  In addition to the Math Investigations program we use in class, students will come home with a "Skills" journal every night.  Students will be asked to complete 4 problems a night.  On Monday, they will complete Day 1, Tuesday Day 2, etc.. It's important that students try these problems independently.  Please know that the problems will range in difficulty.  Some problems are quick reviews of things the students already know, while others are new concepts they are being exposed to.  I do not expect every child to be able to answer every problem every night.  I also do not expect them to spend more than 10 minutes or so completing the four problems.  We  will review the problems the next day in class.  As the year progresses, you will notice that your child is able to breeze through the problems at a quicker rate than they did in the beginning of the year.  Please expect this journal to come home EVERYDAY.  We will start day one in class together.   Thank you for making sure this journal is coming home on a daily basis.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email.  

Social Studies-
We will begin our social studies with geography.  Students will work collaboratively to explore different regions and determine where the next NFL team should be placed. Students will need to consider populations, climate, land forms, and a variety of other factors that may impact the success of a team. 

Growth Mindset-        
Students have been exploring the concept of having a growth mindset.  Through a variety of pictures books and technology lessons, students are learning that making mistakes and taking risks are part of having a growth mindset.  This year I am encouraging each student to step out of their comfort zone by taking risks that will allow them to grow.  Taking risks can be as simply as trying a new math strategy or leading a class discussion.  

Our classroom climate is just as important as anything we learn throughout the year.  We have been working hard to make sure that everyone feels they belong here and understand that we are all here to support each other.  Every Friday, students participate in a friendship circle that allows them to share success from the week and discuss goals for the following week. They also participate in our Skittle Talk, which allows students to get to know each other more, while providing opportunities to reflect on the week.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Successful Start

We have had a busy first five days of school! Please read below to check out what we are doing in class.

Students have discussed the importance of reading and what type of texts they should read. For the next few weeks, we will be working to make connections to the text, using our background knowledge.  In the next few weeks, we will begin practicing reading responses in class.  Please see the schedule on the right side of our blog for reading responses.  These responses will be completed at home and submitted through our Google Classroom. Please ensure that your student is reading for 20 minutes.  Students are encouraged to read any text that interest them!  

During writer's workshop, our students are creating their own 10 questions essays.  Students will develop ten interview questions that will allow others to get to know them.  These completed essays will be posted outside of our classroom by fall conferences.  You may also access your student's work through their Google Drive.  Once we complete our essays, we will begin working on our narrative unit.

Since the first day of school, students have been working with fractions and decimals by using our daily number.  Each day, students determine the daily fraction and its equivalent decimal. Although, this may be challenging at first, students will become more comfortable as the year progresses. 

During math workshop, students are learning how to find the factors and multiples of numbers, while differentiating between the two.  This week, we will move into multiplication.  As I mentioned at Back to School Night, please remember that our goal is to have students learn multiple strategies for solving problems with large numbers.  Not all strategies will work for all students, but all students are asked to consider different strategies.  We will discuss the difference between strategies that are effective and ones that are efficient.  Once we have charts of different strategies, I will post them on our blog as a reference.  

Please make sure your student is practicing his/her multiplication facts. This can be done through the use of flash cards, free multiplication apps, or online games such as Free Rice.

Social Studies
This coming week, we will focus on our digital citizenship lessons.  These lessons are designed to teach kids safe behavior while using the internet.  The following week, we will begin our geography unit. After students explore different regions, they will work collaboratively with their group to determine where the next NFL team should be placed.  Students will be expected to consider population, land forms, climates, and other factors that could impact the success of a new team. 

Vocabulary and Spelling
Vocabulary and spelling will alternate each week.  You can find a tentative schedule on the right side of this blog.  We are currently determining what support each student needs for spelling.  Once the assessments are complete, we will get the ball rolling.  At that point, I will send out an email to let you know that we have started the rotation and confirm that the schedule is no longer tentative. Additionally, students will always have information written in their agenda that shows which we we are on.

 Scholastic Orders
 If you would like to place an order, please use the class code: MBNGY and click here for the Scholastic website. When you order books for your student, our class receives points to purchase free books for our class library!  All orders are due online by September 1st.   I will submit the order September 1st, after school.  Thank you for helping us grow our library and promoting the love of reading!

Important Dates
Scholastic Order Due- September 1st
Western Night- September 8th
Digger Dash- September 29th
Fall Conferences- September 28th and October 5th

Thank you for your continued support and for allowing me to work with your child each day.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


At this point in the summer, many of you may be starting to prepare for the new school year by thinking about supplies.  When you come to the meet and greet on Monday, August 7th, you are encouraged to bring your child's supplies in order to make the first day of school a little easier.   These 25 minute sessions can get a little overwhelming as you are trying to figure out what supplies go where, while you are trying to meet the new teacher and your student is exploring their new surroundings.  Therefore, I wanted to be a little proactive in organizing the supplies prior to our meet and greet so we get a chance to talk and everyone leaves feeling comfortable, calm, and excited about the first day of school. 

Below is a list of supplies that the students will have in their desk at all times.  All other supplies will be collected for "classroom supplies."  I will have marked bins for supplies that will be collected.  If you'd like, please feel free to prepare the pencil box in advance so that it can easily be slid into  your kiddo's the desk along with the folders and composition books.   Please understand that organizing everything before you come in is not something you have to do.  I just thought it might reduce the chaos on Monday and give us more time to meet one another.  I will be more than happy to help your student get everything situated if needed.   (If you ordered supplies through EduKit, they will be on your student's desk when you arrive.)

Desk Items
All folders (do not label with subjects, student names are fine)
All composition books (do not label with subjects, student names are fine)

Pencil Box (please try to avoid the over-sized boxes as desk space gets a little tight)
Scissors (or left in backpack)
Coloring Pencils
Personal Pencil Sharpener should fit in the box

I know that many kids like picking out their own supplies.  Please keep in mind that certain supplies are collected and distributed when needed, such as post-it notes.  This is to eliminate any distractions that they can cause in a student's desk and to ensure that they are there when we need them for an assignment.  We also have "classroom pencils" to make sure that no student ever goes without one.  However, some students like having mechanical pencils or a few "special pencils" which stay in their personal pencil box. All other pencils will be collected.  Students will keep all of their own composition books. Colors and designs are completely fine.  We will label each book on the first day to indicate the subject.  Please do not do that in advance.  In order to prepare the kids for middle school, I will walk them through color coding all folders and journals.  The folders should be the colors that are listed on the supply list (blue, red, green, yellow).  Each student will use an additional folder for their homework folder.  Most students like to get a folder with a design to show their personality,  such as Minions or puppies.  That's a great way to keep the folder separated from the basic subject folders.  If your student would like to do that, it's perfectly fine.

Please feel free to contact me via email if you have any questions or concerns. I look forward to meeting you and starting a great year!


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Welcome to 5th Grade!

Dear Parents,
I'd like to welcome you and your child to 5th-grade at Gold Rush Elementary for the 2017-2018 school year. My name is Lauren Rayens and I am excited to be your child's teacher! I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and share my plans for the upcoming school year.
I am very excited to be entering my twelfth year of teaching and glad that I have the opportunity to do it here at Gold Rush with you and your family!  Gold Rush provides an excellent environment that promotes childhood learning, while having supportive parents, and amazing kids. I am excited to continue being part of such an incredible school!
In my career, I've had the opportunity to teach 2nd and 3rd grade and have taught 5th grade for the past nine years, during which I've developed a passion for working with 5th-grade students.  Students at this age are developing unique personalities and they make each day a new and exciting adventure!   I graduated from the University of North Florida (UNF) with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. This August I will graduate from Walden University with a master’s degree in Reading and Literacy. I began my teaching career working in the school district that I attended as a child and where I graduated high school, in Jacksonville, Florida.  Although I thoroughly enjoy reading a good book and writing creative stories, my favorite subject is math.  As a child, math was the subject I struggled with the most.  It’s my hope that with fun songs, games, and math tricks, I will be able to take the fear of math away from kids and show them how simple and fun math can be in the real world.  When I’m not in the classroom, I enjoy exploring Colorado with my husband Joshua and our Labrador, Susie.
For the upcoming school year, I plan to challenge your child and prepare them for their future education. I believe that a solid education begins at the elementary level and that the foundation we build together will ultimately contribute to their success for years to come.  In my classroom, I work hard to promote a safe and fun learning environment. In my experience, the more engaged the child is with the curriculum; the more they are willing to dig in and to absorb knowledge. In class, students will work with one another and take ownership of their education and actions. I strongly believe in a student led classroom. I encourage students to talk through new concepts and bounce new ideas off each other.  Critical thinking, problem-solving and fostering a positive community are also goals that we will maintain throughout the year as a class.
Finally, I wanted to let you know that I am here to support you and your student in any way possible.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. 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.  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 and greet. If for some reason you are not able to attend, I will be more than happy to chat via email or set aside some time to call.