Today kicked off with a review of geometry and fractions. Students worked on a HyperDoc to think and read and work together to create an abstract piece of art. You can view the HyperDoc below. What is a HyperDoc? It’s a digital lesson plan that allows students to work through a concept at their pace and to interact with ideas and each other.

It’s not a digital worksheet.

It’s using a digital tool to get kids thinking and learning differently. It’s the future. And your children are going to be well prepared for it at this pace. Look for more HyperDocs this second trimester in different subjects.

The day ended with several students beginning to read Patricia Newman’s new science book, Sea Otter Heroes: How a Predator Saved an Ecosystem and the rest working with me to find archival footage of military war dog handlers for another book trailer we are producing for Connie Goldsmith!

It is so great to see your students back in class. Thank you for the opportunity to work with your kids. This is a special group, and I missed them!

Tile Wall Legacy/Fundraiser

I’m sorry. I’m getting these forms out late.

If you’d like to leave a legacy at Foulks Ranch and paint a tile to be installed on our school’s campus AND raise money for our school garden all at the same time, PLEASE fill out the form being sent home today and return by MONDAY, AUGUST 29 with your $30 check payable to Foulks Ranch PTO.

I’ve included a photo of the image in case the form gets lost in transport from school to home.


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School Carnival Update

It’s a crazy time of year…so why not throw a school carnival?  Carnival is this Friday, May 20 from 4:30 to 7:30

If you are able to volunteer the evening of the event, PLEASE email Jamie Schwartz ASAP at

We would love to get two more volunteers to work the popcorn station which is our booth. To sign up online click the following link

Homework Increasing?

Yes, homework is increasing. It’s a gradual fade in, but you should be noticing more reading, more writing, more spelling, and more time nightly dedicated study.

Spelling is going weekly now. We have two groups, and that will likely change to three groups soon. Spelling homework consists of learning spelling patterns which students record in language arts journals. will be a key part of practicing working with words. Students will also be working on developing their understanding of the words, too, and not just focusing on the spelling.

Math will continue to pick up speed. We’re wrapping up first round math films and will start a new round before we go off track all too soon. Please ask your child to show you what they’re working on. We have a LOT of kiddos who need nightly practice with math facts. Think a fact every 2 seconds as in, “3 x 9 is 27.” If they’re not saying it that automatically, start working with them nightly. We will not be working on this in class.

Social science/science. We’re now reading about our Constitution and blending that into our study of water. That means a lot of reading and discussing in class. If your child is not paying attention, they are going to get lost very quickly. Please reread texts with your child. Discuss ideas. Ask questions. Help them study by rereading texts. Eyes on text is the key to success here.

As always, if your child has what seems to be a HUGE amount of homework, please contact me or let me know. If your child has an IEP, I am aware of it and modifying their workload. Sometimes, however, kids feel they have to do everything all at once in one night. If that seems to be the case, send me an email or text, and I can help.

Work will only pick up as we go through the year and into 6th grade. Training hard now is good preparation for down the road. I promise I won’t give busy work. But I will give your kids things to work on that requires thinking and reading.

As always, thank you for the opportunity to work with your kids. This really is an awesome collection of kids! 🙂

Grit? Why is it important?

Grit is mental stick-to-it-ness. It means setting a goal and working through to the end. It means maintaining effort over sustained periods of time. It means working at something as if it were a marathon instead of a sprint race.

Why is grit important?

Somethings in life are just challenging. Period. A failed first attempt doesn’t mean a failure will last forever. It means it’s a challenge now to work on and overcome in the long run.

School isn’t easy. Life isn’t easy. But the only way to make a challenge go away is to work on it consistently until it becomes less challenging.

Want to help your child develop a sense of grit? Try clicking HERE and reading this short, well-written article for parents on how to help kids develop a sense of grit.


Home School Communication

A reminder: I post on our class blog everyday homework. I also send out notes about upcoming events, school related news, and what’s going on in our classroom.

I post these messages so you can glimpse inside your child’s life at school and can support the learning taking place 326 minutes daily, 5 days a week, 36 weeks a year.

If you’re receiving an email with this message for the first time, it’s because I have manually subscribed you to the blog. I am using the email you provided me on the yellow communication cards sent out the second week of school. I have since sent home a hard copy of the “Student Survival Guide” that was shared at Back to School Night. In that document was all my contact information.

You can access the “Student Survival Guide” on the blog, too in case you’ve misplaced the hard copy. Scroll down the website and look along the right hand column. You’ll spot an image that says “Student Survival Guide.” Click it to download the Microsoft Word version.

Please feel free to reach out and email me at any time with questions you might have. I am calling families each week to chat about strengths, concerns, and compliments. I’d love to hear from you, too! 🙂

Progress Reports Coming

I’m working on progress reports for your children this week. I want to give you a heads up: they’ll focus on your child’s learning progress first and letter grades second. Chances are these progress reports will be very different from the ones you’ve received in the past.

I’ll be providing you specific feedback on areas of strength and weaknesses. Not just a handful of letter grades.

We have an amazingly diverse and talented group of students. I look forward to coming to work each day to work with your child.

I will be transparent. I do have some concerns.

I must balance my time spent working with students working at or above grade level with those who struggle.

I’m concerned about getting students at a grade level reading fluency and continuing to see others grow beyond their current levels. We have many readers who are decoding below grade level which affects their reading comprehension. We have several decoding at or above grade level, too.

I’m concerned about many of our students’ reading comprehension. I’m also keen to keep those reading at or above grade level progressing in their growth.

I’m concerned about students reading independently for adequate, sustained periods of time at home with appropriate levels of textual rigor. Ready below one’s zone of proximal development does not help build reading comprehension or decoding at grade level. Likewise, I want to make sure kids who already love reading and are doing it continue to do so.

I’m concerned that students may not be spending enough time reading with an adult at home and talking about what they’re reading. If you have not yet made it a habit to read nightly with your child and discuss what you’re reading, now is the time. It appears we have students who are in desperate need of more reading with adults at home.

I’m concerned about students’ math numeracy-that includes their understanding of multiplication, addition, subtraction, and division facts. Now is the time to memorize those facts. It will be a MAJOR obstacle to advancing in math later. I’m also dedicated to extending and accelerating kids who are on or above grade level in their numeracy.

I’m concerned about students’ willingness to show mental grit and mental flexibility when it comes to critical thinking. We will be working on thinking moves for the next two years to get kids using their minds rather than just “doing” work.

I’ve had 24 days to get to know your child. You’ve had the past 10 years. I know you know them MUCH better than I do, and I’m working hard to figure out how each student learns best. In the little time we’ve worked together, I have seen many strengths and many areas that must be developed in individual students.

I have many concerns for students in our class, and I will need your help. We all play a role: students, parents, teacher. Together we can do amazing things. We all need to make sure we are each doing our part to the best of our ability.


Thank you Kristie Haynes and Kaoru Cruz!!!

Thanks go out to Kristie Haynes and Kaoru Cruz! Kristie’s daughter is 1/2 of our Ella population in class. 🙂 Kaoru’s son, Antone, is now attending Cosumnes Oaks High School and was a former student in our class!

Thank you to both families for your support and belief in our students! We’ve raised $250 in 13 hours.

We’ve got $705 to go which could be finished off with $352.50 in donations doubled using match code SPARK or JUMPSTART at checkout.

Can you help spread the word or chip in a few dollars?

California Healthy Kids Survey Opportunity

Students and parents, we have a unique opportunity to tell the California Department of Education what we thinking about our school learning environment. It’s called the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS).

The idea behind it is this: if we understand how kids feel, we can develop programs for youth that promote healthy lifestyles. That means promoting physical fitness and good nutritional habits; helping kids alcohol, tobacco, and drugs; promoting school safety; identifying what our strengths are as a school.

Parents, if you’d like to review the survey, it’s in our school office.

5th grade has been chosen, since this is the grade where students complete the California Physical Fitness Test, start learning about Family Life, and are at a pivotal point of maturation.

The CHKS is anonymous, voluntary, and requires a parent permission slip to answer.

As a parent of three daughters, I would encourage my own children to answer the questions honestly and openly. As an adult, I am always pleased when a state agency such as the California State Department of Education asks a child’s opinion on how they feel. That, in my own opinion, doesn’t happen as often as it should.

Please let me know if you have questions.

Permission slips will go out tomorrow. Please could you return them by Friday stating if you do or do not give permission?

The survey itself will be administered September 18 at school.

Thank you for considering this opportunity to make your child’s voice heard.

Yellow Information Cards Needed ASAP

I was sorry I couldn’t meet all of you at back to school night. I’ll send out an email with highlights and some key need-to-know bits of information.

To facilitate communication, I really need your most current email, printed neatly on the yellow card-stock cards handed out at back to school night.

I sent home cards with kids today whose parent/guardian weren’t able to make it. PLEASE send me those cards by tomorrow. Communication is key and works both ways. PLEASE feel free to email, text, or call at anytime. I will do the same.