• Classroom Handbook

                                                 September 3, 2014                                   

    Dear Families,

    I would like to welcome you and your child to fifth grade.  I hope you enjoyed your summer and are ready for a terrific school year!  My name is Casey Pelton, and I will be teaching your child’s last year of elementary school.  With the start of a new year comes the opportunity for a fresh start to set new academic goals.  I look forward to preparing your child so that he/she will be a responsible, self-sufficient, middle school student next year.

    This is my 2nd year teaching fifth grade in the district.  I attended Western Washington University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.  I earned my Master’s Degree in Education at City University. I am honored to be here at Odyssey Elementary as your child’s teacher.

    I have put together a “handbook” of information regarding policies, procedures, and expectations to help you and your child become familiar with the upcoming school year.  Please take a day or two to read through this packet.  Keep this information in a safe place at home so that you can refer to it throughout the year.  Please complete the back two pages of this packet and return them by Thursday, September 11th.  This way I can be sure that all families have had the opportunity to review the class handbook and answer any question you might have. 

    Once again, welcome to fifth grade!  I look forward to getting to know you and your child.  Thank you for your cooperation in getting this year off to a great start!  I strongly believe the success of your child’s educational experience is built from the collaboration between school and home.  This is going to be an exciting and memorable year!


    Casey Pelton




    Mr. Pelton's Classroom

    Room 221

    ** Please keep this as an important
    reference for the entire school year.**

    Listed below are the classroom rules, procedures, and expectations you need to know, written in the form of questions frequently asked by parents and students.

    Behavior, Rewards, and Consequences

    It is important that our classroom has a warm and positive atmosphere, where learning is safe and fun.  Rules, rewards, and consequences help to maintain that atmosphere.

    Q)  What are the classroom rules?

    1. Follow directions the first time they are given.
    2. Raise your hand when you have something to share so

    everyone has an opportunity to hear your ideas.

    1. Work quietly so others can concentrate during work periods.
    2. Keep your hands, feet, and objects to yourself.
    3. Keep your space clean, neat, and organized.
    4. Come to class prepared to work hard and learn.

    Q)  What is your behavior plan?

    I believe it is important to have positive rewards.  In my class, I award individual, group, and class points.  These points convert to class money, which the students use to purchase items in our class auctions.  Students can also become Super Stars.  To become a Super Star, students must turn all their work in on time and have outstanding behavior.  Students’ names are published in the monthly newsletter and they receive a certificate from Miss Boze and me.  In addition, I have a celebration lunch each month to honor my Super Stars.  Positive recognition increases a child's self-confidence and self-esteem.

    In order to ensure that classroom and building rules are followed, that students learn self-discipline, and recognize that actions have consequences, the following plan will be used in my classroom and throughout the 5th grade.  Students are often given a reminder before getting a mark-off.  After that, students mark off a letter on their “THINK Sheet” found on their homework calendar.  Guidelines for behavior and consequences are as follows:

    Is what you’re doing….

    T  =   Thoughtful?                   T  =  Warning

    H  =   Helpful?                          H  =  5 min. of recess

    I   =   Important?                     I   =  15 min. of recess

    N  =   Necessary?                     N  =  Office Referral

    K  =   Kind?                               K  =  Removal from class

    and/or parent conference       


    When students mark a letter, they will take out their THINK Sheet and write an “I chose…” statement.  It will be written as a complete sentence explaining what rule they broke, and then initialed by the teacher.

    ·Example:   I chose to disturb the learning of others by talking during a

          silent work period.

    ·Example:   I chose to arrive to class unprepared by leaving my library

          book at home.

    ·Example:   I chose to be disrespectful by talking back to a teacher.

    We reaffirm that each student is a good kid and encourage him/her to work hard to be a positive self-manager and a respectful citizen of our classroom.   Each student can choose to make the day a good one!

    Students who do not make good choices with their behavior towards teachers and/or students may be unable to participate in special activities like band/orchestra, lunch help, crossing guard duties, assemblies, field trips, Students vs. Teachers volleyball game, 5th grade kickball game, field day, etc. due to the fact that they have not demonstrated the ability to handle the additional responsibility required for participation.

    Q) How do I monitor my child’s behavior at school?

    Each week on Thursday, I will mark the homework calendar with an evaluation of behavior, covering the period from the previous Friday morning through the present day

    E     =  EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS  (0 mark-offs for the week)

    M    =  MEETS EXPECTATIONS       (needs a reminder – 1-2 mark-offs)

    B     =  BELOW EXPECTATIONS      (3 or more mark-offs, or an office referral)

    This score is in the same box as the weekly homework score on the homework calendar.  Your signature tells me that you are aware of your child’s behavior (as well as homework) that week. 

    As the year progresses, the students will become involved with self-assessing their own behavior and will be asked to provide their own weekly behavior grade.  Giving the students the opportunity to assess their own progress allows them to take ownership for their choices and it fosters individual accountability.  When poor choices have been made, I speak directly to each student about the concerns I have.  My students should be able to articulate the poor choices that were made if a low score was given.     

    Homework is designed for students to practice the skills and concepts they are learning in the classroom, as well as help your child become a responsible, organized student.

    Q)  How much homework should my son or daughter have?

    The Mukilteo School District recommends that elementary students have homework each night.  The amount of homework recommended is proportionate to a student's grade level.  For fifth graders, the recommended amount of homework is 30 to 60 minutes, Monday through Thursday.  Students who do not use time efficiently most likely will have much more. 

    In my class, students average 30 minutes of homework per night on assignments.  Additionally, they are expected to read independently for at least 120 minutes each week.  My goal is to teach students how to budget their time to maximize work time and minimize homework.  I rarely assign homework over the weekend unless a student has been absent or there is a very special assignment.   I believe children need free time for growing and learning just as much as they need structured time.

    Q)  How do I know what assignments my child needs to complete?

    Students copy assignments on their homework calendar at the end of the day.  Class time is given on most assignments so that students can get started and ask questions before taking work home.  Therefore, in most cases, you should see progress on the assignment when it comes home.  Please check your child’s homework calendar daily and monitor the completion of all unfinished assignments.  Work is due during homework check, which begins at 9:00 A.M. 

    Q)  How do I know if my child is completing his/her homework on time?

    If all work is turned in for a given day, the homework calendar will be stamped.  Any assignments that are circled were turned in late or not completed.  If an assignment is circled and there is no stamp on that specific day, your child received a zero for each circled assignment due to not turning in his/her work.  However, if an assignment is circled but there is a stamp on that specific day, the student turned in all of his/her work but had at least one late assignment.

    Aside from work not being finished or leaving assignments at home, work is late if a student has not followed directions, the assignment quality is less than acceptable for 5th grade standards (illegible handwriting, paragraphs lacking details required for assignment completion, etc.), or if the work is not turned in by the deadline. 

    Each week on Thursday, I will mark the homework calendar with an evaluation of homework completion, covering the period from the previous Thursday (work actually due on Friday) through the present day.  The grading key is listed below:

    E    =  EXCEEEDS EXPECTATIONS  (completes homework on time – 0 late assignments)

    M   MEETS EXPECTATIONS       (work is late – 1 or 2 late assignments – now completed)

    B   =  BELOW EXPECTATIONS        (Incomplete work or 3+ late assignments)

    On Thursday afternoons, please check your child’s notebook for the homework calendar.  After viewing, provide your signature in the box so that I know you are aware of your child’s progress.  Even if a child finishes a homework assignment early in class, I expect students to bring home their finished work so families can review the work in the evenings, making sure all work is truly done.   

    Q)  What are the consequences of late homework?

    Students who don’t have their assignments present or completed on the day they are due are still expected to complete all missing work and might need to stay in during afternoon recess for additional study time.  If a late assignment is not done at the end of the day, it will earn a score of a zero.  Your child will still be expected to complete the missing work. The next day he/she is responsible for checking in with me during the regular homework check in time and confirming that all work is finished.  Such accountability will help the children develop a regular homework routine that will support their overall growth. 

    Students who have chronically late homework or incomplete projects may be unable to participate in special activities like band/orchestra, lunch help, crossing guard duties, assemblies, field trips, Students vs. Teachers volleyball game, 5th grade kickball game, field day, etc.  Many of the celebrations we have in fifth grade honor the students’ responsibility and maturity.  Making schoolwork a priority is one positive way to earn the chance to participate in each of these memorable opportunities.

    Q)  What if my child is stuck on an assignment and I cannot help him/her?  Is the work still late?

    Students are expected to review all homework before they leave each day so that they can ask me for help or clarification on any problems.  The students know they shouldn’t leave until they have double-checked to make sure all of their questions are answered before heading home.  If your child does have difficulty completing an assignment and you are unable to help him/her work through questions, please sign the assignment, or that portion of the assignment, and it will not be counted as late.  Signatures or parent letters do not excuse late work if your child left homework at school or did not take home the necessary supplies.  Your signature also tells me that your child needs some one-on-one help.  Students should bring this to my attention first thing in the morning, so I can provide additional instruction. 

    Absences and Tardies

    When kids miss school, they miss out on important learning and get a shortened version of the lesson and instruction.  Children who attend school consistently do better on state tests, unit tests, and are more confident as we progress through units.  Being late for school hurts learning, too.  Students miss out on important beginning of the day instruction and trying to get caught up becomes difficult.  You can show that school is important by making sure your child arrives to school on time each day.  Since they will start middle school even earlier next year, it is critical that fifth graders develop a consistent routine that will prepare them for success next year.  

    Q)  What do I do if my son or daughter is sick and cannot attend school?

    If your child must miss school, please call the office before school to let us know.  Contacting the office is required for excusing absences.  The attendance hotline is 425-366-3201.  If a student has chronic absences or tardies, excused or unexcused, we are required by law to file a BECCA report which can mean a mandatory meeting with the Dean of Students or even a meeting in court, so make sure your child gets plenty of food and sleep so that he/she feels well and can attend school.  Even if a child has struggled with this in the past, this is an opportunity to have a fresh start and make school a priority.

    Thursday Nights

    Q)  What is a Friday Folder?

    Your child will bring home an envelope every Thursday.  The Friday Folder is designed to have most papers come home on one designated day, instead of throughout the week.  Inside you will find graded assignments, school announcements, and classroom information.  I suggest keeping a parent folder with important classroom information in case you need to reference the material at a later date. 

    Please review the contents of the folder with your child on Thursday evening and provide a signature for that week.  The Friday Folder is due every Friday, or the next school day and counts as a homework assignment.

    Q)  What else needs to be signed on Thursday night?

    As part of your child’s homework and our weekly communication, please review the homework calendar and sign next to the weekly homework and behavior score (this was already explained in the behavior and homework section).  On occasion, I send home additional reports or forms of communication on Thursdays.

    Evaluation of Work

    Q)  How do you evaluate assignments and tests?

    In keeping with the Washington State assessments and the district’s report card, student work is evaluated on the 4 point scale.  To better understand this, imagine ordering a burger and evaluating it.



    Super Gourmet Double   Patty Burger

    Exceeds Expectations

    • Work is perfect        or nearly perfect
    • Student        demonstrates 6th grade level work or higher



    Standard Burger with   the Works

    Meets Expectations

    • Work has a few        mistakes, but is mostly correct
    • Student works at        the 5th grade level
    • Follows all        directions



    Plain Burger, not very   tasty

    Below Expectations

    • Work has several        mistakes
    • Student shows        some ability to meet 5th grade expectations
    • Follows some of        the directions



    Where’s the Beef?

    Significantly Below Expectations

    • Much of the work        is completed incorrectly
    • Directions not        followed or missing key elements

    Teaching and Learning

    Q)  How do you teach an average lesson?

    In most cases, I begin with whole group instruction, which involves demonstrating a skill or concept several times.  Next, we do some practice problems together, step-by-step, correcting each step as we go.  Then, students work with a partner or in small groups to complete problems together.  To wrap things up, students work individually while I monitor the class and answer questions.  After this instructional time, students are given their assignment and time to work in class.  As students are working in pairs or independently, I work with a small group, providing additional instruction and support as needed.

    There are 3 types of reading that are necessary for student improvement: reading to students, reading with students, and reading independently.  At school, I read aloud various genres of stories, and read with students during instructional time, which leaves students with the responsibility of reading on their own at home as part of their homework.  Independent reading is an integral part of your child’s progress.  Students who read at and above grade level regularly read on their own.

    Q)  What is AR (Accelerated Reader)? 

    Accelerated Reader is a reading program designed to help students choose books that are at the right level for them, monitor comprehension, set goals, and earn incentives.  Students read books and then take short computer quizzes that test comprehension.  Points are awarded based on the length and difficulty of the book and their performance on the quiz.  School wide and grade level incentives are offered to students according to the number of points accumulated.

    Q) How much reading does my child need to do?

    According to district standards, students in 5th grade are required to earn a minimum of 30 AR points per trimester.  In order to meet this goal, students should read 120 minutes per week.  This standard can be achieved by reading 30 minutes four times a week.  I allow students flexibility with their reading schedule as long as they complete 120 minutes each week.  For students who take longer to complete homework or with busy schedules, I recommend doing some of their reading on the weekend when students usually have little or no homework. 

    Q)       How do reading logs work?

    To document their reading, students are expected to complete the reading log during each reading session.  The log can be found on your child’s homework calendar.  Students are required to keep their logs up-to-date and in their binders at all times.  

    Q)  What books can my child take AR tests on?

    Students may take tests on any book that they have not previously tested on and that they read individually or with a group.  The book must be within their reading range, unless given special permission by the teacher.  If you would like to find information about AR books, you can go to the Odyssey library web page and browse the list according to author, AR level, or book title.  This same page can be accessed via my classroom website as well.


    Q)  What is Math Fact Club?

    By 5th grade, students are expected to have mastered their multiplication facts.  Multiplication is an integral part of nearly all math units this year and makes learning division and fractions much easier.  Students who have not mastered their facts struggle to keep up with lessons and complete homework in a reasonable time, so Math Fact Club is an opportunity for your child to catch up in this area.

    During the first week of school, students are quizzed on multiplication facts.  They are required to complete all problems on the page.  Students who average fewer than 15 problems per minute will be in Math Fact Club until they can pass the 15 problem per minute requirement.  Math Fact Club will meet Monday through Friday from 11:30-12:00 during the month of September, while other students play math games in another room. The club presents students with an opportunity to review multiplication problems, learn tricks and patterns for remembering the answers, and to do oral drill and practice with the group.  On Friday, students retake the test to see if they have improved or passed out of Math Fact Club. 

    Q)  What is the math curriculum like?

    This year fifth graders will use the Math Expressions Common Core curriculum. 

    Typical lessons are as follows:  (1) Vocabulary for the lesson is introduced and recorded in Math Notes (see following section), then students join me on the front carpet.  (2) We review several sample problems from the curriculum and I model the types of problems students will be seeing during the lesson and strategies for solving.  (3) Students work through problems with a partner or on their own whiteboards before returning to their seat.  (4) Once students successfully complete these problems, they work independently or with partners on reinforcement problems.  They check their answers with me and make corrections as needed.  (5) Students extend their knowledge by completing a practice sheet for homework that mirrors the skills taught in class each day.   

    In order to receive the homework assignment, students have already had problems modeled for them, completed problems on the carpet with assistance, and worked independently to complete problems correctly, therefore homework practice is a review, and intended to help students continue practicing skills they have demonstrated proficiency in class.

    Q)  What are some tools available for my child in math?

    For students who struggle in math, it is imperative that they use their time wisely in class and ask questions before going home.  I am also available during afternoon recess to help with homework and answer questions about lessons. 

    Students are expected to maintain class Math Notes, which should be kept with them in their binder as a reference tool to use at home (spiral notebook).  Math Notes contain grade level expectations, math vocab, pictures and diagrams, and example problems from each unit of study.  This should

    be the first place students refer if they encounter difficulty completing an assignment, or forgot how to complete a skill taught prior in the year.

    Q)  What is on the science state test?

    Fifth grade is the first year students are required to take the science state assessment.  This year students will take the MSP (Measurements of Student Progress), which consists of multiple choice questions, short answer questions, and extended response problems.  Extended response problems usually require students to create a scientific experiment that tests a given scenario.

    Q)  How will you help my child prepare for the science MSP?

    We will study two science units this year: Landforms and Variables.  These units last 4-6 weeks each and consist of investigations in which students work in small groups to discover science principles.  Later in the year, you’ll begin to see MSP prep exercises that prepare students for the types of questions they will see on the test and we will practice forming answers for maximum credit.  In addition, a specific style of scientific writing will be used in class throughout the year so children are familiar with the format of the test.


    I believe that teacher, parent, and student communication is critical to your child’s success as a fifth grader.  By working together, I hope to make this year productive, positive, memorable, and fun so that your child is readyfor the challenge and responsibility of middle school.  If you would like to discuss your child’s progress or if you have any questions, I would be happy to schedule an appointment with you.  You can call Odyssey Elementary at (425) 366-3200 or you can send me an email at peltoncm@mukilteo.wednet.edu