Welcome to the 2014-2015 School Year!

Elena Kariotakis Kucharski

My name is Elena Kucharski and this is my 22nd year teaching in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District.  I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Baldwin Wallace College.  My Master’s Degree is from Marygrove College.   My second Master’s Degree is from Graceland University in Quality Schools.  I enjoy taking classes which focus on technology integration in the classroom. I am also a lifelong learner! I just completed coursework on the Daily 5 and have explained it below!  I have been married for 24 years to my amazing husband Don. Don is a medical coder and a content developer for high school electives for an online school! We have two beautiful daughters named Alexis and Melina. Alexis is 19 and we just moved her into her apartment at Baldwin Wallace where she will be in her second year of college!  Melina, who is 13, is at  BBHMS in 8th grade and twirls for our BEES. I hope you enjoy my blog this year!

A Blog is a type of online diary that people can write journal entries and post them online. These entries may contain pictures, or file attachments, or links to other things online. Each week I will post a newsletter that will let you know what we are doing in class. This will keep you updated with weekly curriculum, homework, and any other events happening in our classroom. On the left side of this blog you will notice the section on categories. This is where you will find links to spelling tests, special websites, listen to the reading stories on line, and many other important links to our curriculum.

Language Arts

The Daily 5
This year your child will be working on the Daily 5 during their language arts block.  The Daily 5 is a philosophy, not a curriculum, where the children develop work skill independence through a gradual release model that provides systematic practice and modeling to achieve a desired behavior.  Once the level of independence is achieved, students will be engaged in meaningful reading and writing practice that reflects the Common Core State Standards that we use along with students’ needs to drive our instruction.

The Daily 5 consists of 5 areas of practice, Read to SelfWork on WritingWord WorkListen to Reading and Read to Someone.  Each area has expectations and goals attached effectively meeting the needs of that round during the Daily 5.

Once the Daily 5 is up and running smoothly, students will receive explicit, whole group instruction and then they are given time to independently practice the focus of the daily lesson.  During this time, we will be able to provide focused, intense instruction to individuals and small groups of students that will specifically meet each student’s needs.
Because of the specific components of the Daily 5, we will be spending the first few weeks of school incorporating practice of the expectations that go along with each component. Students will be building their stamina, or working on reading and writing for an extended period of time.  We will also spend time assessing students to gain information about their strengths and needs as a reader.
The Daily 5 will be a different way to structure a literacy block and you may notice that there will be a change in the amount of worksheets that your children will be bringing home this year.  Worksheets do keep your child busy, but they do not necessarily result in the high level of learning that we want for your child.  Instead, your child will be taught how to pick out “Good Fit Books” at their level, and providing motivation and encouragement to write about topics that interest them.  As a result, they will spend time practicing reading and writing.  We anticipate that their excitement and the love of learning will develop as they read and write.
As a parent, the best way to support this new endeavor for your child is to encourage them to pick out “Good Fit Books” at the library.  Help them by sitting down and reading nightly.  At the end of each page, ask them to retell what happened.  Be sure they can answer questions as to who the story is about, when and where it is taking place, what is happening and why.  Children can useFirst, Next, Then and Finally to sequence their response.  Encourage children to ask questions that they hope to have answered by the end of the chapter and have them make connections.  Have children think about how the book reminds them of an experience they had, or how it is like another book they read!
Thank you for your support and for giving me this opportunity to foster the love of reading and writing in your child and helping to develop a love of life long learning!
We are using the My Math program this year. A letter will come home soon on what we are working on each unit. Along with My Math students will work on math fluency every day with the Rocket Math program. We will also work in math learning centers titled MYMATH.
Our science book is from Pearson this year. It is a consumable book that the students are allowed to write in. We will begin our unit on inquiry and rocks and minerals! Stay tuned to detailed information on what we will be learning!


Weekly Newsletter

Reading/Language Arts

This week we will read a story titled Kaffa’s Discovery. Each week students will read a short literature or informational text.  We will first read it together to understand what the author has to say and take notes on words we don’t know or ideas or plot points that are not clear. From here we will discuss the purpose and genre of the selection using these literature elements to analyze the text. Students will learn that this year they will encounter complex texts that will require them to read carefully and think deeply. They will need to read paragraph by paragraph, determine the meaning of unfamiliar words, and connect and make inferences about information and ideas as they go.

We will take a spelling pretest on Mondays and students will have a specific list for Friday based on how they do on Monday’s pretest.

Our grammar focus this week will be on sentence structure and identifying a complete and incomplete sentence.

We began writing about the best part of me last week and will type this paragraph this week on our laptops!


We start our first unit of the year on Place Value. In this unit students will use place value understanding to round whole numbers to the nearest 10 or 100. They will also add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.  When we get into multiplication we will get into the next standard of multiplying one digit whole numbers by multiples of 10 in the range 10-90(e.g. 9 x 80, 5 x 60) using strategies based on place value and properties of operations. In small groups many students will take all of these concepts to the next level when ready.

Science/Social Studies

The class will attend science with me and social studies with Mrs. Niedermeyer. They will have two days of science and two days of social studies a week with a rotating Friday. We will begin science this week by discussing what a scientist is and does.  With social studies, maps will be the focus.

Weekly Newsletter

Reading/Language Arts

This week we begin to use strategies that help children connect to comprehending what they are reading. Our first concept is on metacognition. This is when students are noticing and naming their thinking. In class, students will be aware of how they think about their own thinking. We will do this through modeling as a class and with one another. Spending time noticing, naming and exploring metacognition will allow students to engage in richer conversations. Ask your child to share with you what the Reading Salad is all about. Another strategy we will work on this week is cross checking. Cross checking means students try reading the word and then ask themselves these three questions:

  1. Does what I just read look right? (Take one arm and cross it over our body so our hand is on the opposite shoulder)
  2. Does it sound right? (We take the other hand and cross it over our body to the opposite shoulder so that we have a cross in front of us)
  3. Does it make sense? (Both arms drop down to our sides)

Last week the students learned two of the three ways to read a book. One way is look at the pictures and the other way is to read the text. The third way is retell the story.

Or writing focus this week will be on sentence structure. Students will identify if it is a sentence or a fragment.


What does a Mathematician do? Our class will brainstorm characteristics of mathematicians and create our own. Graphing will also be introduced this week with bar, line, circle, picture, and tally graphs. We end the week with a Skittles activity on graphing!

Science/Social Studies

This year I will be teaching science to my homeroom and Mrs. Niedermeyer’s homeroom. She will be teaching social studies to your children this year.