page contents

Table of Contents

Communication & Contact Info

About Me

Required Materials


  • Behavioral Expectations
  • Uniform Policy
  • Lateness
  • Absences



  • Instructional Components
  • Reading Homework


  • Classwork
  • Homework
  • Quizzes
  • Tests
  • Participation

Mental & Physical Preparedness

Other Concerns





Communication & Contact Info


My preferred method of communication is via e-mail:


You may also write a note and send it with your child to school.

Please understand that my day is very busy.  If I do not respond to you right away, please be patient.  I try to respond to all communication within 24 hours of receiving the message.


For convenience sake I may call you from my cell phone.  If you see an 856 area code, that’s me.  However, I ask that you please respect my privacy by not calling me on my cell phone unless it is absolutely necessary or I give you permission to do so.            


About Me


I am a certified elementary teacher with 19 years of professional experience teaching grades 1, 2, 4 and 5.  This is my tenth year teaching 5th grade and my eleventh year at Golden Door.  I want you to know that my primary goal is to care for your child, teach them the skills they will need in middle school, and encourage them to develop into mature, responsible human beings. 


In my classroom there are consistent rules and procedures that allow the students to become autonomous co-managers of their own learning environment.  I strive to capture the attention and focus of my students through displays of enthusiasm, humor and encouragement.  At the same time I am an effective disciplinarian who operates on a strict policy of “tough love."  In other words, I have high expectations that students will act in a mature and respectful manner towards each other and adults.  I encourage students to think critically and creatively.  Oftentimes, I will allow them to ask any (appropriate) question they wish about life, adulthood, science, history, etc. If I don't know the answer, we look it up together and share the new knowledge.


My prime directive with all students is to cultivate their characters, their imaginations and their passion for learning.  I have worked with students of all races and backgrounds.  I’ve taught many inclusion classrooms and understand the intracasies of IEPs, IPTs, 504s and other modifications vital to the success of special needs students.   


Most of my personal and free time during the school year is devoted to your children.  I know that many of you work the same long hours and some of you have two jobs.   We must work together for the benefit of your child. My task is to have them reading at or above grade level by the end of the year.  Please carefully read over the following information.  


Required Materials

Students are expected to bring the following items to every class:

  • Personal Book (for reading in home and school)
  • Reading Textbook
  • Reader's and Writer's Notebook
  • Reading Notebook
  • Reading Folder
  • Non-erasable Pen(s)
  • Non-mechanical Pencil(s)

Optional Items:

  • Mini-Pencil Sharpener
  • Water Bottle (must be plain water only)




Daily routines and procedures are covered extensivley during the first few weeks of school.  Every aspect of classroom management is covered, from how to sharpen a pencil to how to get attention the right way. Students are taught sign language gestures for basic requests. 


Please carefully review the following document for details...



Behavioral Expectations


Classroom Rules

 1. Listen carefully. (ears and eyes)

 2. Be engaged during instruction and participate often.

 3. Raise your hand to speak.

 4. Keep your hands, feet and objects to yourself.

 5. Keep your desk, floor and classroom clean.

 6. Be prepared for class.

 7. Be in learner position at appropriate times.

 8. Follow directions the first time given.

 9. Treat others respectfully.

10. Transition quickly and quietly.


Appropriate Consequences

Using peer mediation to resolve minor conflicts.

Referring the student to our Social Decision Making Lab. 

Multiple verbal warnings.

Time taken off recess with a substitute activity. 

Contacting parent(s) via e-mail, letter or phone. 

Sending a written referral to Mr. Stiles, Mrs. Lopez or Ms. Traina

Requesting a meeting with parent(s) and student at school. 

Setting a personal behavior plan (including a daily log to monitor progress and reward improvement.)

Revoking attendance at extracurricular activies and/or field trips.


Positive Reinforcement

DJ Day

Device Friday

Frequent verbal praise and encourgement.

Contacting parent(s) via e-mail, postcard or phone. 

Special passes (no homework, free time during study hall, etc.)

In-class games.

Art and/or music related activities.

Videos, shows, or movies. 

Snacks and treats.

Outdoor activity or field trip.

Classroom party.


Uniform Policy

All shoes and sneakers must be completely black, no color on the bottom, the laces, or the logos.  Shirts must remain tucked in at all times.  All students must wear a belt for pants with loops.  Hoodies or sweaters may be worn during cold days, but they must be school maroon color.  Otherwise, all jackets and hoodies must be hung in the cloakroom.  A notice will be sent home if there are repeated issues with uniform policy.  



Lateness is taken seriously at Golden Door.  School begins at 7:55 AM.  Children eat breakfast on arrival, and HOMEROOM STARTS AT 8:00.   Please arrange to have your child at school on time.



  • Students are responsible for keeping track of work they miss while absent by checking teacher websites/calendars, e-mailing the teacher, or asking a fellow classmate.
  • Students should attempt to complete assignments at home while they are absent.
  • Late work must be handed in either the day you return, or in the time allotted by teacher.  (Student/Parent must directly request extra time to complete assignments.)
  • Teachers are not required to give makeup work for extended vacations.  School policy is that students on extended vacations receive no credit for work missed during vacations.





View the lesson plans for each week on the main Home page.

  • Includes concepts taught, study links, downloadable documents, homework, and test dates.


View all assignments, quizzes, tests, and due dates by clicking Calendar.

  • Homework appears after 12pm each day.
  • Click on Homework and a pop-up box will appear.
  • All documents handed out in class are downloadable in the Homework box.


Check the Home page daily or weekly

It is absolutely crucial that you review your child’s homework and help them to study. 

Please do not assume that your child has completed all assignments until you have checked yourself. 


Keep a set schedule for homework and study time

Your child must develop good homework and study habits.  Please schedule a set amount of homework time each evening, preferrably in a quiet place with no distractions (TV, video games, loud music, siblings, etc.) 

HELP YOUR CHILD STUDY for quizzes and tests.




  • Language Arts consists of whole group instruction via Pearson's Reading Street program, and small group instruction through Novel Studies.  The language arts (reading) block is 90 minutes long, consisting of 45 minutes of whole class instruction, and 45 minutes guided reading groups and independent centers.  During center time the teacher conducts guided reading (small group) instruction.  Students are grouped according to On-level, Below, and Advanced readers. Students will be taught how to use comprehension skills to respond to literature orally and in writing. 


  • Spelling Quizzes and Reading Tests are given at the end of each 4-day Pearson lesson.    


  • Fresh Reads are a monthly assessment that consist of two parts:
  1. Fluency ~ One minute read aloud that measures words per minute, graded as a quiz.
  2. Comprehension ~ 4 multiple choice and 1 open ended question, graded as a quiz.


  • Reading level will be tested quarterly using DORA (Diagnostic Online Reading Assessment.)  It is an online test and lasts about an hour.  Parents are given a printout summary of all test results. 


  • We prepare extensively for the NJSLA using sample multiple-choice questions and analysis of open-ended prompts. Students will be using a program called PreviLearn throughout the year prior to state testing. This online program contains simulated tests that reflect the content and comprehension skills being taught during regular instruction. Therefore, PreviLearn test scores are grades as classwork, or occassionally as quizzes.  


Instructional Components


  • Wide Reading: choosing literature, developing a reading plan, setting goals
  • Fluency: expression, rate - words per minute, decoding
  • Grammar: parts of speech, verb tenses, sentence structure, contractions, etc.
  • Vocabulary and Spelling: Multisyllabic words, using a dictionary and thesaurus, etymology (word origins,) recognizing Greek & Latin roots, prefixes, suffixes, Tier 3 (subject specific) words.  
  • Figurative Language: idioms, puns, aphorisms, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, metaphor, simile.
  • Comprehension: making connections, identifying/analyzing details, summarizing, making inferences, drawing conclusions, interpretation, reflection, metacognition
  • Plot Elements: narrative structure, genres, character, setting, plot, rising/falling action, climax, resolution, author's purpose
  • Constructed Written Responses: using the R.A.R.E. strategy - Restate, Answer, Reasons, Examples
  • PreviLearn: Online assessments to prepare for NJSLA, graded as classwork.
  • Projects: Students will occassionally be graded on small projects, including: Novel Study Book Blurb and Cover, Making Zeitghosts (Idioms,) Attitude of Gratitude Essay, Persuasive Ad Poster for an Imaginary Invention, Poetry Analysis, STEM Fair
  • Novel Studies: Students will read 4 novels this year in class. Each student reads along with their own book while the teacher reads aloud. The first two novels end with a small project; the second two novels are assessed with quizzes and tests. Students are forbidden from reading the novel ahead at home, spoiling the novel to other students, or watching any movie adaptation before the novel is completed.
  • Film Studies: Documentaries, Movies, and YouTube videos are shown for education purposes, never purely entertainment. Films are pre-approved for content. Students engage in meaningful discussions. 



Reading Homework 


Center Work is assigned on the first day of each new lesson.

It may be completed in class or at home, and is due on test day.  

(See Classwork below for more details.)


Days 1 & 2

Weekly vocabulary words are introduced.

Spelling pre-test given during class (non-erasable pen only.) 

  • At home, students check spelling words on Quizlet.
  • Write correct spelling next to all misspelled words.
  • Next, write only the misspelled words 5 times each.  
  • Then write complete sentences for all 25 words, using the part of speech correctly.

(Spelling Homework is due on Day 3)  

  • Partial credit is not given for incomplete spelling homework.  
  • Spelling homework must be fully completed or else receive a 0.

Day 3

At home, read the assigned story from Reading Street Textbook.

Write a 2 - 3 paragrah response to one Think Critically question. (Due on Day 4)  

Day 4

STUDY for Spelling Quiz and Reading Test.  

Finish all center work plus any missing homework.

Day 5

Center Work is due (See Classwork below.)  

Spelling Quiz and Reading Test are given.


Book Letter (Quarters 2 and 3 only):

AT LEAST ONE BOOK LETTER IS REQUIRED.  Book Letters must be handed in every time a student finishes a book.  The book letter must be at least one page, containing two parts:  1) A detailed summary of the story.  2) A reflection or reaction to something about the story.  Students who hand in more than one book letter increase their chances of receiving a higher grade.  More details on book letter guidelines can be found in the Documents section 


Reading At Home

Please understand that reading should not just take place in school during reading class.  Scientific research shows that your child will accelerate in reading IF THEY READ AT HOME EVERY NIGHT FOR 20 – 30 MINUTES.    I recommend reading a half hour before going to sleep. 


There are many ways this can be done, these are just a few:  Sit in bed with your child and listen to them read a book.  Have them read chapter books rather than books that are too easy or too familiar.  Assist your child with pronunciation and meanings of words.  Ask them questions about the story to check for comprehension. 


See the Documents section for a link to Content Free Questions you can ask.


You can also read a book to your child.  It is extremely beneficial for a child to hear how a story sounds.  You can make it fun by using different voices for different characters.  I do this daily in my classrooms.


Online Assignments

The Reading Street program has an online component.  Students are given their own login and may occassionally be given assignments to complete online at home, especially as remediation after poor or failing tests.




As per school policy, no extra credit work is allowed.



Grades will be avaiIable online for you to check at any time.  Please understand that I enter grades in 2 - 3 week cycles so please be patient or contact me if you need a score more quickly.  I will accept late work under certain conditions, but not as a repeating pattern.  However, if the paper is not there when I get to grading, or if the paper has no name, I will mark the assignment as a 0.  Assignments with no name will be displayed on the whiteboard until the end of a week so students have a chance to check.  Assignments handed in after the grades have been entered will receive points off, but will not be accepted at the very end of the quarter as "makeup" work.  Please remind your child not to lower their grade by forgetting to hand in assignments, or by not putting their name on the paper.  


If a student is absent, they will be given a reasonable time to complete missed assignments. However, since all assignments are posted online, a student who stays home may still be able to complete homework and classwork.  ALL STUDENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR KNOWING WHAT WORK THEY MISSED AND HANDING IT IN WITHOUT ME HAVING TO ASK FOR IT OR REMIND THEM.  I encourage students to hand in their assignments as soon as they return to school, but I will grant more time if needed.  


Grading Weights for All Subjects

Participation – 10%

Classwork – 15%

Homework – 15%

Quiz – 20%

Test/Project – 40%


Grades are based on the following categories: 



Students complete all assigned classwork to the best of their abilities.  Classwork is graded by completion of weekly center work, 2 -3 reading assignments which can be completed in class and at home.  The center work paper is given to the students, who staple their work to it before they hand it in. The center work paper will also be available for download each week, so that students can work on it at home if they wish.  

Sample Center Work Items:

Reader's and Writer's Notebook - Students complete assigned pages, practicing weekly grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. 

Read for Meaning - Students read a leveled reader, then access the text to develop a specific comprehension skill.

Let's Write - Students write grade appropriate summaries or open-ended pieces that demonstrate understanding of weekly concepts.

Word Work - Students complete a variety of vocabulary activities including identifying parts of speech, using dictionary to copy definitions, and use the word in a complete sentence with context clues. 

Get Fluent - Students choose a leveled reader and partner read, assessing each other for expression, fluency, and comprehension.  

All center work is due on the morning of  test day.  Any incomplete classwork will be reflected in the grade.  For example, if a student completes 3/3 items, they get 100.  2/3 items is a 66, and 1/3 items is a 33.  


  • PreviLearn tests are also graded as Classwork.



Students complete spelling homework on Monday and Tuesday, a Think Critically question on Wednesday, and finish center work plus study for tests on Thursday.  Students read for 20 - 30 mins per night.  Homework is graded by percentage. Incomplete spelling homework receives a 0.  Student must have both 5x and each and sentences completed to earn 100 spelling homework.  



Students will be given time to study at least 5 days before a quiz. 

  • Weekly spelling assessments count as a quiz.  
  • Monthly Fresh Reads consist of a 1 min fluency check (wpm) and 4 - 5 comprehension questions;

       Each counts as a quiz.

Average words per minute (wpm) for 5th grade:  

Sept. - Dec. > 120 

Jan. - Mar. > 140 

Apr. - June. > 150.

  • PreviLearn assessments occassionally count as quizzes.
  • Book Letters are graded as quizzes.



Assessment of weekly concepts, skills, and vocabulary is given via an online test at the end of each Pearson lesson.  Tests are graded by percent.



Students show appropriate focus and attention, and are engaged during lessons, raise their hands to ask or answer questions, and work well with others during small group instruction.  Participation is graded using a 25 point system, 5 pts per day.  For example, if a student comes to class unprepared, they will lose participation points for that class.  Participation is also graded for project presentations in front of the class, and for participation in Novel Study discussions.  



Mental & Physical Preparedness


A growing child needs at least 8 hours of sleep each night.  Please put your child to bed no later than 10:00 PM.  We have a very long school day so it is important that your child has had enough rest the night before.  The brain does not recharge properly with light and noise.  Sleep deprivation will decrease your child's focus and performance.  Your child should be reading for the last 30 minutes before they go to sleep.  In order for the brain to recharge properly, we must sleep in DARKNESS and SILENCE.  This means no TV on all night.  If your child must fall asleep with the TV on, please set the TV's sleep timer.  This alone will give your child more energy for the next day. 


A healthy breakfast is another crucial component to your child's success.  Avoid only eating cereals that contain high fructose corn syrup.  Eggs, fruits, nuts, oatmeal or whole grains are preferred.  Drink soy milk instead of cow's milk.  Avoid sugar and caffeine.  DRINK LOTS OF WATER!


Students are taught a series of stretching and breathing exercises.  We try to do a stretch to music at least once per day.  Students are encouraged to practice these exercises at home.  Breathing and stretching increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain, thus improving overall attitude, cognition, and focused attention.           



Other Concerns


If you have any concerns I ask that you please contact me first to address the issue.  I prefer to resolve any issues directly before getting a third party involved. 


Try to remember that students tend to not like being reprimanded and can often misinterpret situations to their advantage.  Do not just take your child’s version at face value.  Talk to me so we can work the situation out in a mature and professional manner. 


For 3 years I worked as a Behavioral Assistant for the NJ Division of Child & Family Services.  I mentored troubled youth (ages 6 - 20) and conducted weekly family therapy.  I have extensive experience working with parents and children in their homes, dealing with issues of sexual abuse, drug abuse, single parenthood, unsanitary/unsafe living conditions, major behavioral issues, academic concerns, adoption, foster care, etc.  


If there is anything going on at home that may affect your child in school, please feel comfortable in telling me about it.  We will find a solution together. 


The more I know, the better we can help your child grow. 





Special thanks to those of you who have already donated supplies for the classroom.  I can’t tell you what a major help it is.  


Our most needed items include:



Dry Erase Markers/Erasers

Scotch Tape

Rubber Bands

Hand Sanitizer