Class Info

August 26, 2019

Dear parents, guardians, and students,

Welcome to TEAM 5th GRADE!   As the new school year begins I would like to introduce myself.  My name is Ernie DeSantis.  I graduated from the University of Michigan—Dearborn in 2000.  I have received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a major in Mathematics and a Science minor.  I am currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership/Administration through Wayne State University.  I regularly attend professional development, and read educational publications to stay ahead of the game when it comes to best practices in teaching.  This will be my nineteenth year as a professional educator.  Teaching is my passion! I truly enjoy working with the students, and I’m very thankful to have it as my profession!

Throughout my years in education, as well as at the University of Michigan and Wayne State, I have studied, and learned, many different teaching styles and modalities.  However, there’s one factor that I believe is crucial to a student’s education—parental-involvement. Over the years I have realized just how important a parent’s involvement with their child’s work, and activities, is to a student.  For this reason alone I firmly believe that your student receives the best education possible when you and I work together as a team.

In our classroom, I will provide an environment where learning can be fun, meaningful and exciting, as well as challenging.  All children can be successful.  Having a growth mindset (believing you can do it) is the key to success!  For this reason alone, I will foster a classroom climate where all students will experience success in many different manners.  My commitment and attention to your child’s safety and education are my top priority.

A structured classroom environment is also very important.  In my classroom there are clearly stated rules and procedures displayed on the walls in which the students must follow in order to keep a safe environment that is highly conducive to learning.  I have attached a copy of the behavior matrix (which is also posted in the room) for you and your child to review together.  Great behavior in the classroom, and all other areas in school, is the only behavior that will be accepted.


Students should be doing at least 1 hour of homework each day.  An example of a typical evening of homework might consist of the following, but is not limited to:

  • 20 minutes of reading from their Book Bag Book or 20 minutes on IReady, or a combination of the two.
  • 20 minutes of math on Khan Academy or Zearn
  • 20 minutes of paper homework/Google Classroom homework

IMPORTANT: Digital practice for Math and Reading is expected to be completed 5 nights a week. Khan Academy and Zearn are assigned every day.  Students are expected to complete 20-30 minutes of practice on these programs DAILY, focusing their efforts especially on math and reading.  For READING skills, I highly recommend IReady. Students have a login, and an account.  For MATH, I highly recommend Khan Academy.  Both practices have been PROVEN commodities for increasing student scores on both NWEA and M-Step.

GOALS and DATA Binders

Not only will students will be responsible for setting academic and personal goals, but they will be required to monitor their progress towards them by keeping track of various types of test score data in their personal data binder.  The binder tracks their celebrations (what they’ve accomplished), their leadership, their learning, NWEA scores, and other classroom assessments.  This is a powerful tool for allowing students to take control of THEIR learning, and to be driven intrinsically.



We will continue to focus on the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) here at Snow with an exciting new program called Eureka Math!  With Eureka math, we’re teaching conceptual development, and it’s customized to each student.  Math instruction will stimulate students’ minds through short mini lessons, partner work, group work, hands-on activities, written work, and meaningful games.  IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOUR CHILD DOES THEIR HOMEWORK ON THE NIGHT IT IS ASSIGNED, AND COMES IN THE NEXT DAY READY TO DISCUSS ANY QUESTIONS OR CHALLENGES THEY MIGHT HAVE FACED WITH THE ASSIGNMENT.  I know that many times homework can be quite challenging; all I ask is that your student makes a solid effort to complete the homework, showing how they solved, or attempted to solve, the problems.   Students are expected to write down questions they have about their homework while they’re completing it, so when we review it the next day we can address it as a class.  Although math homework is graded, it will be counted as a participation grade.  The homework will fall into one of three categories: complete, incomplete, or zero (student did not turn it in, therefore they received a zero).  This is why simply doing the homework is so crucial. TIP: A proven way to increase understanding in Math is to regularly do Khan Academy and/or Zearn (find out more below).


Khan Academy (Math) A personalized learning resource.

100% OF THE 5TH Grade mission in Khan Academy will need to be completed by June 5th.  Students are expected to complete approximately 3% – 4% each week, which equates to roughly 25% a card marking.  In the past, students who have regularly done Khan Academy each night have increased their scores and understanding of math concepts.  Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. The math missions guide learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps.


IReady (Reading)

IReady is a personalized reading program for students.  IReady’s adaptive curriculum creates an individualized educational experience for each student, allowing gifted students to progress as quickly as they like while simultaneously ensuring that remedial students get the extra instruction they need.  Please ask your student about IReady.



This year, students will complete a large majority of their writing, reading, spelling, science, and social studies assignments within our digital classroom called Google Classroom.   Students will receive their spelling score via Google classroom, so please them to show you on a device what they scored.  Be sure to check in with your student on a daily basis to ask them if they are up to date on their Google Assignments.  Thank you!



Homework, classwork, and all projects MUST be done neatly and turned in on time.  Homework that is not turned in by 8:45 am on the due date (or as specified within the Google Classroom assignment) will be considered late.  Three late assignments will result in losing privileges at school, and a note will be sent home.  As the year progresses, and the students mature, the level of quality in your student’s work is expected to improve.  Work that is not up to 5th grade standards will be handed back to the student to redo and is expected to be turned in the following day.




The Leader in Me is Franklin Covey’s whole school transformation process. It teaches 21st century leadership and life skills to students and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader.  Please review the 7 Habits tree in this packet to gain more insight on what the students are learning. To learn more please visit:


On September 25-27 (W, TH, F) the entire 5th grade will be going to Camp Pinewood. I have enrolled the students in the “Leadership/Team Building” program.  This will tie in seamlessly with our continued initiative here at Snow, called “The Leader in Me”.  Camp Pinewood’s program is a great catalyst to bringing unity and cohesion among the students resulting in our classes transforming from a “room of children” to a “community of synergistic leaders”.  We will also receive Science instruction through activities and demonstrations by the Camp Counselors.  Ms. Sherlock, and I, will be attending camp this year.  There is a very important, informational meeting at Snow with the Camp Director coming up very soon, details to follow. Thank you!



We will continue with “The Daily 5 and CAFÉ”.  CAFÉ is an acronym for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary.  The program includes goal-setting with students through individual student-teacher conferences, posting of goals, as a whole group on our CAFÉ board, developing small-group instruction based on clusters of students with similar goals, and targeting whole-class instruction through mini-lessons based on the Common Core State Standards and fine tuning done through one-on-one conferring, as well as small group instruction.  Visit for more details.


Students will have a book bag with books that match their good-fit reading level.  Your student should be reading every night for 20-30 minutes from the books in this bag.   After they have read, they are to write about what they read in their READING RESPONSE NOTEBOOK.  The RRN will contain several prompts to assist them in responding to what they’ve read.  This RRN is reviewed with the teacher on a weekly basis, and needs to be completed 4-5 nights a week.  Additionally, every Monday, students will bring home a Reading Log Sheet that asks them to simply monitor how long they’ve read each night by recording minutes into a table.  Students must read a minimum of 150 minutes per week.  Weekly reading logs are turned in EVERY MONDAY to Mr. D, and must be signed by a parent or legal guardian.



Students are encouraged to bring a healthy snack to school, and may keep a water bottle at their desk.



Students will be provided with, and expected to use, a daily planner.  It is my expectation that each student will keep track of his or her assignments, test dates, and homework on a DAILY basis.  There’s also a section of the planner for important notes from Snow School.  Please check your child’s planner on a daily basis as well.



SO IMPORTANT!! Please visit our classroom blog at:  for updates, HOMEWORK, class photos, and other timely information.  Also, if you subscribe to the blog you will receive automatic updates in your email regarding important events, DUE-DATES, and other happenings in the classroom and school.  Please, please, please sign up and STAY CONNECTED!


  1.      All students will increase their proficiency in reading and writing informational texts.
  2.      All students will develop an understanding of the scientific method and problem-solving skills that can be applied across all curricular areas.
  3.      All students will increase their proficiency in using core operations skills and apply mathematical reasoning to solve problems.

I’m very excited about teaching 5th grade at Snow, and I’m even more excited to be sharing it with you and your child!  I am looking forward to meeting you, and getting a chance to get to know all of you!  As for those of you that I’ve already had the pleasure of working with in the past, thank you for your help and cooperation, and I’m thankful to be working with you again.  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to call my classroom voicemail at 313-827-7436, or the office at 313-827-6250, please leave a message, and I will return your call as soon as possible.  You can also reach me by email at

I am looking forward to an exciting and meaningful year!


 Mr. DeSantis

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