Meet Mr. Pletsch
I have lived in Colorado since 2000 and have taught first grade at Manitou Elementary since 2011. I enjoy camping, hiking, running, traveling, reading, and hanging out with my wife, Hethyr, my daughter, Wryn (born June 2023), and my dog, Sable. Hethyr and I owned Pranava Yoga Center in Colorado Springs for seven years. This inspired me to practice yoga and mindfulness in the classroom with the kids, which we do nearly every day. I believe wholeheartedly in providing students with fun, engaging, hands-on experiences. I believe in maintaining a positive classroom community built on a foundation of responsibility and respect... a place where all of our kids can thrive and be their very best selves. I truly love my job, my school, my community, and my kids, and I plan to be a first grade teacher for many years to come!
Here is some helpful information about our classroom. Please feel free to contact me any time with questions, comments, or concerns.
Click here to view a copy of our daily schedule for 2023/2024.
Keep in mind that the schedule is fluid and subject to change on any day!
If your child is having a birthday, I will provide you with the date and time of our classroom celebration. You may send in snacks for the whole class if you choose, but it's certainly not mandatory. We celebrate summer birthdays at the end of the year. The first grade team promotes healthy treats; check out the first grade nutrition page for more information on healthy foods. Remember that MSES Food Services can put together treats for the class and deliver them directly to our classroom! Just email me for details.
Scholastic book order forms will be sent home (and emailed out) several times per year. If you’d like to place an order, you may send the completed order form to me with a check made out to Scholastic, or you can order online any time by clicking on the icon below. When you order books for your child from Scholastic, we receive free books for our classroom, too. Everyone wins!
We use CKLA (Core Knowledge Language Arts) as our primary curriculum, which integrates Language Arts instruction with Science and Social Studies. We use Eureka Math Squared as our math curriculum. For more information, check out the first grade curriculum page.
Each grade level has an assigned door to exit to help with traffic flow, accountability, and safety of students. First graders are dismissed out of the playground double-doors at 2:45. If you are picking up your child, please meet him/her by the west-end gate at the far end of the playground (near the gaga pit). Kids who ride the bus will be escorted to the buses by a staff member. Kids participating in after-school programs or activities will meet their groups in the lunchroom. Please always keep me updated with current information about how your child is getting home after school!
Our Exploratory schedule is Spanish/Music (Monday), Art and P.E. (Tuesday), Rotation (Wednesday), Music/Spanish (Thursday), T.E.A.M.S. (Friday). T.E.A.M.S. is an acronym for Technology, Engineering, Art, Media, and Science. Our weekly Looking Ahead document will always keep you informed of which Exploratory class your child has each day. Please make sure kids have appropriate clothing and footwear on P.E. days.
On our quarterly progress reports, proficiencies are indicated with numbers 4 to 1 (4 = exceeds grade-level expectations, 3 = meets grade-level expectations, 2 = progressing toward grade-level expectations, 1 = not progressing adequately toward grade-level expectations).
I do not believe in assigning homework for first graders. They work hard at school and should enjoy family time and play time at home. However, many fun worksheets and activities will be sent home that provide parents the opportunity to practice with their children if they choose. And I do recommend that parents read with their children every day! Regardless of whether the parent or child reads, this is an important daily activity that supports kids’ reading skills and maintains strong bonds between kids and parents.
Each first grader has his/her own iPad for classroom use. Students will use these periodically for specific educational activities, projects, practice, and assessment. All iPad use will be carefully directed and monitored, and all iPads are filtered to ensure appropriate content. First graders only use preloaded apps and do not go on the Internet unless it is with direct teacher supervision. iPads will remain in the classroom and will not be sent home.
We are excited to share that all students will receive free (breakfast and/or lunch) starting in 2023-24 through the Healthy School Meals for All program! This new statewide program, approved by Colorado voters, is helping Colorado children and teens have access to nutritious food at our school. You can click here to view our breakfast and lunch menus.
Check out the Expectations page to learn more about our daily mindfulness practice!
If your child misses work due to absence, I will send missed work home the next school day. Good attendance is encouraged as most first grade work is cooperative, teacher-directed, and experiential. It is not possible for kids to make up missed experiences!
Recess is an extremely important part of first grade! In addition to the healthy benefits that fresh air and physical activity provide, kids’ social skills and relationships are developed through play time. First graders typically get three recesses per day. Two of our recesses also serve as snack time.
Sharing (Show and Tell)
A note will come home when it is your child’s show and tell day (about once per month). In order to feel comfortable speaking in front of others, students should practice at home what they intend to say about the item being shown. Sharing is encouraged to be cerebral and creative so that kids truly learn from the experience. Some random examples (that are better options than toys) include rock/minerals/gems, seashells, books, foreign currency, models, magnets, origami, meaningful photographs, etc. In the past, kids have shared their homemade artwork, performed magic tricks, and sung songs!
Parents should send two snacks to school with their child each day. Snacks are eaten during morning recess and afternoon recess. Please send healthy food, as these snacks are to feed the kids’ brains, not just their bellies. Check out the first grade nutrition page for more information on healthy foods.
Our standing desks provide students the opportunity to move their bodies, maintain higher levels of alertness and focus, and increase collaboration by “freeing” them from the confines of a chair. It is worth noting that the kids spend lots of learning time sitting on our large rug, so they certainly are not standing all day. And even during work time at their desks, they can choose to move elsewhere in the room, such as to a chair, a yoga sitting ball, or the floor... wherever they feel is best for their own bodies and brains.
Student Read Aloud
Students may read aloud to their classmates. After a child becomes fluent with a book that can be read in five or ten minutes, he/she may bring it to school for this purpose. We complete one or two readings per day and students must take turns, so the book could remain at school for a week or more.
Click here to view our school supply list for 2023/2024. Our class always accepts extra donations!
UP! is the school-wide term for enriching and experiential projects, activities, and events that coincide with our Listening and Learning domains. We have eleven domains in first grade: 1) Fables and Stories, 2) The Human Body, 3) Different Lands, Similar Stories, 4) Early World Civilizations, 5) Early American Civilizations, 6) Astronomy, 7) History of the Earth, 8) Animals and Habitats, 9) Fairy Tales, 10) A New Nation, 11) Frontier Explorers
I reach out to all parents early in the school year to determine who is interested in volunteering in the classroom. I then set up a schedule that works as well as possible for everyone. I encourage you to become involved in our first grade adventures!
Although we have a drinking fountain in the classroom, each student is encouraged to keep a pop-top bottle, labeled with his/her name, at school. The bottles will be sent home periodically for cleaning.
We practice yoga! We do this for three main reasons: (1) to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and focus, (2) to improve self-control, and (3) to have fun! Mr. Pletsch owned a yoga studio for seven years with his wife, Hethyr, and is qualified to guide the kids through a fun, beneficial, and safe yoga practice.