Sunday, October 6, 2013

What's Up This Week: 7 - 11 October

On Monday students watched the premiere of their Public Service Announcements explaining tips for adjusting to a new school after a big move. Some students chose conventional approaches to delivering their tips onscreen, while others chose slightly unusual approaches (thanks to an iPad app I found). Ms. Jacoby saw a glimpse of the PSAs and liked them so much she asked if we could play them at the whole school assembly on 14 October! We will post this video on the blog after the assembly. Here's a little preview:
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Clara in a natural setting presenting her tip.

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Aisha provides the mouth for Mona Lisa as she presents her tip.

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Mell provides the face to a not-so-in-shape wrestler to present his tip.

Last week we begin a non-fiction unit focusing on civil rights. I started by telling the class that students with an "L" in their first name could sit comfortably in a beanbag on the floor during the duration of reading class, have some candy that I shared, and would be exempt from homework. Four students qualified for these "special rights" and the rest of the class was up in arms! After letting this go on for a few minutes, I calmed the class (it took a moment!) and told them this was only a simulation to show what it's like when one group has more rights than another group. This led into our civil rights discussion.

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The "privileged" students relax during reading class.

Next students were led through a timeline of civil rights events in the U.S. beginning in 1865 and continuing through the 1960s.
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They also viewed a short biography video on Martin Luther King Jr. to understand his contribution to civil right in America.
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This week they analyze his famous "I Have a Dream" speech (reading the text as well as watching a video of the speech) to determine why it is considered to be such a powerful speech. Then we will read three short stories about Dr. King by three different authors (including one by Dr. King's sister), each with their own viewpoint on his legacy. Students will focus on how an author's point of view can shape a story, and how illustrations enhance and extend a story.

Martins big words


My brother Martin

How you can help with reading at home: 
  • Check your child's "Read to Succeed" each night/morning. For this daily assignment students read a book of their choosing for at least 20 minutes, then write a short summary of hat they read. I've noticed that the summaries have not been as thorough lately, and would appreciate your help in making sure your child has done his/her best.
  • Ask your child to read to you for a few minutes so you can check his/her fluency, expression, pauses, etc.
  • Ask your child to describe some of the civil rights struggles in the U.S. through the years (example: Rosa Parks and the bus boycott, blacks not having equal rights with regard to housing, voting, public facilities, etc.).

Grade 4: Last week students took the chapter test on subtraction, and then explored elapsed time (e.g. If a party begins at 8:10 PM and you stay for 3 hours and 30 minutes, what time do you leave?). This is a complicated concept for students to tackle, but I found using a timeline and having them count by hours really helps toward understanding. For the sample given, they could sketch this:

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This is an easy one to practice with your child at home, and the more practice, the better they will become at these elapsed time calcu;at ions.

This week Grade 4 students look at line plots, calculate the mean/median/mode of numbers, and will learn two more problem solving techniques for math story problems: working backwards and identifying extra/unnecessary information. 

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students explored exponents, took a "check your progress" quiz, and completed the chapter test on exponents and multiple step problem solving using the "guess and check" technique." 

This week Grade 5 students will begin exploring division. For students to be successful with this chapter, it is CRITICAL that they have their addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts memorized up to the 12s.

How you can help with math at home: 
Grade 4
  • Make sure your child knows the basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication math facts to 12.
  • Have your child practice elapsed time calculations with these online games: 

Grade 5


Last week in writing students used a writing checklist to fine tune their personal narrative, scoring themselves in each of the 6 categories I use to score papers (ideas, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice, conventions). Then they switched papers with a partner and scored that person's paper using the same checklist. When students act as teacher and score papers, it helps them develop a critical eye for writing.

Now that I've checked their stores using the checklist, they will revise/retype as needed. On Wednesday they will have the option of reading their paper aloud for an audience when we host an Author Reading in our classroom from 8:30 - 9:00 AM.

How you can help with writing at home: 
  • Ask your child what changes to their story their partner suggested. Did they agree with these changes? Why or why not?
  • Ask your child to read his/her essay aloud to you using expression. Do they plan to read their story on Wednesday at the Author Reading in our classroom?

In social studies teams nearly completed their site plans for the African regional theme parks, along with supporting documents including menus for the restaurant, a program for stage performances, and a list of items sold at the craft market. On Monday they will add the finishing touches and practice a presentation each team will give to the rest of the class, explaining their theme park, the countries they researched, and how they represented these countries accurately in their site plan.
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Here's a preview of one team's site plan. All designs will be posted next week.

How you can help with social studies at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe the theme park his/her team designed. What role did your child play in this process (e.g. drawing site plan, researching country history, etc.).
  • Of the countries included in the theme park your child designed, ask them which they would most like to visit and why.
  • Ask your child how designing a theme park helped them learn about the diversity of Africa.

As our social studies unit ends this week we begin our first science unit on the systems of the human body. I've just finished writing this unit and I think the students are really going to enjoy it.

We will begin by reading the Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, a story in which students and their teacher shrink and travel in a bus inside another student's body as they learn each body system up close and personal. My students will be invited to a trip inside the human body as well, and will keep a travel journal as they make the exciting trip through the skeletal, muscular, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, nervous, digestive, and excretory systems of the human body. As they make this imaginary journey they will plot their course on a huge figure of the human body posted on our wall and create models of each body system to add to this figure.

We will also use this unit as a springboard for a service learning project with Mali Health Organizing Project ( In a service learning project students learn academic benchmarks while contributing their time and talent to help their community. For this project we will help Mali Health educate school children in the Sikoro neighborhood about diarrhea, an ailment that results in many deaths in this community.

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The human figure where we will plot our journey through the human body.

How you can help with science at home: 
  • Since we haven't yet started this unit, ask your child to describe what they already know about the systems of the human body. At the end of the unit (in about 5 weeks) ask them this question again!

AISB celebrates Halloween in style! Don't miss the annual Halloween celebration on Saturday 2 November from 5 - 8 PM. There will be games, food, trick-or-treating, a haunted house for Grade 3 and up, and a Mad Scientist's lab for Grade 2 and under. Start your costume planning now--both parents and students are highly encouraged to come in costume. 

If you have old Halloween costumes still in good shape, send them to school on Friday 11 October for the costume exchange/sale.

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Our classroom door is finally in the Halloween spirit, sporting a theme based on our current favorite animated show.

We are close to the 100% participation mark for hat-wearing. Please make sure your child is sun safe by giving them a hat to wear outside during recess and PE.

Tuesday 8 October, 7:30 - 7:45 AM: Elementary assembly featuring Kinder/1st & Madame Isabelle's French class
Wednesday 9 October, 8:30 - 9:00 AM: Grade 4/5 Author Reading (Students have option of reading their personal narratives aloud)
Monday 14 October: Whole school anti-bullying assembly & premiere of Grade 4/5 "What to Do When You are New" PSA
Tuesday 15 October: No school (Tabaski Holiday)
Friday 18 October: End of Quarter 1
Friday 18 October: All Quarter 1 after school activities end
Monday 21 October - Friday 25 October: No school/Fall Break
Tuesday 5 November, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Grades 2/3
Saturday 2 November, 5 - 8 PM - AISB Annual Halloween Party
Friday 8 November: Parent - Teacher conferences (information will be sent regarding meeting times)
Tuesday 12 November, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring ESOL students
Tuesday 19 November, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring preK 3/4
Tuesday 26 November, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Grades 4/5
Tuesday 29 November, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Standard French
Thursday & Friday 28 - 29 November - Thanksgiving Holiday
Tuesday 3 December, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring 1 student from each class reading their own story
Tuesday 10 December, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring preK 2
Tuesday 17 December, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Advanced French
Friday December 20 - AISB Annual Winter Show

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