Sunday, October 27, 2013

What's Up This Week: 28 October - 1 November 2013

Did You Know...

The origin of Halloween goes back more than 2000 years, to the time when the Celts lived in what is now Ireland.

The Celts celebrated Samhain on November 1st to mark the end of summer and the harvest.

They believed on this day that the spirits of their ancestors visited, so they put out food for them and dressed in costumes. They also lit bonfires to encourage the sun to return.

When the Romans took over the Celt's land, they combined Samhain with their own festival of Feralia, a day in which they honored their relatives who had passed.

In the 800s the Pope created three Christian holidays to replace Samhain: 
October 31 (All Hallow's Eve to prepare for the next 2 days)
November 1 (All Saint's Day to honor Catholic saints)
November 2 (All Soul's Day to honor everyone else who had passed). 

These holidays included bonfires, parades, costumes, and food. Children would visit neighbors who would give them food, which is likely how trick-or-treating began.

Europeans who immigrated to America brought these traditions with them, and combined them with American Indian traditions to create a new version of Halloween.

American Halloween celebrations over the years included harvest festivals, plays, ghost stories, mischief-making. 

By 1850 children were trick-or-treating and carving Jack-o-Lanterns. Halloween became more about community and neighborly get-togethers rather than ghosts and mischief.

By 1900 costume parties were the common way to celebrate Halloween, and the holiday lost most of its superstitious and religious meanings.

In the U.S. Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday, with Americans spending $7 billion on costumes, candy, and decorations. About 40 million children trick-or-treat each year.

Mr. Fessler (right) and his sisters get ready for trick-or-treating in Illinois.

Please plan to attend the annual AISB Halloween celebration this 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.  Parents and students are highly encouraged to come in costume!

During the week before Fall Break we we read one more short story, Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr. Students compared this author's point of view with the authors of the previous two MLK books we read. They discovered that the book by Dr. King's sister had the most personal and detailed point of view because she actually lived with him and witnessed everything she wrote about. 

We also read three poems by Langston Hughes that focused on having dreams or hopes for the future, which was a big part of Dr. King's civil rights movement. We began a culminating project in which students wrote their own dream poem about an important world issue, then started creating an intricate collage to support their poem's message. They will complete this project during the coming week.

How you can help with reading at home: 
  • Ask your child which book about Martin Luther King did they enjoy the most, and why? (Note: the three books we read were My Brother Martin, Martin's Big Words, and Happy Birthday Martin Luther King.)
  • Ask about the message of their dream poem. What world problem did your child chose and why? 
  • Ask what image your child chose for the collage. How does it connect to their dream poem?
  • 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 what they read. Their summary should clearly describe the main events in the part of their book they read without including too many unimportant details.
  • Ask your child to read to you for a few minutes so you can check his/her fluency, expression, pauses, etc.

Grade 4: In the week before Fall Break students learned another math problem solving technique (working backwards) and explored pictographs. 

This week they will create bar graphs, work on coordinate graphing, explore line graphs, and work on two more problem solving techniques. 

Grade 5: In the week before Fall Break Grade 5 students continued working on estimating quotients, looked at interpreting the remainder from a division problem, took a short quiz to check their understanding of division so far, and learned another math problem solving technique (working backwards).

This week they explore dividing decimals by whole numbers, dividing decimals by decimals, learn another problem solving technique, and check their progress with a quiz covering the concepts they learned this week.

How you can help with math at home: 

  • Make sure your child knows the basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication math facts to 12. Use flash cards or other simple ways to test his/her memory.
  • We continued working on problems involving elapsed time (e.g. If you went to bed at 8:15 PM and woke up at 6:10 AM, how long did you sleep?) but they need more practice! Please have your child practice elapsed time calculations with these online games: 

  • Make sure your child knows the basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication math facts to 12.
  • Have your child continue to practice division using these online games: 


In the week before Fall Break we focused on personification, the figurative language technique in which a writer humanizes something that isn't human. For example: The sea sings me to sleep. We read several poems that use personification, including Emily Dickinson's The Sky is Low and the Langston Hughes poem April Rain Song

Next students randomly chose four noun/verb pairs, such as:

Their challenge was to use these pairs to create a poem with personification. For example, using the above pairs you could write:

The rain laughs like a clown as it soaks me wet,
the flowers sing like opera stars as they drink from the warm rain,
the wind eats everything in it's path because rain makes him hungry,
but later the sun gently kisses the land and sends the rain away.

I'll share the poems in an upcoming blog post.

This week we resume work on our next essay, another personal narrative. But this time their goal is to write something that really affects the reader in a deep, emotional way. They will learn a few techniques for developing topics for this essay, including identifying important turning points in their lives, and thinking of examples of strong feelings and times when they experienced those feelings.

How you can help with writing at home: 

  • Ask your child why authors and poets use personification (e.g. it makes the writing more interesting, it helps us picture what is happening, etc.).
  • Ask your child to reflect on the last personal narrative they wrote. Did they agree with his/her scores? What will they do differently on the next essay?

In the week before Fall Break we began our science unit on the systems of the human body.  Students were invited to a trip inside the human body, and each team designed the vehicle in which they will make this journey. 

Each team designed their own vehicle to magically travel inside the human body. 

They also began their travel journal which will document in detail their exciting trip through the skeletal, muscular, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, nervous, digestive, and excretory systems of the human body. They will use these notes to create an eBook about the human body's systems.

The first step in this process was exploring cells, the building block of the human body. We learned that we all began as a single cell, and that we now have trillions of cells making up our body. We also learned that cells have particular jobs. 

To make this personal, we visited Mr. Young's high school science laboratory where he and the high school biology students guided them in an experiment comparing plant and animal (human) cells. They looked at onion cells under a microscope, then scraped their inside cheek and made a slide so they could look at their own magnified cells. They sketched both types and will make comparisons in the coming week.

This week we begin the journey by exploring the skeletal system. 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.

How you can help with science at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe the experiment they did in Mr. Young's class. What did the plant and human cells look like? What was their hypothesis (e.g. I think that animal and plant cells will look the same.)
  • Ask your child to describe the vehicle his/her team designed to make the journey through the human body, and why they chose this particular design. What are the special features of this vehicle?

Tuesday 29 Oct, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Madame Isabelle's Grade 4 & 5 Standard French class students
Thursday 31 Oct, 6:30 - 9:00 PM - AISB Board Meeting

Friday 1 Nov - Quarter 2 After school activities begin
Friday 1 Nov - Report cards sent home
Saturday 2 Nov, 5:00 - 8:30 PM - AISB Annual Halloween Party
Tuesday 5 Nov, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Grades 2/3
Friday 8 Nov: Parent - Teacher conferences (information will be sent regarding meeting times)
Tuesday 12 Nov, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring ESOL students
Tuesday 19 Nov, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring preK 3/4
Tuesday 26 Nov, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Grades 4/5
Tuesday 29 Nov, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Standard French
Thursday & Friday 28 - 29 Nov - Thanksgiving Holiday

Tuesday 3 Dec, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring 1 student from each class reading their own story
Tuesday 10 Dec, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring preK 2
Tuesday 17 Dec, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Advanced French
Friday Dec 20 - AISB Annual Winter Show
Friday Dec 20 - Last day of Quarter 2 after school activities

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