Sunday, November 24, 2013

What's Up This Week: 25 - 27 November 2013


At the elementary assembly this Tuesday 26 November at 7:30 AM, our Grade 4 and 5 students are presenting their I Have a Dream poems and artwork. Please join us for this short but engaging presentation. 

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Eva's "I Have a Dream" collage



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Rehearsal with Anouk, Aisha, Abbah, and Charity.

Four students from our class as well as yours truly are part of the cast for the musical production of "Citronella: A Cinderella Story" that will be performed on Friday 6 December at 6:30 in the AISB Habib Koité Theatre (the MPR).

This performance is in the style of "British Panto," shows which are traditionally performed around Christmas for the family. It's a very funny "twisted" fairy tale with audience interaction, music, jokes, and some crazy costumes and hair. It includes many references from Bamako and Mali. The remainder of the talented cast includes staff from various embassies and some of their spouses. 

Tickets are 3000 cfa for both adults and children (children under 3 are free) and can be purchased in the AISB office. Last I heard they were selling quickly, so act fast if you would like to attend. There is only one performance! Both adults and kids will enjoy this show--there is something for everyone.




This is a short week due to the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and Friday.


Last week for our unit based around the novel Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, students analyzed the song "High Hopes" after watching a short clip of Frank Sinatra performing it in the 1959 movie "A Hole in the Head." Students determined that the ant and the ram in the song both succeeded because of their perseverance. They speculated that Willy, the main character in Stone Fox, will use his perseverance in some way to save his family's farm.

Student teams also completed their story dramatizations from Chapter 4, when the tax collector visits the farm.

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We also read Chapters 5 and 6, first as a read-aloud by me to model fluency and comprehension techniques. For example, I would pause at a certain point in my reading and say aloud, "I wonder why the author compares Stone Fox's face to granite? I know that granite is a very hard rock, so maybe he was using a metaphor to show that Stone Fox just had one expression on his face that didn't change, like he was a statue." I also used different voices for each character, changed the speed and/or volume of my reading to go with the scene, and paid attention to the cues from the punctuation. 

Next I paired students for partner reading, doing the same chapters I read, and alternating reading pages. Mr. Ben and I moved

throughout the room to see if students were using the techniques I had modeled. And I was quite impressed! They were indeed using much expression to make the story come alive.

This week student teams will perform a story dramatization for a key scene from Chapter 6, when Willy meets the Shoshone Indian Stone Fox for the first time. They have decided on roles (either Willy, Stone Fox, Willy's dog Searchlight, or one of Stone Fox's Samoyed dogs) and we brainstormed possible dialogue for each of these characters. Teams have a rough outline showing the sequence of this scene, but they are free to create their own dialogue and action to enhance this scene. As you can imagine, it requires a thorough understanding of the text, critical thinking skills, creativity, concentration, and cooperation to perform such a scene. I always enjoy watching the different ways teams perform the same scene. 

We will also read Chapters 9 and 10, the final chapters in the novel, and prepare for another story dramatization.This week we analyze another song with similar themes of perseverance, Climb Every Mountain from the musical The Sound of Music. Students will analyze two different performances of that song: the original version from the movie and a version by Christina Aguilera.

How you can help with reading at home: 

  • Ask your child to describe the message in the song High Hopes. What was so special about the ant and the ram? (e.g. they used perseverance to accomplish their goals). What does this song have to do with Stone Fox? (e.g. Willy also demonstrates perseverance by caring for the farm while his grandfather is ill, and by signing up for the big race)
  • Ask your child to explain his/her role in the story dramatization last week, performing the scene in which Mr. Snyder comes to the farm. What were some important tips he/she learned from acting out this scene? (e.g. keeping the scene serious, maintaining focus, coming up with dialogue that moves the story along, etc.)
  • Ask your child to explain any tips for reading aloud from the story (e.g. use different voices for the characters, speed up or slow down depending on what's happening, follow what the punctuation tells you to do, etc.)
  • 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: Last week Grade 4 students began exploring division. They also completed a quiz to check their understanding of multiplication concepts, and all of them passed with flying colors!

This week they look at fact families as a way to better understand division, for example:

6 x 3 =18

3 x 6 =18

18 ÷ 6 =3

18 ÷ 3 = 6

They will also take a quiz to check their understanding of division, and then complete the Chapter 4 test.

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students continued exploring graphs, including stem and leaf plots and line graphs. They also completed a quick quiz to check their comprehension of graph skills so far. While they understand the concepts of the many types of graphs we studied, they forgot to include all of the elements (title, key, labels, etc.) when they created graphs for the quiz. But I gave them the opportunity to create correct versions of any graph that wasn't complete.

This week they look at sampling data, take a quiz to check comprehension so far, and then complete the Chapter 4 test.

How you can help with math at home: 


  • Please have your child practice division (and addition, subtraction, and multiplication too) with these online games:  

Math Downhill Slalom: 

Becoming Lord Voldemath: 


Last week students learned how to step into the point of view of the narrator in their story, making sure that they only recounted what the narrator (themselves) can see, hear, or think. They also learned how to have a balance of internal (thoughts and emotions) and external (actions) elements in their story. In addition, they discovered how they can add scenes from the past or future to support their story's message, and how they should have a clear arc to their story (an introduction that tells us what the character wants, a series of obstacles that keeps the character from getting want he/she/wants, a climax where the character changes, and a resolution where the loose ends are tied up). Finally they learned several ways to end a story, and how endings should reinforce the story's main message.

Students spent a good deal of time drafting their stories while I offered feedback, and most students have a completed draft. Their goal over the weekend is to complete their story, type it, print it, save it to a jump drive, and bring the printed copy and jump drive to school on Monday 25 November. Then they will get feedback from a peer and me, make revisions, and print a final copy. After Thanksgiving we will have an author reading, and you will be invited to hear these amazing personal narratives.

This past week we also studied two important grammatical elements: using apostrophes for possessives (e.g. It was Anouk's pencil vs. It was the students' classroom) and using quotation marks and punctuation to indicate dialogue.

How you can help with writing at home: 


  • Ask to read your child's essay, and offer feedback. Do you find it interesting? Does it move you emotionally in some way?
  • Ask your child what the real message is of his/her easy.
  • Ask your child when one uses an apostrophe with "s" before and an apostrophe with "s" after…for example:


1. Anouk's pencil--use apostrophe followed by an "s" because Anouk is one person and the pencil belongs to her

2. the students' classroom--"students" means there is more than one person, and the classroom is theirs



Last week students began their study of the integumentary system (skin, hair, nails), and did a number of experiments related to the skin's protective features. Over the weekend their goal is to write Chapter 4: Journey to the Integumentary System, using what they learned this week. By the end of this science unit they will have a ten chapter story they will turn into an eBook and publish online.

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How you can help with science at home: 

  • Ask your child how our skin protects us (waterproofing, keeps bacteria away, regulates our body temperature).
  • Ask him/her to describe the experiments with the beakers of water, the apple, and the SPF/sunbeads.
  • Have your child read the chapter they wrote about the muscular and integumentary systems, and provide feedback. Is it an exciting story? Does it include at least five facts about each system?




Students updated their personal blogs last Friday during our Information Technology class, adding reflections on what they are learning in each subject area along with photographs of their recent class activities.

Make sure to check out your child's blog! I am very impressed with how quickly they have learned to blog.

If your child is in my after school Blog-o-Mania class, you may notice that your child included more features in his/her blog, including the addition of links and videos. Here are a few shots from our Blog-o-Mania class:

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The AISB winter will be held on Friday 20 December at 1:00 PM, and parents are invited. This week our class begins rehearsals for our performance for the show, so if you haven't done so already please let me know if your child will NOT be at school on that day (for example, if your family is leaving early for vacation). I need to know exactly how many students I'll have so our performance shines!






Tuesday 26 Nov, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Grades 4/5

Tuesday 26 Nov, 6:30 - 9:30 PM - AISB Board meeting

Thursday & Friday 28 - 29 Nov - No school, Thanksgiving Holiday


Tuesday 3 Dec, 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring 1 student from each class reading their own story

Wednesday 4 Dec, Quarter 2 Progress Reports sent home for selected students

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

Saturday 21 Dec - Tuesday 31 December - No school, Winter Break



Wednesday 1 Jan - Sunday 5 JanNo school, Winter Break

Tuesday 14 Jan - No School, El Mawloud; (tentative; Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon so the dates given are approximations)

Friday 17 Jan - End of Quarter 2/ Semester 1

Tuesday 21 JanNo School, Baptism of the Prophet (tentative; Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon so the dates given are approximations)

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