Sunday, December 15, 2013

What's Up This Week: 16 - 20 December 2013


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Our classroom door

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Back row: Nil, Mathies, Raymond (with one of my purchases), & Andreas from our class have fun  at last Saturday's Santa Fair.

And speaking of Santa, please consider bringing a new or gently used toy to school by this Wednesday for the PTO holiday gift collection. These toys will be given to a local orphanage, bringing some much needed joy into the lives of these children.

Raymond is returning to Ghana where his father has been relocated for work, so this will be his final week at AISB. He started at AISB in Grade 4 in August of 2012. We will miss his unending energy, humor, enthusiasm, and his bright spirit. We wish him well at his new school where we know he'll have a slew of friends in no time at all.

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Don't miss the AISB Winter show this Friday 20 December from 1:00 - 2:40 PM in the Habib Koite Theatre at AISB (MPR). Every student in the school participates in this afternoon of music, dance, theatre, and more. Our Grade 4/5 class has been very busy rehearsing our performance which will be the finale of the show! Here is a little behind-the-scenes preview of our "shadow dance."

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This is something the audience won't see…what happens behind the curtain!


Safe travels to those of you leaving Bamako for the Winter Break. I'll be heading to the Cape Verde Islands for the whole break, hoping to see at least four of the islands and looking forward to some beach time. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

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Cape Verde

Last week students completed the culminating project for our Stone Fox unit, the creation of a "Perseverance Portrait" that highlighted a famous person known for their perseverance. Students researched their randomly assigned person, looking for the challenges that person endured in their life. Then students created their portrait using a photo and handwritten text and graphics they added with marker, color pencil, crayon, and/or watercolor. I think the results are stunning!

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Helen Keller, by Yasmina

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Oprah Winfrey, by Mell

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Stevie Wonder, by Raymond

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Marlee Matlin, by Shima 

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Ray Charles, by Seyni

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Thomas Edison, by Abraham

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Salif Keita, by Papi

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Franklin D. Roosevelt, by Nil

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J.K. Rowling, by Andreas

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Nelson Mandela, by Aisha

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Stephen Hawking, by Charity

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Liz Murray, by Eva

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Itzhak Perlman, by Alicia

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Albert Einstein, by Clara

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Abraham Lincoln, by Anouk

(Coming soon….portraits by Abbah and Mathies)

When we return from break we begin a new reading unit, this was based around a young reader's version of the classic tale of Pinocchio. As students read this novel they will create a storyboard and script  for a shadow puppet performance of the story.

During the break, I'm asking your child to read a book of their choosing for at least 20 minutes per day, just as they do during a school week. But rather than write a summary each day, I'm asking them to write just one, single page summary at the end of the Winter Break that summarizes all of their reading over the break.

How you can help with reading at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe the person he/she researched for their Perseverance Portrait. How did this person show perseverance? 
  • 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 did a problem solving activity that required them to either overestimate or underestimate depending on the scenario. They also too a quiz to check their understanding of multiplication so far, and all five students did an outstanding job. Next they began to multiply longer numbers, applying the same principles they use for multiplying smaller numbers.

This week they use function tables to practice their multiplication, complete a math/science problem solving activity requiring multiplication skills, take another short quiz, and finally complete a Chapter 5 test on multiplication.

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students engaged in a problem solving activity that has them look at missing or extra information. Next they took a quiz to check their understanding of fractions so far. Finally they simplified fractions, and also looked at least common multiples and least common denominators.

This week they compare and order fractions, relate fractions and decimals, complete a problem solving activity requiring them to create a data table, and work with mixed numbers.

How you can help with math at home: 

  • Please have your child practice multiplication with these online games:  

  • Have your child practice fractions with these online games: 

Fraction Shoot (choose "Simple Fraction" level or "Simple Fraction 2" level): 

Last week students learned how to extend their thinking so that their essay idea had real substance. They used a series of sentence starters to take their idea to the next level. For example, if their essay idea is "Recess is an important part of the school day," they follow that statement with phrases like "for example..." and "I believe this because…" to help them extend their thoughts on that topic

To fine tune their writing we also worked with alliteration this week, using repeating sounds in words that are close together, e.g. The dark, dingy doorway didn't welcome visitors (repeating "d" sounds). Students learned that this type of figurative language brings interest and structure to their writing, lost acting as music in their writing.

In addition, we worked on common prefixes (un, dis, mis, etc.) and Latin/Greek root words (photo, struct, scrub, etc.) to help them decode new words.

This week students will learn to write a solid thesis statement, and will choose their final essay idea before they leave for the Winter Break. This will give them plenty of time to think about supporting ideas for their essay.

How you can help with writing at home: 

  • Ask your child to describe possible essay ideas he/she has so far.
  • Ask your child to talk about alliteration. What is it? How does it help your writing?


Last week students explored two systems, the endocrine and the nervous system. They also completed an experiment about their sense of touch (part of the study of the nervous system), using bent paper clips to determine the sensitivity of their hands and arms. They continue to write chapters for their eBooks that describe a fictitious journey through these systems. 

This week they look at the digestive and excretory systems, which will conclude our study of the systems of the human body.
After the Winter Break they will complete their eBooks. 

How you can help with science at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe the endocrine system (e.g. glands such as the pituitary and adrenal, they control the body through the hormones they release, etc.).
  • Ask your child to describe the nervous system (e.g. it controls our body's reaction to the outside world, it's made up of nerve cells called neurons, the brain is the main control of the nervous system, the brain has 3 parts, the brain and spine are the central nervous system, etc.).
  • Ask him/her to describe the experiment in which they tested their hand/arm sensitivity to paper clip points.
  • Have your child read the chapter they wrote about the endocrine system, and provide feedback. Is it an exciting story? Does it include at least five facts about the endocrine system?


As mentioned last week, students are allowed to bring their personal computing devices (laptops or tablets) to school to use for classwork. Since we only have two AISB laptops in our room, the school's laptop cart has only 11 laptops and are used by all teachers, and the computer lab is a distance from our room, students definitely benefit from having their own devices.

While I'll do everything possible to make sure they are caring for their personal device, it is the student's responsibility to keep their device safe and sound (e.g. stored in their backpack when not in use, not placed on the floor or at the table's edge, not taken outside, etc.). 


Tuesday 17 Dec 7:30 - 7:45 AM - Elementary assembly featuring Advanced French
Wednesday 18 Dec - Final day for donating toys to the orphanage
Friday 20 Dec 1:00 - 2:40 PM -  AISB Annual Winter Show
Friday 20 Dec - 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 Jan - No 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)


Friday 14 Feb - No school, Teacher in-service
Monday 17 Feb - No school, President's Day (U.S. Holiday)

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