Sunday, January 5, 2014

What's Up This Week: 6 - 10 January 2014




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Behind the scenes at one of many rehearsals!

The Grade 4/5 students had a phenomenal performance at the AISB Winter Show, and their curtain call was met with thunderous applause from the audience! I am very proud of all of the hard work they did to prepare for this very complicated piece. You can see it on YouTube (please note that due to copyright issues, it will only play on computers and not on mobile devices):





We had a send-off party for Raymond to wish him well as he returns to Ghana to live and attend school. We first had a challenging scavenger hunt followed by a celebration in our classroom with LOTS of food and drink (thank you parents!) and music. Good luck Raymond, we miss you already!

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Scavenger hunt task: Finding a book whose title begins with "Z"


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During the break, I asked students to read a book (or books) 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 over the break, I asked them to write just one, single page summary that summarizes all of their reading over the break. Can you please make sure they have this ready for Monday?



This week we begin a new reading unit based on the classic tale of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. Students will focus on story structure--all of the elements that create the "bones" of a story, including:

  • story theme (central idea of the story)
  • plot (set-up, conflict, resolution)
  • sequence (order in which the story is told)

We will first use stories that have a familiar structure--fairy tales. Because students already have some background knowledge about this genre, they will have a supportive context for learning about story structure and how this relates to writing stories of their own. 

We begin by looking at several different formats of the same, familiar story: Aladdin. We'll explore the book version, a movie clip, a musical version, and a shadow puppet performance to see how the structure of the same story differs in the various formats. Through this they will discover that while the story theme and structure stays the same, the details and sequence are sometimes tweaked for various reasons (time limitations, budget, purpose of performance, etc.).

As we read the novel Pinocchio, they will explore its story structure, recording the plot elements each day and slowly identifying the theme. They will be invested in this as they will be challenged to create a shadow puppet performance of Pinocchio, requiring a thorough understanding of story structure. They will create storyboards, write a script writing, create puppets and scenery, choose music, etc. Once they have met this challenge, each team will choose a fairy tale and create another shadow puppet performance. The advantage of a shadow puppet performance is that it doesn't require fancy costumes, props, or scenery, and it is quick to create and perform.


How you can help with reading at home: 

  • By midweek, ask your child to describe the elements of a fairy tale (e.g. the setting is long ago and usually not in a specific place, fiction, often include magic, often include a search/adventure, include good and bad characters, often include royalty/a trickster/animals, a big change usually occurs, there are patterns (numbers, phrases), usually have a happy ending, and a life lesson is taught)
  • 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: Before break Grade 4 students used function tables to practice their multiplication, completed a math/science problem solving activity requiring multiplication skills, and took a short quiz to assess their understanding of multiplication.

This week students review multiplication concepts, then complete a Chapter 5 test on multiplication. If they are successful (as I am confident they will be) we will move on to multiplication by two-digit numbers which I believe will be an easy transition for them.

Grade 5: Before break Grade 5 students compared and ordered fractions, related fractions and decimals, and completed a problem solving activity requiring them to create a data table.

This week Grade 5 students work with mixed numbers, apply the concepts they've learned about fractions to a real world problem, take a quick quiz to assess their understanding, and complete the Chapter Test on fractions.

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): 


Before break students learned how to turn their previous story ideas for a personal narrative into essay ideas. 

This week they will learn to write a solid thesis statement, choose their final essay idea, use a simple system to support their thesis with details,  compose "mini-stories" within their essay to support the thesis, and continue to learn to revise as they write their draft (rather than after their draft is complete).

We will also focus on adverbs this week to strengthen our understanding or writing mechanics. I'll use a Schoolhouse Rock video as well as several activities to teach this topic.

How you can help with writing at home: 


  • Ask your child to describe possible essay ideas he/she has so far.
  • Can they describe the difference between a personal narrative (what they wrote last time) and an essay (what they are writing now)? (e.g.  a personal narrative is a true accounting of something that happened to them and it has a beginning, middle, and end; an essay is their opinion or idea about something)


Before break students explored the digestive and excretory systems, which concluded our study of the systems of the human body. They did an experiment testing the starch content of various foods, and spent one session in the IT lab beginning their eBooks, using a somewhat challenging program to create these digital books.

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This week they will (hopefully) complete their eBooks (text and illustrations) that not only will be enjoyable to read, but will showcase everything they have learned about the systems of the human body.

If time allows, we will begin our next social studies unit: The Age of Exploration. In this unit students will learn the reasons for the rush of exploration that begin the early 1400s and continued throughout the 1600s, and how this exploration impacted the world. Eventually they will each choose one of the explorers of this time and develop a travelogue that details one (or more) of the journeys this explorer engaged in during the Age of Exploration. I'm doing this unit in conjunction with Mr. Souleyman in the library as students will apply their research skills in order to create their travelogues.   

How you can help with science at home: 

  • Ask your child to describe the digestive system (e.g. begins in the mouth, continues into the esophagus and stomach, goes into small and then large intestine,  etc.).
  • Ash him/her to describe how one can keep their digestive system healthy (e.g. eating fruits and whole grains, drinking water, avoiding processed foods, avoiding fatty foods)
  • Ask him/her to describe the experiment in which they explored the starch in various foods.
  • 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 I mentioned before, students are allowed to bring their personal computing devices (laptops or tablets) to school to use for classwork. 
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.). 






Wednesday 1 Jan - Sunday 5 Jan -  No school, Winter Break

Tuesday 7 Jan - Elementary assembly 7:30 - 7:45 AM 

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

Wednesday 15 Jan  - Elementary assembly 7:30 - 7:45 AM 

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)

Wednesday 22 Jan  - Elementary assembly 7:30 - 7:45 AM

Tuesday 28 Jan - Elementary assembly 7:30 - 7:45 AM



Tuesday 4 Feb - Elementary assembly 7:30 - 7:45 AM

Tuesday 11 Feb - Elementary assembly 7:30 - 7:45 AM

Friday 14 Feb - No school, Teacher in-service

Monday 17 Feb - No school, President's Day (U.S. Holiday)

Tuesday 18 Feb - Elementary assembly 7:30 - 7:45 AM

Tuesday 25 Feb - Elementary assembly 7:30 - 7:45 AM

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