Sunday, February 9, 2014

What's Up This Week: 10 - 13 February

Friday 13 February is a teacher workday, and Monday 17 February is a school holiday (Presidents Day).

On Tuesday 11 February from 7:30 - 7:50 AM the elementary assembly will feature ESOL students forms grades 2nd through 5th. They will perform a scene from Pinocchio, a novel that Mr. Chandler also used in class to support our second language learners. We look forward to seeing you there!

Last Friday students updated their personal school blogs, adding pictures and text to let you know what they've been working on. Make sure to check out your child's/childrens' blog, and let them know what you think. While the students really enjoy working on their blog, it also reinforces writing, design, technology, and organizational skills.

Last week students began the process of creating a script for Pinocchio, the novel we just finished reading. First they reviewed the plot maps they recorded as we read the novel, identifying all of the elements that make up the plot of the story:

Exposition: introducing characters, setting, and problem
Rising Action: the challenges that arise and how the characters deal with these
Climax: the turning point where the character changes in some way
Falling action: tying up loose ends
Resolution: lessons learned

In their teams they decided how to adopt this plot line to fit into a five to seven minute shadow puppet performance. This could include altering the plot to make it shorter, combining scenes, creating new scenes, or leaving out parts of the plot altogether.Next we discussed every teams' decisions as a class and decided on a final plot map. This exercise did so much more than allow students to memorize the parts of a plot. They were able to practically apply their knowledge in a real world scenario. The reasoning they used showed insight and creativity, especially as they struggled to keep the plot as close to the novel as possible, keep it entertaining for young audiences, shorten it to fit a specific timeframe, and to make it all flow as a single story. In the end they decided upon 12 scenes. here are the teams developing their shortened plots:

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Next each team took three scenes and created storyboards, sheets that showed a sketch of what the audience sees, along with the actions and dialogue related to that sketch. We pinned these in sequential order on the bulletin board, read them aloud, and had a spirited discussion as we revised what teams had drawn and written. I was so impressed with their ability to create scenes that fit into the plot, to include humor, to make it easily understandable for the audience, and above all, make it fit into the shortened timeframe. Being able to accomplish this really is proof that students comprehended the story in the first place, and also that they understand how the elements of the plot create a story. We are about halfway through our story board critique. Here are the teams developing storyboards:

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This week we finish that critique, and the students use the revised storyboards to draft a script for the shadow puppet performance. Next they'll create simple puppets and scenery, which is simple when doing shadow puppetry since the main goal is to create interesting shapes--without worrying about color, materials, etc. After choosing background music and roles, we will rehearse and present this piece. I doubt this all happens in our short four-day week, but they have a great start so far.

How you can help with reading at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe the plot they decided upon for our shadow puppet performance. 
  • Ask your child how this new plot is different from the plot in the book. Why were these changes made?
  • Ask him/her what they liked about the storyboard process. Was it simple to create scenes as a team?
  • Ask which scene is his/her favorite so far. Why?
  • 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 dived right into long division with 2 and 3-digit numbers, such as :
259 ÷ 5 = 51 remainder 4

Initially it was a challenging process for the students, and they doubted they could ever learn how to do all of the steps! But after dozens and dozens of practice problems, they seem a bit more confident now. great if you could practice a few long division problems with your child.

This week Grade 4 students continue exploring division with three-digit numbers, working with division problems that include zeros in the answer (always tricky), and estimating quotients. They will also do a problem solving activity that requires division so they can practically apply what they are learning.

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students explored subtracting mixed numbers and fractions, estimated sums and differences of mixed numbers, and completed a problem solving activity that required practical applications of subtracting mixed numbers and fractions. 

This week Grade 5 students take a short quiz to check their understanding of adding and subtracting mixed numbers and fractions, and if they have mastered this they will take their Chapter 7 test on these concepts. After that they begin exploring how to multiply mixed numbers and fractions.

How you can help with math at home: 

  • Please have your child practice division with these online videos/games:  

Math Monster (make sure you choose "division):

  • Have your child practice fractions with these online games: 

Last week students wrote an introduction and conclusion to their essay, and began typing their story during two visits to the computer lab. It does seem that some of the students need practice keyboarding as they are using the painfully slow "hunt and one finger peck" system. There are dozens of free keyboarding programs online that can help your child (see resources below).  It is really important that they become well versed with keyboarding as many of our writing projects will be done on the computer.

This week they will use the Six Traits of Writing rubric to self-score their first draft. They will also score the essay of another student using the same rubric. Once they have made revisions on their draft they will give it to me for final scoring. We will have an author reading where students can volunteer to share their essay with an audience of parents and other students.

We also continued working on our field trip fiction stories. Each team chose one of the animals they saw on the field trip as a main character for their story. They had to develop a list of character traits about that animal, then create a plot map of a story involving that animal. They seem to to be having a lot of fun with this activity, and I'm looking forward to hearing their creative (and I'm sure humorous) stories.

How you can help with writing at home:  
  • Ask to read your child's essay draft, and give some constructive feedback.
  • If your child struggles with keyboarding, have him/her practice with one of the activities at:
  • Ask your child to describe the field trip fiction story plot his/her team developed. What are the traits of the main character?


Last week students completed their research on an explorer and his voyage during the Age of Exploration. Then they went to the computer lab where Mr. Kelsey introduced students to the AISB Friendica site, a Facebook-like format where students created a profile of their explorer and will post journal entries detailing one of his voyages. When they complete their journal this week they will have some time to read the journals of other students' explorers, and can make comments on their posts--but only as the explorer they are portraying!

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The website for Friendica, accessible from home as well.

Last week student teams continued the voyages of their own, sailing across the giant piece of grid paper on our bulletin board. They moved their ship each day the same number of squares as their team point score. Every team has discovered land so far, and one
team even named an island!

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How you can help with social studies at home: 
  • Ask your child to explain what they put in their explorer's profile on the Friendica site.
  • Ask them to describe some of the details they plan to put into the journal they write about their explorer's voyage.


Tuesday 11 Feb - Elementary assembly presented by ESOL, 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 - Friday 18 - 21 February - AISB Literacy Week
Tuesday 18 Feb - Elementary Literacy Week assembly 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Tuesday 25 Feb - Elementary assembly presented by music classes 7:30 - 7:45 AM

MARCH 2014
Tuesday 4 March - Elementary assembly presented by Grade K/1, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Tuesday 11 March - Elementary math assembly presented, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Tuesday 18 March - Elementary assembly presented by Advanced French students, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Friday 31 March - End of Quarter 3
24 - 30 March - No schoolSpring Break 

APRIL 2014

Friday 11 March - Teacher-Parent-Student conferences

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