Sunday, February 23, 2014

What's Up This Week: 24 - 28 February 2014


We are missing several Grade 5 math text books, and I'm guessing that a few students may have these books unknowingly tucked away at home somewhere. We have a new student beginning this week and we desparately need to have all of these textbooks at school. I've asked students to take a look this weekend, but would appreciate if you could also take a look and send any wayward Grade 5 math textbooks back to school. Thanks!



Grade 4 and 5 students participated in literacy week in many ways, including co-writing stories with middle school and lower elementary students, exchanging books at the book swap, marching in the character parade, and engaging in "Drop Everything and Read" time each day. Enjoy these photos from Literacy Week!

IMG 2958

Charity does "Drop Everything and Read" with the AISB cat K'an bεn.

IMG 2889


Teachers performed skits based on Shel Silverstein poems. Here we present "Jimmy Jet."

IMG 2900
Shima, Charity, Papi, and Mell performed a skit in French at Tuesday morning's whole school assembly.

IMG 2899
Shima, Charity, Papi, and Mell performed a skit in French at Tuesday morning's whole school assembly.

IMG 2908

Andreas works with his group to write a story about the "mystery box."




IMG 2910

Alicia and her writing group.

IMG 2913

Anouk's "mystery box" writing group.







IMG 2914

Mell's 2-person team wrote an epic story about the mystery box!

IMG 2915

Seyni's writing group taps out a story on a laptop.



IMG 2919


Abe and Popo develop their adventure story.




IMG 2933


Charity's team presents their story.




IMG 2927


 Abe and Popo develop their adventure story.





 Character Parade Costumes


IMG 2937








IMG 2938





IMG 2939





IMG 2942






IMG 2953





IMG 2946




IMG 2944







IMG 2954





IMG 2956




IMG 2957






Last week students created simple puppets and scenery for Pinocchio using old manilla folders and recycled cardboard. Roles were cast and we started our first rehearsal, but we were definitely not ready for a performance. We will take some time over the coming week to finish the rehearsal so we can perform our shadow puppet theatre soon!


This week we begin a new reading unit based on the book Sideways Stories from Wayside School. This piece of humorous fiction by Newbery Medal winning author Louis Sachar tells the strange story of Wayside School. The school was supposed to be built on one level with 30 classrooms in a row, but was accidentally built sideways, with one classroom on each story. The book includes 30 stories, each teaching a life lesson through odd and funny events. To kick things off, students will watch a "Fractured Fairy Tale" version of Pinocchio from the 1960s Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, in which a new, humorous spin is put on an old fairy tale. But as students will discover, despite the craziness, there is still a moral to the story! This will be good preparation for the novel they are about to read. 

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 9 39 02 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 9 38 38 AM

The skill focus of this unit is reading closely to determine what the text says exactly--whether that means understanding things that are explicitly stated, or making inferences to understand more subtle messages. When making inferences, students will use evidence in the text to support their inference. Uncovering the layers of meaning like this leads to deep comprehension. It requires students to  think about the meaning of words, the order of the sentences, how certain ideas develop throughout the story. Students will learn a number of strategies for "close" reading, including:

  • asking questions as they read
  • making a mind movie
  • finding the humor
  • feeling emotion
  • making connections to life, the world, or to other books
  • pausing to think when they have new thoughts, ideas, or opinions

To help students reach deep comprehension, after reading each chapter they will:

  • paraphrase the chapter
  • identify any important words
  • explain what the author wants them to understand
  • describe how the author played with language to add meaning

The final project will have the students writing a 31st story, teaching a life lesson through humor.

How you can help with reading at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe his/her role/responsibility in our shadow puppet performance. 
  • 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 estimated quotients, divided 4 and 5-digit numbers, and began a quiz to assess their understanding of these concepts. This week they complete a problem solving activity that requires them to divide numbers to determine "what's the best buy" between several products, and will begin exploring how to find the "mean" of a group of numbers.

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students learned to multiply fractions by fractions, engaged in a real-world problem solving activity requiring them to multiply whole numbers and fractions by other fractions, took a short quiz to assess their understanding, and explored how to multiply mixed numbers. The results of the quiz revealed that students were not careful with their calculations, so I plan to spend another class session reviewing the multiplication of fractions until I'm confident they can be successful with this skill.

How you can help with math at home: 


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

Drag Race Division:

Math Monster (make sure you choose "division):



  • Have your child practice fractions with these online games: 


Last week teams shared their field trip fiction stories. Each team had chosen one of the animals they saw on the field trip as a main character for their story and together developed a list of character traits about that animal, along with a plot map of a story involving that animal. Then they drafted a story which one of the students typed. We all enjoyed the creative and unique ideas the students incorporated in these animal tales.

This week students have the option of reading their last essays aloud to an audience during our Author Reading. Please join us in our classroom on Wednesday 26 February from 12:45 - 1:30 PM.


This week we begin a new writing unit centering on fiction writing. First they will review old story ideas they had for their personal narratives and essays, and learn ways to turn these ideas into fiction stories. Next they think about fiction books they wish had been written, and brainstorm ideas for what these books would be about. Finally they will learn how to create believable characters for their fiction story.

Another reminder…please encourage your child to use one of the online keyboarding programs to practice this very important skill (link below).

Keyboarding chart

How you can help with writing at home:  

  • Ask your child if he/she is excited about writing a fiction story. Does he/she have ideas already?
  • Does your child plan to read his/her essay aloud at the Author Reading on Wednesday?
  • 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 online explorer journals (using the website Friendica), detailing a voyage by their explorer. They also read the journals of other students' explorers and comment on their posts in the character of their own explorer. They were quite creative in combining adventure writing with the facts of their particular voyage and other facts they learned about ocean travel in the Age of Exploration. Thanks again to Mr. Kelsey for suggesting the Friendica site and helping us learn how to use it! Here are some screen shots of some posts:

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 18 05 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 18 27 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 18 52 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 19 16 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 19 40 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 20 00 AM
Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 20 36 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 20 50 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 22 18 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 22 36 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 23 18 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 24 05 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 24 22 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 24 37 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 25 16 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 47 25 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 52 22 AM

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 8 56 40 AM

Student teams also continued their own "voyages", 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. Two teams discovered gold this week!

How you can help with social studies at home: 

  • Review your child's explorer journal on the Friendica site. They can log on at home: and sign in with their email address and password.
  • Ask them what it was like to "become" a real explorer and write journal entries as that person.
  • Ask them to describe their team's success at discovering land on the big blue sheet of paper in class. What has been their strategy? Is this strategy similar to what the early explorer's did?






This week we begin our new science unit: Oceans of Adventure which I just completed writing. In this unit students will learn why the oceans are the life support system for the planet, how their very existence is threatened, and what we can all do to save them. As a final project, pairs of students will create an iMovie narrated by a sea creature who will convince the viewer to save the seas! We begin our unit by analyzing the song "Under the Sea" from the Little Mermaid movie, trying to determine the message the songwriter was trying to give us about the ocean.

Since the ocean is nowhere near Bamako, I've brought a little of the sea to our classroom….Ms. Jacoby's diving equipment, a mini beach complete with sand, shells, and saltwater, non fiction texts about the sea, ocean-themed paintings, and a large wall mural that will eventually be filled with undersea life drawn by the students.

IMG 2964


IMG 2965

IMG 2966

IMG 2967




Can you make a quick check with your child/children to see if they are in need of school supplies? A number of students seem to be in need of pencils, glue sticks, loose leaf notebook paper, and notebooks. All of these are available at the school store (open before school begins and at lunch) as well at local grocery stores such as La Fourmi.

This would also be a good time to check to see if he/she has a hat to wear at recess and PE, and a water bottle to drink from throughout the day. A reusable water bottle is much kinder to the environment than plastic, throwaway bottles--the last thing Mali needs is more garbage!




Tuesday 25 Feb - Elementary assembly presented by Mrs. Anderson's 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

No comments:

Post a Comment