Sunday, February 2, 2014

What's Up This Week: 3 - 7 February 2014

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Last Friday Grade 4 and 5 students traveled about an hour south of Bamako to visit Mamadou Coulibaly's farm, 300 hectares of ostriches, papayas, peacocks, honey production, kangaroos, camels, sheep, cattle, tortoises, and more! We were overwhelmed at everything there was to see (and eat). We had a honey and papaya juice tasting, visited the animals, marveled at the papaya groves where they crossbreed various varieties that grow on the same stem, and had a lunch buffet worthy of a king and queen--so much food (including ostrich) that we barely put a dent in it! Mr. Coulibaly is planning to turn this farm into a tourist destination by next year, and I would highly recommend a visit. Much thanks to the mothers of Abe, Alicia, and Mathies who chaperoned our trip. Next up the students will turn their field trip adventure into a fiction story starring one or more of the animals they saw.

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I was happy to see most of you last Saturday at the International Fair. The weather was beautiful, and the food and drink from 27 countries was amazing (if only I could have eaten everything). We appreciate the parents who put so much hard work and time into creating a table for their country of origin and cooking all of that delicious food! We also appreciate those of you who volunteered to sell food/raffle tickets or work a shift at one of the tables. It is your deication that makes these events successful and memorable for everyone. Here are some photos from that day, and apologies in advance that I didn't get a picture of everyone helping (e.g. Clara's mom, Aisha's mom, Anouk's mom)--I was trying to juggle my duties at the USA table and take pictures at the same time!

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Mell's mom at the Cameroon table.

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Alicia's family at the Spain table.

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Andreas's dad (pictured) and Mathies's mom worked the Danish table.

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Papi's mom at the Senegal table.

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Shima's mom at the Burundi table.

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Nil and Eva's mom and Soraya and Malika's mom worked at the France table.

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Did you try our chili?


Last week Madame Isabel's French students presented at the elementary assembly, and we enjoyed learning the French version of animal sounds! (Note: These photos were taken by Grade 4/5 students enrolled in the after school yearbook activity.)

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Last week we finished our novel Pinocchio, and students definitely were able to identify the climax, falling action, and resolution of the plot that happened in the final few chapters.

Afterwards they told me all of the lessons that Carlo Collodi presented throughout the story, including:
- tell the truth
- listen to your parents
- follow through on what you say you will do
- beware of strangers
- do your best in school

We discussed why he included so many lessons in one story. Some of the ideas were that since this story began as a serial in a newspaper, with one chapter printed per week, maybe he included one lesson per week. Another idea was that since this was one of the first children's books written in Italy, he thought it would be best to teach children as much as possible about good behavior.

Students learned a number of new vocabulary words in these last chapters: cinch, composed, bitterly, influence, medallion, reunite, secondhand, and inspire.


This week we watch the original 1940 Disney version of Pinocchio, and I'll ask students to note what adaptations were made from the original novel in order to bring this to the big screen (there were many adaptations--Walt Disney was very particular!). Next the students will create their own adaptations of the novel, writing a script for a shadow puppet performance of Pinocchio. They'll rough out a plot, draw storyboards, create puppets and scenery, and eventually perform this.

How you can help with reading at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe the climax of Pinocchio from last week's reading (e.g. Pinocchio rescues Gepetto from the mouth of the shark, finally realizes he has behaved badly, and vows to do the right thing from now on--including helping his father work)
  • Ask your child to define some of the vocabulary words listed above.
  • Ash him/her to describe what a shadow puppet version of Pinocchio might look like.
  • 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 used mental math to multiply larger numbers, engaged in another problem solving activity that required practical applications of multiplication, took a short quiz to check their comprehension of multiplication, and took the Chapter 6 test that assesses everything they learned over the past few weeks. Students made many errors on the short quiz--not because they misunderstand how to multiply, but because they were careless in calculating simple multiplication and addition facts. We allowed them to correct their mistakes before we had them take the chapter test. They didn't quite finish the test on Friday, so they will continue on Monday. This will gibe them adequate time to check every answer carefully.

This week Grade 4 students complete their Chapter 6 test, then move on to division.

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students explored adding mixed numbers with unlike denominators, added mixed numbers with unlike denominators, explored the properties of addition as they relate to fractions and mixed numbers, and engaged in a real-world problem solving activity that required them to add and subtract fractions.

This week Grade 5 students explore subtracting mixed numbers and fractions, estimate sums and differences of mixed numbers, and complete a problem solving activity that requires practical applications of subtracting 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 began to organize their essay by assembling the various bits of information they've gathered for each of their three reasons. They taped together the sheets of information in the order they will appear in their essays, and used transitional words and sentences (e.g. for example, believe it or not, another example, also, etc.) to make their essay flow.

This week they will complete their essay, writing an introduction and conclusion and typing their story.

How you can help with writing at home: 

  • Ask your child how they decided the order of the information they put in their essay.
  • Ask your child to describe the transition words and phrases he/she used to make the essay flow smoothly.
  • Ask your child if he/she decided not to use any of the information they had gathered to support their essay. If so, what was the reason they left something out?


Last week students continued the research phase of our Age of Exploration project, in which each student will write a journal from the perspective of an actual sailor on one of the journeys that happened during the Age of Exploration. They spent several sessions in the computer lab gathering information online, and during library time on Friday Mr. Souleyman showed them how to use the resources in the library to supplement what they found online. To model what a journal might look like, I read students the story "Pedro's Journal" by Pam Conrad, an historical fiction account of a boy who traveled on
the first journey Columbus made to America (but thought it was India!).


This week students complete their research, then learn how to use a new online platform called Friendica where they will post their explorer's journal entries and illustrations. Friendica looks similar to Facebook, but is open only to our class. It will allow students to comment on other students' posts--in the character of the explorer they are emulating. It's an entertaining way to organize and process the research they've done. Thanks to Mr. Kelesy for recommending this platform!

Last week student teams also started a voyage of their own, sailing across a giant piece of gridded paper on our bulletin board. Their goal is to find land and gold, and they do that by moving their ship each day the same number of squares that their team received the previous day for their team points. Only one team discovered land last week, but they are all close….

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How you can help with social studies at home: 
  • Ask your child to explain some facts about his/her explorer's journey. Where was this voyage headed and why? How many people were on the boat? Was it a successful voyage?
  • Ask your child what it was like to research their explorer online as well as in the library. What was the best way they discovered to find the information he/she needed?


Tuesday 4 Feb - Elementary assembly presented by Grade 2/3, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
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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