Saturday, March 8, 2014

What's Up This Week: 10 -14 March 2014


This week we were pleased to welcome another student to our class. Liv, who is a Grade 5 student, comes to us from Sweden where she attended an international school for one year. Before that she and her family lived in England for three years. Her mother is from Brazil and her father is from Sweden, so Liv speaks Portuguese and a little Swedish (and a lot of English!).  She says she really likes AISB so far because it is a unique school very unlike her other schools. She likes how there are hands-on activities as well as after school activities. She has a brother Viggo who is in Grade 2.

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Thank you to the parents who attended last Tuesday's elementary assembly. Each class, beginning with Pre-K2, presented a math-related song, tip, or activity. Grade 4 and 5 students presented a quick lesson on using Andy Warhol's artwork to teach multiplication.

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We hosted the assembly in our classroom, and it was packed!

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Eva introduced our presentation, explaining about Warhol's portrait art.

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Abe used Warhol's "Red Elvis" to show a multiplication problem.

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Andreas used Warhol's "100 Campbell soup cans" to show 10 x 10.

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There were 5 birthdays to celebrate at the assembly, including Andreas and Binyam in Grade 5.


We are celebrating kindness in March, starting with a great quote from the Dalai Lama. Over the week students added notes explaining acts of kindness they saw or did themselves.

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This week we continued our reading unit based on the book Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Newbery Medal winning author Louis Sachar. As with last week we began each lesson by analyzing a "Fractured Fairy Tale" , determining the message of the story amidst the crazy humor.

After each chapter we read students practiced "close reading," paraphrasing the chapter, identifying any important words, explaining what the author wants us to understand, and describing how the author played with language to add meaning. These are actually great techniques to use with your child when asking them about their reading at home. They help students with deeper comprehension and with understanding the techniques of published authors.

Students also continued learning  new vocabulary words by using context clues, sketching definitions, and performing tableaus (frozen poses) that depicted the new words.

When we complete the book (maybe by Friday but definitely by the following week) each student will write the "31st Story," another chapter to add to the book that will feature a student character they create, contain crazy antics, and will teach a life lesson.

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Malika shows us "flabbergasted."

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Mell also demonstrates the meaning of "flabbergasted."

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The Pacific Poseidon team demonstrates "glob."

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Nil and his team the Arctic Auks show us "mousey."

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Mel becomes a "glob" of gum.

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The Indian Iceberg team demonstrates "glob."

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The Aquatic Atlantic team acts out "windbag."

How you can help with reading at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe some of the chapters in our novel, Sideways Stories from Wayside School. What is the lesson taught in the chapter? Why does the author make the stories so ridiculous?
  • Ask your child why it's important to do "close reading." (e.g. it helps you understand the content better
  • 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 took part in an experiment that combined concepts in math (division) and science (the effects of gravity).

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They also took a short quiz to check their understanding of concepts from the past week (great scores all around!), and finally took the Chapter 7 test on division, with everyone passing with flying colors.

This week students divide with 2-digit divisors, estimate and adjust quotients, and do a problem solving activity that helps them decide when to overestimate and when to underestimate.

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students began dividing fractions and mixed numbers. They took a short quiz to make sure they understood this division process, then on Friday completed the chapter test. They also took part in an experiment that combined concepts in math (multiplication of mixed numbers and fractions) and science (states of matter). It was an enjoyable lab but a messy one, as my desk shows…..

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This week they begin a new chapter on time and measurement, both customary measures (inches, feet, yards, ounces, pounds) and metric.

How you can help with math at home: 

  • Ask your child to share some tips about doing a division problem.
  • Please have your child practice division with these online videos/games: 
Soccer Division with Remainders:

  • Ask your child o describe some tips for doing a multiplication and a division problem with fractions and mixed numbers. What can you do to make sure you don't make a mistake in the calculations? (e.g. remember to flip the divisor when dividing, remember to convert mixed numbers to improper fractions, etc.).
  • Have your child practice fractions with these online games: 

Last week students learned how to create a "story mountain" (plot) that connects their first scene with six or seven other scenes they will write. 

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They continued writing scenes that "showed" us what was happening rather than "telling" us everything. Here's an example:

Blake was tired and hungry, and that made him grumpy. He acted rude towards his friends. He really wanted to pass his math test.

Blake rubbed his eyes as he let out a long, noisy yawn. He now realized that staying up all night to study for the math test was not such a bright idea, but he was determined to get the highest grade in the class. His growling stomach reminded him that skipping breakfast wasn't so smart either, but not eating gave him 20 more minutes of study time. Jason, his best friend, walked up and greeted him, but Blake didn't even look up. He just muttered, "Get lost."

Students also learned the importance of making sure that every scene they wrote related to the heart of their story, and accurately portrayed the traits of their main character. Finally, we also explored how published books create leads (beginnings) that draw the reader in. They returned to the leads they had written earlier to see if they could be improved.

This week students will make sure they have created an appropriate setting for their story, determine if they have "fleshed out" their character completely, look at ways to end a fiction story, and discover how to look at their first draft with a critical eye, 

Since students will again be typing these stories on the computer and most could use practice with keyboarding, please encourage your child to use one of the online keyboarding programs to practice.


How you can help with writing at home:  
  • Ask to read your child's scenes from his/her fiction story so far, and offer your feedback. Do you understand what the character wants and what is standing in the way of the character getting that? Is your child showing (rather than telling) what happens?
  • Encourage your child to practice with one of the keyboarding activities at:
  • If your child read at the Author Reading, ask him/her to reflect on the experience. Was he/she nervous? Did he/she use good expression and volume? What was the best thing about this experience? Will they do it again?


Last week we continued our science unit: Oceans of Adventure which shows how 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. After reading Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor, each stunt created a sea creature (plant or animal) from the story to add to our ocean mural.

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Students explored the water of the ocean including its salinity and temperatures and performed an experiment for both: 

Experiment: Salt Water vs. Fresh Water

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Experiment: Hot Water vs. Cold Water

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This past Friday the AISB elementary football team--Abe, Mathies, Nil, Papi, Andreas, and Abbah from our class--played a match against Stadt Malian, the school where boys are trained to one day join the Malian national football team. They were tough competitors and the 35 degree heat was brutal, but the AISB boys won 4 - 3! Congratulations to these boys for their perseverance!

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Peterpan1  1

             Les miz
Sundiata       Persephone    Hamlet

Rehearsals begin this week for the AISB spring production of "In a Good Book," an original play written and directed by expat Jenise Thompson (she played the pink-haired stepsister in the December production of Citronella at AISB). It will be performed on Saturday 26 April at AISB's Habib Koite Theatre (aka the MPR).

Performers include AISB elementary and secondary students and staff, as well as members of the expat community in Bamako. The play involves a group of high school students discussing the books they are reading, and one by one scenes from each book materialize on stage…scenes from Peter Pan (lots of action), Les Miserable (lots of songs), Sundiata (lots of griot storytelling), and The Kidnap of Persephone (lots of mythological action), as well as the complete Hamlet performed in just 15 minutes (lots of quick Shakespeare lines)!

The following Grade 4 and 5 students expressed interest and received parental approval to have acting roles:


Rehearsals will be held on these Tuesdays from 2:45 - 4:30:

March 11
March 18
April 1
April 8
April 15
April 22

There will be at least one additional weekend/evening rehearsal closer to the performance date, but it has not been selected yet. If your child/children are involved, please make sure they have transportation home at 4:30 after each rehearsal date

NOTE: There are opportunities for other students to be involved in behind-the-scenes work--costumes, sets, lighting, advertising, etc.). If your child is interested, please have them speak to me.


MARCH 2014
Tuesday 11 March - Elementary assembly presented by K-1 class, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Tuesday 11 March - Play rehearsal begins for "In a Good Book," MPR, 2:45 - 4:30PM
Tuesday 18 March - Elementary assembly presented by Advanced French students, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Thursday 20 March AISB Board meeting (all are invited), 6:30 - 7:30 PM
Friday 21 March - End of Quarter 3
24 - 30 March - No schoolSpring Break 

APRIL 2014
Tuesday 1 April Elementary assembly presented by Grade 4-5 class, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Friday 4 April Quarter 3 report cards go home
Tuesday 8 April - Elementary assembly presented by Standard French students, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Friday 11 April - Teacher-Parent-Student conferences
Tuesday 15 April Elementary assembly presented by Grade 2-3 class, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Tuesday 22 April Elementary assembly presented by ESOL class, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Tuesday 29 April Elementary art assembly presented by all classes, 7:30 - 7:45 AM

MAY 2014
Thursday-Friday 1-2 May - No school, Labor Day holiday
Tuesday 6 May Elementary assembly presented by Music class, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Wednesday 7 May Progress reports go home (for select students)
Tuesday 13 May Elementary assembly presented by K-1 class, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Thursday 15 May AISB AnnualGeneral Meeting, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Mon - Fri 19-23 May AISB Teacher Appreciation Week

March 11 March 18 April 1 April 8 April 15 April 22 

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