Saturday, March 15, 2014

What's Up This Week: 17 - 21 March 2014



Spring break at AISB is March 24 - 28. Safe travels to all of you going on a journey. I'll be escaping the heat and heading to Tunisia to enjoy some Roman history and great beaches!

This week we continued our Sideways Stories from Wayside School reading unit based on the book by Newbery Medal winning author Louis Sachar. Before each lesson we analyzed five-minute animated versions of stories from Wayside School, where students then determined the life lesson taught. As one student commented: Does everything we read and watch have the life lesson "Don't give up!" Not a bad life lesson to emulate.

We continued "close reading," paraphrasing each chapter we read, identifying any important words, explaining what the author wants us to understand, and describing how the author played with language to add meaning. By approaching the text so methodically, students get to a deeper level of comprehension.

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Tis week students 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 (maybe "Don't give up?"). We will also engage in final rehearsals for our Pinocchio shadow puppet performance to be held Tuesday, 1 April at 7:30 AM.

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Practicing our shadow puppet version of Pinocchio.

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It can get a little crowded behind the stage!

How you can help with reading at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe some of the chapters we read last week in our novel, Sideways Stories from Wayside School: Lesley (and her toe situation), mean Kathy, Ron (who wanted to play kickball), The Three Erics. What is the lesson taught in each 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 story better, it keeps you from missing anything in the story
  • Have your child answer some of the close reading questions after reading a chapter from one of their books (What are some of the important words in the chapter? What does the author want us to understand? How does the author use figurative language?)
  • 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 from their "Read to Succeed" book so you can check his/her fluency, expression, pauses, etc.

Grade 4: Last week Grade 4 students learned how to:
  • divide with 2-digit divisors (e.g. 248 ÷ 32)
  • estimate quotients (512 ÷ 60 is easier to estimate if you change it to 540 ÷ 60)
  • adjust quotients (if 337 students sign up for English classes, and each class can hold 52 students, how many classes are needed? 337 ÷ 52 = 6 r.25, which means you adjust the quotient from 6 to 7 so there are no students left out)

Two-digit divisors proved to be challenging for the Grade 4 students, so we spent extra time practicing this process. On Monday students take a quick quiz to gauge their understanding of this, and it will help me determine if we move on or do more practice.

Also this week Grade 4 students will explore order of operations, complete a problem solving activity that requires them to make money-saving decisions, and take another short quiz on order of operations.

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students begin a new chapter on elapsed time (How much time passes from 11:25 AM until 1:03 PM) and "customary" measurement (U.S. measurement), including length (inches, feet, yards, miles), weight (ounces, pounds, tons), and capacity (fluid ounce, cup, pint, quart, gallon). Students learned to convert from one unit of measure to another, such as 3 cups = 24 fluid ounces.

This week they will complete a problem solving activity to check for reasonableness of answers to measurement conversion problems, take a short quiz to check for understudying of these American measurement concepts, and begin to explore metric measurement, including length, capacity, mass, and practice converting metric units of measure (which they will find much easier and more sensible than American measurements!).

How you can help with math at home: 

Grade 4
  • Ask your child to explain the process of solving a division problem with a 2-digit divisor, such as 300 ÷ 60.
  • Encourage your child to practice division with an online game:

Grade 5
  • Ask your child to describe some of the U.S. units of measure
  • Encourage your child to practice measurement conversions with an online game:


Last week students made sure that their story clearly explains where their characters are at the time, determined if they have "fleshed out" their character completely, looked at ways to end fiction stories, and discovered how to look at their first draft with different pairs of "glasses," such as their cardboard character glasses (e.g. looking at their story to see if their characters seem real or fake like cardboard).

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For the weekend their writing homework is to complete the typing of their fiction story, and either save it on a jump drive or email it to me.

This coming week I will print out each story, and students will use the Six Traits rubric to score their work. They will do the same for a partner's story. Finally I'll read each story and offer constructive feedback.

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They will then take into consideration the feedback from both their peer and from me, and make any corrections. Then I'll print a final version and use the rubric to assign final scores.

How you can help with writing at home: 

  • Ask your child to share his/her fiction story draft, and offer your feedback. Pay particular attention to the plot--does it make sense? Does it keep you interested? Does the main character seem real?
  • Ask your child to compare the experience of writing a fiction story with that of writing a thesis-based essay.
  • Encourage your child to practice with one of the keyboarding activities at:

Last week students viewed Bill Nye The Science Guy's video "Oceanography" which visually illustrated the concepts students learned in class, including currents and the properties of ocean water. They analyzed John Devner's song "Calypso" about the research ship used by Jacque Cousteau, then investigated the various methods of ocean exploration.

Then Mrs. Jacoby came in as a guest speaker and explained about the world of scuba diving. She explained all of the features of the wetsuit and diving equipment displayed in our classroom (this all belongs to her) and told about diving to see shipwrecks and various sea creatures. The students were full of questions that they continued asking into recess time!

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As an introduction to ocean habitats, they analyzed the song Rock Lobster by the B-52s, the painting Le Chanteur/Singing Fish by Joan Miro, and a huge display of glass sculptures called Persian Sealife Ceiling by Dale Chihuly. These analyses helped students see how and why the ocean inspires artists, and how important ocean habitats are to the health of our planet. They ended the week watching a short but inspiring film called The Ocean which gave students a close-up look of the life under the sea. I'm sure the rest of the school heard their screams as they reacted to scenes of fish eating other fish!


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Just as I expected, spontaneous dancing broke out during the playing of Rock Lobster!
Singing fish

Joan Miro's Singing Fish

Dale Chihuly's Persian Sealife Ceiling at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida

This week students look at the threats to our oceans, and then explore possible solutions to these threats. Then they begin the preliminary work of creating storyboards for their ocean iMovie.

How you can help with science at home: 
  • Ask your child if they are interested in scuba diving one day. Why or why not?
  • Ask your child to tell how ocean habitats were depicted in the song Rock Lobster, the painting Singing Fish, and the glass sculpture Persian Sealife Ceiling.
  • Have your child describe some of the amazing undersea creatures in the movie The Ocean.


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Rehearsals began last week for the spring production of In a Good Book, a play that will premiere Saturday 26 April and includes actors from AISB elementary and secondary, faculty members, and members of Bamako's expat community. Our eleven Grade 4/5 students in the production did a fantastic job of learning stage directions and learning how to show emotions only with their face and body. Next Tuesday they will be assigned roles in two scenes from the play, Peter Pan and Sundiata: The Lion King of Mali.


MARCH 2014
Friday 21 March - Elementary assembly presented by Advanced French students
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
Saturday 26 April - Premiere of the play In a Good Book at AISB
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

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