Sunday, April 13, 2014

What's Up This Week: 14 - 18 April 2014

Last Tuesday Madame Isabelle's French students presented at the elementary assembly, entertaining the audience with songs and poems. I was very proud of our Grade 4 and 5 French students and their command of the French language! In addition, Mr. Souleyman asked two elementary students to present a book review, and he chose Anouk from our class who did a splendid job talking about the book she read.

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Over the next two weeks AISB students will take three computerized MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) tests--in reading, math, and language use. This is just one of the tools we use to understand the academic progress of each student, to inform our curriculum decisions, and to make sure we are meeting they needs of every single student. MAP tests are given at the beginning of the school year and again in April to allow us to compare data. As soon as all of the tests are completed and we have compiled the data, we will provide you with your child's scores.

This week Grade 4 & 5 will take MAP tests on  Tuesday 15 April (reading) and Thursday 17 April (math). The language use test takes place the following week.

Last week we completed the reading of Sundiata: Lion King of Mali by Davis Wisniewski, and began our culminating project in which student teams will present a scene from Sundiata in a masked ceremony. On Friday they started creating their own mask to represent a character from the story. This week they will rehearse their scene (presented in pantomime), determine how they will use African drumming, and incorporate their mask into the presentation. 

This week we will also begin a new reading unit based on the 1993 Newbery Award winning novel Missing May by Cynthia Rylant. The story concerns 12 year-old Summer who lives with her aunt and uncle, and how she deals with the sudden death of her beloved aunt.

I've carefully designed a reading unit that deals with this sensitive topic in a manner that is appropriate for Grade 4 and 5 students. Students will explore the issue of losing someone by analyzing paintings (e.g. Death in the Sick Chamber by Edvard Munch), songs (e.g. Dance With My Father Again by Luther Vandross), ballet (The Dying Swan as danced by Anna Pavlova), poetry, and more.

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How you can help with reading at home: 

  • Ask your child to summarize the story of Sundiata. Ask why is this such an important story in Mali. (e.g. Sundiata is an important person in Mali's history, the one who started the Malian Empire).
  • Have your child explain the mask they created. How does it represent the traits of the character they will play?
  • Have your child explain the scene from Sundiata that his/her team is working on.
  • 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 explored metric length, capacity, and weight, then look at temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius. On Friday they successfully completed a quiz on these concepts.

This week they will take the chapter test on measurement, then begin a new unit on geometry. For this unit I'll be introducing the students to the field of architecture as we explore geometric shapes in structures around the world. They will also create these shapes with their bodies, and will make paper models of each geometric shape.

Examples of CONES:

Shape 1
Yakhchal (ice pit), Iran

Shape 2
Ice Cream Store, USA

Shape 3

The Torres Agbar Building, Barcelona, Spain

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students continued their study of negative and positive numbers, learning how to add and subtract with both types of these integers. On Friday they took a quiz to test their understanding of these concepts.

This week students take the chapter test on negative and positive integers, then begin a new chapter on algebraic expressions, order of operations, and graphing functions.

How you can help with math at home: 

Grade 4
  • Ask your child to describe some of the customary measurements used in the U.S. (e.g. inches, feet, gallons, pound, etc.).
  • Encourage your child to practice customary measurement with an online game:

Grade 5
  • Ask your child to describe some of the metric units of measure (millimeter, centimeter, meter, kilometer, gram, kilogram, milliliter, liter)
  • Ask your child how to roughly convert a Celsius temperature to a Fahrenheit temperature (double the number and add 30)
  • Encourage your child to practice metric conversions and positive/negative integers with an online game:


Last week we continued our unit on writing literary essays, essays that focuses on a theme or a "big idea" from a favorite book that the student has read. Students chose a short story to read from a packet of stories I provided, then practiced their analysis skills by carefully looking at the main character to determine things such as:

- the traits of the character (students have to make inferences to determine this)
- what the character really wants and what is standing in the way
- what the character fears
- what sort of relationships this character has with others, and how this affects the plot
- if the character changes over time

This detailed analysis work is excellent practice for the essay they will soon right which requires them to analyze a particular aspect of a novel they have read.

This week look at a short story again to determine what the story is really about; for example, Little Red Riding Hood isn't just a story about a mean wolf, but can be considered a life lesson on dealing with strangers). Once they determine the real meaning, they will try to see how that connects to their own life. Again, this practice will allow them to more easily write a literary essay.

How you can help with writing at home: 

  • Ask your child to describe the main character from the story they chose from their packet (Spaghetti, Boar Out There, The Marble Champ, Fly Away Home, The Birthday Box). Ask him/her to describe how they determined all of these character traits just by reading the story…what were the clues they discovered?
  • Is your child able to type quickly on the computer? If not, encourage he/she to practice with one of the keyboarding activities at:

Last week students (working in teams of 2 or 3) completed their ocean iMovies, recording the narration, choosing music, and adding text. In next week's blog I'll post a link so you can view the amazing results! I think you'll be impressed. Here are some shots of our students hard at work on their iMovies:

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How you can help with science at home: 
  • Ask your child to describe his/her iMovie. How did he/she the facts about the ocean in this movie?
  • What was the most challenging part of making this iMovie?
  • The next time they make an iMovie, what will they do differently? 


This week we begin a new social studies unit on government called Who's in Charge? During this quick unit we will explore different systems of government, the ideas that drive people who make all the decisions, what leaders need to do to keep their power and public support, and how an individual has the power to change politics too. 


We will be looking at many different types of government systems, including:
  • tribal
  • monarchy
  • theocracy
  • military dictatorship
  • aristocracy
  • democracy
  • anarchy
  • meritocracy
  • plutocracy
  • timocracy
  • gerontocracy
  • corporatocracy
  • thalassocracy
  • lottocracy


Screen Shot 2014 04 13 at 7 57 36 AM

Our Grade 4 & 5 actors worked hard this week on the upcoming play, rehearsing Tuesday afternoon and Saturday morning for four hours. The Saturday rehearsal brought together all of the actors for every scene, including 10 of our Grade 4 & 5 students, 6 AISB high school students, 5 AISB teachers, and 11 adults from the expat community (plus one local Malian). The other actors were impressed with the well-choreographed Peter Pan fight scene…what adventure!

Rehearsals continue this Tuesday from 2:45PM - 4:30PM, with the dress rehearsal this Saturday at 10:00AM (or 9:00AM for Eva & Abbah).

The play will premiere Saturday 26 April at 6:30PM at AISB's Habib Koite Theatre. Tickets go on sale for 3000 cfa this week at AISB. Don't miss this original play featuring scenes from Peter Pan, Les Miserables, The Kidnap of Persephone, and Sundiata, along with 12-minute Hamlet!


APRIL 2014
Monday - Tuesday 14 - 18 April - AISB Spirit Week
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 arts 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 Elections & Annual Meeting, 7:30 - 7:45 AM
Mon - Fri 19-23 May AISB Africa Week
Friday 23 May - Africa Week afternoon luncheon and assembly
Mon - Fri 26-30 May AISB Teacher Appreciation Week

JUNE 2014
Thursday 5 June - AISB High School Graduation
Friday 6 June - Last day of school

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