Saturday, April 19, 2014

What's Up This Week: 21 - 25 April 2014


Get your tickets now for the one-time-only performance of "In a Good Book" at AISB's Habib Koite Theatre, Saturday 26 April at 6:00 PM.

Watch as five books come to life on stage, from Peter Pan to 12-minute Hamlet. Experience swashbuckling action, musical numbers, a griot, a Greek myth, and a quick Hamlet unlike any you've seen before! Don't miss performances by AISB faculty and elementary/high school students, along with members of the expat community. Suitable for young and old alike!

LIMITED SEATING…tickets available now in the AISB office for 3000 cfa/each (under 5 free). Hope to see you there!

Note to parents of Grade 4/5 actors: Rehearsal this Tuesday from 2:45PM - 4:30PM. 
Call time for students on Saturday is 2:30 PM. The play will finish about 7:00PM.

From Monday 5 May to Friday 9 May our Grade 4/5 class will devote all of our time to a service learning project, our version of the "Classroom Without Walls" concept.
As we did last year we are partnering with Mali Health Organizing Project, a local NGO that is committed reducing maternal and child mortality in resource-poor communities in West Africa. To achieve this, Mali Health implements replicable programs that improve access to quality primary care at low costs, while increasing the capacity of and participation in local health systems.

Mali health

Last year, at the request of Mali Health's director, we helped them get the word out about malaria prevention. Our students creatively addressed this challenge and created a graphic novel starring the superhero "Anti-Malaria Man." You can read the story of our work on the Mali health website:
We met with Mali Health last August, and they were thrilled to learn that we were interested in doing another project with them. One of their most pressing issues is diarrhea prevention, an illness that is the second highest cause of death in Mali (influenza/pneumonia is first). As with last year we agreed to create a graphic novel that will be published and distributed among local Malian students. To take our project to the next level, this year we will collaborate with a group of local Malian students, members of the health clubs at their school (an initiative started by Mali Health).
Our approach is different this year in that we will (hopefully) complete the project within one week, devoting all of our time for five days to this project. As a true service learning project, students will learn academic benchmarks as they help their local community and develop empathy. For this project students address benchmarks in science, reading, writing, math, and visual arts.
Our schedule for this ambitious project is as follows:

Monday 5 May
AISB students travel to Mali Health in the Sikoro neighborhood of Bamako for a presentation on diarrhea prevention, and a tour of the neighborhood, a local school, and a clinic.

Tuesday 6 May
A guest speaker (physician) visits AISB to present more information on diarrhea prevention. Afterwards students develop the plot for the graphic novel and create story storyboards.

Wednesday 7 May
Twenty Malian students from a local school visit AISB for the day, helping AISB students finalize the plot and create illustrations. AISB French teachers assist in the translation of the English text into French.

Thursday 8 May
AISB students complete illustrations and upload both illustrations and text into a comic software program with the assistance of IT coordinator Mr. Kelsey. Students create supplementary materials for the graphic novel, including posters. All final artwork is sent to a local printer.

Friday 9 May
AISB students and the 20 Malian students celebrate their accomplishment at a pool party luncheon.

Our sincere gratitude goes out to two families who made this upcoming week a reality: the Diarra family (Abraham's family) for the generous donation that covers printing costs for the graphic novel, and the Andersen Family (Andreas's family) for agreeing to host the Friday celebration at their home.
We welcome any additional contributions as well. We are planning to present each of the 20 Malian students with a gift bag of school supplies and such, so any help would be appreciated.

As technology--and specifically the Internet--continues to play a larger and larger role in our world and in our lives, I am constantly researching how best to incorporate technology in the classroom. I wonder about issues such as:
  • How much is too much technology in the classroom?
  • For which subjects is technology best suited?
  • What type of technology is most appropriate for Grade 4 and 5 students?
  • Should I assign homework that relies on student use of computers and the Internet at home?
  • What sort of privacy issues should I consider when having students engage in Internet-based activities?
  • Should the poor Internet service in Mali dictate how much technology I incorporate?
Another issue that is important to consider is student use of social media, like Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and Instagram. In an informal class poll I discovered that about half of the Grade 4/5 students are not allowed by their parents to use any social media at all. Of the 50% who use social media sites, most used just one site (Skype) primarily to keep in touch with family in other countries. Several students reported having accounts on anywhere from two to eight social media sites.

I'm including links below to two articles about children's use of social media that include data from several studies and advice from various medical experts. I hope you find these both interesting and useful. I sure learned a few things (did you know there is a disorder called "Facebook depression?). 

The Bad, the Ugly, and the Good of Children's Use of Social Media by Dr. Jim Taylor, University of San Francisco

Anti-Social Networking: How do texting and social media affect our children?  by Yamalis Diaz, PhD, Lori Evans, PhD and Richard Gallagher, PhD

Last week the secondary student council hosted spirit week, encouraging students to dress up on specifically themed days. Some of the Grade 4/5 students (and teachers!) went all out!

Wednesday: Crazy Day

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Thursday: Movie Star Day





Friday: Gender Bender Day

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This week Grade 4 & 5 will take the final MAP test of the school year, language usage, on Thursday 24 April. As I mentioned last week, please make sure students get a good night's rest Wednesday evening, and eat a healthy breakfast.

Last week completed the papier-mâché work on their African mask that represent the traits of a character from Sundiata, the story we just completed. They also painted their masks to look authentic and to relate to the character they will portray. As we get closer to Africa Week, we will begin to rehearse the masked ceremony that tells the Sundiata story.

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This week we also began a new reading unit based on the 1993 Newbery Award winning novel Missing Mayby 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. We began by analyzing a song with a theme similar to the novel, It's Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday by Boyz II Men. Students determined that the song deals with a loss of someone close, and that the song tells us not to lose the memories of that person because it's those memories that will keep that person alive in our hearts.


Next week we will begin reading this novel about love and loss, and we will continue to use songs, paintings, and ballet to help students understand the stories theme. Our reading skill focus is comparing and contracting characters, settings, and events, a process that challenges students to note important details and to make inferences.

How you can help with reading at home: 

  • Ask your child to describe the song "It's Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." Which part of the song gives us clues to the meaning?
  • Have your child describe how his/her mask turned out. Does it look like what they had sketched initially? Did they make changes, and if so, why?
  • 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 took the chapter test on measurement, then began a new unit on geometry. Students viewed a PowerPoint showing architecture and sculpture composed of various geometric shapes in structures around the world. They also used arm movements to describe three types of lines (line, ray, one segment), three ways those lines interact (parallel, intersecting, perpendicular), three ways lines interact with a circle (chord, radius, diameter), and three types of angles (right, acute, obtuse).

This week they will explore triangles, quadrilaterals, congruent/similar shapes, translations/rotations/reflections, and symmetry. They will also take a short quiz so I can determine if they are clear on these geometric concepts.

Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students took the chapter test on negative and positive integers, then began a new chapter on algebraic expressions, order of operations, and functions. It pleased me to hear them say, "I really like algebra!" That's a sentence one doesn't often hear! 

This week Grade 5 students will graph a function, graph in four quadrants, solve a few problems using graphs, explore addition and subtraction equations, and take a quick quiz to check their understanding so far.

How you can help with math at home: 

Grade 4
  • Ask your child to describe the 3-dimensional geometric shapes we've explored so far (sphere, cube, square pyramid, triangular pyramid, cylinder, etc.).
  • Ask your child to describe the 2-dimensional shapes we've explored (square, triangle, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, etc.).
  • Have your child use his/her arms to demonstrate the three types of lines we've learned (line, ray, line segment), as well as the three ways those lines interact (parallel, intersecting, perpendicular).
  • Encourage your child to practice geometry with an online game:

Grade 5
  • Ask your child to describe positive and negative numbers using a number line.
  • Ask your child to explain the meaning of "PEMDAS" or "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally." (these are ways to remember the order of operations in an equation: parenthesis first, then exponents, then multiplication & division left to right, and finally addition and subtraction left to right).
  • Encourage your child to practice metric conversions and positive/negative integers with an online game:

Evaluating Expressions with One Variable:


Last week we explored one more strategy for analyzing a story, determining what the story is really about. For weekend homework I asked the students to choose a book they have read and determine what it's really about by using a set of questions, such as:

Is there an object in the story that's a symbol that tells us the true meaning of the story?
Does the character change through the story, and does that help us find the true meaning?
Is there a lesson taught, and can that lesson change our lives?
Does the title give us a hint about the story's actual meaning?

On Monday students will use the book they chose as the foundation for their literary essay, and will begin the process of drafting.

How you can help with writing at home: 

  • Ask your child to explain what book they might choose for this literary essay, and why.
  • Have him/her explain what this book is really about…what's the true message the author is giving us? How did your child determine this real meaning?
  • Is your child able to type quickly on the computer? If not, encourage he/she to practice with one of the keyboarding activities at:


This week we began a new social studies unit on government called Who's in Charge? We analyzed John Lennon's song "Imagine" to understand what his ideal world might look like, and how that relates to the world today. That led into a discussion on the history of government, and how throughout history different groups of people looked for ways to create an ideal world through government. We began with tribes that lived in 4.5 million years BCE, and made our way through until today. Students learned a number of new vocabulary words:
  • the state
  • citizen
  • government
  • politics
  • politicians

This week we take a close look at the many forms of government that have existed throughout history, and determine if any of these led (or will lead) to that ideal world John Lennon dreamed about.

With just seven weeks left of school (!) it's vital that we make every second count so students complete all of the work required for Grade 4 or 5. In order for this to happen I've impressed upon students the importance of maintaining behavior that is appropriate for learning: focusing during class, completing all homework and assignments, making learning the priority, and treating each other with respect.
Regarding respect, I recently came across a behavior-related article that I found extremely helpful and I plan to share this information with Grade 4 and 5 students. The article, written by a child and adolescent therapist, differentiates between three kinds of inappropriate behaviors: being rude, being mean, and bullying. WhiIe none of these three behaviors are acceptable in my classroom or at AISB, it's key that we understand their distinct differences so we can deal with each of them in the correct manner.
I hope you find this article helpful:

Rude vs. Mean vs. Bullying: Defining the Differences by Signe Whitson, author, child/adolescent therapist 


APRIL 2014
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
Mon. - Fri. 5-9 May - Grade 4/5 Service Learning Project Week
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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