Friday, May 9, 2014

What's Up This Week: 12 - 16 May 2014

From Monday to Friday last week, from 7:30 AM to 2:45 PM, Grade 4 and 5 students worked on a service learning project. We collaborated with Mali Health Organizing Project and 20 students from 3 local schools to create a graphic novel about diarrhea prevention, an illness that is the second highest cause of death in Mali. On Monday we spent the day in Sikoro trying to understand the audience for our graphic novel and getting information on diarrhea prevention. On Wednesday the Malian students came to AISB for a day of work and fun. On Friday we all celebrated together at Anders, Aracely, and Andreas Andersen's home. On the in-between days we worked from 7:30 AM to 2:45 PM creating the novel.

Here are some photos of our Sikoro trip:
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Lunch in the National Park

And then the next day, the real work began…..

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The students took notes students took during my PowerPoint presentation last week, and during last Monday's presentation by Dr. Traore and Mariam Diallo of Mali Health. Then they read aloud the facts they felt were the most important and that needed to be in our story. Here is the compilation.

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Next teams each developed plot ideas, from realistic fiction to superhero stories to science fiction. The science fiction story won the vote and the whole class offered their ideas to make the plot as informative and entertaining as possible. When the Malian students visited, they added more revisions to the plot.

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Initial plot development

The plot developed by the students is fantastic, an exciting and creative science fiction tale that begins in the year 2113 in the Sikoro neighborhood of Bamako. The city is in ruins because people didn't take the proper precautions years ago to create a healthy environment. The city is infested with giant flies, is covered in waste, and is full of people suffering from a diarrhea epidemic. As the story begins, a narrator explains what caused the diarrhea problems (e.g. contaminated water, flies, poor hygiene, etc.). 

Then we are introduced to the Agents of MHOP, a group of young people who live in a secret underground lair in Sikoro and fight against the diarrhea epidemic. There is Abdul, the positive leader, Oumou the courageous one, Keita the smart and techy one, and Hawa the caring one. We see them battling giant flies and battling the dirty hand tribe. We also see them run out of the supplies they use to battle this epidemic, such as machines that administer aqua tabs, Oral Hydration Solution (ORS), and zinc tablets. As they brainstorm ways to get more supplies, Abdul begins to show symptoms of diarrhea because earlier he didn't thoroughly wash his hands before eating. We learn about the symptoms of diarrhea. Abdul becomes sicker and the other agent know they must act soon.

Keita has an idea! He builds a time machine so they can return to 2014 and stop the people from doing the things that led to the future disaster. The three healthy agents travel back in time and materialize and at a local school. Their strange future clothing attracts the attention of the students, and they gather around the visitors from the future. The agents explain what has happened in the future, and give detail instructions about how to prevent the diarrhea epidemic that has decimated the future city (e.g. vaccinations, covering food/wells/toilets, building wells far from toilets, washing hands thoroughly, etc.). They challenge the students to spread the word throughout Sikoro and Bamako so that the further is a healthy one for everyone.

Next the agents visit a clinic where many people are suffering from diarrhea. They help the doctor educate the patients about the proper treatment of diarrhea (e.g. taking medicines prescribed by the doctor, taking ORS and zinc, drinking water, eating nutrient-rich food.etc.). They grab a few supplies and return to the future in their time machine. Once they are arrive back in 2113 they see that the city is beautiful again and people are healthy--all because the people of the past changed their ways and followed the correct precautions to create a healthy environment and avoid diarrhea. They also discover that their leader Abdul has recovered completely in their absence.

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Round one of the story boards students created.

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 Our Malian friends try out a swing for the first time ever!

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The football game was intense!

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…as was the basketball.

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Even with 40 students and 6 adults in our classroom, things went like clockwork and we accomplished much!

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Round 2 of our storyboards…almost ready.

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Aisha crosses off facts that we included in the story so far, making sure we don't miss anything.

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Some of the student sketches with revised dialogue.

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Illustrations in progress.
We still have a number of illustrations to complete, and we still need to put the illustrations and text into the comic software program, but we will devote some time in the coming week to finish these activities. The plan is to have the graphic novels printed before school is out. We can't wait to share this amazing resource!

Here are some of the posed pictures we did that we will use as the basis for our illustrations:
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This will be a clinic scene.

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This will also be a clinic scene. Dr. Malika is on duty!

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This will be the scene where our heroes travel back in time and appear at a school.

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Here our heroes will be fighting giant flies.

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In this scene people of the future will walk down a waste covered road in a city in ruins.

A big thank you to everyone involved in making this service learning week a meaningful experience for our Grade 4 - 5 students: 
  • Ms. Jacoby for encouraging service learning at AISB and allowing our unconventional schedule for the week
  • Aracely Andersen for organizing the memorable Friday celebration at her home, providing the main course, serving food, etc.
  • Mathies's mom for not only providing food but serving it as well
  • the parents who contributed food and drinks for this event
  • Aisha's family for the donation we used to purchase school supplies for our new Malian friends
  • Abe's dad for the donation allowing us to ring the graphic novels
  • all the folks at Mali Health Organizing Project for organizing the Monday field trip activities
  • Oumou for all her help coordinating the travel 
  • the AISB drivers for safely transporting the AISB and Malian students four times during the week, and right on time

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Sorting school supplies to give to our Malian friends.

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Friday celebration location!

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Next week we return to our novel Missing May by Cynthia Rylant. In addition we will analyze a song (My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion), analyze a ballet (The Dying Swan) look at the symbols used in the novel, and learn about the steps in the grieving process. These activities connect with the novel's theme and help students have a better understanding of the plot.
How you can help with reading at home: 

  • Ask your child each day to summarize the chapters we read in class. Which characters do they like the best? 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: In the coming week Grade 4 students wrap up their geometry unit and begin a new chapter on fractions. They will explore equivalent fractions, fractions in their simplest form, and mixed numbers. They will also compare and order fractions.

Grade 5: In the coming week Grade 5 students begin a new chapter on geometry. They will explore triangles and quadrilaterals, measure angles, and take a short quiz to check their comprehension.

How you can help with math at home: 

Grade 4
  • Ask your child to explain how to find the perimeter of a figure (add all sides).
  • Ask your child to explain how to find the area of a figure (length x width). What about finding the area of a figure that is made up of several squares? (find the area of each square by figuring out length x width, and add all of the areas).
  • Encourage your child to practice geometry with an online game:

Grade 5
  • Ask your child to explain how to solve the two-step equations we worked on this week, such as 3y + 6 = 15 (undo the addition by subtracting 6 from both sides, then undo the multiplication by diving both sides by 3).
  • Encourage your child to practice the order of operations and algebraic expressions with these online games:

Evaluating Expressions with One Variable:


On Tuesday morning Grade 4 and 5 students take the second semester writing prompt. Just as they did if they were here in August, they receive a writing prompt and have 45 minutes to create a first draft based on that topic. They hopefully will use all of the writing strategies they learned this year to create a meaningful, interesting, and thorough piece of writing. These essays are scored by two teachers (I'm one of them!), and the scores are compared to their August essay. This is just one of the ways we determine your child's progress in writing. Of course I will share the scores with you, as well as the August scores. This should happen in the next week.

By Wednesday we will return to drafting our literary essay, concentrating on the development of supporting details.

How you can help with writing at home: 

  • Ask your child to explain any strategies they may use Tuesday's writing prompt (e.g. brainstorm a list of ideas first, have supporting details that may include personal experiences, things from books you've read, etc.) 
  • 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's elementary assembly featured singing performances by each class. Wow, did our class sound amazing with their two-part harmony! Shima also reviewed a favorite book she recently read.

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MAY 2014
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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