Friday, May 30, 2014

What's Up This Week: 2 - 6 June 2014

Since this is the last post on this blog for the school year I want to share a bit of information about the "summer slide," a terrible phenomenon named for what happens to children over the summer. Studies dating back 100 years show that students over the summer typically fall behind an average of 1 to 2 months in reading and lose about 2.6 months of math computational skills! Research shows that teachers spend an average of one month simply reteaching skills that students forgot over the summer--which means one less month available to teach new skills.

The good news is that there are simple ways to keep this from happening to your child. Below are a few links to articles with great tips at beating the summer slide. You'll notice that key among the tips is READING daily, something I've encouraged the kids to do all year and hope they continue to do. You'll also read about some creative approaches like virtual field trips. 

You can also explore various online programs (fees vary) such as:

IXL, a site that allows students to practice math and language arts for $9.95/month:

Time for Writing, which has 8-week, one-on-one writing courses for $99:


 On Wednesday the seven AISB seniors walked the halls to the accompaniment of "Pomp & Circumstance" while each class cheered them on. Then we all gathered as a school in the MPR where the elementary students serenaded them with the song "Happy." We wish our seniors well as they graduate next week and head off to university.

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All Grade 4/5 students created an entry for the U.S. Embassy's recent calendar contest. Last Thursday the Embassy chose three finalists from Grade 4, and three from Grade 5, and these will be sent on to Washington, D.C. where they will be judged along with submissions from students in international schools around the world. The winning 12 designs will be published in a calendar that is sent to U.S. Embassies around the world. The theme of this calendar is "staying safe overseas." 

I am pleased to announce the finalists from our class:









Let's wish their submissions well as they make it to Round 2! We should know about the final winners by August.


 On Wednesday the Grade 5 students spent a period in Mr. Brown's middle school math class, getting a look at what school life will be life next year. They participated in class, asked questions they had about middle school, praciced opening lockers, and learned how the middle school will be arranged differently next year, with middle school classrooms, lockers, and lounge area, and cafeteria in the far end of the secondary area. They shuddered at the idea of getting detention for not having their homework just one time!

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This past week we finished our novel Missing May, and students designed a "whirligig" that abstractly represented either Dream, Thunderstorm, Spirit, or Fire--just like the character in the novel. We studied the abstract sculptures of artists like Joan Miro, Jean Dubuffet, and Henry Moore so that students could understand how to express emotions through simply shape, color, and arrangement. This is a challenge to do, and required critical thinking skills in order to express a concrete topic in an abstract way. Here are some examples of their whirligigs:

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We also practiced our vocabulary with some team tableau vivant.

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We also began a short unit on Spoken Word poetry which we will finish next week by holding a "poetry slam." Through this unit students are learning poetic devices, from rhyme, repetition, and rhythm to alliteration and metaphor. They are also putting to use the theatre skills they have learned this year since spoken word involves performance as well.

Grade 4: Last week Grade 4 students explored properties of fractions, determined how fractions and decimals relate, explored tenths and hundredths as they relate to decimals and fractions, compared and put in order decimals, and finally rounded. Next week we finish with adding and subtracting decimals.
Grade 5: Last week Grade 5 students explored how to find the surface area and volume of a rectangular prism, finding ration and rate, interpreting scale drawings, determining probability, and working with percentages.

This week students created lead and concluding paragraphs, then typed their literary essays in the IT lab. Next week students can volunteer to read these aloud in class. I am quite pleased with the results which, to me, sound like high school essays!

This past week we continued our science unit, "Space: The Final Frontier." On Monday we went outside and paced off the distance of the planets in our solar system, using a scale of 1 meter = 6 million miles. We actually had to circle the school two and a half times to get to Pluto (which I know is not considered a planet but I have such a hard time letting it go…).

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We also analyzed some 1920s space illustrations by illustrator Chelsey Bonestell, art that many agree helped create an interest in space travel for humans. We used this as a jumping off point for a discussion about space travel and technology, and how space technology has also led to inventions we use on Earth.

We also viewed an episode from the original Star Trek television show called "The Doomsday Machine" and discussed how people once envisioned the future and space travel, and how much of that has actually happened. Finally we discussed the theory of ow our own solar system was formed, and viewed a short documentary that animated the process of this creation over millions of years.

JUNE 2014
Thursday 5 June - AISB High School Graduation
Friday 6 June - Last day of school, final assembly (morning)

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