Sunday, September 7, 2014

News of the Week: 8 - 12 September 2014

It was great seeing so many parents and students at last Saturday's BBQ. The music was amazing, the drinks cold, and the rain even held off until the event concluded. A special thanks to those who volunteered their time at one of the ticket, food, or drink booths!

I hope you were able to witness Ms. Jacoby get doused with cold water as part of the Ice Bucket Challenge. She did this as a means to raise funds for ALS and for the Mali Health mosquito net fund. If you didn't get a chance to donate on Saturday, you can send your money to school with your child.


At last Thursday's assembly the Grade 4/5 students presented tableaux vivants (frozen poses) demonstrating our class beliefs--the same beliefs we turned into posters. Even though we are at the start of the school year and have not had extensive drama practice yet, they looked professional on stage! They remembered to stay perfectly still and silent, use their face and body, and find a focal point to concentrate on.

As they performed each pose, the K - 3 students guessed which class belief was being shown. I knew the Grade 4/5 students were talented because every pose resulted in a correct guess. Thanks to those parents who attended this short performance.

Both Soraya and Amadou from our class celebrated birthdays recently, a
nd got to be serenaded with our famous Happy Birthday Cha Cha Cha song.


The following link will take you to an online form that your child will need to fill out with regards to the use of technology at AISB. It details the proper use of the computers and the Internet to ensure that students are respectful, responsible, and safe. 

Please review this form with your child to make sure they understand the content, then make sure it is filled out and submitted. Here is the link:

Throughout the year in IT class we will explore the various areas mentioned on the form.


After the DRA testing concluded we still have a couple of days to continue with our novel Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days. Students used tableaus to review their vocabulary words. Here Clara and Amadou demonstrate "pungent."

Students also analyzed the song "Perfect Day" by Hoku, trying to understand what the songwriter considered to be a "perfect day." Students decided that a perfect day is whatever you want it to be--it means different things to different people. They connected this idea to the novel we are reading, determining that Milo, the main character, currently has an idea of perfection that might not be so great.

In the coming week we will finish the novel and students will take a story test. It will include questions dealing with the comprehension of the story, the reading skill of main idea and supporting details, and vocabulary words we learned. If time allows, we may even start our new novel, The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. More on that in the next blog.

  • Ask your child to discuss the "Perfect Day" song we analyzed. What did the songwriter feel made a day perfect? 
  • Ask what happened to Milo, the main character in our novel, after wearing a broccoli necklace or one day.  (he behaved in a better, more polite way; he stood up to a bully) Was the broccoli magic? (no, it just made Milo have more confidence)
  • Ask your child to explain the vocabulary words we have learned so far: pungent (strong smell or taste), humiliating (feeling ashamed/foolish); aroma (scent)
  • Check to see that your child is doing the “Read to Succeed” homework each school night: reading 20 minutes or more from a book of their choosing, then writing a 3 to 5 sentence summary about what they read. Read what he/she wrote and make sure it actually summarizes the pages read rather than giving a detailed retelling of the story, or just telling one thing that happened rather than the sum total of what happened.
  • Have your child read aloud to you to practice his/her fluency (reading accurately, smoothly, quickly, and with expression)


Last week I administered the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) to all Grade 4/5 student individually (except for new ESOL students who will be tested in January). As I explained last week, this tool provides valuable data about your child’s reading comprehension as well as his/her ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with expression. It’s just one tool we use to inform our reading instruction, along with the MAP test results, observations made in reading class, class assignments and tests, etc.

Last week I sent an email with your child's DRA data. Thank you to those of you who emailed back with questions on how you can help your child improve their reading fluency and comprehension. Here is what the research says about ways parents can help their children with reading:

  1. Provide a good role model — read yourself and read often to your child.
  2. Provide varied reading material — some for reading enjoyment and some with information about hobbies and interests.
  3. Encourage activities that require reading — for example, cooking (reading a recipe), constructing a kite (reading directions), or identifying an interesting bird's nest or a shell collected at the beach (using a reference book).
  4. Establish a reading time, even if it is only ten minutes a day.
  5. Write notes to your school-age child; encourage written responses.
  6. Ask your child to bring a library book home to read to a younger sibling.
  7. Establish one evening a week for reading (instead of television viewing).
  8. Encourage your child in all reading efforts.
(Excerpted from: Swanson, B. B. (2001). How Can I Improve My Child's Reading? Parent Brochure. ACCESS ERIC; courtesy of Reading Rockets)


Last week Grade 4 students worked on rounding numbers, completed a problem solving activity using the concepts learned in the last five lessons, took a chapter test, and began a new chapter on the properties of addition and subtraction.

This week Grade 4 students add and subtract mentally, estimate sums and differences, add and subtract whole numbers, and subtract numbers with many zeros (always a tough one!).

Last week Grade 5 students focused on place value, compared decimals, and put in order whole numbers and decimals. On Friday they did some problem solving that required them to use the concepts they learned in the previous eight lessons. 

This week Grade 5 students take a chapter test, then begin a new chapter involving prime factorization, powers and exponents, and multiplication patterns. They end the week with some problem solving activities to see if they are understanding the many concepts learned so far.

  • Grade 5: Fraction to decimal game “Fruit Splat”:
  • Check your child’s math homework each night, which is found in the My Math book.


On the grammar front, we are focusing on punctuation, especially commas. Students had comma-related homework twice last week (green grammar book for Grade 4, blue grammar book for Grade 5). I really want them to have a solid foundation in this important element of grammar, especially now that they are writing their first stories. Excellent punctuation makes all the difference. Here is one of the short videos we watched to drum home what each element of punctuation means--this one actually had a sense of humor!

We continued our Writers Workshop unit on personal narratives (a true story about something that happened to them). They learned three brainstorming methods (thinking of a story related to a special person, place, or thing) and chose one to develop into a draft. From this seed idea they made a quick comic showing the events in their story. At the end of the week they began their first draft.

Throughout this process I modeled how I used this same process: I came up with an idea related to a special person (my Grandma McClelland) and a special moment related to her (picking raspberries in her garden). I made a quick sketch, making sure the story really focuses on my grandma and how much she means to me (rather than raspberries!). On Thursday I wrote my first draft on chart paper as they watched. Hopefully by watching me do this they have a better idea of how to proceed.

Next week I provide a few more tips for tweaking their drafts: writing a great lead (beginning), an well-though-out ending, making sure they have included everything as it happened, and making sure the story id correctly divided into paragraphs. I must say that overall this a very eager lass when it comes to writing stories--and that makes a teacher verrrry happy!

  • Ask your child to read you the draft they wrote (if they brought their writing notebook home) or to describe their story. Does it include lots of details so that readers can picture this like a movie in their heads? Does it make the readers feel emotion?


We continued our unit on Ancient Egypt: What’s the Mystery? Students learned all about the ancient Egyptian concept of the afterlife, and the elaborate steps taken to prepare bodies for this afterlife. They also viewed video clips about an archaeological excavation in Cairo. Teams have also chosen a tomb robbery suspect to question, and developed the probing questions they will ask in class.

This coming week we learn about Ramses the Great, begin questioning suspects, take a test on the concepts covered so far, and look at how specialization helped this ancient civilization succeed.

  • Ask your child to explain who he/she thinks the tomb robbery suspect is, and why.
  • Ask your child how he/she came up with questions to ask the suspect. (e.g. used facts from the research, focused on things relating to tombs, etc.)


Thu 18 Sep: Elementary Assembly featuring Advanced French students, 7:35 - 7:55 AM
Tue 23 Sep: No school, teacher in-service 
Mon 22 Sep: No school, Independence Day holiday

Thu 2 Oct: Elementary Assembly featuring Grade 3 students, 7:35 - 7:55 AM
Fri 3 Oct: No school, teacher in-service
Thu 16 Oct: Elementary Assembly featuring students currently taking music, 7:35 - 7:55 AM
Fri 24 Oct: End of Quarter 1
Mon 27 Oct - Fri 31 Oct: No school, Fall Break

Thu 6 Nov: Elementary Assembly featuring Grades 1/2, 7:35 - 7:55 AM
Fri 7 Nov: No school, Parent-Teacher-Student conferences

Thu 20 Nov: Elementary Assembly featuring Intermediate French students, 7:35 - 7:55 AM

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