Saturday, October 18, 2014

News of the Week: 20 - 24 October 2014

Our October classroom door


AISB will be closed the week of 27 - 31 October for fall break. Safe travels to those leaving Mali. I'll be heading to Romania to visit Transylvania during Halloween week!

The next class blog post will be on 2 November, just before we return to classes on Monday 3 November.


On Friday I handed out sign up forms for Quarter 2 After School activities. If your child wishes to sign up for activities, please make sure the form is completed and returned to Oumou in the front office before Thursday. Two of the activities (African dance and soccer) have a small charge in order to pay the dance instructor and the soccer coach, so please make sure you include the fee with the form that is turned in.


This Wednesday 22 October, from 11:10 - 11:50 AM, our class presents an Author Reading. Volunteers from Grades 4 and 5 will read aloud their last personal narrative. Parents are cordially invited to attend!


This past week we completed our novel, The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White. It was gratifying to see that the students didn't want the story to end as they were quite invested in it at this point. I know that the excellent life lessons from this book will stick with the students for a long time to come: perseverance, tenacity, and always striving to do your best.

We started our technology-related project, charting the locations of the story through Google Earth's "Tour Builder" app. We will finish this on Tuesday. This exercise not only helps students with sequencing events in a novel, but gives them practice with another technology application that they can share with others.

They also took the story test, and I'm happy to report that despite some rather challenging questions, they all came through with flying colors. One question asked them to compare the message of this story with the message from our previous novel (How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days). Another asked them to compare and contrast the main character as he was at the beginning of the book with how he was at the end. The final question asked them to analyze a swan-related painting to find the message the artist was trying to provide. I am pleased that they are putting their critical thinking skills to good use.You can check the reading notebook to see how your child did on the story test.

Just before the test teams reviewed vocabulary words by performing a tableau:





This coming week we begin a new novel, the Newbery award-winning story Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. 

Here is a comment from Maimouna:
In reading we finished the book Trumpet of the Swan. It is a sweet, charming book about a swan that can’t talk and the dad steals a trumpet in Billings, Montana for him to use. Now we are going to do a Tour Builder on Google Earth and I have to tell you he traveled in a lot of places like Newark, etc. I just can’t wait.

  • Ask your child to discuss the novel we just finished, The Trumpet of the Swan. What life lessons did he/she learn from the characters? (e.g. never give up, you can succeed if you work hard, etc.) What part did he/she like the most? The least? 
  • Ask your child to describe some of the locations Louis traveled to in the novel (e.g. Ontario, Canada; Red Rock Lakes, Montana; Boston; Philadelphia, etc.)
  • Ask your child to define some of the vocabulary words from this novel:


    • 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 Grade 4 students rounded numbers so they could estimate products, used place value to help them multiply, used base ten models to help them multiply, took a short quiz to check their understanding to date, multiplied by 2-digit numbers, and finally practiced regrouping.

    In the coming week they will use the distributive property, multiply with regrouping, multiply by multi-digit numbers, take a quiz to check their progress so far, engage in problem solving requiring them to estimate, and will multiply across zeros.

    Last week Grade 5 students took a short quiz to check their division comprehension, worked with quotients that have zeros, used base 10 blocks to model remainders in division problems, interpreted remainders, and finally did some real-world problems that asked them to apply the division concepts they have learned so far.

    In the coming week they will take the chapter test on division, estimate quotients, divide with base ten blocks, divide by 2-digit divisors, take a short quiz to check their progress, and will learn to adjust quotients.

    • Grade 4 or 5 - Cave Run Multiplication Adventure

    • Grade 4 or 5 - Granny Prix Multiplication Race

    • Grade 5 - Snork's Long Division:
      For those students who have not memorized their basic math facts:
      • Check your child’s math homework each night, which is found in the My Math book.
      Here are some observations from Maimouna:
      In math we are doing multiplication problem solving. It is easy sometimes. If you want do better in math, play games to understand or you will never get through the year. With Mr. Ben we are
      doing math minutes division and multiplication mixed up. With Mr. Fessler we do lots of lessons.


      Last week students started a new writing unit. While they will still be writing a personal narrative as they did last time, this time the focus will be on making the writing more meaningful. First we read personal narratives written by published authors to see if we could use some of their excellent techniques. Here is one of the short stories, Eleven by Sandra Cisneros, that we read and the students particularly liked:

      Students made a list of the techniques the authors used, such as repetition, use of description/detail, focusing on just one small scene, showing rather than telling, and more.

      Next we discussed a new method of brainstorming for ideas for their new stories: thinking of important first times in their lives, important last times, and times when they learned something very important. For example, I shared a story about the first time I stayed home alone, the last time I saw my grandfather, and the time I learned that pulling an all-nighter study session was not such a great idea (ask them to tell you my stories).

      In the coming week I'll share another brainstorming technique, which is thinking of various strong emotions and the times we experienced these emotions. They will also look at their first essay to get tips on what to do and what not to do on their next essay. I'll give them pointers about how to be their own writing teacher, looking at their story from a teacher's point of view. Finally I'll show them how to really determine what their story is about, and how the same memory can be written in different ways to showcase different life lessons.

      In grammar last week, we focused on using colons to introduce lists. This week we will continue punctuation by focusing on semicolons and dashes.

      Here are the completed alliteration posters:

      A comment from Isaac:
      In writing we have made some alliteration posters and added a drawing of our faces. We started to color it with water colors. We let it dry, then we colored the background the opposite color that we painted the drawing.

      And more from Maimouna:
      In writing we finished the personal narratives, and now we are doing new personal narratives.
      We read "Eleven" by Sandra Cisneros. Mr.Fessler asked us to think of the first time you did
      something, also the last time you did something, and the time you learned a lesson. I think
      everybody will do a great job because we learned a lot the first time we did it.

      • Ask your child about the short story "Eleven" by Sandra Cisneros. What made this such an excellent retelling of a memory? (e.g. repetition, a beginning-middle-end, details, suspense, etc.) 
      • Ask your child which first times or last times are they writing about. Can they also think of a time they learned an important life lesson?
      • Ask about the use of colons in a sentence. When should a writer use a colon? (e.g. when writing the time of day, such as 2:00, or when introducing a list).


      This past week we continued our earthquake and volcano science unit, "Shake, Rattle, and Roll." Students made clay models showing the four layers of the Earth (inner core, outer core, mantle, crust) which were photographed and glued into their handmade manuals along with facts about each layer. Here are a few shots of students working on their clay models:

      Next they learned about the rock cycle, watching a clip, listening to a rock cycle song, reading several pages in their science text, and watching a demonstration in class. After taking notes from these activities, they added text and illustrations about the rock cycle to their manual.

      Here are a few shots from our rock cycle demonstration using crayons:

      On Friday we began exploring tectonic plates, watching a short clip and putting together an "Earth Puzzle" showing how the continents were once in one mass.

      In the coming week students will learn about convection currents in the earth and how these relate to earthquakes and volcanoes, and will explore continental drift and plate boundaries.

      Here are students adding to their handmade manuals:

      Here are some comments from Seyni:
      For our science unit on volcanoes and earthquakes we were learning about the rock cycle! We didn’t know what was the rock cycle, then our teacher told us that the rock cycle was how they developed rocks. So I will explain how this works. First of all is the Igneous rock which next develops into sand. Then with pressure it is the Sedimentary rock, and after more heat and pressure it is the Metamorphic rock. We were so impressed with the facts!

      And more from Jesse:
      In Science we are learning about rock cycles. It is pretty interesting because gravity, plants,and water are the enemies of rocks. It's why they break down I am so excited for the next thing we are going to learn!

      Here are comments from Maimouna:
      In science we have a new subject, Shake Rattle and Roll. We made hardback books. We put a chapter in about myths, layers of the earth and now we are doing it about the rock cycle. I know it is weird that a rock has a cycle but it is life. In class we did an experiment of the rock cycle with crayons. Next we are doing tectonic plates, perfect!

      • Ask your child to describe the layers of the earth, and rock cycle pages they added to their manual. Which facts did they include? Which illustrations did they draw?


      On Wednesday morning theatre teacher Jenise Thompson invited our class to participate in some theatre activities with her high school drama class. They practiced pantomime, displaying emotions, and acted out a number of scenarios Mrs. Thompson proposed--all through a series of fun competitions in which my students collaborated with the older students. It was an enjoyable session that brought out the best acting skills (and critical thinking skills) in the Grade 4 and 5 students.


      Congratulations to Yasmina who was selected by Mr. Souleyman to present a book report at last week's elementary assembly. It takes a lot of courage to present to a theatre full of people, so we appreciate her presentation.


      Fri 24 Oct: End of Quarter 1
      Mon 27 Oct - Fri 31 Oct: No school, Fall Break

      Wed 5 Nov: Q1 Report cards go home
      Thu 6 Nov: Elementary Assembly featuring Grades 1/2, 7:35 - 7:55 AM
      Fri 7 Nov: No school, Parent-Teacher-Student conferences
      Sat 15 Nov: AISB Halloween Fest
      Thu 20 Nov: Elementary Assembly featuring Intermediate French students, 7:35 - 7:55 AM
      Thu 20 Nov: AISB Board meeting (all are invited) 6:30 - 9:00 PM
      Fri 21 Nov: Progress reports go home (for selected students only)

      Wed 17 Dec: AISB Winter Show, 1:30 - 2:45PM (parents are invited!)
      Thu 18 Dec - Mon 5 Jun: Winter Holiday