Friday, January 30, 2015

News of the Week: 2 - 6 February 2015


Don't miss out on a fun evening with food from around the world. The annual AISB International Fair is tomorrow, Saturday 31 January, from 6:00 - 8:30. Admission is free, and food/drinks will be sold at the fair (500 cfa each). This year there will even be international games for the kids!


Last week we began our service learning project with Mali Health Organizing Project. As part of learning about disease and hygiene, our class will once again create a graphic novel that promotes healthy living, and will distribute hundreds of copies among local school children.

Thank you to Charity's family for agreeing to host the April celebration event at the end of the project!

BUT...we need some help. We are looking for:
  • funding for the printing of our graphic novels (around $1000 US)
  • funding to buy school supplies for our Malian student friends (around $400)

If you or your company/organization can help with funding, please let me know ASAP. We would really appreciate your assistance!


As a culminating project for the novel The Sign of the Beaver, students used symbols to create an artwork explaining their life. It had to be done in the style of one the artists we studied in this unit: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Marc Chagall, Keith Haring, or the Dogon door artists. Here is their very creative artwork--see if you can guess the artist inspiration:


This week we began a new reading unit based around the short story "Train to Somewhere." This historical fiction story by Eve Bunting is based on the program that took orphaned and homeless children from crowded cities in the eastern the United States to foster homes in the Midwest. The orphan trains operated between 1853 and 1929 and relocated about 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children.

This week students learned some background information about the orphan train, and listened to how the singer/songwriter Lee Ann Womack put her emotions about the orphan train into a song:

We read the first half of the novel as students focused on the skill of identifying the sequence of important events. At this halfway point through the book, teams chose a scene from the story to portray in a tableau. 

As they performed, the other students used a rubric to score their scene:

Afterwards students discussed how performing the tableaus helped them understand the story more, and helped them feel what the characters feel.

Here a some photos of the performances:

  • Ask your child to discuss the orphan train. Why did this happen? Was it a good thing or a bad thing? 
  • Ask your child to discuss the song "Orphan Train." How does the music and the lyrics make us understand the orphan train story?
  • Ask your child to describe the tableau he/she performed in. How did the other students score it? What would they do differently in their next performance?
  • 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 looked at improper fractions, took a test on all of the fraction concepts they learned in Chapter 8, and learned to add and subtract fractions with the same denominator.

Next week students look at the problem solving strategy of working backward, add and subtract mixed numbers, and begin an exploration of multiplying fractions.

Here is a video introduction to adding and subtracting fractions:

Last week, Grade 5 students looked at the least common multiple, compared fractions, used models to write fractions and decimals, and took the Chapter 8 test to show their understanding of fractions.

Here is a video explanation of finding the least common multiple:


Have your child try some of these online games to practice the math skills we learned before break:

    For help with basic math facts:
    • Check your child’s math homework each night, which is found in the My Math book.


    Last week students learned how to write a great thesis statement, and how to organize an essay by using separate folders for the thesis and three supporting statements. The next step is adding information to each "reason" folder, such as examples from their life, facts/statistics, quotes, and more.

    In grammar we started our study of the components of a sentence, looking at simple and compund subjects as well as simple and compound predicates.

    • Ask your child what three supporting reasons he/she has developed for the thesis statement. What sort of items does he/she plan to put inside each folder?
    • Ask your child to define the "subject" and "predicate" of a sentence. (subject: who or what the sentence is about; predicate: the verb/action)


    This week we started a new science unit called "It's a Germy World" that focuses on the microscopic things that cause disease (bacteria, fungi, protists, viruses). Students first explored the smallest living unit, a cell, and viewed plant cells through microscopes in Mr. Young's high school lab.

    They also discussed diseases as well as epidemics and pandemics that have occurred throughout history. Finally we took on the role of epidemiologists and tried to discover the source of an actual typhoid outbreak in England in the 19th century.

    In the coming week students will do an experiment to discover where germs occur in the school. They will also learn more about viruses and protists, and by week's end will get background information for our service learning project. The focus of this project will be a program called WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene), and their job will be to create a graphic novel explaining how local students can keep healthy by addressing all three of those issues.

    • Ask your child to describe cells. How did they appear in the microscope? What jobs do cells have? 
    • Ask your child about the typhoid outbreak mystery they solved. How was the disease spread? How could this have been prevented.
    • Ask him/her about the job of an epidemiologist. How is this job similar to that of a detective?


    Sat 31 Jan: AISB International Fair, 6:00 - 8:30 PM

    Thu 12 Feb: Elementary assembly featuring Advanced French, 7:35 - 7:55am
    Fri 13 Feb: No school, teacher in-service
    Mon 16 Feb: No school, President's Day (US Holiday)
    Thu 19 Feb: AISB Board meeting (all are invited) 6:30 - 9:00 PM
    Fri 20 Feb: Quarter 3 Progress Reports sent home for selected students
    Thu 26 Feb: Elementary assembly featuring Music, 7:35 - 7:55am

    Thu 12 March: Elementary assembly featuring Kindergarten, 7:35 - 7:55am
    Thu 17 March: AISB Board meeting (all are invited) 6:30 - 9:00 PM
    Fri 20 March: End of Q3
    Mon 23 March - Fri 27 March: Spring Break School Holiday