Sunday, January 11, 2015

News of the Week: 12 - 16 January 2015

Last week your child brought home the sign-up sheet for Quarter 3 after school activities, and by now the majority of the class has filled out those forms and turned them in to Oumou in the office. If your child has not yet done this, please remind them to do so. The deadline is this Wednesday.

As I noted in an email last week, there is one error on the list: Zumba will be held on Monday (not Tuesday).

Select students will be reading their latest personal narratives this Friday, 16 January from 11:00 - 11:40 in our classroom. We will choose the student authors on Monday, so your child will let you know if they will be reading. Hopefully by the end of the year every student will have a chance to read their work at one of our author readings.

Last week we continued reading "The Sign of the Beaver" by Elizabeth George Speare, and focusing on the skill of identifying symbolism that the author uses to make us understand the story.

We also analyzed the symbolism in two poems, a Chagall painting, and the song "Somewhere Over The Rainbow/Wonderful World by Israel Kamakawiwo’le.

And here's the video of Israel Kamakawiwo’le singing this beautiful song:

Students continued to identify instances of stereotyping of American Indians in the novel, and discussed how that affects the way the story is told.

The students learned these vocabulary words last week, using tableau to review each word:

admiration (respect & warm approval)
nonchalant (unexcited)
contemptuous (attitude of hatred)
companion (someone you keep company with)
indifference (no interest in something)
disdainful (look down on someone/something)

Here are a few photos from their most recent vocabulary tableaus:

  • Ask your child to discuss Marc Chagall's painting "Paris Through the Window." What were some of the symbols he used, and what could they mean (e.g. floating people could mean happiness, a head with two faces could represent Chagall's different emotions, etc.).
  • What symbols are in the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World," and what could they mean? (e.g. clouds could represent happiness or troubles, rainbows could mean happiness or one's dreams, etc.)
  • What symbols are in Marc Chagall's poem "White Cloud," and what could they mean? (e.g. clouds could represent his desire to be up high looking down on the world, bells could represent happiness, etc.)
      • Ask your child to define the vocabulary words listed above. How were these words used in the book? How would he/she use these words in real life?
      • 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 explored equations that involved two or more operations, for example:
      In the following equation, if x = 6, y = _____             (18 ÷ x) + 9 = y

      At the end of the week they took a chapter test on all of the concepts covered in the last nine lessons, including numeric and nonnumeric patterns, order of operations, and equations with multiple operations.

      This week we begin a new chapter on fractions. Students will learn about factors and multiples, prime and composite numbers, equivalent fractions, and simplest form.

      Students also receive a new workbook, Volume 2 of McGraw-Hill My Math. Hard to believe that so far we have made it through seven chapters and nearly 500 pages in our first math workbook! Just seven more chapters and 450 pages to go....

      Here is a video introduction to factors and multiples, a concept we Grade 4 students learn this week:

      Last week, Grade 5 students reviewed how to divide decimals, something that gave most of them a bit of trouble before winter break. But after spending extra time practicing as well as completing some additional homework on this skill, they all seem to have a much better understanding now. They also began a new chapter in which they worked on numerical expressions and the order of operations.

      In the coming week they will look at working "backwards" to solve math problems, explore patterns, practice finding locations on maps, and finally will learn about ordered pairs.

      Here is a short video about ordered pairs, a topic we will discuss this week:


      Have your child try some of these online games to practice the math skills we learned before break:
      • Grade 4 - Number Cracker Game: Help Mr. Cracker obtain the secret code before the insidious Prof. Soup catches him by guessing what number comes next in a series of numbers: 

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


        Last week we concentrated on figurative language, specifically exploring allusions. Students discovered that allusions are when authors make references to things from history, literature, and pop culture. For example: "He was like Hercules, easily lifting the tree off of the car."

        Students explored allusions used in songs, such as Taylor Swift's "Love Story" in which she references Romeo and Juliet. Then they chose an allusion example and created a poster. They are now displayed on our classroom figurative language bulletin board.

        For our grammar work we focused on "using the right word," a task in which students decide the proper word from two choices. Some are straightforward, such as "here" vs. "hear." But others are more tricky, such as when to use "fewer" and when to use "less."

        In the coming week we begin a new writing unit on expository or essay writing. Students will learn a few techniques for brainstorming possible topics, will spend time understanding the difference between the narrative writing they've done so far (e.g. writing a story) and expository writing (explaining an opinion or idea).

        • Ask your child about his/her allusion poster. Which allusion did he/she choose? What illustration did he/she use to accompany the allusion? Why would an author use allusion?


        Last week we continued our social studies unit on ancient Greece, reading more from the Adventures of Odysseus, then focusing on an aspect of ancient Greek culture that still impacts our lives today.

        First each team presented a skit that demonstrated one of the forms of government used in ancient Greece. The challenge was to use a modern day scenario at school to demonstrate the particular form of government:

        Then we looked at ancient Greek daily life, then more specifically we explored the arts of ancient Greece, including sculpture, dance, vases, paintings, music, theatre, coins, and architecture. Each team chose two of the arts to research.

        After the research,  they presented their findings to the class. The rest of the class took notes as the teams presented. Some teams even included drawings and photos to supplement their presentation.

        • Ask your child to describe the story of Odysseus that we have read so far. (Odysseus washed up on the shore where he was found by the Phaeacians. He did not tell them who he was. But later he was so moved by a musician singing about the Trojan War that he admitted he was Odysseus, and that he had spent nearly 20 years trying to return home. The Phaeacians provided him with a ship and supplies, so he is headed to Ithaca finally). 
        • Ask your child about the arts of ancient Greece, sculpture, dance, vases, paintings, music, theatre, coin design, and architecture. Why did the ancient Greeks have so many of these arts as part of their culture (e.g. They had plenty to eat and a stable government, so they had time to pursue things like the arts.)


        Thu 15 Jan: Elementary assembly featuring Grade 4/5, 7:35 - 7:55am
        Fri 16 Jan: End of Quarter 2 and Semester 1
        Mon 19 Jan: Quarter 3 After School Activities begin
        Wed 21 Jan: Semester 1 report cards go home
        Thu 22 Jan: AISB Board meeting (all are invited) 6:30 - 9:00 PM
        Sat 24 Jan: Panto & Skits at AISB featuring students, faculty, & community members, 6PM
        Thu 29 Jan: Elementary assembly featuring Grade 1/2, 7:35 - 7:55am
        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

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