Friday, January 23, 2015

News of the Week: 26 - 30 January 2015


Don't miss "A Night for the Wolves," a British Panto presented tomorrow (Saturday, 24 January) at 6:00 PM in the AISB Habib Koite Theatre. There are three plays that include AISB middle and high school students as well as AISB teachers! The cost is 3000 cfa/person.


Next week we begin a science unit on "Small Things." This will focus on cells, microorganisms, etc. It will also be part of 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.

This year's project involves our students creating a plot for the graphic novel, including facts they learned in our science class, creating illustrations, and inputting it all into a comic software program. They will also collaborate with local Malian students on this project. The local Malian kids will visit our classroom for a day, and we will also see them when we visit the Sikoro neighborhood for a lecture on health issues presented by Mali Health.

This year our service learning project involves many other teachers at AISB--Ms. Arn will work with our students to create a health-related song for our graphic novel, Ms. Chofi will work with ESOL students on the technical vocabulary in the story, Madame Isabelle and Monsieur Berry will work with French students to translate our English story into French, and Mrs. Anderson and Ms. Schultz will help us develop some interesting sports activities that relate to the health topics we are learning. Now that's what you call collaboration!

BUT...we need some help. We need:

  • funding for the printing of our graphic novels (around $1000 US)
  • funding to buy school supplies for our Malian student friends (around $400)
  • someone to help us organize a celebration event during the school day for the ending of the project, in which we invite our students and the Malian students (apx. 50 students total). Last year the Danish ambassador's wife hosted a party at her home where the kids ate, danced, and swam. She recruited other parents to bring food and drinks too.
If you or your company/organization can help with funding, or if you are willing to help with the ending celebration, please let me know ASAP. We would really appreciate your assistance!


Middle School students are sponsoring "Spirit Week" in the coming week to foster goodwill and support among students and faculty. Students are invited to dress up for each themed day next week:

Monday: Pajama Day
Tuesday: Nerd Day
Wednesday: Gender Bender Day
Thursday: Crazy Hair
Friday: 80s Party Day


Last week we completed the novel "The Sign of the Beaver" by Elizabeth George Speare. Throughout this unit students have practiced the skill of identifying the symbolism that the author used to make us understand the story. Last week we explored the symbolic art of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, looking at examples of their work as well as short clips about their process. Here is a short clip from 1982 about the unique and inspiring work of Keith Haring:

Students have also explored stereotypes, and throughout the novel identified instances of stereotyping of American Indians in the novel.

The final chapters of the book included these vocabulary words:

content (peaceful happiness)
reproach (to criticize)
meager (lacking in quantity)
companion (someone you keep company with)
sparingly (in moderation)
marvel (filled with wonder and surprise)

In the coming week students will complete a visual art project based on symbolism. They first will list their own character traits, hobbies, and things that are important to them. Then they will create a symbol for each of these. Finally they will use their symbols to create an artwork in the style of one of the artists we studied during this unit (Jean-Michel Basquiat, Marc Chagall, Keith Haring) or in the style of a Dogon door, another style of art we explored.

 Jean-Michel Basquiat

 Marc Chagall

Keith Haring

 Dogon Door

Also in the coming week we will begin a unit based around the short story "Train to Somewhere." This is a historical fiction story by Eve Bunting. It's 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. 

Here are the students doing partner reading. This is their chance to demonstrate how they can read fluently and with expression. I very much enjoyed the voices they gave the various characters!

 k'an bεn is not very impressed with partner reading.

  • Ask your child to discuss the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Where did he get his ideas? (from an accident he had, from an anatomy book his mom gave him, from his ideas about race and prejudice, etc.).What symbols did he use and what did they represent? (crown = power, halo = good person).
  • Ask your child to discuss the art of Keith Haring. Where did he get his start? (drawing pictures in the subway.).What symbols did he use and what did they represent? (e.g. baby =  goodness, life, etc.).
  • We knew that the sign of the beaver in the story showed that a certain tribe hunted in that are. But what could this sign also represent? (e.g. respect for others)
      • 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 compared and ordered fractions using several methods including cross multiplication (their favorite method!), finding the greatest factor, using number lines, and identifying the least common multiple. We also began studying mixed numbers on Friday.

      This week students look at improper fractions, take a test on all of the fraction concepts they've learned in Chapter 8, and will add and subtract like fractions.

      Here is a video introduction to adding and subtracting fractions:

      Last week, Grade 5 students began an exploration of fractions including finding the greatest common factor and changing a fraction to simplest form. Students also practiced some problem solving using the guess/check/revise strategy.

      In the coming week they will study least common multiple, will compare fractions, will use models to write fractions and decimals, and will take 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 we focused on taking our essay topics and expanding them by using prompts. For example, if a student's essay idea was "People should treat animals better," we can ask them to:

        - give an example (donkeys are beaten, horses are very thin)
        - explain what this makes them realize (people ignore an animal's welfare)
        - describe the reason for this (people don't always value animals)
        - show what other things this idea connects to (treating people better too)

        They can use these expanded ideas to make their essay idea even better. "People should treat animals better" might become "If we believe that every person deserves respect, we should believe that every animal deserves respect."

        Next week students learn how to write a great thesis statement, and how to organize an essay.

        In grammar we focused again on "using the right word," looking at the correct use of homophones like they're, their, and there.

        • Ask your child what idea he/she has settled on for an essay. Did he/she expand this idea? How?


        This week we completed our social studies unit on ancient Greece. All teams met every challenge presented and sailed their ship to Ithaca. As promised, the class received an award--popcorn and watching a movie about a Greek myth, Jason and the Argonauts. They also took the final test on this unit.

        Here are some photos from the final challenge in which teams did a tableau for two scenes from The Adventures of Odysseus. The scenes were so well performed that the audience guessed the scene every time. Check out those amazing facial expressions! Good acting, students!

        • Ask your child to describe the ending of the story of Odysseus. (He finally gets to Ithaca and reunites with his family). 
        • Ask your child how he/she did on the final test, and ask to see it (it is in their social studies notebook).


        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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