Saturday, February 28, 2015

News of the Week: 2 - 6 March 2015

READING

Last week we completed our reading unit "Human Rights & Wrongs" that focused on the forced internment of Japanese-Americans into prison camps in the U.S. during WWII. We analyzed another painting by another Japanese American artist who was in an internment camp.



Henry Sugimoto, Japanese American (1900-1990)
Junk Shop Man Taking Refrigerator Without Paying for It (ca. 1942)



We also read another short work of historical fiction, The Bracelet, by Yoshiko Ushida. In this heartbreaking story a young Japanese American girl goes to an internment camp with her family, and loses a bracelet a friend has given her as a way to remember their friendship. She eventually realizes that memories stay alive in your heart.


Students also read the actual packing directions in the governments orders to the Japanese Americans, then tried to create a list of approved items that they would have taken. They found this quite challenging, especially having to do this quickly (as many of the Japanese Americans had to do).


Finally, students were introduced to the culminating project: creating an abstract work of art based on one of the poems we read in class about the internment. I introduced them to the work of notable abstract artists, including Mark Rothko, Agnes Martin, Piet Mondrian, Georges Braque, and Yayoi Kusama.


Flower, 1954
Yayoi Kusama, Japanese, b. 1929

gouache on paper



Red, Orange, Tan, & Purple, 1949
Mark Rothko, 1903 - 1970

Oil on canvas



Students learned that abstract art represents emotions rather than actual objects. So they chose one of the poems, determined the emotion(s), and went to work. They also wrote an artist statement describing their work and their inspiration. I'll showcase them in the blog next week when the artist statements are completed. In the meantime, here's a sneak peak:









HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT READING AT HOME THIS WEEK
  • Ask your child to explain the meaning of the painting above (a Japanese American family is losing all possessions before going to an internment camp)
  • Ask your child to discuss the story The Bracelet, explaining that lesson that Emi learned after losing the bracelet her friend gave her. (She learned that her memories of her friend and her father are always in her heart)
  • Ask your child to explain what items he/she listed on the packing list. Was it difficult deciding what to bring?
  • 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). 




MATH



Last week Grade 4 students explored the relationship between decimals and fractions, then tried their hand at adding decimals. They also took a test on the concepts learned so far, and I'm pleased to say everyone was successful!

In the coming week students begin a new chapter on customary measurement (US measurements), focusing on length and weight. They will also explore converting these measurements to the metric system.

Here is a video about customary units of capacity:











Last week, Grade 5 students dealt with subtracting mixed numbers, both with like and unlike denominators. In the coming week they explore multiplying fractions and mixed numbers.

Here is a video explanation of multiplying fractions:







HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT MATH AT HOME THIS WEEK

Have your child try some of these online games to practice the math skills we learned before break:
  • Grade 4 or 5 - Fruit Splat Fraction Addition:  http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/mathgames/fractions/FruitShootFractionsAddition.htm
  • Grade 4  - Measurement Mania: Length  http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/mathgames/measurement/measurement_mania_imperial.htm

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




    WRITING

    Last week I read the first drafts of the essays and offered feedback. Students then made revisions based on my comments. I'll score the final drafts this week using the Six Traits + 1 rubrics, giving individual scores for ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation. This week we also begin a new writing unit of fiction writing.

    In grammar last week we explored run-on and rambling sentences, as well as sentences with double negatives.


    HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT WRITING AT HOME THIS WEEK
    • Review your child's final draft (he/she typed it in Google Docs).
    • Ask your child to explain how to fix run-on sentences  (add a period or a comma and a connecting word).





    SCIENCE/SERVICE LEARNING

    Last week we completed the text of the story in English, and sent it off to the French teachers where they will oversee the translation into French by their middle school students. Students also continued the illustration work of the 60 plus illustrations. In the coming week we will scan the illustrations and import them into the comic software program, adding the text and dialogue bubbles.




















    LITERACY DAY












    COMING SOON

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

    APRIL
    Wed 1 April: Q3 report cards sent home
    Thu 2 April: Elementary assembly featuring Ms. Jacoby, 7:35 - 7:55am
    Mon 6 April: No School, Easter holiday
    Thu 16 April: Elementary assembly featuring Grade 3, 7:35 - 7:55am
    Thu 23 April: AISB Board meeting (all are invited) 6:30 PM
    Thu 30 April: Elementary assembly featuring PreK 3/4, 7:35 - 7:55am

    MAY
    Fri 1 May: No school: Labor Day holiday
    Mon 4 May: Q4 Progress Reports sent home for selected students
    Thu 7 May: AISB Board meeting (all are invited) 6:30 PM
    Thu 14 May: AISB General Meeting
    Thu 14 May: Elementary assembly featuring PreK 2, 7:35 - 7:55am
    Fri 8 May: Parent-Teacher-Student conferences
    Mon 25 May: No school: Africa Day
    Thu 28 May: Elementary assembly featuring Beg. French, 7:35 - 7:55am



    Friday, February 20, 2015

    News of the Week: 23 - 27 February 2015

    OUR SERVICE LEARNING PROJECT IN ACTION!

    Last week we dived headfirst into our service learning project. Service learning is a method of teaching that combines classroom instruction with meaningful community service.

    In our case the classroom instruction revolves around:

    • science (microorganisms, disease, malnutrition, proper hygiene, adequate sanitation, clean water)
    • writing (constructing a fictional plot, creating a finished story with dialogue, editing, revising)
    • social studies (research about malnutrition and Malian history)
    • math (statistics about malnutrition, safe water, proper hygiene, and adequate sanitation
    • visual art (graphic novel design, illustration)
    • technology (using comic software)

    The meaningful community service includes:

    • partnering with Mali Health Organizing Project, a local NGO whose mission is to reduce maternal and child mortality in resource-poor communities in West Africa, to support their current goal of reducing malnutrition in Bamako
    • partnering with students at three local elementary schools, all members of their school's health club, to create a graphic novel on malnutrition, then distributing hundreds of copies to the schools

    The benefits a student receives from service learning are many:

    • Increase understanding of the class topic
    • Explore values and beliefs
    • Have opportunities to act on your values and beliefs
    • Develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills
    • Grow understanding of diverse cultures and communities
    • Learn more about social issues and their root causes
    • Improve ability to be open to change; become more flexible
    • Develop or enhance skills, especially in the areas of communication, collaboration, and leadership
    • Test out skills, interests, and values in a potential career path
    • Connect with professionals and community members who you will learn from
    • Satisfy your urge toward public service or civic participation

    This week our Grade 4-5 students completed storyboards for the graphic novel. 











    On Wednesday we visited the Sikoro neighborhood of Bamako to visit a school and clinic, and to hear a lecture on malnutrition by Mali Health's doctor. 















    On Thursday 19 local health club students visited our classroom for the day, helping us to revise the story, posing for photos that we'll use as the basis for illustrations, and exploring the comic software our students will use to create the graphic novel.























    Next week, for part of each day, we will be hard at work creating all of the illustrations, scanning them, and importing them into the comic software. We will also add all text and dialogue.


    Again, a HUGE thank you to the parents/organizations/businesses who have donated funds to support the publishing of our graphic novels. We couldn't do this without you!




    READING

    Last week we read five poems about the internment camps, and students determined the level of emotions represented in the poem. Next week in reading we will continue our "Human Rights & Wrongs" unit that focuses on the forced internment of Japanese-Americans into prison camps in the U.S. during WWII.

    We will analyze another painting by a Japanese American artist who was in one of the camps for three years, read another story set during this time, and create a work of abstract art that represents the emotions in one of the poems we read about the internment camps.


    HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT READING AT HOME THIS WEEK
    • Ask your child to discuss the poems we read in class. What kind of figurative language did the different poets use? Which poem touched their emotions the most?
    • 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). 




    MATH



    Last week Grade 4 students explored decimals to the hundredths place. In the coming week they look at the connection between decimals and fractions, and use place value and models to add decimals.








    Last week, Grade 5 students added mixed numbers with like and unlike denominators. In the coming week they will subtract mixed numbers, subtract mixed numbers while renaming, and take the Chapter 9 test.

    Here is a video explanation of adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators:





    HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT MATH AT HOME THIS WEEK

    Have your child try some of these online games to practice the math skills we learned before break:
    • Grade 4 or 5 - Fruit Splat Fraction Addition:  http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/mathgames/fractions/FruitShootFractionsAddition.htm

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




      WRITING

      Last week students continued finished their first essay draft and posted it to Google Docs. I'll provide feedback, as will a peer, and students will revise and edit to create a final draft.



      HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT WRITING AT HOME THIS WEEK
      • Ask to read your child's essay draft, and give feedback as needed.



      COMING SOON

      FEBRUARY
      Wed 25 Feb: AISB Literacy Day
      Thu 26 Feb: Elementary assembly featuring Music, 7:35 - 7:55am
      Fri 27 Feb: PTO meeting, 7:30 AM

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

      APRIL
      Wed 1 April: Q3 report cards sent home
      Mon 6 April: No School, Easter holiday
      Thu 23 April: AISB Board meeting (all are invited) 6:30 PM