Saturday, February 28, 2015

News of the Week: 2 - 6 March 2015


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:

  • 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). 


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:


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:
  • Grade 4  - Measurement Mania: Length

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


    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.

    • 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).


    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.



    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

    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

    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

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