Friday, February 20, 2015

News of the Week: 23 - 27 February 2015


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!


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.

  • 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). 


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:


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:

    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 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.

    • Ask to read your child's essay draft, and give feedback as needed.


    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

    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

    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

    No comments:

    Post a Comment