Friday, May 15, 2015

News of the Week: 18 - 22 May 2015

All AISB library books are due on Wednesday 22 May. Please make sure your child checks at home and returns all books to school!

Last week we continued our new reading unit based on the science fiction novel The Forgotten Door, by Alexander Key. Our reading skill focus is analyzing how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. So to help students understand the theme of The Forgotten Door, they will explore similar science fiction themes in songs, TV shows, poems, and movies. 

Last week we looked at the the themes of ET: The Extraterrestrial, the song "Heartlight" by Neil Diamond, an 1965 episode of the TV program Twilight Zone called "To Serve Man," and two alien-themed poems. Students were able to identify the science fiction subgenres and plot lines and compare them with the themes in our novel.

We also begin using a theatre technique called story dramatization in which students take part of the text and bring it to life in a performance. This requires them to analyze the scene in the novel to understand character motivation, and to really zero in on what the author is trying to say. Another interesting aspect of story dramatization is that students can take on the roles of objects--trees, a fireplace, a car--as well as human (or alien) roles. 

Once the performance ends we have a reflection session to decide if the scene performed gave us the correct message from the novel.

Here are a few photos from their performances this week:

In the coming week we continue reading the story and performing story dramatization scenes. Students will also analyze two episodes from alien-themed children's programs, as well as a clip from the movie "Starman."

  • Ask your child to compare and contrast Mork, the aliens in the song "Two Little Men in a Flying Saucer," ET, the Kanamets, and the aliens in both poems (Mork is interested in life on Earth and tries to blend in so he can stay; the aliens in the song find life on Earth horrible and want to leave immediately; the Kanamets want to use humans as a food source, ET just wants to get home,etc.)
    • Ask your child to describe the story dramatizations performed this past week." What role did he/she have? How did he/she use imagination, face/body, and voice to play the role? Whish scene was the best? Who was the best actor and why?
    • Ask your child to describe what we've read so far in "The Forgotten Door." What does the Bean family think about Little Jon? (They are beginning tosuspect he's not from Earth.)
    • Ask your child what book they are reading for their Read to Succeed homework. If he/she is reading a fiction book, ask questions about the story...who is the main character? What does this main character want? What's standing in the way of that character getting what he/she wants? What are your favorite parts so far? If they are reading a non-fiction book, ask what facts they have learned. Did any of the facts surprise them?
    • 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). I'm currently administering the Developmental Reading Assessment that requires reading aloud to me, and I then score the fluency I observed. Practicing with your child now could really prepare them for this assessment and will help make them a better reader overall.


    Last week Grade 4 students looked at lines of symmetry, and took the chapter test on geometry. At this point students have experienced all of the Grade 4 math benchmarks multiple times, and have finished both volumes of the math workbook. For the remainder of the year we will review some of the Grade 5 benchmarks in preparation for next year!

    Last week, Grade 5 students looked at composite figures (three-dimensional figures made of individual cubes) to determine volume, then took the chapter test on geometry. At this point students have experienced all of the Grade 5 math benchmarks multiple times, and have finished both volumes of the math workbook. For the remainder of the year we will review some of the Grade 6 benchmarks in preparation for next year!

    Last week students continued work for their literary essay. They create a final thesis statement, and came up with ideas for three supporting paragraphs. On Friday they made bullet lists of what they intend to include in each supporting paragraph.

    In the coming week I'll introduce them to some strategies for writing excellent supporting paragraphs, including using mini-stories, lists, and calling out examples of the author's craftsmanship.

    Second Semester Writing Prompt
    The second semester writing prompts are completed and scored. I'll be sending them home for your review (along with the essay they write at the beginning of the year also).

    Is your child a competent keyboarder? Here is a great online resource to learn and practice keyboarding:

    • Ask your child to explain the short story they chose to write about. Why did they choose this particular story?
    • Ask him/her to describe the thesis statement he/she developed for their literary essay.
    • What will his/her supporting paragraphs look like?

      We continued with our final science unit of the year, Human Growth and Development. This important unit focuses on the physical, emotional, and cognitive changes that occur in children as they grow.

      Last week we looked at ways of handling our emotions and expressing our emotions appropriately. We also explored self esteem, and how one can maintain high self esteem. It prompted much discussion that could have lasted all day!

      • Ask your child to explain positive and negative emotions.
      • How can we maintain more positive emotions?
      • What is self esteem? How can we maintain high self esteem? What happens to people who have low self esteem?


      Wed 20 May: All library books due
      Thu 21 May: Elementary assembly featuring Beg. French, 7:35 - 7:55AM
      Fri 22 May: Q4 after school activities end
      Mon 25 May: No school: Africa Day
      Thu 28 May: Very special whole school assembly, 7:30 (details to follow!)

      Thu 4 June: High School graduation ceremony, MPR, 6:00 PM
      Fri 5 June: Last day of school 
      Fri 5 June: final assembly 10:45 AM; students dismissed 11:45 AM

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