Friday, October 16, 2015

News of the Week: 10/12/15 - 10/16/15

October 12th - October 16th

Hello 4th and 5th grade families!

We had an exciting week of presentations.  Thank you to those who were able to attend the assembly this week.  This afternoon we were able to perform our reader's theater to the 2/3 class.  The students did a wonderful job at both and we ended the week sharing compliments and appreciations to each other for a successful week of team work.  

Reading:  This week in reading, students worked on fluency and expression during their reader's theatre and assembly presentation preparation.  We continued with using the FQR strategy while reading challenging non-fiction.  Students also got some time to delve into their independent reading books.  

Writing:  The students have been working hard to finish their stories, peer edit, and make the changes their peer suggests.  It has been great to see the students reflect carefully on their own writing as well as their peer's writing, giving compliments and making suggestions.  Typing will be next week.  

Math:  In both levels we worked with the basics of algebra.  Students discovered the importance of word order in variable expressions and began to evaluate expressions and write some of their own.
In grade 4, we worked on the properties of multiplication and investigated strategies to find all factors of given numbers.
In grade 5 - the students modeled division with place value blocks, reviewed the algorithm for long division and why it works, and began looking at the difference between multiplication patterns and division patterns with zeros.  

Science:  This week we learned all about the muscular system!  Students learned about skeletal muscle, smooth muscle, and cardiac muscle.  They also did an investigation of different muscles to determine if they were voluntary, involuntary, or both.  We tested the arm, leg, pupil, eyelid, heart, and lungs!  We were also able to draw conclusions about our chicken bone that had been submerged in vinegar for a week.  Brave students tested it and concluded that it became weak and very bendable! We deduced that the calcium was eaten away and so the bone lost its strength.  Teams are working well on their "Journey through the Human Body" stories.

Upcoming Dates:

October 20th:  Individual and group yearbook photos taken 
October 21st:  End of Quarter 1
October 22nd and 23rd:  No school
October 27th:  Field trip to a local school in Sikoro
October 30th:  Students from Sikoro to visit AISB
November 2nd:  Quarter 2 After School Activities begin

Enjoy some photos from this week!

Friday, October 9, 2015

News of the Week: October 5th - 9th, 2015

October 5th - 9th, 2015

Hello 4th and 5th grade families!

Here's a look into what we've done this week.  Enjoy some pictures of the kids enjoying each other's projects and having fun in Science at the end of the post!

Reading:  This week in Reading we were focusing on two non-fiction reading strategies that we will continue next week.  The first is called "FQR" or Facts, Questions, Responses.  Together we looked at a timeline of early African history and pictures of thriving kingdoms.  We also noticed change over time on maps showing borders (tribal and later country borders).  We read an article on the history of Africa and jotted down interesting facts and questions and responses related to those facts.  Once we were done, we decided on the main question the article answered for us and used that question as a focus for our question web.  We reread the text and added answers to our question web. Now students are in small groups focusing on children, poverty, agriculture/famine, and development in Africa.  These two strategies (FQR and a question-focused reread) are helpful for challenging non-fiction.  We are practicing these strategies to increase our success with understanding what we are reading when we do independent research.

Writing:  We focused on adding setting and rewriting our leads and endings this week.  Over the weekend, those who haven't finished drafting their scenes are expected to finish.  Next week we will be self-editing and peer-editing and spending sessions in the lab to type up our stories.  The students now have usernames and passwords so they can practice to improve their typing speed and accuracy.  Their login information is the same as it is for IXL.

4th grade - We ended our addition/subtraction unit with some multi-step problem solving and students began working with relating multiplication and division. Students recognized and modeled how division is similar to repeated subtraction just like multiplication is similar to repeated addition. We also practiced some work with variables (finding the unknown).

5th grade - The fifth graders finished their unit on multiplication, practicing mental math strategies such as using powers of 10 and the distributive property.  We also had time to practice multiplication by 1 and 2-digits using the algorithm.  Long multiplication takes many steps and if students are not fluent with their facts, it is unlikely they will be successful with this concept.

 Practicing math facts at home each night is very important for both the 4th and the 5th graders!

Science:  We began our unit on the human body this week!  Our first system was the skeletal system. Students participated in centers constructing the skull and putting together the skeleton.  We made hypotheses about what will happen to a chicken bone if it is submerged in a jar of vinegar for one week; we will draw some conclusions next week when our experiment is complete.  We also made connections to how bones' structure is related to their function and began the first bit of the project we will be doing throughout the unit: writing a story about a journey through the human body!  Students are paired up and each team has designed a vehicle that will enter a human of their choice.  Students will be showing their learning in many fun and interesting ways.

Upcoming Events:

October 15th:  4/5 will put on a small reader's theater at the morning assembly
October 19th:  End of After School Activities for Quarter 1
October 21st:  End of Quarter 1

Friday, October 2, 2015

9/29 - 10/2: News of the Week

September 29th - October 2nd, 2015

Hello 4/5 Families!

I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing break last week.  During this short week, we had MAP testing. All students were focused and gave their best effort.  This test is one way teachers can see what each student knows at this point and where their strengths and weaknesses lie.  Using this information, we can adapt our instruction and activities in the hopes of this resulting in greater academic growth for all.

Reading:  Students worked hard to finish their DRAs and their reading projects.  If students were not able to finish, they are expected to finish them independently at home this weekend  We also began our word study groups.  Students are grouped by their level of phonics understanding and are working to sort words based on various criteria and to find similar words in a variety of texts.  So far, it's going really well and the students are very engaged.

Math:  We focused mainly on problem solving when we had time for Math this week.  The students are learning various strategies to find elapsed time.  You may have seen a problem solving homework sheet go home this week.  I understand that multi-step word problems are a challenge for many students.  Using the graphic organizer provided, students are able to inquire more deeply about the problem in front of them, even if they are not able to reach an answer at the end.  I have told students to do what they can and to try different strategies.  I do not expect all students to be able to correctly complete this kind of work independently.  

Next week, we will resume the normal schedule in each subject area.  We will be starting with our first Science unit of the year:  The Human Body!

Upcoming Dates:
October 15th - Grades 4/5 hosts assembly
October 21- End of First Quarter
October 22nd and 23rd - No school

Enjoy some pictures of the students hard at work this week!