Sunday, November 1, 2015

October 19th - October 30th

News of the Week:  October 19th - 30th, 2015

Hello 4th and 5th grade families!

We have had a very busy last week and a half!  Read below to learn what we've been up to. You can find some photos from our field trip at the end of this post.

Mali Health Project:  This past Monday we had the opportunity to visit the Mali Health office to learn about Ebola from a local doctor.  There, we met the 20 students that will work on the project with us.  We also visited a Malian school and AISB students were able to take a peek into what life is like for the majority of children in the city. This is very important because our graphic novel will be designed and written with them as our intended audience.  We will be keeping them in mind as we create the novel to make sure that it is something that they can relate to.  This past Friday, the same 20 students, a couple of their teachers, and a few Mali Health employees joined us to work on story boarding and taking the photos that we will soon turn into illustrations.  Communication was difficult at first but the students were able to break through barriers and complete the task at hand.  It was quite impressive!  Tendresse said it best when she said, "It was weird.  Usually things don't work like that.  It started off hard but actually ended up good!" We will see these new friends in about a month's time during our celebration once the novel is complete.

Reading:  Rather than beginning another whole group novel, we will be reading high-quality children's books and short stories to help us practice various reading skills.  We have recently read Eve Bunting's Fly Away Home and Sherry Garland's The Lotus Seed to practice the QAR strategy; QAR stands for Question-Answer-Relationship.  It is used to help students identify different levels of questioning and where we can find the answers to our questions (in one place in the text, in many places, with clues from the author, through our own connections).  We have also practiced the strategy of drawing conclusions; combining many inferences to come to a final conclusion about a text.  This worked especially well with the short, suspenseful story we read titled The Landlady by Roald Dahl. Students interacted with the text and compiled their inferences. Students are creating a well-planned paragraph that proposes and supports what they believe will be the main character's fate.

Writing:  As students are working on typing up their final drafts (it is taking much longer than anticipated!) we are using our work in reading to practice for our next writing unit.  We are using "proposition and support" language to make a strong statement and support it with details/evidence from the text.  This quarter's writing unit is on personal and persuasive essays.  We have also recently begun a daily, 5-minute "drop everything and write!" activity.  Students write to a different prompt each day and practice expressing their ideas quickly, clearly, and confidently.  So far, they love it.

Math:  The fourth graders have been hard at work on multiplication strategies.  They have worked with finding factors and multiples of a given number as well as discovering patterns for multiplying across various place values.  Students reviewed rounding and estimating and used place value patterns to find the product mentally.  The fifth graders have been focusing on long division.  We looked at the distributive property of division as well as partial products.  Students are eager to attempt more difficult problems.  I often hear, "can we try to divide a number in the millions?" Getting a strong foundation in dividing with a one-digit divisor will be very important for what's coming next: two-digit divisors!

Science: We took a slight detour from learning about different systems to focus on Ebola for our Mali Health project.  Students took notes on various videos and read a variety of articles that taught about Ebola's history, symptoms, how to protect yourself, and the different pathways scientists are researching in hopes to find a cure and a vaccine.  The high school Science teacher, Sarah Laupidus, was working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone when the most recent outbreak hit.  She came in to speak with our class and share her experience.  The students were able to conduct an interview with a first-hand source!

Regular science lessons will recommence in the upcoming week.

Upcoming Dates:

November 6th:  Parent-Teacher Conferences
November 26th:  Thanksgiving, No School

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