April 8, 2016: AISB is Growing


AISB Newsletter

Vol. 11.6 | April 8, 2016

In this issue: 


From the Director

AISB is Growing

It was a busy third quarter at AISB -- for many students, the most intense and productive learning and “growing” period of the year. The AISB student body itself is growing, too: we currently have 195 students enrolled and we’ll be at 197 by month’s end. There is a good chance that we will pass the symbolic 200-student mark by the end of the year.  

Below are a few of the other important ways in which AISB grew during 3rd quarter.

Strategic Planning: Looking at the future growth of the school

Representatives from all stakeholder groups of the AISB community gathered for a day long workshop on March 12th to initiate the board’s Strategic Planning process.  The group, which included parents, students, teachers, administrative staff and members of our Board, spent a long and energetic Saturday together, sharing their vision for the school, considering its mission, reviewing our values and beliefs, and beginning to map out the school’s future in light of these.  It was an intense and rewarding session, with many voices and much learning, and we emerged with valuable understandings about our school, our community, and our way forward. Another session is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 7th.

Processes like these depend for their success on the participation of the community. We would like to thank sincerely all the participants in this process to date, and we look forward to the next steps in this important process. We hope to unveil our Strategic Plan by year’s end.

 Report Cards: Reporting on and planning for student growth

Report cards should be more than simply a numerical record of what a student has achieved. Many good schools are currently in the process of ensuring that their system of reporting gives parents and students qualityinformation about an individual student’s learning: how the individual student learns; their learning strengths and particular challenges; what they’ve learned and how their learning was assessed; next steps and strategies to help the student’s future learning; information about the nature of their achievement (as opposed to just the level of it) and so on.

A partnership between home and school

You may have noticed that your child’s report cards have much more feedback in the form of comments from teachers, nowadays; in fact on average our secondary reports have doubled in length compared to previous years, and the content has changed significantly as well. In elementary, we have expanded the number of standards that we report on for student achievement in mathematics to include process in addition to content, and have added some further details to the content standards.  The goal is to share with parents information they can use to build a clearer picture of their child’s experience at school, to better understand and help their child’s learning.  We invite parents to discuss report cards with their children and have provided some suggestions on how best to do that here.

Breaking Ground: Our campus is growing, too!

Students returned from their spring break to find that work has begun on AISB’s long-awaited pool project.

Knowing how to be safe in and around water is important for everyone. Swim lessons, along with lessons in CPR and life-saving, are crucial to helping ensure that young people stay safe. And more: swimming is one of the activities that can keep us healthy and fit throughout our lives.

The life-long skill of swimming, and more...

The new pools will form an attractive and dynamic context for learning in PE throughout the year, not only for “learning to swim,” but for developing the same physical and strategic thinking skills, learning and practice habits, that underlie the whole PE curriculum.  The project is more than that, though;  it’s going to provide ongoing opportunities for engaging students in learning across the curriculum. In the words of science teacher Veronique Mayer, “Why wouldn’t you learn about density while floating in the pool?”

The 25m pool will be suitable for competitive events as well.


Here is the architect’s rendering of the final product, scheduled to be completed by early in the coming school year.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 11.53.51 AM.png

You will find some of the technical details about the project here.

And finally...

We’re look forward to hearing about the Istanbul MUN conference from our student delegates, returning Saturday; they’ve had a great trip, and you’ll find photos later in this newsletter. Literacy Week is next week, and you’ll find a listing of all the Elementary activities later in the newsletter as well.  Secondary classes will also be involved learning and reflecting activities related to the importance of literacy, throughout the week.   Next week will also see the start of Spring MAP testing.

See you at school,



PS. Something interesting: What our teachers are reading/watching for professional growth

A selection of readings, TED Talks and more, from AISB teachers’ professional reading group. Get a taste into some of the current research informing best practice in teaching today.


Talking to your child about report cards and grades

As you look over the report with your child it's important to keep in mind that report cards, though important, offer only one window on your child’s learning experiences at AISB.

We invite you to consider the following:

Help your child understand that grades are not the most important thing:

The comments section of the report provides deeper insight into what your child is learning and doing in class, the successes and challenges he or she is encountering, and suggestions that might help your child learn more effectively. It is important to remember that many students suffer from grade anxiety, which can interfere with their learning. Focusing first and foremost on the letter grade your child has received can exacerbate this kind of anxiety, and can direct your child’s attention away from what matters most. Try to keep the focus on learning rather than the external measures of it.

Take this opportunity to start – or continue – a dialogue about learning.

Ask your child what she or he enjoys about learning—what makes learning most effective, what sorts of ideas are most engaging—and what implications these strengths and preferences have for his or her life choices. Grading measures only some aspects of a child’s intellectual and personal growth; there are others, not easily quantified but well worth recognizing. It’s worth asking your children how they feel they have grown lately, and about challenges they have faced and how they have met them. Their answers might surprise you.

Ask your child about what we can do — school and parents, working together as a team — to support his or her learning.

Student academic success is closely linked to a strong and cooperative relationship between home and school. This relationship can look very different for students of different ages and personalities, and depends also on family circumstances. Some children appreciate more parental involvement in their schooling than others do. And as students grow older and more independent, parent involvement -- though still important -- evolves considerably.

Report cards are an important way to help our students understand themselves as learners, recognize their accomplishments, and find new direction for the future. As we conclude this quarter we congratulate our students on their many successes in learning and growing.


Spring MAP Testing: April 11-22

Dear Parents of 1st–10th Graders,

AISB will administer Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests for all students in grades 1-10 from April 11-22, 2016. This will be the second round of MAP testing at AISB this year and the results help us to determine each student’s instructional level and to measure academic growth throughout the school year, and from year to year. Students are tested in the areas of: Reading, Language Usage and Math.

The tests are administered on the computer and are unique in that they adapt to the level of a student’s knowledge and skills, for instance younger students take most of the test with an audio component, and older students can be challenged by 12th grade level content. As a result, each student has the same opportunity to succeed and maintain a positive attitude toward testing. During the testing period, your child will spend a total of approximately three hours completing these tests.

After the completion of testing, we receive detailed results for each student. Teachers use data from the MAP tests to inform their instructional planning and we will share the full MAP reports for your child with you at the Parent-Teacher Conferences on Friday, May 13th.

There is more information about parent resources and MAP testing at www.nwea.org.



BYOD Purchase Guide

With Quarter 4 underway, it’s quite likely that families are planning their summer vacation. Thoughts may also be turning to preparations for the 2016-17 academic year, and specifically to the possible purchase of new laptops as part of AISB’s  Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program.

To be able to fully participate in our programs of instruction, it is expected that every student in Grade 6 to 12 will have their own laptop. This is a significant investment in your student’s education, and to make sure that they get the full benefit of this there are a number of requirements that need to be met.

Our experience in the first year of BYOD at AISB suggests that devices which are older than about three years tend to experience a higher rate of hardware failure and software incompatibility. If you plan on supplying an older device, please contact the Technology department for advice about its suitability.

If you are planning purchasing a new device for the 2016-17 year, we ask that you keep the following things in mind; a more detailed guide and discussion can be found here:

  • We do not require a specific operating system, but ask that you choose between Apple or Windows. Your decision could depend on what other devices in your household use.

  • As much as practical, consider the build quality of laptop and its durability.

  • The minimum technical specifications for new devices:

    • A laptop (Chromebooks, netbooks, tablets and smartphones are not suitable)

    • 13” screen

    • Intel i5 / 1.6GHz processor (or AMD equivalent)

    • 4Gb of RAM

    • 100Gb of available storage

    • Camera and microphone

    • Battery with 5 - 6 hours life

    • Windows  (8.1 or 10, Professional preferred) / Mac OSX (Yosemite or El Capitan)

    • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and PowerPoint minimum)

    • Internet security software (eg Kaspersky, Bit Defender, F-Secure)

  • Other accessories to consider:

    • Portable hard disk drive, for backing up and archiving files

    • Sturdy case for transporting the laptop to school, and between classes

    • Extra power adapter

    • Wireless mouse

    • A way to personalise the laptop and make it easier to identify eg protective skins, keyboard covers

Some examples of devices that meet our minimum requirements are shown below; this is not an endorsement for any particular model. The prices listed were taken from Newegg (newegg.com) on March 22, 2016. It is certainly worth considering devices that exceed our minimum requirements, as they are more likely to be able to keep up with changing demands of operating systems and software for a longer period of time.

If you like advice about a specific model of laptop, please feel free to contact the Technology Department (itcoordinator@aisbmali.org). Further advice and discussion about choosing a suitable device can be found at this Microsoft and Intel sponsored website, with a downloadable document available here.


Apple MacBook Air

Processor Intel Core i5, 1.60GHz



Operating System Mac OS X Yosemite

Screen 13.3”

Battery Built-in Lithium-Polymer

Weight 1.3Kg

Lenovo ThinkPad E450

Processor Intel Core i5, 2.20GHz



Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Screen 14”

Battery 6-cell lithium ion

Weight 1.8Kg

Dell Latitude 3450-TM2W6

Processor Intel Core i5, 2.20GHz



Operating System Windows 8.1 Pro

Screen 14”

Battery 3-cell lithium ion

Weight 1.9Kg








Literacy Week

Dear Elementary Parents,

Next week, April 11th to the 15th, will be Literacy Week! Throughout the week, the elementary classes will be doing activities to celebrate the joy of reading and writing. We will detail most of the activities in this email, but you will want to pay special attention to the highlighted activities at the bottom that we hope you can take part in.

Activities include:

  • Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) - Students, teachers, aides, and support staff will all stop whatever they are doing to read a few times throughout the week.
  • Drop Everything and Write (DEAW) - Students, teachers, aides, and support staff will all stop whatever they are doing to write a few times throughout the week.
  • Door Decoration - Students will design the class door based on a specific book or author of their choice. All doors will be awarded a prize!
  • Creative Writing - Students will see many mysterious posters and write a story to accompany one of them.
  • Guess your Teacher's Book Bulletin Board - Each teacher will write a little something about their favorite book and students will guess whose is whose!
  • Mystery Book Swap - Students can bring in any book they are willing to part with and we will wrap it up in brown paper. If students do not bring in a book, we will provide them with one. On the wrapping paper, students will write a general synopsis of the book but won't include the title! Each student will pick a mystery book to unwrap, enjoy, and keep.
  • Literacy Stations - On Friday, classes will rotate through 5 stations doing grade-level, engaging activities about a book.
  • Guest Readers - Throughout the week, parents are invited to come read to their child's class. Please write to your child's teacher to plan a time if you are interested.
  • Breakfast Reading Café - Wednesday from 7:00am - 7:45am. Come read with your child! This event takes place upstairs in the library. Families are encouraged to bring a breakfast food or drink to share. It is also a Pajama Day, so students (and parents) are encouraged to wear their pajamas and cozy up with a good book.
  • Character Parade - Friday at 7:30am. Students can dress as a favorite book character and will parade around the school. You are welcome to come and watch the parade and snap a few photos!

Please don't hesitate to email your child's classroom teachers if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you for breakfast on Wednesday and at the Parade on Friday.

Thanks and have a great week,
The Elementary Team




Expédition au Zoo

La classe des élèves de Kg est partie en expédition au Zoo de Bamako le 29 Février 2016.

kids on zoo playgroundTous les enfants étaient sur le “pied de guerre” et les maîtresses, Miss Shannon et Miss Isabelle étaient en pleine forme ! Et Joël ? un peu fatigué par les préparatifs de son mariage qui arrivait à Grands Pas…

Voici les premières impressions de nos élèves plein d’énergie, sauf Wanyue qui n’en pouvait plus et nous alors ?

Adrian : “Mon animal préféré est le Mamba Vert, les buffles aussi car ils sont très forts ! J’ai aussi adoré le Poisson électrique parce qu’il a plus de “Courant” que dans ma maison… ça c’est marrant ! et la panthère qui peut faire un seul bond de 15 mètres.
Le pique-nique était chouette, je me suis régalé avec mes maîtresses, Joël et mon ami Victor qui nous a rejoint, c’était bien”.

Aurel : “Mon animal préféré est le serpent, le Mamba. J’ai aimé jouer au toboggan et après manger avec mes copains et mes maîtresses. Oh ! j’ai aussi adoré tous les poissons, j’aime les poissons ; certains sont jolis, certains sont dangereux comme le Poisson-Chat qui pique !”.

Ismail : “J’ai aimé tous les animaux sauf les serpents, ça me fait peur… Le pique-nique était bon, je me suis régalé ! C’était bien de partir au zoo avec Miss Shannon, Miss Isabelle et Joël.

Liam : “Mon animal préféré c’est la hyène parce qu’elle rigole ! Si elle rit fort, tu peux casser tes oreilles, si c’est vrai ! J’ai adoré la panthère parce qu’elle saute 15 mètres en une seule fois…. Euh ! j’ai aimé aussi le Poisson électrique parce que quand j’étais bébé, il m’a piqué mais j’ai pas beaucoup pleuré… et le phacochère avec ses cornes pointues… J’ai adoré le pique-nique parce que j’ai mangé du Poulet Yassa, c’est mon plat préféré !”.IMG 8275

When asked what they learned at the zoo…

Aviva: “I learned about the fish that can walk on water and on shore. Also it can swim. I learned about a fish. When it’s sad or normal, it’s just normal. And when it’s happy, it’s belly turns red.”

Kenta: “I learned about the turtles going straight and kind of curved. The female has a flat bottom. I learned about a turtle going on top of another turtle because the other one has a curve in its chest and the female is flat so it can slide easily.

Wanyue: “The turtle has like a hole and some lines sometimes. A fish can walk and on the back it has a little thing. It can dig and go in the ground.”

Noah: “The elephant can eat with his trunk and throw water with his trunk on his back. The white fish can take sand in its mouth and make holes. He throws the sand out.”

So you see, our first field trip was a success! We explored, discovered and had a great time.


Visit our class blog for pictures!




Flood Proof Homes

Hi everyone!

IMG 5289

This week in sixth grade science we were assigned a big task. We were asked to build model homes that would be affordable and that could withstand a large flood. We had to take into consideration the materials that we would use, the cost, the design, as well as making sure that the house would survive a flood. We just finished building and tomorrow, we will be flooding our homes to see if they pass the test.

Wish us luck! 


AISB Community Garden Needs Your Help!

The time has come to eat our vegetables! We were able to give Mrs. Fanta some carrots, tomatoes, beets and green garlic to serve to the student body at lunch last week. THEY WERE DELICIOUS!

IMG 5303       IMG 5304

Now we need some help figuring out what we will do with the empty garden bed. Please take a minute to view our youtube video

If you have any suggestions, please feel free to email Miss Mayer at vmayer@aisbmali.org.


Congratulations Ms Mayer!


AISB is proud to announce that our teacher Veronique Mayer has been awarded the University of Alberta's annual Global Citizenship Award, for her work in athletics within a "global community." The recipient of this award is a person whom the University recognises as having "transcended geography and borders," in contributing successfully to their community. 

We're glad to have you with us, Ms. Mayer!

Mungo Park Field Trip

mungopark 1800899iOn Tuesday, March 8th the 9th grade African History class pretended to be Mungo Park exploring the mighty Niger River.  We sat on the banks of the Niger River at Café Afrique while enjoying lunch and reading some primary sources from Park. 

The day was great and we were easily able to understand how Park met his demise in Nigeria when he was attacked and died by being stoned to death.

The most exciting part of the day was when the students realized that Park was the first European explorer to write that “whatever difference there is between the negro and European, in the conformation of the nose, and the colour of the skin, there is none in the genuine sympathies and characteristic feelings of our common nature.”

Koranic School Field Trip

~ by Paul-Lou Pepin

On the 9th of March 2016, the psychology class of AISB went to the Koranic School of Sotuba to meet with the Imam controlling the school and his students in order to see how they live. When we arrived there, we were welcomed by the Imam who we sat with. He said blessings to welcome us and we started talking with him. We asked him questions about the school and the life every day there and he answered them all in the nicest and most modest way possible. Once we were done with the questions, we were able to visit the school. Sadly, the school is still being built.

At some point, we sat with him and his students in what seemed to be the biggest class of all the school. One by one, three students of the Koranic school started reciting serats that they had learned. Once they were done with the recitation, we all went outside and started doing activities. My group and I played soccer, it was really fun. The other groups played: duck, duck, goose, and relay races. After the activities were finished, we gave them water, oranges, yogurts (which were very kindly donated to us by Mam Cocktail) and patés. I’m sure they enjoyed it a lot.

Finally, we said bye to the imam and the students and left. What I really enjoyed there was to see them smile when we shared foods. You realize how lucky you are compared to some people in life and at that moment your only goal is to make them smile and happy as much as possible. You don’t want anything in return, you just want to see the smiles appear on their faces, that is priceless.

We hope to invite the students to AISB in April and show them what our school looks like.

AISB Faculty Get Googly

https://www.mesacc.edu/sites/default/files/pages/section/news/press-release/images/logosimplek.png               http://dearingelementary.org/students/page34/files/stacks-image-EF9B56B.png

This spring break was professional development time for a number of AISB teachers who joined over 7000 other teachers worldwide for an online learning opportunity hosted by Simple K-12 called Google: Transforming Student Learning.  Simple K-12 describe the online platform as “PD in your PJs”, as it’s done on a Saturday morning (east coast US time). The course included six sessions and covered such topics as using Google Apps to create interactive student and class projects, ways to streamline student collaboration, creating and using virtual explorations through Google Tools, project ideas using Google Hangouts, and education applications for a number of Chrome tools and apps.

The teachers appreciated being able to join an international PD session(without having to travel!) and are hoping to participate in future online events.

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