Adventures are the best way to learn!

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A Stroll through September

Reflecting back on an eventful and productive month of September, I can’t help but share the same sentiments as the Gr.4 students, who perfect summed up my thoughts with this simple statement: “September is already over?!”

E.L.A: Sitting, Writing, Wishing.

One of the perks to teaching English Language Arts is the opportunity I am given to witness the students’ voices shine through their writing. As writers, the students were challenged to stretch their writing and allow others to enter the worlds they imagined in their minds by adding more descriptive details. While we analyzed different examples of descriptive writing, the students began to see the importance of using sensory details and concrete worlds–since these literary devices help paint an image of what it is they want their readers to imagine.

At this point, students were raring to write their own descriptive paragraphs. Students were asked to choose a place important to them. They then wrote paragraphs upon paragraphs where they skillfully revealed their special places and why they were important to them.

Social Studies: Going where no historian has gone before!

My favorite part of Social Studies is when students begin to see connections and patterns throughout history. What makes this an even more special moment is when it happens organically and students are the ones who point out similarities between civilizations throughout time. For example, in both Gr. 4DD and Gr.MR, students took note of the fact that the early civilizations of India and those that lived in Mesopotamia were both located by a river. These points in our discussion perfectly fit into our first exploration of Ancient India–its geography.

As the students navigated through India’s terrain, which we learned is also a subcontinent, the students learned how the physical features of  India could both protect and support life. One of the students’ favorite moments was when we were able to simulate life as the Aryan Civilization, where various groups of students represented the small villages that dotted India at the time. As we reflected upon the simulation, the students who were situated farther from the Indus River, noted the difficulty of getting access to water, while those who were situated by the river pointed out that the river was both “a blessing and a curse!” Lastly, students also saw how difficult it was to have a ruler or raja for each of their separate settlements. What the students gained from this experience was more than I imagine, and has resulted in the students wanting more simulations–I’d say that is too is both “a blessing and a curse!”

I can confidently say that the month of September was an exciting, fast-paced and challenging month that set the perfect tone for the 2017-2018 school year!


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Taking Our Learning to Greater Heights in the Fourth Grade!

Dear Parents and Families,

Welcome to Fourth Grade! As we bid farewell to summer, I hope that you all had a wonderful and restful break with your kids. I am Daniella de los Reyes, and I am very happy to announce that I will be your child’s homeroom teacher this school year!

Before returning to the Philippines, I received my bachelor’s degree in English and Education from Barnard College, Columbia University. Furthermore, I had the privilege of working with students that ranged from Kindergarten to 5th grade at various schools in New York City and Dallas.

This will be my second year at Chinese International School Manila and I look forward to working in partnership with you as we help your child reach his/her academic and personal goals. In preparation for Middle School, the Fourth Graders will have the opportunity to experience team teaching. I will be handling English Language Arts and Social Studies, while my counterpart, Marie Antoinette Roxas, will be in charge of Science and Math. The learning experiences we have lined up for the entire year are designed to pique your child’s interest, foster his/her love for learning and guide their academic, and socio-emotional development as well.

I believe that communication is the key to your child’s success and to a great parent-teacher relationship. I will be coordinating with you closely throughout the year to ensure that we are addressing your child’s specific needs while also creating the right learning environment for them.

I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. You may email me at, send me a note via your child’s diary, or set an appointment through the school office (02 7980011). In addition, if you would like to stay in the loop please visit my class blog at This blog will include: student work, photos, class events, activities, as well as other pertinent information for Grade 4 families.

Once again, WELCOME TO Fourth Grade, I look forward to a great year together!


Warm regards,


Grade 4DD Adviser

EY/ES Service Learning Coordinator


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Marching Our Way into March

It came as such a surprise to both my students and I that we are now in the month of March–in just a blink of an eye January and February are over! While March has just begun, we are off to a great start as we have accomplished and experienced so many things in such a short amount of time.


The Gr.5DD students enjoy seeing what their older counterparts are doing in Middle and Upper School. Recently, we had the opportunity to visit Mr. Persia’s Gr. 7 Physics class where they were testing out their Egg Drop Contraptions. Since the students had a chance to create their own contraptions at the beginning of the year, Gr. 5DD was very excited to see what the seventh graders came up with. The Gr. 7 students were asked to create contraptions that could protect an egg when dropped from a very high height–using only one bag full of toothpicks. My students were shocked and very curious to see how their contraptions would hold up. As the seventh graders dropped their contraptions one after another, the Gr.5DD class cheered and excitedly awaited the results. Only a handful of the contraptions protected the eggs. As Mr. Persia explained the reasons why some eggs survived while others didn’t, the best lesson the students learned from this experience is that scientists can only learn and grow through trial and error.

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Social Studies:



In Social Studies, the students have delved into the world of the Ancient Hebrews. A great way to get the students excited and engaged with the history of Ancient Hebrew was through the movie The Prince of Egypt. This gave the students a backstory of how and why the Hebrews were mistreated while they were settled in Egypt. It also highlighted the many similarities between the narrative of Abraham (the Father of the Hebrews) and Moses.



The students continue to amaze me with their perseverance and dedication in Math class. Despite the new concepts we have learned such as creating/drawing models of decimal quotient and products. In addition, students have worked on estimating the decimal products or quotients. While these new concepts can sometimes be tedious, I continuously observe the students working hard (during small-group conversations and whiteboard drills) and helping one another through these new sets of skills.

Questions to ask your kids:

1. Why would it be helpful to know how to read decimal numbers? Where would I come across decimals in my day-to-day life?

2. What type of real-life situations would require me to know how to estimate the decimal product or quotient?

3. Why is it important to be able to know the different parts of a division equation?



Time after time, the students of Gr. 5DD have shown me that they are curious and creative learners. As a result, the students had almost no trouble when it came to writing their Informational Essays. While this genre is nothing new to them, I challenged the students to stretch their writing, to be diligent when organizing their thoughts and to be conscientious with their grammar. Throughout the writing process each and every one of the students surprised me in one way or another–from their level of knowledge on their chosen topics to the way they clearly and thoughtfully expressed themselves on paper. While the road to publishing their Informational Essays was a long and taxing journey, the students finally made it to the finish line!

To top off a successful writing unit, I gave my students one final challenge–to present their written work to the students of Gr. 3.When I first mentioned to the students of this idea, the students initial responses was a class full of moaning and groaning. Some admitted that they were nervous to present their written works to other students while others were certain that their topics wouldn’t interest the third graders. However, on the day of their presentations the Gr. 5DD students were met by excited and enthusiastic Gr. 3 students. The Gr. 3 students had the opportunity to listen in on three different Informational Essays as well as ask the Gr. 5 students questions after their presentations. While the class was full of students and chatter, I could see the focus in the Gr. 3 students’ eyes as well as the joy and pride the Gr. 5 students had in sharing their written works. Before we big the third graders, we finished off with some reflecting. The Gr. 3 students mentioned some of their favorite topics as well as the new information they learned. The Gr. 5 students shared what they most enjoyed about their experience and what they could do to improve the next presentation they have. All in all, it is safe to say that the Informational Essay presentations were a great success!

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Following Up on February

February has been jam-packed with special events ranging from the 100th Day of School to Valentine’s Day. However, the major events occurring in Gr.5DD revolve around the new topics we are covering across all the subjects.

In Science class, the students are taking a closer look at the world they live in as they explore Earth and its four main systems. After learning about Earth’s Systems–Biosphere, Geosphere, Hydrosphere and Atmosphere. The students are taking the time to learn about each of the systems and how they interact with one another. The students have delved into the Biosphere as they were each assigned a different biome to research on. In pairs, the students explored each of their assigned biomes from its altitude and special geographical features to the different flora and fauna found in the natural community. Lastly, students needed to figure out the type of climate and amount of precipitation found in each biome. I was happy to see students taking initiative by assigning certain roles in their group as well as collaborating on how they intended to present and display their information. Below is a link to the compiled GoogleSlides presentation the students came up with.

Gr.5DD Biome Presentation:

As historians, the students packed their bags and headed West as we left Ancient China and moved towards our next unit, Ancient Hebrew. The students did a wonderful job with one of our first activities, the nomad simulation. The students were asked to live like the early nomadic tribes of Ancient Hebrew. Beforehand we established the main goals for each of the tribes: find water, food and shelter. I enjoyed watching the students quickly get into character as they imagined the playground area as the land on which they could live and survive on. Occasionally, there were natural disasters that caused tribes to move to different areas of their playground (e.g. floods, droughts) or events such as the animals overgrazing the land they were living on, which also caused the students to find different locations on the playground. Towards the end of the period, the students and I got back together to discuss what were some benefits to living a nomadic lifestyle and some drawbacks. The conversations that stemmed from this simulation brought about many good points and observations. Furthermore, the hands-on experience successfully helped the students imagine life as an early Hebrew and also got them excited for the unit ahead. Below are some pictures from the nomad simulation.

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As Mathematicians, the students have been working with decimal numbers. While decimal numbers are nothing new to the students the various ways in which we model, solve and present our answers are! The students have been exposed to different strategies such as using an Area Model to find the product of decimal multiplication equations. We have also learned how to use Base-10 blocks to model our answers. Lastly, students have been reviewing different strategies they can use when solving word problems–asking questions and creating models.

How to Model our Products using Base-10 Blocks:


Problem Solving Questions:

1.) What is the word problem asking me to solve?

2.) What information can I use? (What information is important, what information can I ignore)

3.) How will I use the information? (What operations will I be using? Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)

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Mad Scientists at Work

This past Thursday, Gr.5 DD had the opportunity to watch the 8th Graders in action. We had the great pleasure of visiting Ms. Madhu’s 8th Grade Science class where the students conducted individual experiments that involved the use of air pressure. The 5th graders were engaged as they answered the questions of the 8th Graders and also asked thought-provoking questions after each of the 8th Graders experiments. This perfectly tied into the Gr. 5′s next unit in Science, Earth’s Systems and Human Activity. Below are some pictures of the students during the presentations.

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Jumping Right into January

After a relaxing and restful Winter break, the kids came back to school ready to get back into the groove of things.

In Science, the kids hit the ground running as they put their knowledge of the Scientific Method to the test. The students were asked to create contraptions that would ensure the protection of a raw egg when dropped from a high place–the Egg Drop Challenge. From brainstorming to creating the contraptions and finally to executing the experiment, the kids were excited and engaged throughout the whole process!

I was thoroughly pleased to see the kids practice a variety of skills from problem solving to negotiating. While one of the Science group’s egg did not survive the drop, this did not stop from the students from reflecting and gaining a deeper understanding of why it is important to go through the whole process of the Scientific Method. As one student perfectly put it, “it is all about trial and error!” Below are pictures from the Egg Drop Challenge.

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To wrap up our unit on Ancient China, the students compiled all their knowledge of the four major Chinese Dynasties–Shang, Zhou, Qin and Han Dynasty. As students worked on their timelines, the connections and influence that each Dynasty had on one another became more apparent–the passing on of certain traditions, the improvement of certain inventions and the similar patterns of how each Dynasty rose and fell. While this is the first time the students attempted to make a timeline, the students were not afraid to get creative as they produced unique and innovative projects. Below are some pictures of the students hard at work.


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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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Before we said our final goodbyes to one another as well as to the first half of 5th Grade, the EY and Elementary classes ended the semester with Christmas parties!

The Gr. 5DD students discussed and voted on what they wanted to do for their Christmas party. The final list of activities included the following: Secret Santa, watch a Christmas movie, potluck and games.

At the beginning of the week the students drew lots on who they would be the Secret Santa for. The students could hardly contain their excitement as they left encouraging notes and sweet gifts for those they were assigned to. On Friday, we began our Christmas Party by watching Christmas movie classics such as Home Alone and Elf. We laughed and munch on all the food each of the Gr. 5 DD families graciously provided us.

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After our bellies were full, we moved on to the much anticipated event–the Secret Santa reveal. The students first went around guessing who they thought their Secret Santas were and to my surprise most of them were spot on! Next, the students each had a turn to give out gifts to those they were assigned to. It was such a treat to watch the students unwrap their presents and see the look of delight and gratitude on their faces as they opened up their gifts.

Finally, we ended the day with a round of Minute to Win it Games (Christmas Edition). The classroom was far from quiet as the kids cheered and laughed with one another. I thoroughly enjoyed all the teamwork and collaboration that went on in the classroom as students cheered and strategized how to best stack cups to create a pyramid or the most effective way to get a cookie from the top of one’s forehead to their mouth.

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However my favorite game was when the students were asked to create the best snowman–the results were definitely show-stopping and unique. Below are some pictures of the students creating their rendition of a snowman!

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Spreading the Christmas Cheer

A great tradition found here in CISM is the semestral Service Learning Event. This year, Early Year (EY) and Elementary partnered up with the Move Ed. Organization. Move Ed. is an organization geared towards providing quality preschool education to children in underserving communities in the Philippines.

Our goal for this year’s Service Learning Event was to spread the Christmas Cheer. We hoped to accomplish this through sharing our knowledge, classroom materials and school facilities with the students of Move Ed. Our EY students partnered off with each of the preschool Move Ed. students as they rotated around the many different centers and activities planned by the Elementary students. While Gr. 2 ML students led a Christmas Tree Decorating Activity and the Gr. 2 MP students put on their chef hats and had students make scrumptious sandwiches. The Gr. 3 students gathered in the Library where they picked books that would pique the interest of the preschool Move Ed. students. Lastly, the Gr. 4 students took over the MPH where they planned and created educational games for the Move Ed. students to participate in.

Our very own 5th Graders were in charge of making sure the whole event ran smoothly. Two of our very own students–Misch and Alexa–hosted and greeted the Move Ed. students early in the morning. Throughout the day the students helped facilitate the activities taking place in the Gr. 2 classrooms, Library and MPH. Other students were in charge of transitioning students from one activity to another. It was heart-warming to see the 5th Graders collaborate and work with both their own CISM peers as well as the students from Move Ed. To end the day the students came back to the classroom where we reflected upon the Service Learning Event. The students discussed all the things they learned and what they hoped to do for next year’s Service Learning day. Just like the Gr. 5 students, I am hopeful and look forward to seeing what next year’s Service Learning event has in store for us and our surrounding communities!

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Know-vember Coming to an End

As we wrap up November here is a brief recap of what has been going on in Gr. 5DD’s classroom.

In English Language Arts, we have begun reading out loud Pam Muñoz Ryan’s novel Esperanza Rising. The story is centered around the life of Esperanza Ortega, a young girl who undergoes a series of major changes in her life. These changes greatly impacts Esperanza’s actions, behavior and attitude towards life–the question still remains, are these major changes welcomed or unwelcome? The students have thoroughly enjoyed the book thus far and are constantly asking to “read one more chapter!”


In addition, the students have begun their next writing unit–Informational Essay writing. As a class we decided that the students’ essays must fall under one of the following themes: Animals, History, Art or Technology. From there the students have been excitedly planting seeds or brainstorming what they would like to focus their essays on. Some of the potential topics the students plan on writing about include: cheetahs, cats, calligraphy, Apple and even Benjamin Franklin. Lastly, for Reader’s Workshop the students have moved on to focusing on non-fiction text where they practice making summaries and identifying the main idea of the texts they read.

During Science, the students have discussed what Technology means to them. In both whole-group and small-group discussions the students have brainstormed the benefits and drawbacks to having Technology. This led to the students creating collages that displayed ways in which Technology has helped society as well as ways in which Technology has hindered society. Lastly, the students had a debate on Technology. The conversations and questions asked by the students were thought-provoking and sincere as they drew from their own personal experiences and observations of the world around them.

In Social Studies, the students have delved into the four major Ancient Chinese Dynasties–Shang, Zhou, Qin and Han. In an attempt to recreate life of those who lived during the Shang Dynasty, the students enthusiastically designed their own bronze artifacts. The artifacts varied from vessels, to delicate hairpins and even weaponry that closely resembled many of the equipment and everyday pieces that the Shang people used. I was thoroughly impressed with the blueprint designs and the final products of each of the Gr. 5DD students!

Finally as Mathematicians, the students had begun the challenging task of finding the Greatest Common Factor and Least Common Multiple. These two new topics were approached in many different manners–from creating Prime Factorization trees to using the Ladder Method. I was pleased to hear students acknowledge the connection of finding the GCF and LCM to past lessons as they noticed that knowing the Divisibility Rules came in handy. Below are pictures of the students’ work–they worked in groups to solve GCF word problems.

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Getting Back into the Swing of Things!

After a long and well deserved week off of school, the students came back energized and ready to tackle the last few months of school before the Winter break.

In Social Studies, the students began exploring the geographical features of Ancient China. They learned how unforgiving the landscape and weather of Outer China was to its nomadic inhabitants–with far reaching mountain ranges and vast deserts. As well as why most of China’s population can still be found in what was once considered Inner China–where there are long winding rivers and fertile land that enabled its inhabitants to grow food and develop long lasting societies. To sum up what we had learned about Ancient China’s geographical features, the students created 3-D Maps. This in turn gave us a deeper understanding of why certain areas were more favorable to live in, in comparison to other parts of China. Below are some pictures of the students hard at work!

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As writers, the students successfully published their first pieces of writing–their personal narratives. What started off as single seeds of ideas slowly grew into wonderful written narratives that each of the students brought to life. The students did not hesitate to put pen to paper as they retold their special experiences–from snorkeling in El Nido to winning the championship game at a soccer tournament.

The biggest hurdle the students successfully overcame was the bad habit of “telling” their stories instead of “showing” it. “Telling” a story ultimately results in a writer revealing a story in a passive manner, thus leaving very little for the reader to imagine or feel. However, our students remained determined and focused on “showing” the readers their stories. This in turn helped paint an accurate image for their readers–of what they saw and how they felt in their respective narratives. For example one student wrote:

“AAAAAAAHHHHHHH” We screamed scaring all the bird out of the trees nearby. I tried to glue my eyes shut but suddenly I felt my stomach drop. 

After going through the whole writing process, the students were ready to show off their final products. Our publishing party was an exciting time where students all gathered on the carpet with snacks and drinks in hand as they listened to each of their peers animatedly share their final products. Below are some pictures of the students in storytelling mode!

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Finally in Science class, the students learned the basics of surveying and how to process data. They were tasked with the challenge of coming up with their own questions as well as deciding the best way to process and present their ideas. The students were very creative as they posed different questions to their peers such as, “What book genre do they like the most?,” “What is your favorite country?” and even “What zodiac sign do you prefer?”

Here are some pictures of the students in asking as they presented their findings.

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