Adventures are the best way to learn!

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Reaching New Limits with Reading Strategies

As readers, the Gr. 4 students are always looking for new ways to help deepen their understanding of the texts they read in class. When it comes to nonfiction texts, we have mastered various reading strategies to help us understand the different aspects of informational text. Now, we have transitioned into practicing other reading strategies that can be used for both fiction and nonfiction text such as: finding the main idea, learning how to find the sequence of events, and comparing and contrasting.

When it comes to finding the main idea, we have learned tricks/tips such as asking ourselves guiding questions:

  • What is the title of the text?
  • Are there any photos/images that can help tell me more about what I am about to read?
  • Are there any key terms/words/phrases that continue to repeat?
  • What does the first sentence of the text introduce to you?

After practicing this strategy using various activities and reading stories the students learned that in the end finding the main idea helps readers to ultimately understand: what is the author trying to tell/teach me?

The second strategy we tackled this past month was identifying the sequence of events. We learned that this strategy may not be applicable for all types of stories or books but can be really helpful when we read historical text (whether it is fictional or nonfictional). We also learned that finding the sequence of events is something we do on a daily basis especially when we retell stories like we do every Monday for Morning Meeting time!

Finally, we discussed when and how we can compare and contrast as readers. We learned that we can compare and contrast characters, settings, themes/lessons and even books that share the same story lines. As a whole class we read two versions of The Three Little Pigs where we compared and contrasted the way the authors retold this classical story. The kids went on to read two stories: Hercules’ Quest and Zomo’s Friends. One was a Greek myth, while the other was a proverb/adage. Students learned that even when stories may come from different cultures we can still find similarities and differences in the stories we read!

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Ancient China: The Greatest Hits

China’s history is filled with many events that may leave your speechless or going “Aha! that makes sense!” One of them being The Great Wall of China and the second being China’s participation in the Silk Road. As we wrapped up our unit on ancient China, the students were tasked with two hands-on activities that connected to these two accomplishments of China.

Students had the opportunity to try their hand at being engineers and architects as they were required to create their own version of the Great Wall of China…with a twist! The objective of this project was to have students use various materials to build a one foot-long wall that had the following features: two watch towers and a zip line that could carry materials from one side of the wall to the other.  Students got straight to work brainstorming ways in which they could build a sturdy wall as well as create a zip line that could move materials from one side to another. The biggest challenge for the students it seemed was to create a pulley system. I was thoroughly impressed with how students were able to bring their brainstormed ideas to life and work as a team to create something that could act as a well as well as a zip line. Below are some photos of the students hard at work as they plan and put their ideas into action.

Gr. 4 Students Brainstorming on how to make their rendition of The Great Wall of China:

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Final Products of the Gr. 4 students’ Great Wall of China:

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To wrap up the unit on ancient China, students participated in a trading simulation. This was the second simulation the students were able to participate in and also required them to put their negotiating skills to the test! Students were divided into five groups that each represented a certain region that had traders who sold and traded items on the Silk Road. The object of this simulation was to have students learn about globalization, how to trade/negotiate, identify the most well-sought out products and finally learn about the real life scenarios that took place on the Silk Road. I enjoyed observing students try to out bid each other and scramble around looking for the most coveted item–silk. Finally, students moaned and groaned as they too experienced similar events that would happen to traders on the Silk Road–from being ambushed by bandits to contracting the bubonic plague. All in all, I was glad to see the students learn how important the Silk Road was to the ancient Chinese and how it can still be seen today!

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Book Week: Book Character Dress up Day Winners

One of the most anticipated events of this semester was Book Week: Character Dress Up Competition that is hosted by the Library Team. Every year the EY/ES classes have an opportunity to choose and promote various books–from memorable picture books to beloved chapter book series. In addition, to providing the EY/ES students with a preview to various stories, the students are able to showcase their talents, whether it is singing, dancing or simply storytelling.

This school year Gr. 4DD decided to go with the terrifyingly exciting chapter book series, Goosebumps! With a lot of hard work and dedication Gr. 4DD was able to put on quite an entertaining performance where they pulled students in to the Goosebumps world by displaying the famous monsters and creatures found in the books as well as the children who get roped into unfortunately scary situations. Our performance ended with a dance number using Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller.”

That being said, I am pleased to share that the Gr. 4DD class was recognized for their creative and entertaining performance and won the Book Character Dress Up Competition!

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Growing as Readers and Writers

As readers, we are always looking for new strategies that can help us better understand the texts that we read. At this time of the year, we began to tackle how to properly and accurately read nonfiction text. To introduce students to the multifaceted world of nonfiction books we embarked on a Text and Graphic feature Scavenger Hunt. Before we started our scavenger hunt, we first needed to know the “ins-and-outs” of each text and graphic feature found in nonfiction books.

From there, students each were given IPads and allowed to use our newly introduced online library app, Epic! Epic is a digital library that provides students with a wide range of books that cover various topics that students are interested in or are currently learning about. The students each have their own accounts which tracks how many books they have read and provides them with a curated selection of books that cater their unique interests. Here is a link to the Epic website that can be accessed both on the computer or through a smart device: In addition, below are some photos of the students hard at work trying to identify the various text and graphic features found in nonfiction text such as images with captions, timelines, indexes or table of contents.

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For our final writing unit of the semester, students had an opportunity to practice writing persuasively. Students learned the purpose of this writing style and when it is most appropriate to use it. We were also able to identify persuasive writing in its different forms– from advertisements, to cereal boxes to even commercials we see on a daily basis. As Christmas is just around the corner, the students were tasked to write persuasive letters to their family members to try to convince them to buy them their “dream” present!

As professional writers, the students thoroughly completed each of the steps of the writing process. I enjoyed seeing the students hard at work as they brainstormed a very lengthy list of presents they would want to receive from their family members. Students also took the time to conduct some research to use reliable facts and information to help support their request for specific presents. Finally, students made sure to paint themselves in the best light by using descriptive language as well as slipping in several compliments to help ease their family members into buying them specific gifts.

At the end of the day, the students knew that whether they got those presents or not, that the persuasive letters were entertaining and worthy to share with their family members!


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October Activities Overload (Pt. I)

The month of October has been jam-packed with many activities happening both inside and outside the classroom. The first of these activities was Spirit Week. The students had the opportunity to showcase their creativity by dressing up in various outfits/costumes that related to the different themes each day. For Class Theme Thursday, this year Gr. 4DD decided to dress up as their beloved CISM teachers while they asked me to dress up as their honorary CISM student. The kids had a blast coming up with outfits that accurately represented each of their favorite teachers. Below are some highlights and photos of the kids throughout the week.

To finish off Spirit Week, the students worked together and displayed true sportsmanship as they participated in this semester’s Sports Day. Despite coming from different grade-levels and being of various ages, the students had a wonderful time collaborating and cheering on one another through each of the different competitions. As a result, a big congratulations goes out to each of the teams who showed that nothing could have been accomplished without the trust and respect they had for each of their teammates. Below are photos of the students during Sports Day.

Towards the end of October, the students had a chance to celebrate an organization that is near and dear to my heart, the United Nations. This year’s theme was “Greening the Blue,” which aimed to bring awareness of our impact on the environment and our ability to leave a positive mark on the world (with both big and small changes in our lives). The performances ranged from a beautiful rendition of “Colors of the Wind” by the Gr. 4-5 students to an interactive performance of “They Don’t Care About Us” by the Nursery to Gr. 3 students. Each performance was met by a loud round of applause by teachers, students, and parents. After, students were brought “around the world” by visiting the different cultural workshops set up by the Middle and Upper Schoolers. Some of the favorite workshops included Switzerland as well as Romania. However, the moment all the students were waiting for happened after the cultural workshops, which was the Global Potluck! There simply was no need to go and fly to other countries to try cuisines from different parts of the world, when instead students simply had to step outside into the hallways. Students are immediately met by tables filled with food and smells that could quickly transport them to the Middle East, Europe and back to Asia. Below are some photos from our UN Day celebration.


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Before the students headed out for their semestral break, we had one more holiday to celebrate–Halloween! Below are some photos of the students who came dressed in their chosen Halloween costumes. A big thank you goes out to the PTA who did a wonderful job providing us with an afternoon filled with sweets and scares! Here are some photos from our final Halloween Celebration.

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Spirit Week 2018

This year’s Spirit Week will be held from October 1 to October 4, 2018. We encourage your child to come to school dressed using items and clothing already found at home. We hope the kids can get their creative juices flowing and we look forward to seeing what they dress up as on each day!

Spirit Week Themes:

  • Meme Monday
  • Tropical Tuesday
  • Wake Up Wednesday
  • Class Theme Thursday

For the final day of Spirit Week, Gr. 4DD has decided upon dressing as CISM Teachers and Staff Members. Please ensure that your child comes in dressed in an outfit that may include: button down or polo shirt for boys, blouse or sundress for girls and finally slacks or jeans for both boys/girls.

I will be sure to share many photos throughout next week’s Spirit Week!

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Strolling through September

What a blast it has been getting to know our new Fourth Graders! Throughout the month of August, I quickly learned that these students are a vivacious and affectionate bunch! While in September, the students went full speed ahead with their learning. Here’s a rundown of what we have been up to in ELA and Social Studies!

The students have been busy learning different strategies to help them best understand the various texts they read. As if we were detectives/investigators the students and I looked at whole slew of stories from different perspectives. We learned the importance of identifying the author’s purpose, by asking questions such as is the author writing to entertain, inform or persuade me of something? We also realized that by identifying the author’s purpose it can help us to better understand why and who authors are truly writing for. Furthermore, we learned that in many of the stories we read, author’s try to teach readers lessons/morals that can be applied to our own lives. One of most memorable lessons we learned was that we can achieve more when we work together! Finally, students have had the opportunity to take a closer look at the main characters of stories. Through the use of book clubs, students had the chance to read picture books that allowed students to practice reading fluently and accurately, while also giving them a chance to read a full story within our ELA block. Here are some pictures of students in their book clubs!

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In Social Studies, the students traveled back in time where we focused on the ancient Indian civlization. It was interesting to see how advanced the first inhabitants of ancient India were, the Harappan civilization. We were able to closely inspect photos of the famous cities of the Harappans, Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. We were able to take note of “advanced” technology they had at the time such as paved streets, indoor plumbing and the Great Bath! However, the true highlight of learning about the Harappan civilization is being able to recreate important tools/artifacts or scenes of everyday using modelling clay. Below are some photos of the students hard at work.

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Paradise Found: Welcome to Grade 4DD!

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 third 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 teaching English Language Arts and Social Studies, while my counterpart, July Lucas, 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 parents.

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


Warm regards,


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Recreating the Past: Making Our Own Polis

As we enter our final quarter of the school year, I am excited to have the opportunity to explore and teach about a civilization that has had such a rich, vibrant and important past–Ancient Greece!

To begin this final unit on ancient Greece, the students had the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of those they often meet on vacation, tour guides. The students grouped up and created posters based on the research they conducted. The students were tasked in creating posters that informed their readers of what to expect when visiting ancient Greece: from the geographical features to everyday life. Below you can see photos of their finished products:

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As we took a closer look on everyday life in ancient Greece, the students were able to see how the ancient Greeks organized themselves into city-states called polis. Interestingly enough, the ancient Greeks did not view themselves as natives to the country of Greece but instead associated themselves more to the city-state they lived in! In addition, each city state was unique different. Some put more importance on education and the arts–Athens– while others put more importance on warfare and their army–Sparta. While city-states differed in many ways, there were certain features that each city-state contained. These characteristics included a city wall, an acropolis, an agora, farmland located outside the city walls and most importantly temples.

With all this knowledge under their belt students were tasked with another project that required them to create their own polis! Students worked in pairs creating a 3D version of their imagined polis. I was impressed with the students’ ability to plan and collaborate with one another. There was clear teamwork going on between the pairs of students as they supported each others’ ideas or made compromises to create an agreed upon polis. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing students bring out their creative side. The Gr. 4 students brought their ideas to life as they used various materials to create their polis–from clay, to popsicle sticks, to toothpicks and even sand! I am proud of the work the kids have created thus far in this unit and cannot wait to see what the next few weeks have in store for us! Below you can see photos of their polis:

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Publishing Party: Graduating from Informational Essay Writing

As March comes to a close, it is safe to say that it was another successful month full of learning and growth! As writers, the students accomplished writing narratives that carefully and thoughtfully illustrated each of their chosen “small moments.” However, it was clear that by our publishing party that they were ready to move on to the next unit of writing!

Over the course of this semester the students had the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the art of nonfiction writing. I personally enjoy teaching this unit because it is an opportunity for students to try a different genre of writing, while also having them work on another important skill–researching. As a result, I was pleased to see the positive reaction the students had when they found out they would be writing informational essays–they were all enthusiastic and cheered!

In accordance to all of our writing units, the students would undergo the whole writing process: brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing/peer editing, and finally publishing. As I mentioned above this writing unit would mainly focus on a different style of writing for the students while also touching upon the important skill of researching. The students had the opportunity to choose any topic that interested them so long as it was “researchable,” which meant there was both print and online sources they could take information from. With full control of the topics they could write about I was not surprised to see the wide range of interesting historical events, important people, notable inventions the students wanted to talk about.

While the researching portion of this writing unit was tedious the students powered through it. I enjoyed listening to the new bits of information and facts the students learned about each of their chosen topics, which they eagerly shared with me and their other peers each day during ELA.

As the students moved on from brainstorming and researching, our Grade 4 writers found themselves at the next point of the writing process–drafting. During this stage, students were tasked to gather all their information to look for the “bigger picture” to see what they would want to ultimately teach their peers or future readers. This task helped the students narrow their focus and also helped them segregate their research into two groups: information and facts that they could use and information and facts that they would not use.

Drafting was also a difficult part of the writing process, since they were encouraged to further deepen their understanding of their topics. As researchers, the students were presented with a lot of information. Now with all of their collected data, they needed to analyze and come to a conclusion on what all the information they were given meant to them. This sometimes left the students stumped. Although, as a whole grade level they were ultimately able to reach a new understanding and appreciation for their topics in the end.

Once students neared the end of the writing process–some revising and others editing. A helpful trick the students learned was reading their work out loud. Not only were students able to practice their reading fluency and accuracy, but they were also able to catch all of the mistakes they may have not seen the first time around! During the revision stage, students were reminded that their writing did not need to be perfect and that it was always a work in progress. As a result, the students moved information around, deleted unnecessary words or sentences, and sometimes added more of their own thoughts on their chosen topic. With editing, students were given a check list that they used both on their own writing and others to ensure that all the writing conventions were being followed: spelling, capitalization, punctuation.

Before finally printing out and publishing their written pieces, the students needed to add some final touches. Students were able to add title pages, a table of contents, and of course photos/illustrations to enrich their informational essays. I truly enjoyed watching the students go through the whole process! As writers, it is easy to get stuck and remain stuck, but our Grade 4 students have definitely shown resilience when it came to each obstacle they were faced with. Through every struggle the students experienced, there was a big leap of growth that followed after. And for that, I am very proud of what these writers accomplished and how far they have come!

To finish of this writing unit, the students were given a well deserved publishing party! However, this publishing party had a special twist as they were each able officially “graduate” and were now certified experts in each of their chosen fields! With a wide range of snacks and sweets to pick from, the students gathered together each day to listen to their classmates read aloud their finished published pieces with pride. It was a wonderful sight to see and a treat to hear each of them read their writing aloud. A special thank you to the parents who help support their children at home with their writing and also provided all the wonderful treats that we happily ate and enjoyed in school! As writers I can proudly say we are officially going onwards and upwards from here on out!

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