Please Return Your Library Books and Other School Materials

on Monday, June 2, 2014
Please check that your child has returned all their library books. Any books that are not  returned by Tuesday afternoon will be assumed lost and parents will be invoiced for the cost of replacing these. The cost is calculated as the cost of a new book of the same title plus 25% of the cost to cover shipping charges.

Planning a technology purchase for your child for next year?

AISB recognizes the importance of developing students' creativity, communication, and collaboration for the future workplace. Our teachers assign not only traditional assignments but incorporate collaborative writing, peer editing, video projects, digital books and comic books, 3D design, and more in an effort to develop a broad skill set, and we recommend that students have their own device to help them do this. In recognition of this, our policy on students bringing their own devices has been modified for the next school year as follows: While all device use is at the teacher's discretion, students may generally use personal devices for academic purposes. In all other cases, students should seek the teacher's express permission. Outside of formal class time, students should use their devices in a way that respects the safety, privacy and productivity of themselves and others. 

It has never been easier for AISB students to take advantage of their having their own computing device for learning, both at school and at home. This past year, AISB has made it much easier for students to get on the WiFi network; added web-based printing from home; created an on-campus version of Khan Academy streaming video lessons for science and math; rolled out collaborative writing tools; secured access to the JSTOR academic journal archive; and implemented a web-based storage system similar to Dropbox, but based in Mali for speed and reliability. Next year we plan to double our school's internet connection, make further upgrades to the WiFi network, offer color printing for students, and launch Google Cloud Print for printing from any Chrome browser, Android device, or Google Docs document, anywhere in the world.

Many of you will be traveling to Europe or North America this summer, and if you were planning to purchase or upgrade your children's devices, this is the time to do it. Here are some recommendations for what you can buy them:

MacBook Air

High end: starting from 900€/USD

There is a clear standout in this category: the Apple Macbook Air. Apple pioneered the "ultrabook" category of thin and light laptops before it even had a name. Strong performance and battery life unmatched by any Windows laptop (11+ hours) make it the best choice for students. A recent $100 price drop has made it more affordable, and Apple's bundled applications such as iMovie, iPhoto, Garageband, and Pages are generally more capable and intuitive than their Windows counterparts. Consider getting one with a 256GB hard drive - the extra space is important when doing video projects. Students who enjoy creating multimedia projects, including video or photography, should get a Macbook Pro.

Midrange: 350-750€/USD

ThinkPadTablet2In this price range we recommend a Windows hybrid device that can double as a tablet for watching, reading, and researching and a laptop for typing papers, editing video and images, and other productivity tasks. Three devices are especially adept in this category: the Acer Iconia W510, Asus Transformer Book T100, and especially the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2. They start at various price points depending on the configuration and where you buy, but generally they all have strong battery life (7+ hours), 10" screens for good portability, and full versions of Windows 8.1, which means they can run all the software that a full desktop computer would (albeit more slowly than the Macbook Air). They often come with Microsoft Office.

Another good option in North America is a refurbished or used Macbook Air. The Apple Store sometimes features recent models for under 750USD, and older models can be had on eBay starting at 450USD, albeit without a warranty.

Bargain: Under 350€/USD

Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display 2013
We don't recommend any laptop in this price range: their performance, battery life, and build quality makes them a bad deal in the long run. Instead, consider a tablet. These are not bad options for productivity although they are designed primarily for media consumption: watching videos, reading books, and surfing websites. Plenty of schools have adopted 1:1 iPad programs, particularly in upper elementary and middle school, and the huge variety of apps for iPads makes it suitable for limited projects, but multitasking is barely tolerable and more complex projects impossible. Tablets allows students to be productive in a basic capacity, but starting in 8th grade they will need a more capable device. For 4th-7th grade, consider a refurbished Apple iPad mini, the Google Nexus 7, or any 8-10" Android tablet in this price range from Asus, Acer, or Samsung.


Motorola Moto GHaving a smartphone can help promote both safety and learning, even as it opens up a new conversation about responsible communication and privacy. Today's smartphones help students keep an agenda and take notes through apps like Evernote, research topics and look up vocabulary, document their learning through photos, record video and audio for multimedia projects and, yes, call you when they're running late. Android phones offer the best combination of value and functionality in this space. Consider the Motorola G 16GB version (199€/USD) or Google Nexus 5 (349€/USD 16GB, 399€/USD 32GB). iPhones are great devices but cost 2-3 times more than these.


Headphones are useful when students want to listen to music during independent study time and for when they are watching educational videos and doing multimedia projects. The best line of headphones is both extraordinarily popular and wildly overpriced for what they they offer. Consider the AKG K518 headphones or Shure SE215 earphones, which offer superior sound quality for a much smaller price tag.

What about children handling their devices responsibly?

This discussion should happen the in the larger context of personal responsibility, but today's youth can have an especially cavalier attitude towards their personal devices considering the relatively high value of phones, tablets, and laptops. Consider starting with a lower-cost device for the year and upgrading once they demonstrate that they can treat it properly. You can expect a reasonably good resale price should you decide to sell something due to the high duty for new items here. Apple products in particular hold their value well.

Matthew Kelsey
IT Coordinator, American International School of Bamako

Mathematician of the Month - May

Carl Fiedrich Gauss
10 Mark
Did you know that:
  • He was born in 1777 in Brunswick as the son of poor working class parents (Bastiaan) 
  • His father was a gardener and brick layer and his mother was illiterate (Angelique)
  • She never recorded his exact date of birth, but remembered it was 8 days before Ascension (Bastiaan) 
  • This enabled him to calculate his own birth date as the 30th of April (Leena)
  • His father however discouraged him from attending school hoping he would follow one of the family trades. His uncle Friedrich and his mother recognized his ability and knew he must develop his intelligence with education (Audrey)
  • At the age of 3 he amazed his father by correcting an arithmetic mistake in his administration. In primary school when his teacher, Mr. Büttner, asked the class to add a list of consecutive integers he produced the correct answer within seconds (Angelique) 
  • He made his first mathematical discoveries when he was still in his teens. The duke of Brunswick was impressed and sent him to the Braunschweig University of Technology. He was there from 1792 until 1795, and then went to the University of Göttingen until 1798 (Bastiaan) 
  • At the age of 17 he proved a regular 17-sided polygon could be constructed using only a compass and a straightedge (Audrey) 
  • HeptadecagonSuch a polygon is called a heptadecagon, and this problem had been studied since the time of the Greek. He also demonstrated other polygons, for example a heptagon, could not be constructed in this manner (Paul-Lou) 
  • This discovery prompted him to change his studies from languages to mathematics (Audrey) 
  • He earned his doctorate in 1799 at the University of Helmstedt (Angelique)
  • Around 1800 Erchinger actually performed the construction of the heptadecagon, which was demonstrated by Gauss (Paul-Lou) 
  • He contributed to many fields of mathematics, such as number theory, algebra, statistics, differential geometry, analysis, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics (Bastiaan)
  • He systematized the study of number theory in his ‘Disquisitions Arithmeticae’, one of the most brilliant achievements in mathematics. This work was fundamental in consolidating number theory as a discipline and has shaped the field to the present day. He proved the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra, which states that any polynomial has roots of the form a+bi (Angelique) 
  • He even gave four different proofs for this theorem, and proved the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic, which states that every natural number can be uniquely represented as a product of primes. He also proved that every number is the sum of at most 3 triangular numbers (Paul-Lou) 
  • In physics he contributed to potential theory and the development of the Principle of Conservation of Energy. His most significant work in applied mathematics is the ‘Theory of Motion of the Celestial Bodies’; this is still the cornerstone of astronomical computation (Angelique) 
  • He developed the method of ‘least square fitting’ 10 years before Legendre did, but never published this. He used this method to calculate the orbits of Ceres from only 3 sightings (Paul-Lou) 
  • Ceres is the largest of the asteroids orbiting around the Sun (Angelique) 
  • He became interested in the compass through surveying and developed the magnometer with Wilhelm Weber. This is an instrument which measures the intensity of magnetic forces. With Weber he also built the first successful telegraph (Paul-Lou) 
  • His calculations on the orbits of Ceres and Pallas made him a member of the Royal Society of London in 1802 (Angelique). In 1838 he won the Copley Medal, which is the highest scientific award of that society (Angelique) 
  • He had already received the Lalande prize in 1810, a similar prize by the French Académie des Sciences. His name is attached to many mathematical terms (Leena) 
  • He wrote more than 300 papers, most of them in Latin. He spoke many foreign languages, amongst them was Russian (Angelique) 
  • He was appointed ‘Geheimrat’, a German title given to the highest officials of a German royal or principal court, and to very eminent university professors (Audrey) 
  • He is one of history’s most influential mathematicians (Bastiaan), and is often referred to as ‘the Prince of Mathematics’ (Angelique) 
  • He was featured on the 10 Deutsche Mark note (Audrey) 
  • Quote: ‘Mathematics is the queen of the sciences and number theory is the queen of mathematics’ (Angelique) Quote
  • Quote: ‘There have only been 3 epoch-making mathematicians: Archimedes, Newton and Einstein’ (Paul-Lou)
  • Historians are puzzled by the inclusion of Einstein in the same class as the other two in this last quote (Paul-Lou) 
  • When he was interrupted in the middle of a problem and told that his wife was dying, he is claimed to have said: ‘Tell her to wait a moment, until I am done’ (Paul-Lou) 
  • Unfortunately for mathematics he reworked and improved papers incessantly, therefore publishing only a fraction of his work in keeping with his motto: ‘few but ripe’ (Jonathan) 
  • He died on the 23rd of April 1855 (Bastiaan), in Göttingen in the Kingdom of Hanover (Angelique) 
  • He wanted a heptadecagon placed on his gravestone, but the carver refused, saying it would be indistinguishable from a circle. The pedestal of a statue which was erected in his hometown Braunsweig is however heptadecagon-shaped (Jonathan) 
  • Although it was only 19 pages long, when his diary was published years after his death, it contained many of his unpublished results. In the meantime these had been repeated by other mathematicians (Jonathan)

Baba Wague Diakite : The Hatseller and the Monkeys

The Grade 2/3 students worked recently on a variety of creative activities around one of
 he most famous books of the Malian writer, Baba Wague Diakite. While reading the P1080834 book: The Hatseller and the Monkeys, we talked about the characters, the plot, the setting, the message and illustrations.
The children could choose two or three activities from the list to work on:
  • Pretend that you can spend a day with one of the characters. Which character would you choose? Why? What would you do? 
  • Pretend that you are going to join the characters in the story. What things will you need to pack? Draw your suitcase. 
  • Make a Venn diagram comparing your environment to the setting in the book or compare Bamusa to yourself. 
  • Change and dramatize the setting of the book, how would it make the story different and why? (Write a script and have several rehearsals before presenting it to the class) 
  • Make your own front cover in African style 
  • Draw three monkeys showing different characters 
Many of the students’ parents visited our class to look at the display of the colorful and interesting work that the students created. A job well done!
P1080838  P1080774
Aafke Zoutewelle
Grade 2/3 teacher

Employee of the Month – May 2014


Mamadou Diarra.jpg

Mahamadou was nominated by members of the AISB community for the following:
  • He takes his time to do his work thoroughly and exceptionally well. 
  • He does everything he is asked, when he is asked to do it. 
  • He shows initiative and reminds others (respectfully) of what needs to be done. 
  • He is an excellent staff member, hard working, respectful and a team player.

Plans for 2014-2015

The faculty and I have been busy planning for next school year. I am expecting that we will start the year with about 160 students. However this could easily change over the summer. Based on our current expectations please see the following staffing plan for next year:

Elementary Class Teachers:

  • PreK 2 – Kadiatou (Dija) Kounta 
  • PreK 3/4 – Ayo Wilson
  • Kg – Mela O’Brien 
  • Gr. 1/2 – Carrie Navin
  • Gr. 3 – Aafke Zoutewelle
  • Gr. 4/5 – Jeff Fessler 

    Secondary School Advisors: 

  • Gr. 6 – Jeff Brown 
  • Gr. 7/8 – Amanda Leavitt 
  • Gr. 9 – Matt Kelsey 
  • Gr. 10 – Abby Wilson
  • Gr. 11 – Tikva Chofi 
  • Gr. 12 – Chelsea Wilson 

Secondary Teachers: 

  • HS English – Chelsea Wilson
  • HS math – Anke Robertus
  • Liberal Arts Math - Jamey Young
  • Biology and AP Biology – Jeff Brown
  • Conceptual Physics & Chemistry – Jamey Young
  • HS Humanities – Abby Wilson
  • Grade 7/8 Math & Science – Jamey Young
  • Grade 6 Math & Science – Jeff Brown
  • Grade 6 and 7/8 English & Humanities – Amanda Leavitt 

Specialist Teachers:

  • ESOL - Tikva Chofi 
  • French – Ousmane Barry, Isabelle Thomazeau-Pepin & Daniela Fabre
  • Art – Suzanne Anderson 
  • Music – Christina Arn 
  • Drama – Jenise Thompson
  • I.T. - Matt Kelsey
  • P.E. - Alexis Shultz, Suzanne Anderson & Jeff Brown 

We are moving some of the classrooms around in the Secondary School to more clearly define the Middle School from the High School next year. We believe that this will give our middle school students a better transition between the structure of the Elementary School and the less structured environment of a High School. More on this when we return in August.

Dress Code

The faculty and I have reviewed the dress code and made some changes to this for next year. In doing this we want to ensure that students are comfortable but are also not offensive or distracting to others. I will send this out to students and parents soon. However secondary school students (and their parents) should be aware that next year: 

  • Students should wear shorts that are at least mid thigh length. 
  • Sagging jeans are not acceptable – we are all tired of seeing boys’ underwear! If your son goes in for the sagging jeans look, please buy him a belt over the summer. 
  • Girls’ cleavage should not be showing at school. 
  • Clothes with sexist or racist text or pictures or those with cigarette/tobacco or alcohol advertising are not appropriate to wear at school.

Grade 11 Research Articles

Grade 11 students were asked to research a topic of their choice and write a news article. Two of our students’ work is attached here.


Studies Show Sleep Correlation to Success

26 May 2014 by Carla Rattunde


Throughout the decade, multiple research groups have conducted studies to determine the correlation of sleep to a variety of aspects in people’s lives. They have concluded that mood, health, stress level, memory, and success are all affected by the person’s sleep duration.

     Kaydian Sterling, a freshman at AISB, claims that she is “crabby” if she does not get more than eight hours of sleep at night. A study done at the University of Pennsylvania shows that Kaydian is not the only one whose mood is affected by sleep duration. The subjects in the experiment, when limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week, reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When they resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement of mood (“Sleep and Mood”). Correspondingly, another study, “Impact of Sleep Extension and Restriction on Children’s Emotional Liability and Impulsivity,” showed that an addition of only 30 minutes of sleep among 7 to 11 year-old children results in significant improvement in their ability to regulate their emotions (“More Sleep Linked”).

     In addition to affecting a person’s mood, sleep has a strong relationship to the person’s stress level. According to the American Psychology Association, laboratory experiments have shown that failing to get enough sleep dramatically increases levels of stress hormones and disrupts the body’s normal metabolism. This idea is seconded by Stanford stress expert, Robert Sapolsky, who, in his book “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers,” describes that there has been “decent evidence” that the same brain chemical that brings on deep sleep also tells the pituitary gland to slow down the production of ACTH – the messenger which prompts the adrenal gland to release adrenaline and other stress hormones. In addition to causing many people discomfort, stress hormones have also been proven to block storage of short-term memories, which may explain why sleep-deprived people notoriously have trouble holding on to thoughts (Woolston).

     On the flip side, getting enough sleep strongly contributes to academic success. Dr. William Kohler, of the Florida Sleep Institute in Spring Hill, states, “a student’s performance in the classroom is dictated by the amount of sleep he or she gets the night before...A child or teen who regularly gets enough sleep will have improved academic performance, have a positive attitude towards their education, and be able to interact socially with their peers and teachers.” He also claims that students are more likely to retain what they had learned if they, later, get a good night’s sleep (Arcuri).

     A study conducted by Audrey Hirschfeld, an undergraduate at Capital University, supports Kohler’s view point. Hirschfeld looked at the grade differences of students at two schools with different starting times. Students at School A, with the later starting time, showed less sleepy behavior and had significantly higher grades than students at School B (Hirschfeld).

     Research shows that many people are carrying heavy “sleep debt” that has been accumulated from weeks, months or even years of insufficient sleep. In an experiment monitoring volunteers’ physiological states over the period of 10-20 days, Psychologist David Dinges and his colleagues learned that people who receive less than eight hours of sleep per night show pronounced cognitive and physiological deficits, including memory impairments, a reduced ability to make decisions, and dramatic lapses in attention. People who slept about four hours per night had brain deficits just as severe as those of people who hadn’t slept at all for three nights. Cognitive functions are greatly weakened as sleep deprivation continues (“More Sleep Would”).

     In conclusion, the experiments have shown that people can improve their mood, decrease their stress level, and increase their likelihood to academic success by sleeping more. The AASM offers the following tips to children and teens on how to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
  • Get a full night’s sleep every night. 
  • Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
  • Do not stay up all hours of the night to “cram” for an exam, do homework, etc. If after-school activities are proving to be too time-consuming, consider cutting back on these activities. Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either. 
  • Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime. 
  • Make your bedroom quit, dark and a little bit cool. Also, keep computers and TVs out of the bedroom. 
  • Get up at the same time every morning. 
Works Cited

Arcuri, Jim. “AASM to School-Bound: Sleep is the Right Ingredient for Academic Success.” American Academy of Sleep Medicine. American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 1 Aug. 2007. Web. 19 May 2014.

Hirschfeld, Audrey. “Amount of Sleep and Student Learning.” Epistimi. Capital University, 2005. Web. 20 May 2014.

“More Sleep Linked to Improved Child Alertness, Behavior.” American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics, 15 Oct. 2012. Web. 21 May 2014.

“More Sleep Would Make Most Americans Happier, Healthier and Safer.” American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association, Feb. 2014. Web. 20 May 2014.

Womble, Laura. “Impact of Stress Factors on College Students Academic Performance.” Psychology UNCC. University of North Carolina at Charlotte, n.d. Web. 20 May 2014.

Woolston, Chris. “Sleep Deprivation and Stress.” HealthDay. Stress Management Health Library, 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 May 2014.

“Sleep and Mood.” Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. WGBH Educational Foundation, 15 Dec. 2008. Web. 20 May 2014.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Small Classes

By Jonathan Tannous, a Junior at AISB. May 26, 2014.

The American International School of Bamako is a “small, close knit community.” Small class sizes, according to international studies and local interviews, lead to the students’ achievement and success in their academic careers. However, the class sizes are still limiting in some areas.

According to the Great Schools institution, researchers have found that “gains in achievement generally occur when class size is reduced to less than 20 students.” They also state that high school students in smaller schools are “less likely to drop out or be expelled, [have] better attendance, [are] more likely to be involved in extracurricular activities, and [are] more likely to pursue higher education.”

Here at the American International School of Bamako, where the average class has eight and a half students, the previously stated advantages apply. Currently, in eleventh grade, seven out of nine students are planning to pursue higher education; the other two are still undecided. Additionally, all seniors have been already accepted to multiple colleges.

According to Ms. Jacoby, the principal, having fewer students per class has advantages and disadvantages. While smaller class sizes allow “teachers to give their students more attention,” having few students also creates economic issues in the school. In order to have good teachers, “you have to pay them well.”

Ms. Abby Wilson, the school’s Social Studies teacher, has taught in classes with more than 35 students. In her opinion, classes with fewer students, makes students less likely to “step on or kill each other.” However, she thinks that the class sizes at AISB are a little too small. Having a couple more students in each class would make more class activities possible and would lead to “more opinions, [creating more interesting class discussions.]” According to Ms. Wilson, “a class of 18 to 20 people would be excellent.”

Additionally, the students at AISB would also like to have more students in their classes. Many think that having few students limits social activity at school, making it boring. According to Tenning Coulibaly, a senior at AISB, “having more students in class is more fun.”

“How important is class size?” GreatSchools. GreatSchools Inc, 1999. Web. 23 May 2014. 

Have You Got Your Yearbook Yet?

IMG 20140526 135535

The 2013-2014 Yearbook is fabulous – well done to the Yearbook students and Ms Leavitt. Yearbooks are on sale at the office for 7,500cfa while stocks last. Get yours NOW!

AISB on YouTube

AISB now has its own YouTube video channel where you can access videos of school assemblies and other events and productions. Footage from the recent senior walk and Africa Day is posted there now.
Thanks to Matt Kelsey for setting this up.