Letter from the Director

on Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dear Parents, Faculty, Staff and Students,

Students have been busy since returning from the Winter Break. 
  • High School students took their semester one exams and are now well into their semester two classes
  • 11th grade students had a week in the work force as part of their Internship Program – read more below.
  • Kg students, 11th grade students, 6th grade students and one service learning group have planted and are tending a vegetable garden. Thanks to a small grant from the PTO last year they have a range of tools and equipment to use to help them do this.
  • 10th grade students visited ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Ard Tropics) as part of their math and human geography classes to put math into action.
  • 12th grade students researched and wrote a proposal about models of IT use at AISB, which some students presented to the last AISB Board meeting. The Board used the information presented to make their decision about the direction AISB will take with technology use in the future.
  • Middle School and High School students, along with some teachers and community members performed a British style panto called, “A Night for the Wolves”.
  • We had nearly 500 people attend the International Fair organized by the hard working volunteers from the PTO.
  • And of course regular classes have been taking place as well.
Read about some of these activities and more in articles in this month’s newsletter.

Changes in Technology At AISB
AISB is planning a major upgrade to technology resources for next school year. As well as adding IT hardware and software throughout the school, we will move to a model known as BYOD – “Bring Your Own Device”, for all students in grades 6-12. This is common amongst international schools as students these days use computers similarly to how many of us used pens and paper when we went to school. Please see more details in an article below from Matt Kelsey. More information on this step forward will be published soon.

A New Bus

I am also pleased to tell you that just before the Winter break, we took delivery of a brand new 22 seat bus. This has meant that we have been able to accommodate students who want to take advantage of our bus service to various parts of Bamako. If you would like your children to ride the bus, please contact Oumou Drame for details about this service.


Many thanks to all of you who keep us well informed of changes in contact details and absences. For your child’s safety PLEASE remember to inform the office of:
  • Change of contact phone numbers or email addresses of either parent.
  • Travel plans that mean both parents will be out of Bamako – we need to know who is looking after your children.
  • Illness – if your child is unwell, please keep them at home so they do not infect others. Please email Oumou (odrame@aisbmali.org) and the child's teacher(s).
This Friday teachers have an in-service day. This means that faculty and staff work on planning and professional development while all students have a day off.  Monday is also a holiday for all students and faculty.

Happy reading,


Caroline Jacoby

The Symbol Project

Grade 4 and 5 students recently explored the use of symbolism in literature, art, and music. Symbolism, the use of an object to represent something else that is usually much deeper and more significant, can be difficult to interpret--even for adults. But it's worth the effort to understand because readers then have an opportunity to get an insight of the writer’s mind, and to more deeply understand the text.

Students read the novel "The Sign of the Beaver" by Elizabeth George Speare, a novel rich in symbolism. They first explored the symbolic visual art of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Marc Chagall, Keith Haring, and Dogon door artists. Using visual art to look at symbolism is a student-friendly to introduce this concept. They also looked at symbolism in music, interpreting the symbolism in Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's haunting version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Finally they applied their understanding to the symbolism in the book, noting that the "sign of the beaver" noted in the novel not only represented a tribe's hunting grounds, but was a symbol for respect.

After finishing the novel students completed a visual art project based on symbolism. They listed their own character traits, hobbies, and things that were important to them. Then they created a symbol for each of these traits. Finally they used their symbols to create an artwork in the style of one of the artists we studied during this unit, and wrote an artist statement explaining their work. Their art is currently on display in our classroom windows. Please come by and take a look!

Jeff Fessler

Maimouna's Basquiat interpretation

El Shadai's Dogon door-inspired art

Clara's Haring-inspired piece

Soraya's Chagall-inspired art

100th Day of School-100 Days Smarter

On Wednesday, February 4, 2015 students in the kindergarten class celebrated the 100th Day of School – 100 Days Smarter with activities all about 100!  Students listened to the book One Hundred Hungry Ants, by Elinor J Pinczes, and acted out the story using one hundred squares to show how the ants marched. 

Then they made self-portraits imagining themselves one hundred years old, and wrote about their lives as 100 year-old people.  Some were married, and some not, one person still lived with her parents.  Another person could no longer walk, but got around in his “rolling chair.” 

They sang songs and read poems about 100 and at the end of the day tried to build towers out of one hundred blocks or Legos.  We’ve learned a lot in 100 days, but the journey is not done.

Mela O'Brien

Grade 11 Internship Program

Thank you to our 11th grade students who represented AISB during their week of internship, January 12-16. Our students successfully put into practice their academic knowledge and language skills in a variety of Bamako-based organizations. This year’s placements included Mali Sahel Aviation Service, Edificare Architectural Firm, A Child For All Orphanage, Santoro Restaurant, Azalai Hotel Salam, The European Union Delegation, Commerce Général, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, The Malaria Research and Training Center, Laboratoire PA & KA, The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, and The American International School’s PE Program. 

This experience allowed students to gain real-world experience by interviewing, creating a CV, participating in pre-service workshops, and speaking on a panel for future AISB interns. The students especially enjoyed learning more about the community and culture in which they live and seeing how professionals interact with one another on a daily basis. The take away: Work is hard. You must have patience. Make sure to find something that you truly enjoy. Learn how to pick your battles. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

For many students, this was an experience that they will never forget! They learned about themselves and their career interests. They also gained confidence and additional subject-area knowledge. Many students are making plans to continue with their organization through service learning opportunities or part-time jobs. We are proud of their efforts to make this week a success and we look forward to continuing the program next year.

Lauren McBroom
Internship Program Coordinator

Mohammed Raising Mosquitoes!
Pascal at the airport
Paul Lou At the European Union

Technology Upgrades at AISB Next Year

AISB is in the process of finalizing a technology strategic plan to carry it through the next five years. Since October, a working group composed of students and teachers have been working to define AISB’s strategic plan for technology for the coming five years. 

Following a period in which the group reviewed literature about best practices for integrating technology, conducted research about other international schools and gathered data from parents and teachers by holding a community forum, the senior class synthesized this data into a proposal for the board. The seniors presented their findings to the board at the end of January, and board expressed its support for the recommendations of the working group to purchase tablets for the elementary school and move to a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy for the secondary school starting in the 2015-16 school year.

At the elementary levels, the school will purchase tablets for its lower grades, which offer specialized apps designed for the developmental needs of young children. Grades 4 and 5 will have access to Chromebook laptops for every student to facilitate creativity, collaboration and problem-solving using technology.

In the secondary school, students will be required to bring their own device to school every day in order to facilitate their learning. Over the coming weeks, AISB will publish a handbook with the details of how this will work as well as recommendations about what types of devices would be appropriate. AISB already has a campus-wide WiFi network, upgraded bandwidth, and a student population where over 80% own their own devices, so a BYOD model fits well with the existing environment and allow the school to offer an even more enriching, current, and dynamic learning environment.

Matt Kelsey
IT Coordinator

Literacy Day Happens This Month

Dear AISB Community,

At AISB we are committed to instilling a love of reading into every student. The importance of reading cannot be overstated. Reading helps children in all school subjects. Importantly, it is the key to lifelong learning. Helping your child become a good reader is an important thing that you can do to help him/her be successful.

One of the programs that we organize at AISB to encourage parents and students to READ, is Literacy Day. This year it is planned for Wednesday, February 25, so mark your calendars. There will be many activities, including a Book Fair. We have a lot of interesting books for student through Middle School age. The Book Fair may continue on February 26th if books don’t sell out.

I am looking forward to seeing you all at this event.

Souleymane Kone

Grade 3 Mystery Skype

Mystery Skype is an educational game, invented by teachers, played by two classrooms on Skype. The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking each other questions. 

It is suitable for all age groups and can be used to teach subjects like geography, history, languages, mathematics and science.

Classes are only allowed to ask each other questions which can be answered with a “Yes” or “No” answer. The number of questions may be limited to 20 if you want an additional challenge. These lessons can be more spontaneous and require students to think on their feet as the questions aren’t prepared in advance.

Grade 3 practiced the sorts of questions to ask. Some starting questions like:
  • Are you north or south of the equator?
  • Is your country in Asia?
  • Is it in the north of Asia?......

Depending on the answer 'Yes' or 'No' they started to look at what other questions to ask.
The third graders had organized some students looking at the map, some who could ask questions, some answering, and a person who wrote down the answers.

It was great fun. The third grade kids narrowed it down quickly to the southwestern part of Asia and they others had said it was a small country. After that we got a bit stuck. There were four small countries left….While we were thinking about a last clever question to ask, our Skype friends  guessed that we were in Mali just before we asked them if they were from Kuwait.

The students we talked with were wearing uniforms, they all sat at separate desks, and had some Asian/Western features. 

Aafke Zoutewelle
Grade 3 teacher

Mathematician of the Month, December: Jules Henry Poincaré

Did you know that:

  •  He was born on the 29th of April 1854 (Bastiaan)
  • His father was a physician (Michaella)
  • He grew up in Nancy (Jonathan)
  • He studied mathematics at the École Polytechnique in Paris from 1873 to 1875. After continuing his studies at the Mining School in Caen, he received his doctorate from the École Polytechnique in 1879 (Jonathan)
  • He had a phenomenal memory and never took notes in class. Although his eyesight was poor, after reading a book, he could recall the page on which any statement occurred (Michaella)
  • During his studies he discovered new types of complex functions that solved a wide variety of differential equations (Jonathan). This involved one of the first applications of non-Euclidean Geometry, a subject discovered about 1830, but not generally accepted until the 1860s and ‘70s (Jonathan)
  • He published a series of papers in 1880-84 on this which made his name known internationally (Jonathan). In the 1880s he also began work on the behavior of singular points of differential equations (Jonathan)
  • His main achievement in mathematical physics was his treatment of electromagnetic theories of Hermann van Helmholtz, Heinrich Hertz and Hendrik Lorentz, which seemed to contradict Newton’s Law of Mechanics (Jonathan)
  • He obtained the perfect invariance of all of Maxwell’s equations (Karima)
  • Which made him come close to anticipating Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (Jonathan)
  • He was interested in what the human mind understands, rather than what it can formalize (Jonathan). He therefore argued that although Euclidean and non-Euclidean Geometry are equally true, physics should be formulated in terms of Euclidean Geometry, but  was proven wrong by Einstein (Jonathan)
  • He was critical of attempts to reduce mathematics to symbolic logic or axiomatic set theory. He was proven right by Kurt Gõdel in 1931 (Jonathan)
  • He formulated the ‘Poincarė Conjecture’, which was one of the most famous unsolved mathematical problems until it was solved in 2002-2003 (Michaella)
  • He was one of the founders of the modern Chaos Theory (Karima)
  • He was considered for the Nobel Prize of Physics, but his work was too theoretical (Jonathan)
  • He is considered one of the greatest mathematicians in France (Bastiaan)In 1911 he received the Bruce Medal of the Astronomical Soceity of the Pacific for his contributions in astronomy (Bastiaan)
  • He was also a philosopher and scientist (Bastiaan)
  • He is referred to as the last of the universalists, able to understand and contribute to almost all areas of mathematics (Bastiaan)
  • He is also described as a polymath (Karima)

  • Some of his famous quotes (Wei Qi): 
    • ‘Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things’
    • ‘Mathematicians do not study objects, but relations between objects’
    • ‘A very small cause which escapes our attention may determine a considerable effect, that we cannot fail to see, and then we say that effect is due to chance’
  • He passed away on the 17th of July 1912 (Bastiaan)

Anke Robertus

Important Upcoming Dates


Thu 12 Feb

Elementary assembly featuring Advanced French
7:35 - 7:55am
Fri 13 Feb
No school, teacher in-service
Mon 16 Feb
No school, President's Day (US Holiday)
Thu 19 Feb
AISB Board meeting (all are invited) 6:30am
Fri 20 Feb
Quarter 3 Progress Reports sent home for selected students
Wed 21 Feb
Literacy Day
Thu 26 Feb
Elementary assembly featuring Music, 7:35 - 7:55am
Fri 27 Feb

PTO Meeting, 7:30am – everyone welcome


Fri 6 March
Elementary School Sports Day
Last day of Q3 after school activities
Thu 12 March
Elementary assembly featuring Kindergarten, 
7:35 - 7:55am
Fri 13 March
PTO Meeting, 7:30a.m  - everyone welcome
Secondary School Intramurals after school
Thu 17 March
Elementary School Francophone Assembly
AISB Board meeting (all are invited) 6:30pm
Fri 20 March
MS and HS Drama Performances, 2:00pm
End of Q3
Mon 23 March
- Fri 27 March
Spring Break School Holiday

Remember the most recent AISB monthly calendar is available on the AISB website homepage. Please visit www.aisbmali.org for the most recent calendar.