Parenting in the Digital Age Session Recap

Thank you to all those who attended our first parent tech session of the year! Here’s a recap of last week’s session:

A Balanced Life in the Digital Age: What does this mean to you?

We kicked off our session by sharing our thoughts on how we define a balanced life in this day and age. We have differing opinions surrounding the role of technology in our children’s  lives  – what one considers to be an ‘unhealthy’ amount of technology use may be different from another. Some adults struggle with the fact that we did not grow up with technology as our children have.  This  presents a challenge as parents figure out the right balance between providing the best ‘digital discipline’ to kids and giving them the freedom to learn about and explore the digital world.

 Circle of Viewpoints Activity


We continued to examine more of the challenges parents grapple with by investigating several ‘family’ scenarios dealing with the following issues: communication, privacy, cyber bullying, gaming, parent surveillance and online vs. face-to-face interaction. What followed each scenario were thought-provoking discussions that addressed  the different perspectives with which we viewed the situations. We also discussed the  issues which may not have been apparent at first glance as well as possible responses to each scenario. Below is a summary of the guiding principles and effective strategies that parents can apply in similar situations:

Guiding Principles

  • Your response to a situation is going to depend on maturity and age of the child. What may be appropriate for your 10 year old child may not necessarily work for your teenager.
  • Before taking action, we must try to understand motivations behind children’s behaviors.
  • The cognitive development of adolescents limits their ability to self-control. Studies have shown that the part of your child’s brain that governs judgment is not fully developed until they are in their 20’s. This means that your child will need rules and structure to help them regulate their tech use.
  • Steer away from banning or blocking the use of technologies as a consequence. This may work temporarily, but it can also encourage rebellious behavior.  Give your child the opportunity to practice managing their online identity in a safe environment.
  • Keep the communication channels open. Provide opportunities to engage in dialog with your child.

 Other Gems of Advice (Thanks to our participants for some of these tips!)

  • Multitasking is great for rote tasks, but may not be the best option for activities that require you to focus  on the job at hand (ex. finishing a project)
  • Establish a common space where your child can access the computer.
  • If the situation has escalated to a point where the child’s school work is getting affected,  do not hesitate to get the school involved.

 Some Online Resources:

  • Talk to your child about your expectations for technology use at home. Use this Family Media Agreement  to set up your guidelines.
  • Looking for more guidance? Here are some Family Sheet Tips from Commonsense Media site to assist you in your family discussions about certain topics:




Effective Email CommunicationPrivacy and Digital Footprints Protecting and Respecting PrivacySafe Online Talk Risky Online RelationshipsPrivacy and Digital Footprints

Hope to see you in our second Parent Tech Session! Kindly confirm your attendance by sending a message to

 Using Technology to Transform Learning (Creativity), 14th October, Monday at the Library Projection Room – Oftentimes we fall into the trap of only using technology to replicate things that we were already doing before, ie. digital paper.  In this workshop we will talk about some of the exciting ways we can use technology to open up new avenues of learning and creativity.


GEEK is the Word!

Getting Ready to Geek!

On Wednesday we held our 3rd Annual SpeedGeeking session (previous post here). Like I said in an email to all the teachers, this is my favorite day of the year! SpeedGeeking is an opportunity for our teachers to learn, celebrate, socialize, and hopefully get inspired.

In the past, speedgeeking has been a highly orchestrated affair, involving different rotations, various groups and multiple locations. At the end of it, there were a lot of teachers with glazed-over eyes, scratchy throats and full brains! This year, we decided to simplify: 18 presentations divided into two rooms, groups were made at random and on-the-fly (the ol’ pick-a-number-out-of-the-hat trick) and each group only went through one room. Each presentation was 7 minutes long with about 20 seconds to rotate to each new station.

After a delicious mid-afternoon snack, we had about 45 minutes to just sit and digest, both the food and what we’d just seen! In addition to all the great ideas they had just seen, we were able to talk with our colleagues about what happened in the other room. We’re hoping this can help spark conversations for months to come.

A huge THANK YOU! to all of the presenters who shared a small bit of their teaching practice with us. Without you all, an event like this could never be successful!

Below is a list of all 18 presentation topics. If you were a presenter and would like me to link to anything, let me know. If you want to learn any more about any of these topics, the presenters are good people to start that conversation with!

  • Research Better with Social Bookmarking (Diigo) – Kelsey G.
  • Using Edcanvas as a presentation tool – Jan H.
  • Flubaroo – Neil F.
  • Mixcraft with Elementary students – Sally O.
  • Coach’s Eye – Mel H.
  • Class sites with Google Sites – John G.
  • Class blogs – Jen P.
  • Digital Ads using Photostory – Jennifer K.
  • G8 Drama animation/movie – Anne Marie D.
  • VoiceThread/Animoto – Abigail L.
  • ThreeRing in ECC – Andy D.
  • Scribble Maps – John H.
  • Using Prezi – Simon N.
  • Pecha Kucha w/ students – Susan C.
  • Copying and Copyright in the Creative Classroom – Michelle W.
  • Learning Numeracy (and Coding) using Scratch – Mindy S.
  • Robotics – Mags M.
  • “Cutting out Kids” with Photoshop – Chris F.

Tech PD – Past, Present and Future

Over this school year, there have been some great opportunities for teachers to learn with others about using technology to enhance and transform learning experiences. It’s been a mix of internal sessions, UNIS-sponsored events, and external events. A quick (partial) recap:

  • In addition to mini-workshops hosted by Clint and Michelle, there was a D-12 T^4 (Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology) session in January that included a mini unconference session.
  • Also in January, the first of the Innovative Learning Projects began, giving teachers an opportunity to fund ideas they have about teaching and learning.
  • In March, UNIS Hanoi co-sponsored the inaugural Vietnam Tech Conference (VTC) in Ho Chi Minh City. This was a great opportunity to meet teachers from other schools in Vietnam as well as for UNIS Hanoi teachers to showcase some of the ways they are innovating in their classrooms.
  • We are lucky to have some of the best educational technology conferences take place in our backyard: both Learning 2.0 and the 21st Century Learning conference had UNIS representation.
  • May 15 will be our final D-12 Technology PD opportunity and will take the form of our 3rd annual SpeedGeeking session.

Looking forward to the 2013-2014 school year, the technology professional development opportunities are already piling up. I would encourage all of you to consider at least one of the following:

  • UNIS Hanoi will be hosting the Vietnam Tech Conference next year on February 14 and 15. This is an excellent opportunity to present on a wide range of topics. There is a lot of expertise here at UNIS and this is a chance to share it with our colleagues in Vietnam.
  • Learning 2.0 is taking place in Singapore October 10 -13. Registration is now open and will probably be full before school begins in August.
  • ASB Unplugged is taking place in Mumbai February 27 – March 1, 2014. Registration is open and this conference will also fill up quickly!
  • 21st Century Learning in Hong Kong will be December 12 – 14.
  • There are a series of Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summits taking place in the region:
    • Hanoi!: September 14 – 15
    • Bangkok: September 21 – 22
    • Kuala Lumpur: October 19 – 20
    • Manila: November 9 – 10

If you are interested in any of these conferences, check the websites for details or talk to Ed, Michelle, Clint or Meagan. 

If you have any feedback from this year’s sessions, or ideas for next year, please leave a comment below!

Too Old for Fairytales

Have you ever seen something that made you think “That was amazing!” and “How in the world did they do that?” A group of Grade 8 students (Young Ju, AP, Seyon, Matteu and Ricky) have worked together with Ms Wise and the Australian recording group MA (Victoria White and Drew Crawford) to create a fabulous “stop motion musical adventure” (in their words) that has students and teachers from around the world – Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Peru, Shanghai, the Netherlands, to name a few! – asking “How did they do that?!?”

Check it out:

Too Old For Fairytales from UNIS Hanoi on Vimeo.

This story starts with two ordinary people in their daily lives, when one day, one clumsy action leads them through portals to an imaginative adventure. In this new world, everyday objects become the landscape for this stop-motion musical adventure. The sounds and images reel in the audience with colorful rhythms and visual harmony.
In the process of making this animation we had a lot of support from the following:
First off, a special thanks to the band MA, Victoria Davies and Drew Crawford, for letting us use their song “Horses Dream of Horses” that perfectly fit our video. Secondly, we would like to thank our families for supporting us and providing us with the necessary equipment; and lastly, we would of course really like to thank Ms. Michelle Wise for supporting us in this project from beginning to end in every way possible.

Crew members (in alphabetical order):
Anh Phuong Nguyen, Matteu Motyl, Ricky Kimura, Seyon Park, Young Ju Lee
Director: Anh Phuong Nguyen
Photographer: Young Ju Lee
Editors: Anh Phuong Nguyen, Young Ju Lee, Seyon Park
Props Managers: Seyon Park, Ricky Kimura
Actors: Matteu Motyl, Anh Phuong Nguyen

#VTC2013 Recap

This past weekend 18 member of the UNIS Hanoi community went down to Saigon South International School and participated in the inaugural Vietnam Tech Conference (#vtc2013). The conference brought together over 90 teachers from international schools in Vietnam (and one from China!) to discuss how technology is transforming  learning and education. Here are some of the highlights, as suggested by the teachers who went:

SpeedGeeking on Day 2

In addition, we had a number of teachers present workshops:

  • Cathie Matthews – Making young children’s thinking visible, by using PowerPoint and Animoto
  • Abigail Lopez and Maite Montero Nahoum – Animoto for Beginners; Voicethread for Beginners
  • Tracy Smith – A Homeroom Teacher’s Journey
  • Michelle Matias – 10 Ways to Maximize Your Google Experience
  • Nhan Nguyen – Templates and Forms in Microsoft Word
  • Mel Hamada – Assessing Performance Based Units using Mobile Technology
  • Clint Hamada – Three Pillars of Digital Citizenship

Thanks to all of the teachers who helped make the first edition of this conference a success. And special thanks to the admin team for supporting this conference so whole-heartedly!

UNIS Hanoi is going to be the site of VTC2014 (currently planned for mid February). Start planning your presentations now!

Image Credit: #speedgeeking by Clint Hamada licensed under CC BY NC SA

3 Ideas for Using Google Docs in Class

Now that all students in grades 5 – 12 have a Google Apps account, it’s easier than ever to take advantage of this amazing tool. Here are three ideas that you might be able to use in your classroom:

  1. Use Google Docs as an alternative to our school dropboxes.By using GDocs, students can turn in documents from anywhere they have an internet connection without flooding your inbox with emails and attachments. It also gives students more ownership and responsibility over their work.
    How it works: Each student in your class creates a folder in Drive and shares it with you. Now, anything that goes into that folder is automatically shared with you. When students need to submit work, they just drag it into the shared folder. If you have ‘edit’ rights, you can add comments/feedback that they can see instantly. If you would like to add the work to the digital lockers, you can download the Doc as a Word file or as a .PDF. (Pro Tip: make sure the students use the UNIS Naming Conventions on the GDoc so you don’t have to rename the file when you download it!)
  2. Use Google Presentations to create truly collaborative presentations. Many times, “group presentations” involve one student editing a PowerPoint while the rest of the group waits and then emailing it to another student so s/he can do the next part. With Google Presentations, multiple people can edit the same presentation simultaneously.
    How it works: One student creates a presentation in Drive and shares it with the other group members. While not as feature-rich as PowerPoint, there is still plenty that students can do including: adding images, adding videos from YouTube, changing the theme, adding speaker notes, adding basic transitions. Once the group presentation is complete, it can be viewed online, embedded into a blog post or other online space, or downloaded as a PowerPoint file.
  3. Use Google Forms and Flubaroo to create self-graded quizzes that are great for quick formative assessments. One of the promises of computers has always been to make our lives easier! With Google Forms, you can quickly make a short quiz to check understanding or to use as an ‘exit ticket’. Flubaroo is a script that will then grade the quiz and give you a summary of the class answers. It can even email results back to individual students with the answer key!
    How it works: Flubaroo is a free script that was developed by a teacher and shared with the world! Simply install the script on the answer spreadsheet and follow the on-screen directions. When grading the quiz, Flubaroo simply compares student answers to an answer key that the teacher puts in. Because of this, it is only appropriate for multiple choice or short-answer questions. Knowing that going in, it’s easy to design a quick formative assessment that can harness the power of Flubaroo while giving you good data from your class!

If you have any questions about the above, leave ’em in the comments. If you have any other ways in which you use GDocs in your classroom, leave those in the comments too!