What Does Writing Look Like in the Elementary School?

Over the past three years, we have partnered with a literacy expert and consultant, Stephen Graham. Within the Elementary School, he has supported our professional growth and development specifically in the teaching of writing. This week, we have had the privilege of another visit to extend our understanding and support student learning. Teachers have engaged by observing modeled lessons, deconstructing best practice of teaching writing to students and attending professional development sessions related to grammar and inquiry-based writing led by Stephen. During his visit this year for the first time he led a session for parents and they were active learners in a session outlining the Explicitly Teaching Writing programme.
What do we know now about the best practice about writing?

Reading more has a partial impact on becoming a better writer, however we also must explicitly teach the elements of text types for writing. It is important to know: What do good writers do? How can we emulate this ourselves as writers? What is most important model in writing to support students? What literary elements are most essential for students within various text types?

At UNIS, how does our writing programme work?

As a student moves through the Elementary school, they are exposed and taught nine different text types, or genres within three bands of writing: persuasive, informative and imaginative. Text types are taught within a meaningful and authentic context, often within units of inquiry, with grammar and writing features embedded within the explicit teaching of a text type. For example, within an information report, a student may be learning about technical vocabulary, simple and compound sentences and present tense. All text types contain clear success criteria which students and teachers use throughout the writing process.

At UNIS Hanoi we have a clear scope and sequence of which text types are taught within each year level and in all grades students write one text type from the persuasive, informative and imaginative category.

If you want someone to be a good writer, I should be able to verbalize to you exactly what makes a good procedure, narrative, exposition….etc – not tell you to go ‘make it better’. We are able to do this now with Explicitly Teaching Writing”. -Stephen Graham
If you would like to know more about our writing programme, please don’t hesitate to be in contact with your homeroom teacher, PYP coordinator,
Angela Meikle or Elementary Literacy coordinator, Angela Brienza.

PYP Exhibition parent coffee morning – Friday, March 2nd

Please join us the entire Grade 5 team for an informative session all about the Grade 5 PYP Exhibition.

When: Friday 2nd March
Time: 8:15-8:45 a.m.
Location: ECC gym
Your children will begin tuning in to the Exhibition upon returning from Tet holidays. Please mark your calendars now for the important event – April 24th and 26th. On both days students will be sharing their learning during the school day in the foyer of the Centre for the Arts. On the evening of April 26th at 6 p.m. students will be sharing their work with families and the learning community within Hanoi.
If you would like to learn more or discover different strategies to support your child throughout the Exhibition, then we look forward to seeing you at this meeting!

PYP Exhibition parent coffee morning

Please join us the entire Grade 5 team for an informative session all about the Grade 5 PYP Exhibition.

When: Friday 2nd March
Time: 8:15-8:45 a.m.
Location: ECC gym
Your children will begin tuning in to the Exhibition upon returning from Tet holidays. Please mark your calendars now for the important event – April 24th and 26th. On both days students will be sharing their learning during the school day in the foyer of the Centre for the Arts. On the evening of April 26th at 6 p.m. students will be sharing their work with families and the learning community within Hanoi.
If you would like to learn more or discover different strategies to support your child throughout the Exhibition, then we look forward to seeing you at this meeting!

Connecting to our ES community!

At UNIS Hanoi, two of our three core values are learning and community. As a learning community in the Elementary School, we believe in the vital partnership with parents to support the success of our students by promoting understanding of our Primary Years Programme (PYP). To ensure there is deep understanding, delivering workshops in languages other than English is a commitment we hold. Recently, we hosted An Introduction to the PYP for the Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese community groups with a fully translated slideshow and live translation during the event. Additional resources such as the programme of inquiry, home learning policy and more were also translated for each event.

Multilingualism and the promotion of a mother tongue is a non-negotiable aspect of all IB programmes. Students must take an additional language and teachers must provide opportunities within classes for the consideration of mother tongue. In collaboration with the Advancement office, cultural liaisons, and the PYP coordinator, workshops were developed to support all members of our UNIS Hanoi community in understanding integral elements of their child’s experience at an IB school.

If you were unable to attend or would like access to the resources from the recent workshops, they are available below. Thoughts and feedback are being sought by all community groups as to next steps in continuing to strengthen our parent workshop series within the Elementary School.

How can I find out more about the IB and PYP in resources translated into Vietnamese, Korean or Japanese?

Vietnamese

Korean

Japanese

Speak with your school’s PYP coordinator, pypcoordinator@unishanoi.org

Visit the IB website at www.ibo.org

Agency and the PYP

The concept of ‘agency’ is a trending educational term which has been a concept within schools for many years and now is gaining increased mainstream use. To build shared understanding as a UNIS community, in this blog post we will explore:
  • What is agency?
  • Why is it important and relevant?
  • How is agency defined by the PYP?
  • What might agency look like in practice?
The PYP is currently finalizing a review of its programme which recently has been shared with school communities. This has lead to reflection by UNIS teachers as to ways in which we can align our practice with the emerging enhancements. Agency has been included as a central component of the updates as defined by the PYP.

So what is agency?

Agency is fundamental to learning. Agency “enable[s] people to play a part in their self- development, adaptation, and self-renewal with changing times” (Bandura 2001).

What is agency as defined by the PYP?

Agency is the power to take meaningful and intentional action, and acknowledges the rights and responsibilities of the individual, supporting voice, choice and ownership for everyone in the learning community.

Agency is present when students partner with teachers and members of the learning community to take charge of what, where, why, with whom and when they learn. This provides opportunities to demonstrate and reflect on knowledge, approaches to learning and attributes of the learner profile.

Students with agency:

  • have voice, choice and ownership; and a propensity to take action
  • influence and direct learning
  • contribute to and participate in the learning community.

Why is agency important and relevant?

The goal of agency is student action. Action is an essential element of all IB programmes and can take various forms, such as:

  • Social justice
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Participation
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Advocacy

What might this look like in practice?

You may notice or hear at home students have increased choice and voice in parts of their day or organizing their learning. As a school, we are reflecting on ways in which we can promote agency through many aspects of our programme. Some of these may include, but are not limited to:

  • personalising learning
  • creating learning environments to support social, physical and emotional well-being
  • creating a culture of respect
  • collaborating and co-constructing learning and learning goals.

A commitment to agency in the enhanced PYP and at UNIS will create a culture within the learning community where students co-construct and self-adjust their learning experiences, building self-efficacy, a greater sense of learning ownership and contributing to their social, emotional and cognitive growth.

How can I find out more about agency, the IB and PYP?

  • Speak with your child’s classroom teacher
  • Visit your child’s individual blog and class blog
  • Speak with your school’s PYP coordinator, pypcoordinator@unishanoi.org

Visit the IB website at www.ibo.org

A weekend of learning

Lower Elementary colleagues with Early Years consultant, Fiona Zinn.

“Knowing where you are, where you find yourself, helps you to develop a sense of your own identity and your place in the world… Every place has its own spirit, its own past and its own aspirations.” Jerome Bruner

This past weekend, our Lower Elementary faculty, as part of a group of 50 colleagues from all over the Asia Pacific region, engaged in specialized professional development entitled ‘Listening to Learning in the Early Years, Pedagogical encounters between our own contexts and the ideas of Reggio Emilia.’ The workshop explored some of the ideas that underpin the pedagogical experience of Reggio Emilia, a district in Northern Italy which has over the last 4 decades worked to develop an approach to early childhood education that is regarded as best practice the world over. The Reggio Emilia approach at its core sees each child as competent and capable. Listening to children’s thoughts and ideas, careful documentation of their thinking and creating environments that all students to extend their thinking all form a part of this approach.

We were very fortunate to have the workshop facilitated by renowned Early Years consultant Fiona Zinn. Drawing on 25 years experience in the early childhood, primary and tertiary sectors, Fiona consults widely with International Schools around the world to boldly re-imagine early years and primary pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments in response to research.

Development between birth and 8 years old is regarded as a ‘time of remarkable brain growth that lays the foundation for subsequent learning and development.”  UNESCO, 2009.

The workshop provided much food for thought. It validated many of the excellent practices we already have in place in our setting and gave the faulty the opportunity to examine how we can continue to grow and develop all that we do in the Lower Elementary school.

Have a lovely weekend,

Nitasha Chaudhuri

Deputy Principal, Lower Elementary

 

Understanding Mathematics at UNIS Hanoi: Upcoming Parent Sessions

Have you ever wondered how you can best support your student in mathematics? Have you wondered why mathematics classes look different than when you were a student? We will be hosting two sessions for curious parents to find out more, led by our Elementary Mathematics subject leader, Elizabeth Murray.

In these sessions, there will be a focus on how to talk with your children about mathematics and how to experience mathematics outside of school with them. Additionally, we will explore how to build a partnership between home and school related to mathematics in order to benefit your child’s learning. More importantly, you will get the opportunity to engage in mathematics to experience how your child learns within the school environment.

The first session will be for parents of Grade 2 to 5 students. This session will be tonight, Thursday, October 19th from 7-8 pm in the Community Room.

The second session will be for ECC parents (Discovery to Grade 1). This will be on Friday, October 27th from 8:30 to 9:30am in the Community Room.

We look forward to seeing many of you there.

An Inquiry into the Primary Years Programme (PYP)

This year we are celebrating many special milestones at UNIS Hanoi, one being our 30th anniversary as a school. Another special distinction that we hold is being the first international school within the Asia-Pacific region to be authorized by the International Baccalaureate (IB) to use the Primary Years Programme (PYP) in 1998. Although we are nearing our 20-year mark as an IB PYP school, sharing information about the programme is still vital annual work with all stakeholders.

 

What is the Primary Years Programme?
The PYP is an inquiry-driven, concept-based curriculum framework for young learners aged 3–12 designed by the IB. Founded on a philosophy that recognizes a child’s natural curiosity, creativity and ability to reflect, the PYP generates a stimulating, challenging learning environment to nurture a lifelong love of learning in every child. The PYP is transdisciplinary, meaning students learn across subject areas while investigating big ideas.

 

Does the PYP have a specific set of standards?
In the PYP, students learn about significant concepts through units of inquiry. The six transdisciplinary themes that guide units of inquiry and compose a year of study are:
  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organize ourselves
  • Sharing the planet.
Units of inquiry interweave subject areas such as mathematics, language, science, social studies, arts and personal social physical education. This approach encourages students to make their own connections between what they learn in core subject areas and how it relates to the world around them.
At UNIS Hanoi, we outline our specific knowledge content and academic curriculum from different countries such as Australia (ACARA), America (C3 Framework) and Canada (Ontario curriculum), and are guided by the following five essential elements in the PYP framework:
  • The knowledge content is organized under the transdisciplinary themes. Transdisciplinary themes are revisited each year, so that the end result is immersion in broad-ranging, in-depth, articulated curriculum content.
  • Key concepts which have relevance within each subject area, and across and beyond all subject areas, support a concept-based curriculum. For example, within a unit that investigates migration, a key concept might be causation, or in a unit focusing on community a key concept could be responsibility.
  • The learning skills aim to help students become independent, well-functioning, self-motivated learners.
  • The learning attitudes aim to develop a lifelong love of learning and nurture a child’s curiosity and confidence.
  • The action component emphasizes the need to connect the student with his or her own potential and responsibility for using what was learned.
Have studies been done on the impact of the PYP?
The IB places great value on external validation of its programmes, curriculums and professional development. A recent Global International Schools’ Assessment study found that PYP students outperformed non-IB students in mathematics, reading and writing. Additional studies on programme impact, quality assurance, programme development and assessment research are available at www.ibo.org/research.

 

How can I find out more about the IB and PYP?
  • Attend our upcoming ES parent coffee morning all about the PYP, Friday, September 22nd at 8:30 a.m. in the Community Room
    • Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese translated sessions to be scheduled and hosted soon!
  • Speak with your child’s classroom teacher
  • Visit your child’s individual blog and class blog
  • Read your Grade Level Guide, posted on the class blog of your child under the tab ‘Curriculum’
  • Contact your school’s PYP coordinator, pypcoordinator@unishanoi.org
  • Visit the IB website at www.ibo.org

    PYP programme model