Super Smog in China

Please read this article about the Super smog in China:

I chose this article because personally, I am really interested in the Environmental issues.

I have a few questions about this:

  • Does this happen in only China or around the world?
  • Is the industry related to this smog?
  • How the smog does happen to the whole China?
  • How do the Chinese people feel about this situation?
  • Is the Government of China trying to fix it?

Please share your opinion and respond to these question in the comment section. Make sure when you comment that you are using your best writing skills (full sentences, edited work) and being respectful in the way you interact with each other, question each other and share your opinions.

Thank you!

Ayumu Saita

Student written Hot Topics

Starting this week students are taking over the Hot Topics blog.  Instead of the teacher posting a weekly news article the students will be in charge. The student of the week will submit the Hot Topic to me on Thursday, I will then post the Hot Topic by Friday.  This week Ayumu is in charge of the Hot Topic post. The rest of the class will then comment on the Hot Topic blog the following week.  I have created a sample Hot Topics post about TCK’s. Click on the Hot Topics link above to view it.  Below are guidelines for the Hot Topics blog.

Hot Topics can include:

  • News article
  • Video (Youtube) about a topic
  • Poem
  • Song
  • Something you write
  • Something happening at school

A good Hot Topic post will:

  • Have a local or personal connection.
  • Include an explanation of why you chose this topic.
  • Include some questions or thoughts.
  • Be proofread and edited by the student.

Good sources for finding  a Hot Topic post:

Local news sources:

Kid friendly news sites:

Third Culture Kids

Colors by Whitni Thomas, MK (1991)

I grew up in a Yellow country But my parents are Blue. I’m Blue.

Or at least, that is what they told me.

But I play with the Yellows. I went to school with the Yellows. I spoke the Yellow language. I even dressed and appeared to be Yellow.

Then I moved to the Blue land. Now I go to school with the Blues. I speak the Blue language. I even dress and look Blue.

But deep down, inside me, something’s Yellow. I love the Blue country. But my ways are tinted with Yellow.

When I am in the Blue land, I want to be Yellow. When I am in the Yellow land, I want to be Blue.

Why can’t I be both? A place where I can be me.

A place where I can be green. I just want to be green.

I chose this poem because it expresses a concept that I think about often. This poem describes a third culture kid. A third culture kid is someone who has lived outside of their parents culture. My kids are both third culture kids. By passport they are both American but if you ask Aubrey she will tell you she is from Vietnam, which she is in some ways. She was born in Hanoi and has lived her entire life here. Yet, she is not really Vietnamese.  At the same time she isn’t really American either.

This is obvious to me when we go back home.  Things that are normal to me are strange to her. For instance in the U.S. she was really confused by the oversized grocery stores and walk-in closets. When she is in Vietnam she is much more comfortable with some things than I am. For instance she eats Vietnamese food like a pro. I am a bit more wimpy when it comes to eating squid or fatty parts of meat.

I love that about her. I love that she can navigate foreign countries so well. I love that her best friend is Swiss. I love that she can say hello in 5 different languages. I love that she knows exactly how to navigate her way through an airport. I love that when she plays in the park, it doesn’t matter to her if the person she plays with speaks only Vietnamese or only French. She can play with anyone. Because deep inside she understands what many adults don’t. She gets that people are just people, no matter where they are from. We have differences but we are similar in the ways that count.  For her all she cares about is that her new friends from the park can climb trees with her and play tag. She doesn’t care that they don’t speak the same language.

So there are many positives for having my children grow up as TCK’s but there are also big negatives.  I worry about how often people move in and out of my children’s life. Even if we decide to stay in Vietnam for the next 30 years, not all of Aubrey and Ian’s friends will do the same. It is inevitable that they will have numerous friends move in and out of their life. I worry about how that will effect them.

I also worry about how they will adjust to life in the United States one day. It is most likely that at some point in their life they will move back to the states.  How will my kids adjust to living in a country where they have never lived. A country where so many things surprise them, a country where they look like they should fit in but they might not?

So I would love your feedback.  You might not all be TCK’s by definition but all of you have experienced a lot of change and experience with cultures other than your own.  What do you think? What are your experiences? Do you think being a TCK is worth it or not?

Making a quality comment

Make a compliment – Be positive and specific

Add a comment – fact

Make a connection

Finish with a question

Check spelling and punctuation

Our Week in 5MS

Math: We have spent time learning about and practicing order of operations. We have learned the acronym BODMAS to help us remember which order we calculate problems in. We have also worked with prime numbers. We discovered several “tricks” to identifying prime numbers.  Lastly we worked with negative numbers. Students put negative numbers in order, identified examples of negative numbers in real life and solved various problems using negative numbers. Students were challenged with the question “If you multiply a negative number by a negative what do you get? Explain why.” 

Literacy: Our writing workshop lessons have focused on narrowing down our writing and focusing on the most important details. We have analyzed and compared several writing samples to identify which ones effectively demonstrated this skill. Next, we conferred with our peers trying to identify the most important aspect of our story. We have each chosen a piece of writing that we would like to publish. We have begun revising our first draft. Next week we will learn how to edit. Then we will create our first published writing story of the year!

UOI: This week we wrote a synthesis about what we have learned from last weeks rotations.  This unit we will demonstrate out understanding of electricity through dance.  See the video “Dance you PHD”> to get an idea of how you can dance your understanding. This week we went on a field trip to Panasonic Risupia

We traveled to Panasonic Risupia for a fun filled morning of scientific inquiry and learning. We were split into 3 groups and given the opportunity to independently visit a variety of engaging centers that prompted us to ask questions, make connections to our current UOI unit on Electricity and work together with our classmates to solve puzzles and challenges. In addition to these center activities, we were shown interactive 3D videos and encouraged to share our prior knowledge with the Panasonic presenters. Not only were we encouraged to think and interact together as inquirers, but we were also guided to connect our current understandings of energy consumption to the greater world issues of global warming and ecological impact we have on our environment.

What a great morning of discovery! Please enjoy a short film of our trip:

An Attack in Pakistan

Here is an article from Time For Kids written by Krista Mahr and published on October 10, 2012.  Please read the article and then respond to the following questions in the comment section.


  1. From whose perspective is this story being told?
  2. What might another perspective be?
  3. Should UNIS students and teachers care about this story?


Make sure when you comment that you are using your best writing skills (full sentences, edited work) and being respectful in the way you interact with each other, question each other and share your opinions.

Exploring and Discovering Electricity

Tuning In:

At first the students were given materials to explore with. They quickly started to make simple circuits using wires, light bulbs, motors, and batteries. What they were able to create together was fascinating.

Finding out:

Then the students were to find out exactly how a circuit works and share their understanding with the class.

Sorting out and going Further:

During the past few days the students have participated in Electricity rotations. Each rotation had a different focus.

1.       What is Electricity?: With Ms. Karen

During this rotation the students learned that electricity is a flow of electrons. They also participated in a Jeopardy game testing their acquired knowledge of Electricity so far.

2.       Atoms: With Ms. Jenny

Here they learned all about the different parts of an Atom and how it works.

3.       Conductors and Insulators: With Ms. Mindy

Students explored different types of materials that conduct and insulate electricity.

4.       Static Electricity: With Mr. Daniel

At this station the students explored static electricity and how it works.


Next Step: Making Connections

In the next few lessons students will be synthesizing what they learned from each of the rotations. They can create a poster, mini booklet or a pamphlet explaining what they know and understand about electricity. Within their creation they will share their understanding using the features of non-fiction texts. Some students might include: diagrams, introductions, pictures, glossaries, text boxes, tables and so forth.

Blogging News

The structure of blogs has changed slightly.

Grade level  blog: Will be used mainly for the purpose of keeping you posted on the latest information.

Class blog: will be where you can find out what is happening in the class.  The goal for the class blog is to post weekly information about what happened in class so that you will have a sense of what your child is learning.

Student blogs: Students will be doing a lot of blogging this year. As their personal blogs get set up, they will be blogging about what is happening at school, as well showcasing work they are proud of.  Blogging is an excellent tool to practice writing for an audience.  The work they do should be meaningful, and hopefully they will come to see blogging as a way to share their ideas and interact with the ideas of others. This year they we hope to partner with other schools by reading and commenting on each others blogs.  This will make our learning experience richer and our writing more meaningful. Feel free to read your child’s blog and comment on it regularly. Students have discussed what is appropriate and not to put in a blog and have looked at other schools blogs as examples.

Hot Topics blog: The students are also beginning to blog. Students will be given “Hot Topics” news articles and video clips to watch and they will then comment on this blog.  The idea is that this will generate discussion and get the kids thinking.  There are several other classes from around the world who will also be commenting and discussing with us.

We have spent time reading about effective commenting and setting guidelines on how to do this.

How to comment on other student’s blogposts:

Be respectful at all times

If you disagree with something, do so with respect and state why

Ask questions, make connections and engage in conversations!

Be specific to the blog and book.  This is obvious through your details.

You have read your comment to make sure it makes sense.

You have edited your comment for punctuation, grammar and spelling errors so others can read it clearly.

Your personality shines through! You write with expression!





This year for spelling, we’re using Words Their Way. It is a developmental spelling program which has students work with level-appropriate word sorts in order to improve their understanding of the written language.  Word sorts are simply a set of words which fall into certain spelling, sound, or semantic categories.

To group students, we gave them a spelling inventory.  Many of the words were challenging and new to the students, so it relied less on their bank of memorized words.  They had to sound them out with their understanding of spelling patterns.

The inventory is not about how many words were correct or incorrect; it is concerned with the components of written language  where the students are experiencing difficulty.   Is the student not recognizing beginning sounds, long vowels, suffixes, etc?  After tallying the assessment, students are placed within a specific stage of the developmental spelling scale and then they can begin working with word sorts appropriate to that stage.

Each week, students will have a new word sort.  They will have activities in class where we observe the spelling pattern and assignments to do at home. On Friday, they will be given a short spelling assessment, in which several words on the list are tested, as well as a few ‘bonus words’ which they should be able to spell if they have properly learned the spelling pattern.


One of the keys to the WTW program is the fact that students are given the task of making sense of words on their own terms.  Like scientists or detectives, they are looking for patterns in spelling and sound in order to categorize words.  WTW does not teach spelling “rules” which will all know have so many exceptions in English.  It instead offers opportunities for hands-on, developmentally appropriate word work which leads to a greater understanding of our spelling system.



Math-Week of September 30-Oct 4

This week the students have begun learning about the following standard:

* Identify and describe factors and multiples of whole numbers and use them to solve problems

They started by working with manipulatives to see how many ways they could represent a number.  For example 12 could be represented with 2 groups of 6 or 6 groups of 2 or 3 groups of 4 and so on.  They then used larger and more challenging numbers to create factor trees. For extension some students began finding the greatest common factor of two numbers.  

Students that mastered that, then tried playing the factor and multiple game.  Feel free to challenge your kids to a game of this.

After break students will explore numbers further and look at the relationship between the operations. In the future they will work on the following standard.

* Solve problems involving multiplication of large numbers by one- or two-digit numbers using efficient mental, written strategies and appropriate digital technologies

An interview with Massi and Linh Trang

  1. How is Grade 5 going?

It is going really well, I am improving in math and writing and my teacher is the best. I also made a bunch of new friends.  -Massi

Grade 5 is going really well! It’s really fun! -Linh Trang

  2.     What is it like being in a 5th grader in Grade 5MS?

 It feels really awesome being in this class, everybody is funny and we don’t get in trouble that easily.-Massi

 It’s awesome! I really like Ms. Mindy, this year I like homeroom the best because it’s always fun. -Linh Trang

  1. 3.     What are your thoughts and reactions about grade 5 camp?

My thoughts are that I had a great time at camp. -Massi

I thought that Grade 5 Camp was probably the best trip of my life! It made me a lot more independent and responsible.- Linh Trang


 4.     Tell us some of the things you have being doing and learning about in class?

We have been doing lots of Math and UOI. It was really fun how we did the experiments of electricity. We learned about electricity. -Massi

Our UOI right now is Investigating Electricity. In Math, we are learning about factors and multiples.  -Linh Trang

 5.     Can you explain what UN Day is and why it is important to celebrate here at UNIS?

UN day is a day the UN celebrates and we are a UN school so we celebrate it.-Massi

  Because UNIS is a part of the United Nations and UN Day is the day of the United Nations.- Linh Trang

  6.  What are your final words about 5MS?

E_P_I_C  -Massi

Grade 5 is awesome!- Linh Trang