Week 19: January 8-12

Greetings 5A Community,

Monarchy, anarchy, dictatorship or democracy, which do you prefer? 

King Xavier poses with his loyal subjects.

It has been an interesting start back after a well deserved break. We spent the week delving into forms of governance showcasing one type each day. This provocation had students stunned into silence, bowing for royalty, revolting, organising elections and debating the merits of each. Our goal is to start with a unit that will have students thinking, asking questions and wanting to know more. I would say that these four days have definitely done that for your children and their teachers too. I look forward to seeing where the unit will lead us. On Friday, the students will blog their thoughts on the different forms of governance. Take a look!

In literacy, the students were exposed to a new text type, “discussion” (similar to a persuasive essay). They were asked to use their knowledge on energy sources or on family structures and discuss their preferences. We will use this initial exposure to develop teaching points for the next few weeks in writing.

In math, we spent the week learning to solve division problems using models and  partial-quotient method/algorithm. See the example below. Your child should be able to explain how it works.

Hoping you all had a wonderful break. We are happy to be right back into it…despite the cold!

Week 18: Dec 11-15

Energy Shark Tank, Fractions, Information Reports, Holidays – What do all these have in common? They are all on our minds!

Fifth graders have worked really hard this quarter discovering how we use our understanding of scientific principles to impact our world. On Tuesday, we had a glimpse of how well students were developing an understanding, when groups of students who investigated into best energy sources for Europe presented their findings at our ‘Shark Tank’ event. There is no doubt that all other groups are looking forward to pitching their stance to a panel of judges, the Sharks, tomorrow morning.

Think about your home country and/or Vietnam, what energy source would you choose?

Students try to convince the audience that their chosen energy option is the “best.”

We continue to engage in understanding fractions. This was done through games both online and with a partner and showcasing our knowledge in an assessment task. It is interesting to see the many tools students use to help them showcase their fraction knowledge. Be on the lookout for fractions during our Winter Break and engage with your child about what the fractions represent.

Students take a fraction assessment. Every once in awhile, we make students work independently 🙂

We worked as both readers and writers this week as we presented and assessed information reports on energy sources.  It is amazing to see how our knowledge has grown but also how we are more clearly able to structure our understandings into an information report.

The holidays are here! A time to spend quality family and friend time, reinvigorate, reflect, and relax. Have a safe and restful break. We will see you in 2018.

Just for fun, we watched drank hot chocolate and watched a holiday movie with our Grade 1 buddy class.

Happy New Year!

Week 17: Dec 3-7

Greetings 5A Community,

Do you know which energy source (solar, biofuel, etc) is the “best” for our environment? Well, the G5 students certainly have their own opinions.

Students work together to develop arguments for the chosen energy source.

UOI – Electricity
Grade 5 students are busy working towards completing their pitches for the ‘Shark Tank’ activity due to take place next Tuesday and Friday. G5 students have been allocated energy sources and world regions, which has guided their inquiries. They will have 10 minutes to persuade a panel of judges (Sharks) that their energy source is the best possible source for that region.

An expert explains how biomass is used as energy on local farms.

Maker Day
On Friday this week, students in their energy teams, will create a model/ blueprint, invention or innovation to support their teams efforts to persuade the ‘Sharks’ to buy into their energy source.

Our Math focus has been on improving student understanding of fractions and their connections to real numbers and decimals. A fantastic article provided by our Math Coach, Beth, makes for an interesting read. And just for your reading delight, here is another article, also provided by Beth. We will continue with this math focus through to winter break.

Reading and writing is centered around nonfiction information being sought for the ‘Shark Tank’ Event. Students also have a visit from Ms Conroy, our ES librarian, to explain the important elements and requirements of referencing and citing the work of others that students use for their pitch. We are still making the final edits, but you can view all of the compiled reports here.

Blue Dragons
$17, 707!  That was the grand total raised during the Blue Dragon Walk a Thon. Well done to all who donated and walked on the day. Our class raised 24,000,000 vnd (over $1000).

Dinner time conversations:
A little something to talk about during your dinner time conversations.

  • Which students celebrated birthdays this week?
  • What are the seven energy sources G5 students are researching?
  • What is the name of the show that students are currently auditioning for?
  • Can you explain how we put fractions on a number line using math vocabulary?

Week 16: Nov 27 – Dec 1

Greetings 5A Community,

Did you know that UNIS uses 13,000 kilowatts of electricity every day and spends over $10,000 on electricity each month? 

Thanks to a visit from our Senior Operations Officer, Carl Strefford, we were able to learn more about our own energy usage and next steps for UNIS.

As we continue our inquiry into the function and impact of electricity, students researched and wrote informational reports on the various energy source options. We completed our prototypes of electrical devices and experimented with hand-held generators. You can test our learning by asking students to explain the difference between a motor and a generator.

Students investigate hand-held generators.

In math, we continued to improve our understanding of fractions. Students learned that fractions can be greater than one and are learning to find common denominators so that they can add and subtract fractions. The next step is to apply our understanding to the real world, by investigating the following claim: “one-fourth of the world’s population lacks electricity.”

Have a good weekend, full of delight, but don’t forget to turn off the light. 


Week 15: November 20 – 24

Greetings 5A Community,

This week students continued their exploration of electricity with a design challenge to create a electrical device, such as a lamp, a toy vehicles and a pen that writes by itself!

Another highlight of the week was publishing our narratives, which we spent weeks revising and editing. We had a publishing party, where we read our stories to our G1 buddies while eating popcorn. You can find our stories and reflections on the student blogs.

Students continue to read, read, read various types of texts, as they research electricity and participate in reading groups. And to encourage reading at home, students share their favorite books by writing and posting book reviews.

In math, we explored the concept of fractions by modeling different fractions using blocks and by identifing them on a number line. The students had the following reflections:

  • When modeling, we can decide what the whole represents
  • It’s important to name the whole (denominator) and the parts (numerator)

Ms. Beth, the ES math coach, also introduced a 3-Act math play, where the students were asked to solve a “real-world” problem involving fractions on the highway.

Next Thursday and Friday, you are invited into the 5A classroom as part of the UNISOpen Doors.” Below is the list of times and classroom activities you can observe and/or participate in during the school day:
10:55 am    Unit of Inquiry
(G5 students will explore the “best” energy options for their assigned region of the world)
10:10 am      Math
(students will use their math practices to solve an authentic problem)

And finally, here is a list of possible dinner time conversations (learning targets) for next week:

  • Identify the different energy options
  • Develop reading strategies for informational text
  • Create thesis statements for informational texts
  • Compare and order fractions on a number line

Wishing you a weekend of wonderful meals with family and friends,

Week 14: November 13 – 17

Greetings 5A Community

While most of the students admitted to sleeping late and watching television on Monday and Tuesday, teachers attended a two-day workshop on the topic of “student agency.” Teachers discussed the importance of giving students choice and voice so that they can take ownership of their learning. So what does this look like in the classroom? It means that after introducing the learning targets, I  spend less time teaching, and more time asking students how they are going to find the answers to their own questions. What do you like about your work? What do you think will make it better? What help would you like from me?

Students worked to develop their agency this week in science by testing their hypotheses for how to make a lightbulb work. In literacy, students looked for examples of complex sentences in their writing. In math students were challenged to make sense of problems. See if you can solve the following problem that I gave to the students:

There are 125 sheep and 5 dogs in the flock. How old is the shepherd? (Check out the following video for the answer)

Here are some of the learning targets for next week, in case you want to start discussing some of them at home.

  • Explain the scientific method and why is it useful
  • Understand how electricity is transferred, transformed,  and/or control electricity (function)
  • Identify the structure for writing informational reports
  • Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions with the same denominator
Have a wonderful weekend!

Week 13: November 6 – 10

Greetings 5A Community,

Check out the photo of our truly international class from UN Day last week!

This week we sparked student interest with a hands-on activity to introduce our new unit on electricity. Students explored the concept of circuits (power, inputs and outputs) and are learning to play like scientists, using the scientific method to ask questions, form hypotheses, experiment and draw conclusions.

In math we created area models to better understand the concepts of decimals and multiplication. Students should now be able to read, write, add and understand decimals to the hundreds.

During literacy times, students revised narratives (stories) that they wrote last week. The focus for most students was to add description to their characters. We also practiced our note-taking skills by reading and paraphrasing non-fiction text around the topic of electricity.

Finally, the Blue Dragon Walk-A-Thon was a huge success. While reflecting our school’s values of Learning, Community, and Responsibility, the students were physically active and had lots of fun!

Have a great weekend!


Week 12: Oct 29 – Nov 3

Greetings 5A Community,

I hope to see you Friday for the UN Day Celebration, starting at 10:15am for parents. Just listening to the entire elementary school rehearse their song while surrounded by all the country flags made me cry, but I pretended something was in my eye.

This week students reflected on our migration unit and revisited our unit on identity. You can visit the student blogs to find out how students felt about their learning. In literacy, students wrote narrative drafts, and I am amazed by the growth in their writing. Next week, we will revise, edit and publish our narratives, so you can look forward to reading their stories. In math, we began to look at place values less than one. To ensure your child is developing their understanding, I encourage parents to discuss the similarities and differences between decimals and fractions.

Students create outlines (story arcs) for their narrative writing

Students divide up their day using 10×10 grids.

Finally, we are ending the week with activities designed to highlight the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. We spent time reading graphic novels produced by the UN to our 1st Grade reading buddies and we discussed the different types of possible actions: invent, innovate and campaign. We also teamed up with the entire Grade 5 to create a graph showing the electricity use per country per capita. We hope this activity will lead to action ideas, and it will serve as a provocation for our upcoming unit on electricity.

Reading with our G1 Buddies

UN Day – Friday 3rd – Early dismissal
Walk-a-thon – Wednesday 8th

Enjoying our global world,

Week 11: October 22-26

Greetings 5A Community,

Did you hear? This Friday, during the Migration Museum Extravaganza, over 80 activists, artists, athletes, authors, and revolutionaries will be coming to talk to G5 students and parents about their migration experiences!

This week students applied their knowledge around the topic of migration to present the story of a migrant. Throughout the process the students used the following skills: reading and researching for historical and cultural information, organizing information into a story arc, reading aloud and presenting, providing feedback, revising and editing. I am very proud of each member of 5A and their preparation for their first public presentation.

Migration Museum Extravaganza
Date: 27th October
Venue: Center for the Arts
Time: 5B & 5C start time is 8:30am / 5A & 5D start time is 9:00am

Students research and organize information for migration stories.

In literacy this week, students continued to work in their reading groups. Some groups focused on symbolism while other groups worked on visualizing, inferring, making predictions and noticing changes in the main characters. We finished our read-aloud book, A Long Walk to Water, and students admired the author, Linda Sue Park, for her ability to write two stories simultaneously and connect them at the end. I strongly encourage parents to ask their child to share their understanding of the book and about the struggle that many people face to find water.. After reading the book, a former Peace Corp representative came to class and presented her story of helping a community in Guinea to build their own water pump.

In math, we reflected on the making of our million cubic centimeter structure. One of the big concerns was whether we met the sustainable development goal of responsible production by using 1000 sheets of paper. Students had a chance to share their ideas and ask questions that will eventually lead to more investigations, such as how much space would we need to build a billion? We also began a provocation into the concept of area, as I asked students to determine which shape was bigger? Over the next two weeks, students will learn to use an area model to show their strategies for solving problems involving multiplication and division.

Next week, we will celebrate Dress Up Day (Oct 31) and UN Day (Nov 3). On Tuesday, students can dress up as any appropriate character from a book, movie, etc. Friday will be dedicated to activities that represent the spirit of the United Nations. I can’t wait to fill the gym with flags and sing!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Week 9/10: Oct 16-20

Dear 5A Families and Guests,

“In order to learn from our mistakes, we must make some.” It is with this in mind that I laugh at my mistake of calling the conflict between the Americans and Northern Vietnamese the Vietnam War. As a parent reminded me, Vietnam has had several wars. So, with my tail between my legs, I admit I am still trying to free myself from my American-centric viewpoint. I shared my mistake with the students and hope it helps them to understand the importance of perspective.

In class this week, students have looked at migration stories through the lens of change and perspective. They worked in small groups to research, write and present migration stories in first person. Next week, each student will select a migration story and independently present their story at our Migration Museum, which you are invited to on Friday, 27 October, from 8:30am to 9:30am. We hope to see you there!

In math, students analyzed migration data and investigated the base-ten number system to ensure a solid understanding of place value with numbers up to a million. In an effort to visualize large numbers, the entire G5 worked together to “make a million.” Now we wonder how much space we would need to make a billion. However, reflecting on the UN Sustainable Development Goals of “responsible consumption” we won’t actually do it.

Only 855,000 more units to get to one million!

It is with a heavy heart that I share this last bit of news. Seo Ho, a beloved student in our class, returned to Korea for the rest of the semester due to health related issues. The students can provide more details. We will miss Seo Ho and wish him a speedy recovery.

In continued partnership,