Dinosaurs, Dragonflies, Fun and the Road Ahead

Dear Families, ( A Few Photos from the Week)

The road ahead is a busy one and here is a bit of a road map for at least the next couple of weeks- buckle up!

  1. How The World Works- our unit of inquiry that focuses on How the Earth’s surface changes over time- we’re looking into different landforms, plate tectonics, types of rocks, changes to the surface of the earth, and ultimately what part do humans play in the changes to the earth if at all. There have been some interesting questions so far and we will continue to investigate over the next 4 weeks. Please lookout for ways we are sharing our understandings as they develop.
  2. Our math unit is all about addition and subtraction strategies and gaining a deep understanding of place value. We want to be able to really understand how different strategies work, and why they work with adding and subtracting. We are really working on explaining our thinking clearly and using the 8 mathematical practices to guide our work.
  3. In English (Literacy) we are working on procedural writing- tied to our unit of inquiry, note-taking, and narrative (creative writing). We are also honing in on our reading skills and working with comprehension strategies that will help us read more challenging texts.
  4. Personal Social Emotional Learning- we are attempting to learn how to be nice to each other. In 4D we have 8 boys and 12 girls. As we know adult teams go through stages of working together, that is true for student teams as well. At the moment we are storming- finding our places and learning to listen and get along with members of the opposite sex. A life long skill.

How can you help?! Well, as always dinner conversations are key. Playing math games and talking about the importance of flexible thinking and getting our ideas across clearly. Talking about things in your home language, watching videos, and talking about them together. Asking questions about friendships, and planning playdates- ask who they might like to have a playdate with and make it happen at least once. Sign your child up for after-school activities- we have such a wonderful program and if your child isn’t signed up and taking advantage- what are you waiting for?! This is a program that a lot of schools do not have- there is something for everyone and the skills developed beyond the classroom are invaluable.

The SCO needs a few more Class Parents to help coordinate parents for activities that the teachers may need help with – for example, the teacher may ask the Class Parent to help recruit volunteers to accompany kids on a field trip, or organize an end of the year party. Being a class parent is a great and fun way to get involved with the school, support your child’s teacher, and connect with other parents in your child’s class. Please do know that SCO is there for you to support. Because we are Stronger Together! If you’re interested in any of these roles, have any questions, and want to know more, please email sco@unishanoi.org. Thank you for considering volunteering your time this year!

Last but not least is the Learning Conversations on October 1. Students in Grade 4 are expected to be at the learning conversation so please plan on that- they will be driving the dialogue and sharing the successes and goals for the next 6 weeks at least.

Posted in 4D

Building Stamina

Whoa, we did it. We finished the MAP test. The MAP test we realized was more a feat of endurance than anything else. It is funny that the students could sit for hours on end playing video games or watching a movie, but to sit for an hour and read a computer screen and answer questions proved to challenge the best of them. All our students did great, they did the best they could and that is all we ask. It will be interesting to get the results and see if that measures up with the observations and data collected in class. Be on the lookout for further information.

This week we asked the question- Could a volcano pop up on the football field? And we investigated why it might be able to or not by mapping out the Ring of Fire- the jury is still out. We will continue to investigate.

Check out our Week

In other news:

As we head into the next week we have been discussing International Day of Peace, which is Monday, September 21. A few 4D students volunteered to work with Mr. Big C on a video- check this out: Peace CranesA beautiful video explaining the peace cranes, and how important it is for all of us to take an action towards creating a more peaceful world. Please ask your child to wear blue or white on Monday in honor of Peace Day.

Thursday is The Moon Festival, please remind your child to wear an Aoi Dai if possible- it is a special day for our community which highlights children. We will be painting dragonflies as our G4 celebration.

Oh and please, please if your child does not have headphones here at school- please help them to find a pair- we will be doing some research and headphones are needed. They don’t need to have a microphone but that would be cool if they did.

Don’t forget conferences on October 1- our young learners will be leading the show with their goals and plans forward.

Posted in 4D

Concepts and Choices and Reminders

Have a look at our week in photos

This week we have been focusing on the PYP concepts of Change, Connection, and Perspective, and linking those to our thinking and communication skills. We have looked at how are characters in a book change over time, and what is causing the change. We have been making connections to other books we have read, and how math is connected to art as a form of expression. Perspective has given us a chance to look at how other mathematicians might solve a problem and to look for different strategies. Perspective has also given us a chance to think about how we are treating others on the playground.

This week we also explored some different ways to express ourselves which is our year-long unit- you will see this as a reoccurring theme. Students brainstormed a list of ways they could think of for expression and chose one to express themselves. We have students painting, making videos, creating google slide shows, and puppet shows, and also writing a story about themselves. The buzz in the room at this time is exciting- students self-directing their understanding of How We Express Ourselves. We have been thinking about how reflecting on our understanding of something allows us to have a deeper self-awareness (leading to goal setting), and how we can use the design process as a way to improve our understanding and work (peer feedback), and how through all of this we can connect with other to build our understanding of the world around us.

Some Important Reminders:

MAP Testing: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday will be taking the MAP test so it is important that students are doing their best and getting enough sleep, and plenty of water.  While this test is on the computer it is not a video game to rush through. Students need to do their best.

Learning Conferences- October 1 During Learning Conference Day parents and students will be given the opportunity to attend a 15 minute scheduled Zoom meeting. This is an opportunity for your child to share their learning and goals with you.

On September 28 they will post to Seesaw their thoughts on who they are as a learner (reader/mathematician/writer/learner etc…) This will give you an opportunity to see the post before the Learning Conference. You are invited to add a comment to this reflection thread in the Seesaw post before the conference on October 1.

During the conference we will follow the format below:

  • Open the Learning conference by sharing your child’s reflection from Seesaw.
  • Discuss their goals and any work samples they want to share
  • Go over how your child has settled and provide feedback on areas we will be working on.
  • Give you the opportunity to ask questions or clarifications.

Where is the place for an adult to adult-only conversations?

This conference is not like a traditional parent-teacher interview. Please feel free before and/or after the Learning Conferences to raise concerns about learning, behavior, etc.  If you send me an email with a suitable time, we can schedule a Zoom or phone call to discuss your concerns.


Posted in 4D

A Focus on Approaches to Learning

What does communication and thinking skills look like in a G4 classroom? Great question! This week our focus in 4D was on the approaches to learning and using our thinking skills and communication skills.

Communication skills include: listening to others, speaking clearly, and expressing our ideas clearly and logically.

Thinking skills include: respecting the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of others, and working together by being courteous, sharing, and taking turns.

We had several activities throughout the week that put these skills to the test. We found out that it is a whole lot easier when we are working with our friends (most of the time), and when people are a bit more “easy-going”. The challenge came when we used the ‘sticks of fate’ to choose our partners- sometimes the sticks were good, and sometimes they put us with girls or boys and that was the worst! It is funny how the boys and girls will play games together but working one on one or in a small group- something changes.

Anyhow, our skills are a work in progress you might ask us what those thinking and communication skills might look like at home or on a playdate?


1. Students need headphones! Please send in headphones for students to use in class- when we are researching or listening to something on the Chromebook it really only works with headphones.

2. School photos are Tuesday, September 8 so be ready!

3. It is hot and sweaty outside so please make sure to help your child bring a hat, water bottle and extra masks!


Christy and G4 Students


Posted in 4D

It’s All About Working Together

Dear Parents and Families, this week we spent our time building routines and working together. We spent a lesson on a Marshmallow Challenge in the Maker Space, focusing on Teamwork and the Design Process. We also spent a fair amount of time writing and then sharing our work with a partner. We are learning to trust one another and to know that our classmates will support us no matter what.

Thank you to those parents who came to the virtual Back To School Night, if you have any suggestions or ideas on how we can improve communication please let me know. Please have a look at your child’s Seesaw as they have completed their Identity Poster, and they are just beautiful. It is fun to see them working away and building new friendships and at the same time continuing with old friends.

Please remind your child to bring a hat and water bottle each and every day! With the temperatures soaring- hydration is key to success!

Posted in 4D

Welcome 20/21 School Year

Oh Wow! How lucky are we to have had a full week of face to face learning and community building? Many of our families and friends around the world have started or returned to school via Distance Learning, and even we thought last Sunday that would be us! In order to be prepared for distance learning, we spent some time reacquainting ourselves with Raz-Kids, Newslea, and Seesaw. Along with learning a few new tools like Jamboard and Read/Write.

It has been an awesome start to the school year, we have welcomed Chae Eun, Matilda, and Hyeon Seo to our 4D family with open arms. While our 3 new students have official Phoenix Buddies, the entire class has welcomed them and have helped to ease the transition into a new school. It has been fun getting to know each other while remaining physically distant.

Student Council will be an ASA that takes place after-school every Tuesday. Members of the Student Council will be elected by their class. This year, only ONE representative will be elected per ASA session. The representative from each homeroom class needs to make the commitment to enrolling in the Tuesday ASA in order to participate. The first session starts on Tuesday, September 8th. This year the Student Council will work towards supporting action in the Elementary School, contributing to school assemblies, leading a weekly morning meeting in each class, and developing student agency in the Elementary School.

Thank you for your support parents, and next week I promise to have some pictures! Until then, stay safe.

Posted in 4D