Being a Successful Online Learner at UNIS Hanoi MS and HS

Distance Learning is different from Face-to-Face. Distance Learning changes the way we use time and space. It changes the structure of learning. It requires a mutual understanding about learning outcomes and tasks, and asks us to do so without the benefit of being in direct contact.

Providing a robust programme as a school is one of the first steps. Having students engage in the learning is another. In order to maximize the Distance Learning potential, we all need to; Be Active, Be Steady and Reliable, Be Playful, and Be Resilient!

Here is an article from Global Online Academy, experts in online education for 10 years, that gives us some helpful tips. We are a member school and several of our teachers are enrolled in their course: Designing for Online Learning. 

If you have questions, let us know by contacting teachers directly, mentors, or your child’s grade level leader.  We’re all in this together! Keep up the engagement and thank you!

Acceptable Use for MS and HS Online Learners

UNIS Hanoi believes technology is a crucial tool for learning and inquiring that empowers students to think critically, collaborate and communicate. Access to technology supports the UNIS Hanoi Mission Statement and prepares students to successfully engage in a global society. 

With the increase in online use during Distance Learning, it is important to revisit our standing Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and ensure that the community has an understanding of how it is implemented. 

Today during MS and HS staff Professional Development, Grade Level teams worked through age-appropriate ways to remind students about expectations for acceptable technology use.  These will be reiterated during conversations and classes next week and include explicit reminders around online etiquette eg, do not take video lessons in a student’s bedroom, appropriate dress and attire, no screenshots of online group chats without permission, etc.  

The infographic below will be used to help illustrate UNIS Hanoi’s AUP.  Thanks for your support at home to ensure students are engaging in an acceptable manner. 

If you have any questions about educational technology or online etiquette during Distance Learning feel free to reach out to our technology coaches MS Brycen Davis:, HS Jonathan Gomez: or Senior Manager of Information Technology, Adam Archer: 

Posted in MS

G7 Students Discover How Context Impacts Text

Grade 7 Language and Literature students have been engaging in an MYP Inquiry Unit exploring how context impacts a text and can bring about change in a community. Students started Distance Learning through developing the key Language and Literature skill of interpreting a class text through the lens of the four literary contexts – cultural, social, historical and ideological – and most importantly, providing sound and well-reasoned justification of their interpretation.

The key learning outcomes the MS Language and Literature team have explicitly taught is the following:

  • To understand a text we must understand the context it was created in.
  • We must understand the context of the author and the setting of a text to go deeper in our understanding of just what the author is seeking to communicate through the text.

Building on from this integral skill of interpretation and justification, students have started to position themselves as authors of a text in order to explore their own cultural, social, historical and ideological contexts.

Grade 7 students have exercised agency as learners by selecting the four folio text types they will create. Text types build upon the key skills students have developed over the past 18-months of MYP Language and Literature. For example, students are writing poems, creating short stories and short films, developing podcast episodes and curated photo essays, writing essays and newspaper articles, plus several more student-chosen text types. 

Students are in the swing of engaging in a self-directed process of:

  • Choosing a mentor text to guide their writing process
  • Engaging in the writing process
  • Connecting with their classroom writing partner for specific feedback that they can feedforward to improve their work
  • Engaging with their Language and Literature teacher via synchronous lessons and continuous feedback via Google Docs in order to perfect and finalise their folio piece. 

At present this is a marvellous work in progress with Grade 7’s developing as writers by engaging with mentor texts, family members and community members for ideas and support, and connecting continuously with classmates and their teacher via Google Meet and Google Chat.

G8 Students Learn the Art of Persuasion

In Grade 8 English Language and Literature, UNIS Hanoi students have been inquiring into how language and the art of persuasion have real impacts on humans and the environment. After reflecting on their own personal contexts to identify how they are personally connected to and affected by issues of globalisation and sustainability, they have crafted speeches designed to inspire positive action from a global audience of their peers. The topics range from the impacts of bushfires, to violence against women, issues of air quality and unsustainable fishing practices.
Initially, they were set to present to their peers at conferences focusing on global issues, but distance learning brought an opportunity to craft video speeches that could take their perspectives to an even broader audience. Over recent weeks, the students built to some impassioned, informed and impressively researched presentations through:
  • developing their research skills through using their own contexts, interests and concerns to search online academic databases and media archives for credible sources
  • using graphic organisers to make meaningful links between their personal contexts and broader issues
  • providing detailed, criteria-driven feedback to each other through Google Hangouts teacher-facilitated sessions
  • reflecting on the rhetorical skills exhibited by a range of successful speakers.
Simultaneously, these  Grade 8 English Language and Literature students have been preparing for their next unit of study, in which they will examine how literature can allow us to make connections across different times, places and cultures. Each student is comparing two self-chosen novels or memoirs, focusing on how human experiences of conflict have similarities despite their different contexts.
Next, they will be using the collaborative skills they have learnt through the peer feedback process on their persuasive presentations to engage with their classmates in literature circles, building knowledge through exposure to each other’s perspectives and unique insights into the texts and the issues they present.

Message from Middle School Grade Level Leaders

Four weeks of distance learning has brought unique challenges and victories to all MS students. As Grade Level Leaders, we have the privilege of overseeing the patterns for an entire grade, and we have witnessed so many wonderful things this past month. Some of the biggest growth we have seen from students has been outside academic classes. We are witnessing our students become lifelong, independent learners and living the UNIS Hanoi mission as they embody the values of learning (even from a distance), community (by supporting each other), and responsibility.

Students that may have struggled during the first week or two have shown remarkable growth in their self-management ATL skills with the support of their parents, teachers, and mentors. They are setting their own timetables (or are following timetables people help them make). They are reaching out and asking for help when they get stuck instead of waiting and getting frustrated. They are showing growth in their communication skills through synchronous lessons, mentor check-ins, and emails/chats with their classmates and teacher. 

They are all showing the IB Learner Profile in action, whether its being an excellent communicator with their learning partners, balanced by making sure to take healthy breaks and stay active, caring by supporting their siblings, friends, and classmates during this time, thinkers as they transfer skills and understandings from one class and situation to another, and reflective as they reflect on and learn from the challenges they had at the beginning to where they are now.

Quotes from MS students about their growth during distance learning:

Grade 6 student: “I can manage my time and email teachers for questions, which is why I get my work done on time. At home, there are more distractions than at school, so I also mute notifications so I can focus. I don’t always get my work done on time, but I email teachers before-hand to let them know. I know it’s important to take breaks and take care of yourself if you want to do work well too, but I try not to take breaks for too long because then I don’t want to do any more work or forget just about it.

Grade 7 student: “School will be much easier when I get back because I understand better how to organize things and use my time better.

Grade 8 student: I learned how a to-do list saved my life.

Thank you for your support as parents and members of the UNIS Hanoi Community

Middle School Grade Level Leaders

Great Ways to Support your MS/HS Child in their Distance Learning

Structure their Day: 

  • In the evening  (lessons are posted after 3:00 pm for the following day) or when your child wakes up, check their Veracross calendar with them and make a to-do list. 
  • Set time limits for each class.
  • Plan breaks.
  • Calender their synchronous tutorials for English, Math, I & S, Science, and Foreign Language. 

Check-in with them:

  • If you work, take a break and video call and check on their progress.
  • Spend a few minutes in the evening discussing the next steps for bigger tasks.
  • Ask when their next meeting is with their homebase mentor.

Organize Study Buddies:

  • Get your child to invite a friend over to study together at the kitchen table.
  • Form study a group with regular hours. 
  • Be their study buddy, do some of your own work next to them while they work.

Get Help:

  • Watch teachers’ screencasts from their lesson plans. 
  • If your child is struggling or has a question encourage them to email the teacher or message them on their school Gmail chat.


  • Make sure they have healthy options for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
  • Give them opportunities to spend some time outside.
  • Encourage time for exercise.

Online resources from your library!


Did you know we have thousands of fabulous reference materials, current newspaper articles, periodicals, videos, and more available to families?

Check out the database listings HERE. Students know the usernames and passwords for access.


UNIS Hanoi library provides access to 25 digital online magazines for parents and students. Click HERE for information about how to register and access the magazines.

Happy reading.

Kate Hodgson
MSHS Teacher Librarian

Teachers Learn Ways to Design Concept-Based Curriculums

As part of plans to further develop concept-based curriculums to UNIS Hanoi, Middle and High School teachers spent their professional development time last week evaluating how students learn. 

In collaboration with Michelle Kuhn, a concept based curriculum specialist, teachers were asked to consider why they want students to know key facts or why students should be able to perfect a particular skill. According to experts of the concept-based curriculum approach, learning should be more than memorizing facts, figures and dates; learning should encompass big ideas. These ideas say experts, lead to ‘broader and cross-curricular’ learning. 

Throughout last week, workshops were held subject by subject, enabling subject teachers from Grade 6 to 10 a chance to review what each grade level delivers and how they could further align their units to ensure the student experience was seamless across the Middle Years Programme (MYP). IB Diploma teachers also met with Michelle and focussed on making sure topics taught in the IB Diploma aligned with the MYP while also being useful in real life scenarios.  

Learn more about concept based learning here:

Closing the Distance through Face-to-Face Contact

Making personal contact with students by scheduling conference calls has provided opportunities for engagement, feedback and personal connections this week. On Monday, the MSHS Grade level mentors set a goal to reach out to each one of their mentees this week. One teacher shared that her conference calls with her students have felt very special, “I got to tell them that I’m missing them at school and we had a chance to talk one-on-one like we don’t usually have time for”. A Grade 10 student during their video call told one mentor, “I love the online learning week because it’s fun using video to chat with my teachers–and I get to wake up later! I enjoy the challenge of working my schedule on my own”.

Some of the things that MSHS students are saying about distance learning :
  • “I think Distance Learning has been developed well.” – Grade 7 Student
  • “Being able to wake up later but still get work done.” – Grade 9 Student
  • “Freedom to make your own schedule throughout the day” – Grade 11 Student
  • “I can be flexible with the amount of time I spend on each assignment” – Grade 12
  • “The ability to manage our own time/do whatever work we want in any order.” – Grade 8
  • “Seeing the teachers even if I’m not in school.” – Grade 11 Student



Update from the Middle School and High School Counselling Departments

Counselling Services have continued during our Distance Learning time period in both the Middle and High School via digital communication (email, google chat and google hangouts). Counsellors have helped guide students this week who may be experiencing anxiety and confusion as well as continuing to support the ongoing university application process in Grade 12. The Counsellors remain committed to supporting our students throughout the Distance Learning time period. If parents feel that their child could benefit from a counselling session via one of the digital communication avenues, please contact your child’s school counsellor directly via email.

UPDATE – The March SAT has NOT been cancelled at this time – we will inform our community with any updates as we receive them from the College Board.