Grade 6 Students Invent Live-Action Systems Games

A group of Grade 6 SDG Guardians and Service Leaders have become inventors! During Distance Learning, they came together to play-test and prepare a virtual version of live-action systems thinking games to share with other students so they can learn about systems around us. The “Triangles Game” is a fun and interactive game that students played earlier in the year. They used the game to visualize complex systems and learn how to look for things such as delays, important causal relationships, and places to intervene within a system. 

These students also worked on a game that was totally new to them called “Living Loops”. In a 30-minute session, they play-tested the game and modified the “mechanics” for playing – then they came up with possible topics to use for playing the game for different age groups including sharing toys, stress, and economics! 

Middle School Science Teacher and SDG Guardian, Kate Dore, expressed her pride for the students. She said, “These kids are absolute champs! This is some pretty sophisticated systems thinking and analysis. It’s very cool that they are using their expertise and knowledge to develop resources for other youth!” 

Their work has been shared with UNIS Hanoi teachers, and they have already received positive responses back. In one of the messages back to students, Grade 5 Teacher, Nathan Smith, applauded their keen thinking skills: “I’ve played the triangle game, so I get how cool it is that you created a virtual way to explore the concept. Your exploration seems like the kind of critical thinking and programming that might allow us to someday create a cure for COVID19. Great work! The stuff of legends.” 

How to play

The Virtual Triangle Game

When playing this as a live-action game, everyone stands in a circle, chooses two people secretly, then when the game starts they try to make an equilateral triangle with themselves and the two people they chose. This creates a dynamic living system that is always moving, and that can be used to understand all types of natural systems from food webs to stress and student life. For the virtual game, we used a digital platform called JAMBOARD so we could visualize movement and relationships within a system both from within the system and from an “overview” perspective. 

The Living Loops Game

This is a fun game for understanding feedback loops within systems. By playing this game, students can see how information flows through a system and how relationships between individual parts of the system influence its sustainability.

Distance Learning Checklist

This past week we have conducted an exercise in each student’s class to help ensure that students are developing in-depth and enduring understandings around our key learning objectives during Distance Learning.  In order to complete the checklist, students were guided through a teacher-led review of past weeks and the learning objectives associated with the activities accomplished.  Students then self-reported their level of understanding as “secure, partially secure, and no knowledge”. The data derived from this process will allow us to achieve the goals of;

  • Celebrating the learning that has been happening by making it visible to students, teachers and parents
  • Assisting teachers to make informed decisions about revision, reteaching and necessary adjustments in upcoming tasks and assessments
  • Validating the work and effort that students, teachers and parents have put in during Distance Learning by tying it directly to achievement of standards

Thank you for inquiring with your students as to how they may be feeling in their classes about this exercise and their learning. As always, if you have questions, please ask.

Marc Vermeire

Graphic credit:
Learning is an Everyday Job – UnwastedMind“Learning Is An Everyday Job – Unwastedmind”. Unwastedmind, 2014, http://www.unwastedmind.com/learning-is-an-everyday-job/. Accessed 26 Mar 2020.

I&S Learning in the Middle School

During this period of Distance Learning, each of the three grade-level MS I&S classes have continued to focus on grade-appropriate content and skill development. Each week’s lessons have targeted each grade’s content-learning and MYP-designated skills. We’ve received very positive feedback from the recent survey from students:

Grade 6:  Students have pursued their learning on Ancient Civilizations, including the Six Characteristics of Civilizations. Students selected a civilization of their choice, researched that civilization through sources provided by the UNIS Hanoi library, worked within the framework of a graphic organizer, and then created a visual presentation of their effort within a group or individually. The goal is to present a virtual museum to share all of their hard work.

Some comments from the G6 student survey for Quarter 3 period of Distance Learning:

“I have learned much about the topic I chose more than I have before.”

“I learned some things about the other three characteristics of my civilization from my partners slideshow.”

“I learned how to manage myself and get stuff done by the due date.”

“I learnt a lot about how women and men were treated differently.”

“I learned that all these steps are important and it’s important to know and use citations.”

Grade 7: As the students learned the Six Themes of Geography, they were asked to selected a society/country they are familiar with and research how each Theme of Geography reflects in their chosen society/country. After completion of this project, the students moved to pursuing individual interests/questions in the COVID-19 crisis. Using COPVL source analysis to ensure valid and trustworthy sources, students actively pursued interests at this moment in time. Lively synchronous classes have been held with engaging conversations, sharing of information, penetrating questions, and connecting with each other in this time of distance. Students are now completing this assignment.

Some comments from G7 student survey for Quarter 3 period of Distance Learning:

“I learned more about the 6 themes of geography, and how it helps us understand a place/time better.”

“I learned how to check if a source is reliable when researching.”

“I learnt how to make a detailed action plan that would get me a really good grade, and also learned that that is quite easy.”

“I learned a lot about COVID-19 while I was researching and also I learned vocabularies that are used in geography.”

“I learnt how the COPVL works.”

“I learned that recording information is very important.”

Grade 8: Just prior to the TET holiday, students were introduced to the Age of Exploration and Colonization (beginning in 16th Century) and began to make connections between European colonizers and impacts on many countries all over the world. The goal was to have students embark on in-depth explorations on a colonized nation of their choice and analyze the impact on both nations, colonizer and colonized, up to independence of the colonized nation. This cause-and-effect between the two nations then led to a study of how the colonized nation has been impacted when compared today to the United Nations SDG goals for 2030. This in-depth process was guided step-by-step through an action plan in which students researched each nation, wrote a paragraph on each, and gathered data and made graphs comparing indicators (HDI, GDP, SDGs) between the colonizer and colonized nation. This data-gathering will be presented in the form of an audio or video and will be the launch for a Quarter 4 critical analysis of their findings.

Some comments from G8 student survey for  Quarter 3 period of Distance Learning:

I learned more about the age of exploration.” 

“I learned how Colonialism works and why the countries did it.”

I learned the different steps to writing about a detailed paragraph about historical events.”

Over the time I learnt to gather evidence and reasoning from more reliable sources such as Britannica and other sources provided by the school instead of Google.”

One thing I and S taught me was sometimes you only need the most important pieces of information instead of using every little detail you can find.”

 “I learned how to write a recommendation for each chosen target in the SDG Global Ranks. I had also learned about how SDG goals can impact the country’s SDG Global Rank.”

I learnt how to be more independent.”

Distance Learning Schedule in Middle School

Dear Middle School Parents and Students,

At UNIS Hanoi Middle School, our Distance Learning schedule helps to keep teachers, students, and parents organized. This schedule follows your student’s on-campus block schedule and is easily visible in Veracross. It only works well if we all use it!  The schedule is based on Hanoi time to help organize people from afar and align with Veracross portals and data.

  • Parents please do your part to make sure that your student is getting the most from our Distance Learning Program by following their schedule.  
  • Students please make sure that you start each day by checking Veracross for asynchronous tasks and that you are online and ready for your synchronous lessons and mentor check-ins on time.  

If you have an academic question or concern, do not hesitate to reach out to our teachers directly. If you have a social/emotional concern please contact your mentor or counsellor.

Middle School Student daily “schedules”

In the Middle School, 

  • Mentors check in with students 2 times per week, on Mondays and Thursdays.  These times provide insight into student’s and their levels of engagement in Distance Learning as well as social and emotional well-being.  
  • Curriculum Teams meet on Thursday to gauge the weeks Distance Learning Lessons, tasks, and feedback to students.
  • Grade Level Teams meet on Mondays to discuss students of concern, upcoming assignments, and monitor Distance Learning engagement.
  • Middle School Leadership Teams meet on Mondays to lay out the curricular and pastoral week.  Counselors, Curriculum Leaders, Grade Level Leaders, and Administrators are all members of this team.
  • Teacher Office Hours from 10:00AM – 1:00PM every weekday.  All students can use Google Hangouts to reach any teacher with comments or questions about Distance Learning.
  • Asynchronous Lesson plans are posted to Veracross according to student schedules on days of classes.
  • Synchronous Lessons occur once per week according to student schedules.
    • As families make decisions that may mean students are no longer in the school’s time zone it may not be convenient for your child to join these sessions. They would then be optional only. To ensure continued regular contact, teachers will continue using Office Hours by appointment within reasonable hours outside the school day.
    • If your family plans on leaving Hanoi, please let us know by contacting the Middle School Office Secretary Ms. Nhung mspsecretary@unishanoi.org 

Next week students will be completing our Distance Learning Checklist for each of their academic classes. The Checklists were developed by Curricular Teams in order to help ensure every UNIS Hanoi Middle School student is able to achieve our curricular learning objectives. These objectives come directly from our curricular standards for each class and are the essential knowledge and skills that students should learn during a course.  

The tasks, assignments, assessments, and other face to face interactions that teachers have been providing during Distance Learning, or face to face instruction, are chosen to help students develop in-depth and enduring understandings around these key learning objectives.

In order to complete the checklist, students will be guided through a teacher-led review of past weeks and the learning objectives associated with the activities. Students will then be able to rate their level of understanding as “secure, partially secure, and no knowledge”. We are using a traffic light (green, yellow, red) system for ease of understanding. This process will provide valuable data and will allow us to achieve the goals of: 

  • Celebrating the learning that has been happening by making it visible to students, teachers and parents
  • Assisting teachers to make informed decisions about revision, reteaching and necessary adjustments in upcoming tasks and assessments
  • Validating the work and effort that students, teachers and parents have put in during Distance Learning by tying it directly to achievement of standards

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your support. 

Marc Vermeire
MS Principal

About Distance Learning in Middle and High Schools

This week we have received some questions around Distance Learning “basics”.  Please keep them coming! Here are some answers to those that have come in.

Academic classes

During Distance Learning students have been told to follow their daily schedule. Teachers are posting a Lesson Plan via Veracross on each day that their class falls and students are expected to engage in all activities and assigned tasks. 

Should you have any questions related to your child/ren’s academic learning please contact her/his teacher directly. All faculty email is available via the school’s online directory, here is the link.

Synchronous Tutorials

As UNIS continues to provide distance learning for our students, parents are advised to be mindful that faculty will be offering synchronous lessons during regular school hours 8:00 – 15:35 (Vietnam Time).

As families make decisions that may mean students are no longer in the school’s time zone it may not be convenient for your child to join these sessions. They would then be optional only. To ensure continued regular contact, teachers will continue using Office Hours by appointment within reasonable hours outside the school day.

Digital Citizenship and Online Etiquette

Students are expected to abide by the school’s rules for Responsible Digital Citizenship, found on pages 38 and 39 in the MS and HS Handbooks. Mentors and teachers have and will continue to remind and monitor to support students in following these expectations.   

Social emotional wellbeing

Mentors continue to focus on our students’ social and emotional well being. As such, Homebase meetings and check ins every week. Mentors are sending invitations for a video chat to take place for MS on Monday at 8:10am – 8:45am, and for HS on Tuesday at 9:20 am. It is requested that students continue engage in these conversations in a quiet place in school-appropriate attire.

The MS and HS Counseling Team continue to support students during Distance Learning. Counselors are available via email or Google Hangouts by appointment to support students. Counselors continue to be in contact directly with students who have been receiving regularly scheduled individual counseling. Counselors have been sending support resources to students during the distance learning period, including topics such as anxiety, family separation, and self-care.  

Learning Support (LS) students have individual support plans developed by their LS teacher and speak directly with their LS teacher regularly.

Attendance

During Distance Learning attendance is not being formally recorded in Veracross however teachers are monitoring student engagement and following up if a student is not participating or submitting work. 

Student Progress on Veracross Gradebook

Parents are encouraged to view the Veracross Gradebook to see Assignments that have been submitted throughout the year including during Distance Learning. 

Attached please find instructions for accessing all of your child/ren’s information via the Veracross Parent Portal. Any questions about access to the Portal should be directed to Thu Ha Tran, Senior Manager of School Information Systems at this email address: smsis@unishanoi.org

Report cards

The Distance Learning programme is providing robust academic programmes for Grades 6-12 students. Teachers are ensuring that curriculum requirements for the successful transition of students to their next grade level will be met. This will support students returning to UNIS Hanoi next year and those transitioning to new locations. As previously explained by both Jane McGee and the Board in recent communications, proof of continuity of education and complete school records are a common requirement for student enrollment. End of year report cards and transcripts will indicate that students have met both the condition of continuity of education and achievement of the curricular expectations through our distance learning programme as long as students remain engaged and active in their coursework.

Student Daily Distance Learning Schedules

In the Middle School, Distance Learning schedules help to keep teachers, students, and parents organised.  This schedule follows your student’s on-campus block schedule and is easily visible in Veracross. Please help to make sure that your student is getting the most from our Distance Learning Programme by following their schedule.  If you have a question or concern, do not hesitate to reach out to our teachers directly. Thanks for your support during this unique time.

Student daily “schedules”

In the Middle School, 

  • Mentors check in with students 2 times per week, on Mondays and Thursdays.  These times provide insight into student’s and their levels of engagement in Distance Learning as well as social and emotional well-being.  
  • Curriculum Teams meet on Thursday to gauge the weeks Distance Learning Lessons, tasks, and feedback to students.
  • Grade Level Teams meet on Mondays to discuss students of concern, upcoming assignments, and monitor Distance Learning engagement.
  • Middle School Leadership Teams meet on Mondays to lay out the curricular and pastoral week.  Counselors, Curriculum Leaders, Grade Level Leaders, and Administrators are all members of this team.
  • Teacher Office Hours from 10:00AM – 1:00PM every weekday.  All students can use Google Hangouts to reach any teacher with comments or questions about Distance Learning.
  • Synchronous Lessons occur once per week according to student schedules.
  • Asynchronous Lesson plans are posted to Veracross according to student schedule on days of classes.

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

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