Author - EXE

Charity at AIS

One way that all people can make a positive difference in the world is to give – either of themselves by doing volunteer work, or by donating money. Quite simply, when you give you are helping those in need. Charity is a humanitarian act which seeks no reward. Interestingly, research shows that people that give to others, whether in time or resources, experience greater happiness, contentment and satisfaction with life.

To encourage this sense of charity in our students and to support communities in need in Vietnam, AIS has an established partnership with the Loreto Kids Charity. Last year AIS students raised sufficient funds to build and equip a toilet block for Thot Lot Primary School in the Duyen Hai District of Tra Vinh province. This is making a real difference in the lives of over 110 kindergarten students in a relatively impoverished rural community about 160km from Ho Chi Minh City. In fact, fund-raising efforts were so successful last year that, in addition to building the toilet block, there was enough money left to buy fifty bicycles and helmets.   

When our students saw how owning a basic, inexpensive bicycle could make such a profound difference in the lives of not just students but entire families in remote rural communities, the decision was made to make Loreto’s “Wheels-for-Education” project the focus of the school’s fund-raising efforts in 2016/2017.Many rural students have a long way to walk to school. Providing bicycles to worthy students who live considerable distances from school allows them easier access to education, healthcare and other amenities. 

Student groups have quietly been raising money for the “Wheels-for-Education” project throughout the year. However, this has become a major focus in Term 3 and fundraising efforts are ramping up. Homeroom groups are organising and staging fundraisers ranging from Mystery Movie nights at a neighbouring cinema to Kepi raffles, while student groups such as the Prefect team and the Student Representative Council are selling food and drink at school events like Sports Day and AIS Open Day. Every dollar raised is helping to make a real difference in the lives of children less fortunate than those who are able to attend AIS.

AIS students are determined to achieve the 100 million VND fundraising target that has been set. I have been impressed by the ownership that our students have taken over this commitment. Invariably the fundraising activities are student-initiated and student-led. I would encourage all members of the AIS community to support their efforts, and what is a most worthy cause, throughout the remainder of the semester.

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U19 Boys SISAC Basketball Pool A

The U19 Boys Basketball Team had a very successful season finishing in 2nd place of the SISAC Pool A City Championship, the highest pool in HCMC. We played matches against BIS, ISHCMC, SSIS and TIS. The team won all its games except one, against BIS who were the eventual winners. This is a huge improvement from last year, and with the up and coming talent, the team should be competitive in future years.

The SISAC season has now finished but we still keep practising for the next tournament, the TDT University U20 Basketball Cup.  In this tournament AIS will compete with stronger teams from other schools and universities in HCMC. This is another good chance for the boys to experience some new challenges. We look forward to updating you on the results in the next issue.

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PYP Parent Workshop

Over 40 primary school parents attended the PYP Workshops this week at our Thu Thiem and Thao Dien campuses. The workshops discussed ‘Teaching for conceptual understanding,’ and challenged the concept used in many schools that teaching and learning is solely based on knowledge. We talked and discussed the importance of BOTH knowledge and understanding, as a way (for us all – students, teachers, parents) to make sense of the world in which we live. Parents had a great time getting to know each other, while deepening their understanding about the IB Primary Years Programme. Overall, they expressed their enjoyment, curiosity and eagerness in better understanding the AIS approach. This workshop is the first in a series and we look forward to seeing many parents at the next one.

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2017 – Tết Đinh Dậu Lunar New Year of the "Fire Rooster"

Spring signals the time for flowers to blossom, and it’s the sacred time for Vietnamese people to express their respect and remembrance for their ancestors whilst welcoming the traditional New Year (TET) with their beloved family members.

Tet spirit was spreading all over the place in Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam with many colourful decorations, fairs and flea markets along the main roads of the city centre. Amongst them was the TET FAIR on Wednesday 25th January at our two primary schools, which included all AIS primary parents, teachers and students.

At Thao Dien, the whole area was creatively decorated with lots of bright and stimulating students’ posters and art works. A musical and pictorial mosaic of Tet wishes, pictures of the 12 Zodiac Animals including the rooster – this year’s zodiac animal – Vietnamese hat mobiles, Tet leaves and flowers were dancing and winking jubilantly.

Incredible entertaining performances from the AIS students lifted up the whole atmosphere with happy Tet songs, fun chicken dance and drums being thumped skilfully in traditional Tet beats.

Meanwhile at Thu Thiem, we started with the Tet assembly in which we talked about the meaning of Tet. We had music performances, drum performance and the focus event was a fashion parade by all primary students. After that, we all joined the Tet fair in the cafeteria. There were 12 stalls in the fair. Some of the activities that students were able to participate in at the stalls included picking lucky envelopes from Mai and Dao trees, toy figurines, calligraphy, walking on Kieu bridge, can blaster, ring toss and wheel of fortune.

The whole area was delightfully decorated with red, yellow and many other colours and Tet flowers by all talented support teachers. Student art works were hanging everywhere – the colourful heart with Tet wishes on it.

To everyone on both campuses, it was a memorable time as we truly had a gracious day with our warm-hearted friends who are different in terms of nationalities and languages but all came together to learn about Vietnamese customs and cultures and to share happy memories in our new adopted home of Vietnam. It was so good to see a happy face on each student when they were handed out a small Tet gift prepared by the school. Our thanks to all the VN staff and parents who spent so much time and effort to make it such a wonderful day.

On behalf of the school, we wish all of you a very happy and successful year of the Rooster – 2017.

Chúc mừng năm mới!

On behalf of the Tet Committee

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Year 5 Market Days

The Year 5 Market Day at Thu Thiem and Thao Dien was a great success as it allowed the students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in a real world practical learning activity. The central idea of UOI 3 is that “People create ways to buy and sell their goods and services” and so Market Day was an ideal vehicle for students to be engaged inquirers in discovering what it takes to run a successful market stall. To achieve this, students worked collaboratively in small groups to form companies and were responsible for using the theoretical knowledge that they gained throughout the unit. Students were able to complete business plans which included company names, logos, slogans, surveys and advertising strategies to help establish their product or service and the potential demand for them. 

On Market Day, the students were prepared, excited and a little nervous to say the least. The gallery set up in the outside area to create a busy atmosphere full of students enjoying homemade lemonade and popsicles, bubble tea, cakes, cookies, rice paper, popcorn and macaroons. Some of the services on offer included coloured hairspray, nail polish, basketball, pop the balloon, soccer shootouts and the always popular sponge throwing booth. When trading had finished, many stalls had sold out of their stock and made a healthy profit, which the students have decided to donate to a charity.

The Year 5 teachers would like to take this opportunity to thank the parents for helping the students prepare for Market Day.

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Combined Choirs Event at the October 2017 AISA Games

A select group of Secondary School students from AIS Saigon will be participating in the first combined Australian International Schools Association choral concert at the annual AISA Games event which will be held in Indonesia in October 2017.

There is plenty of research which shows that singing in a choir has tremendous benefits for students, including physical and mental well-being. Choir singers enjoy a feeling of togetherness; being part of a collective endeavour and also display a higher rate of social wellbeing.

Such incredible ‘togetherness’ is evidenced by singers’ heart rates beating in unison in relation to the speed of their breathing and their heart rates are also affected by the melody of the music.

Singing at the Primary school level is fostered at all AIS Campuses by Ms Loan Le, Mrs Suzette Bradfield and Ms Jacqui Gaynor, who include singing as part of the Primary curriculum and also as part of the ‘After School Activities’ programme. (Singing for the Years 1 and 2 with Ms Loan Le, GLEE with Mrs Bradfield and Musical Theatre training with Ms Gaynor)

Choral singing is being introduced to the Secondary School students this semester with lunchtime and after-school training options. Details will be posted on MyAIS.

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Why I like Exams

Students in Years 11 – 13 work toward achieving highly-regarded international qualifications: The International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) offered by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) for Year 11 students; and the IB Diploma awarded by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) following a two-year programme of study in Years 12 and 13.

While modern providers of international qualifications like CIE and the IBO use a range of methods to assess students’ knowledge, skills and abilities; formal, written examinations remain at the core of their assessment schemes. In recent years examinations have moved away from narrowly assessing memory and recall of facts. Modern exams are designed to recognise, reward and encourage student learning. They require students to demonstrate broad and deep subject knowledge, and to apply transferable skills, critical thinking and problem solving. 

Recent research into brain function has produced evidence that studying for and sitting exams actually deepens student learning. Just as exercising increases muscle strength, so the process of reviewing, revising and processing previously learned information in preparation for exams, strengthens memory pathways for future uses. Thus sitting examinations can enhance what students know.

The Oxford dictionary defines an examination as ‘a formal test of a person’s knowledge or proficiency in a subject or skill’. The Semester 1 exams and the Term 3 mock exams held at AIS are exactly that – formal, summative assessments. We understand that there are occasions when a student cannot sit an examination due to circumstances such as illness or bereavement. When this occurs in external examinations such as IGCSE or IB, the examinations cannot be sat at a later date. The same policy applies for Semester and Mock examinations at AIS. If a student misses an exam they are not re-scheduled. Students are recorded as ‘Not Assessed’ for reporting purposes. This is not a slight on their academic record. It is simply an indication that the student concerned was not able to sit the examination for legitimate reasons.

There are important philosophical reasons as to why missed exams are not held at a later date. Uppermost of these is fairness. To have a student sit the same assessment at a later date – sometimes several days later under very different conditions from the scheduled exam – or sit a different assessment altogether, is not fair to all those students who sat the assessment at the scheduled time. This policy is common throughout secondary schools around the world and is applied by national and international examining bodies.

In the week following the Tet holiday, Year 11 and 13 students sat their second set of formal examinations for the year. There is no doubt that students find sitting examinations challenging, and even stressful. But there is also no doubting their value. Our Mock exams are organised and staged on the same basis as the end-of-year IGCSE and IB exams. They provide our senior students with an invaluable opportunity to both experience the ‘look and feel’ of the formal, external examinations, and to gauge their academic strengths and weaknesses on a subject by subject basis as they begin the lead-up to, and make their final preparations for, the all-important IGCSE and IB exams.

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2016 Winter Dance

The annual Winter Dance was held on 9 December in the Apollo Ballroom of the Liberty Central Hotel. With a theme of Red Carpet, over 250 students dressed up to enjoy an evening of eating, dancing with friends and student musical performances. It was a wonderful evening as shown in the following comments.

AIS Winter Dance 2016 was amazing, not just because of the fantastic decorations and the awesome performances, but because there was a real party atmosphere”. – Phan Cao Thien

The 2016 Winter Dance was fabulous. The performances were really good and gave everyone enthusiasm to join the party. The food was great and the venue decorations really gave a good feel to the night”. – Cho Young Jin

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Basketball

The U19 basketball season has been very successful. We have had matches against ISHCMC, BIS, AAVN, TIS , EIS, with the boys also competing against the FPT University team and winning both games.  As the season has progressed, we have started to dominate the games and rise to the occasion. Both boys and girls teams have improved massively over the time and I know both Coach Lan and Coach Cuong are very proud of the efforts and achievements of the students so far.

This week the SISAC tournament was played.  AIS competed in the highest pool in HCMC.

The U14 boys team last year won this, which was a great achievement and the first time we have accomplished this level since the opening of AIS. The girls also did very well finishing 3rd overall.  I look forward to updating you on the results in the next issue.

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House Swimming 2016/17

On 15 December, Year 6 – 10 students competed in the annual AIS swim gala. The emphasis this year was on participation, with the aim to get as many students swimming as possible. The day started with the Year 9 and 10 students competing in freestyle, breast stroke, back stroke and butterfly events. The carnival culminated with a mixed freestyle team relay. It was an extremely close result, with Phoenix and Sphinx tying for 1st place. After recess, it was the turn of Year 6 – 8 students to get into the pool. The younger students swam all the same events and the participation was amazing. Sphinx were again champions, winning this division as well. There was a happy and supportive atmosphere throughout the entire day, with students cheering their friends through their events. Congratulations to all Sphinx members as they were the AIS 2016/17 House Swimming Gala Champions.

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