The Elementary department at ISW has an inclusive curriculum and great teaching staff, where we are able to meet your child’s individual needs. I am a father of four with my children studying here at ISW. ISW is a truly wonderful place to be! Our school community is successful due to our highly qualified staff, our talented students and caring, involved families. I am excited to have the opportunity to be a partner in education and look forward to many years to come working with your children, the most precious asset that you have entrusted us with.
Your fellow educator,
The ISW curriculum provides a holistic program that balances the development of concepts, skills and character. Our approach focuses on the total growth of the developing child addressing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic welfare.
Our program focuses on guided inquiry, collaboration and communication as approaches to teaching and learning to provide an environment that fosters the development of problem solving and critical thinking as well as subject competencies.
The subjects of Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, and Character Education are taught by the classroom teacher. Whenever possible, transdisciplinary links are made across subjects to maximize learning connections.
Chinese, PE, Music and Visual Arts are taught by Specialists to form a comprehensive, varied and rich elementary experience. Technology is used as a tool that enhances and broadens the scope and quality of student learning.
The language of instruction is English, with additional support for non-English speakers.
The primary goal of language arts instruction in the lower school is to inspire students to read for pleasure, learn new information, share their thoughts and feelings, and speak confidently and dynamically. To meet those goals, teachers in grades K-3 focus on reading skills that include print knowledge, alphabet awareness, phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, and fluency. In grades 4 and 5, reading instruction focuses on vocabulary development, fluency, and comprehension. Students learn and practice three types of writing in grades K-5: opinion/argument writing, narrative writing, and informative writing using a workshop model where students are provided with clear goals, as well as responsive, assessment based feedback.
A strong understanding of social studies and history is the foundation of well-informed, civic-minded citizens. Our K-5 scope and sequence begins with exploring relationships that students have within their immediate circle of family, friends, teachers, and neighbors. Then students learn the basics of geography, economics, and citizenship in the context of expanding their view to include the local community. Learning broadens from there to an awareness of local and global communities, the exploration of different cultures, and public service roles. Finally, students begin to learn about American history from the first migration into the Americas to the 20th Century.
Just as children explore concentrically larger circles of community in social studies, the science curriculum teaches them to understand and appreciate the physical world around them. Students take part in engaging, hands-on investigation focused on the following four areas.
- Plants and animals- their impact on the environment, parts and functions, interdependence in ecosystems, variations of traits of different organisms, functions of internal and external structure in growth, reproduction, and information processing, role of decomposers, consumers, and producers in a healthy ecosystem.
- Matter & forces- properties and functions of different kinds of matter, how they effect the way objects move, how light and sound travels, effect of balanced and unbalanced forces, patterns in wave motion, how energy is transferred by sound, light, heat, and electric current, identify matter as particles of matter too small to be seen.
- Weather - how it changes over time in recognizable patterns, quantify and predict weather conditions, interaction among the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere.
- Sun, moon, and stars - patterns in the apparent movement, processes that shape Earth over long periods of time, weathering, erosion, and deposition in shaping Earth’s surface, patterns caused by the relative position of the Earth and sun.
K-5 math instruction and curriculum are carefully designed to allow students to connect with, build upon, and refine their mathematical understandings. Students use metacognitive strategies when they engage in solving mathematics problems to not only understand specific concepts, but also the process by which they learned them. Six content strands are at the core of instruction in all grade levels: number and numeration, operations and computation, data and chance, measurement and reference frames, geometry, patterns, and functions, and algebra. These six areas are broken down further into grade-level goals which are linked to formative assessments. Using a Professional Learning Community model, teachers analyze the assessment data and support each student’s developmental stage of understanding. They work closely in teams to design instruction of both remedial and enrichment needs allowing them to support students at all levels.
At ISW we understand all too well that living abroad and going to school away from home and old friends can be challenging for children of all ages. The difficulties they struggle with are not always visible or clearly expressed. If not addressed, this can affect their behavior as well as their academic performance.
Our school counselor, Ms. Lianne Ong, meets with students who may be having emotional or social difficulties and help determine the best courses of action, which may include a recommendation of counseling. Conversations are confidential. Counselors are available on campus to individuals or groups of students for discussion of problems relating to emotional growth, social adjustment, academic achievement or any other issue.
Appointments may be made by emailing or visiting Ms. Ong.
SUPPORT FOR LEARNING DIFFERENCES
The ISW community embraces individual ways of learning and is committed to supporting children in an inclusive classroom with additional supports. The professionals in Student Support Services collaborate with students, parents and faculty members to create student-centered learning plans, which guide teachers' instruction and increases students' application of learning skills. These plans are designed to increase student opportunity to show mastery of content through multiple means.
When it has been determined that a student can benefit from academic accommodations such as extended time, visual aids, enrichment, or a modified workload, Student Support Services works with with teachers to implement these plans. Additionally, this department provides remedial and enrichment opportunities for students K-12. This can take the form of co-teaching in the general classroom, meeting individually or in small groups with students, or mentoring students after school.
ISW employs two full-time professionals in the Student Support Services who hold graduate degrees and have formal training and expertise working with students who learn differently.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE SUPPORT
Mastery of the English language is crucial for each student to be successful at an international school. To determine the level of English language support needed, all non-native English-speaking students are tested for English during the admissions process. The English Language Learners (ELL) Program develops individual learning plans for non-native English speakers from Grade 1 – 5 according to the English language needs of each individual student.
ISW Elementary offers IET (Intensive English Track) for students with very low English skills in 4th and 5th grade. These students have pull-out support and modified curriculum. This allows for students to be in the best place for them to succeed.
Through close interaction with parents and ISW Staff, ELL teachers provide students with help in all areas of language acquisition (listening, speaking, reading and writing) in order to reach a high level of English language proficiency and achieve full participation in ISW curricula.
MS. LIANNE ON
ADDITIONAL PROGRAM FEATURES
For decades, ISW students have been invigorated by language education, with past students using their language skills in many areas from diplomacy, law and education to international trade, marketing, banking and finance.
The English language is central to the way in which students understand, critique and appreciate their world, and to the ways in which they participate socially, economically and culturally in society. The study of English encourages the development of literate individuals capable of critical and imaginative thinking, aesthetic appreciation and creativity, as well as productive participation in a democratic society in the 21st Century. Through the English curriculum and our literacy program, which begins in the ECC, students initially focus on spelling and word study, phonemic awareness and handwriting, which leads into the key discipline concepts of texts and language, and the many dimensions of reading, writing, speaking and listening that develop as students progress through their schooling.
CHINESE LANGUAGE & CULTURE
Although the study of English and the ongoing development of important literacy skills are fundamental elements of the curriculum, our students are also part of the global dialogue where multiple languages are advantageous. As an American school with an international perspective, we believe that a strong language program enhances the educational journey and encourages our students to develop alternative perspectives, cultural understanding and empathy.
Beginning in kindergarten, Elementary students have the opportunity to study Mandarin. There are three main goals for Elementary school students interested in learning Mandarin: 1) Building up a strong foundation of high-frequency vocabulary. Frequent and consistent exposure to high frequency vocabulary greatly increases the comfort level of students as they begin to communicate in a new language. 2) Working on the basic grammar rules, sentence structure, and discourse patterns. Chinese can seem very intimidating to students when they first begin learning the language; however, the introduction of common sentence patterns coupled with frequent practice in relevant contexts can greatly increase the rate at which students develop language proficiency. 3) Developing cultural knowledge and global awareness. Lastly, a critical goal for lower school students in the Mandarin classroom is to provide opportunities to understand the similarities and differences between their own culture and that of various Chinese populations around the world. Students have the opportunity to go on field trips, eat new foods, learn about daily life for students their own age in China and learn about and celebrate the various important Chinese holidays.
At ISW, we see technology as a tool that supports a school community and facilitates learning. We recognize the enormous potential of modern technology to enhance and enrich learning, and are committed to preparing our children to be successful in a society permeated with technology.
As an important tool, both inside and outside of the classroom, students use technology to inquire, communicate and safely take risks. Through our technology program, we ensure that every student in our community has access to campus and worldwide electronic resources, enhanced classrooms and a learning management system employed by higher education institutions. These tools encourage students to adopt and employ technology during their tenure at ISW, preparing them for college and professional environments as true digital citizens.
Every building on the campus is connected to our data networks allowing students to wirelessly access electronic material in all academic and community spaces. School bandwidth has significantly increased over the past few years to better support classroom initiatives, cloud computing, multimedia and improve the overall student experience. In accordance with our standards, students must abide by acceptable use policies and guidelines found in the school handbook. To help encourage these standards our network is regularly monitored and acceptable barriers have been put in place for the safety of our students.
The ISW library is a vibrant, welcoming environment for students, staff and parents to enjoy for recreational and educational purposes and is specifically organized to service our diverse school community. We strive to ensure that not only are learning needs met but also that every child feels valued and happy. Our Library resources support the teaching of the curriculum and develop our student's interests and hobbies. Incorporating the use of iPads for searching the library databases, library lessons are also linked to the curriculum and teach essential information skills for 21st Century learning.
Our Library Strives:
- To ensure learners grow as competent, ethical users and producers of ideas and information.
- To prepare life-long learners who are effective communicators, critical researchers and problem solvers.
- To collaborate and share with audiences beyond our school walls.
- To model our school’s mission and support learners in the pursuit of aesthetic growth and personal learning pathways.
To this end, a collection of books has been developed to support teaching and learning activities. Chinese books have also been acquired to support language learning. In addition, we have a collection of e-resources including online newspapers and magazines, which children can access on their iPads. We use a color code system to help our English language learners to find books with more ease and encourage families to donate fiction and nonfiction books in Japanese, Chinese and Korean to help round out our diverse collection.
Our library sponsors a year-long reading incentive program to encourage all students to go beyond homework assignments and read for fun. Awareness of a variety of books, school library materials and reinforcement of language learning are a few of the goals anchored in the reading program.
This year’s theme is “The Great Book Adventure” and each participating student is given a game board to represent each level in the game showing how many pages they have read and how many books they have completed. Students are also encouraged to take challenges by reading a specific genre, completing creative activities and taking comprehension quizzes. Students receive prizes to reward their success when reaching their reading goals.
We are constantly seeking to strengthen our partnership with parents and one of the ways we do this is through reporting to parents and actively involving parents in their children’s learning.
At the start of the year, we have orientation sessions for both new and returning families. This is an opportunity for parents to meet the new class teacher and to find out about the year group routines, special events and expectations. We also have more formal Parent Teacher Conferences in the fall and again in the spring. This is an opportunity for parents to meet with their child’s class teacher on an individual basis and review their child’s learning and next steps. Progress Reports are written at the end of the first semester and all children receive a summative report in June.
Although there are many structured opportunities for parents to meet with teachers, parents can also make appointments with teachers throughout the year to discuss any concerns they may have.
PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES
As a ISW, we plan specific days within the school calendar for conferences to be held as we believe it is important to communicate with families. The fall and spring conferences are all day events and allow for families to schedule 20-minute conferences with their teacher in Elementary. Special area teacher conferences are 15 minutes and can be scheduled separately. Phone conferences are a possibility on these days, as some families may have difficulty scheduling time to leave work/commitments to travel to school.
- In the weeks ahead of a conference, check in with kids about how they're doing on homework and in each subject. Review homework and any recent projects, tests, quizzes, report cards, or progress reports.
- Ask if there are questions or issues your child wants you to discuss with the teacher.
- Plan to bring something to take notes with (paper and pen or a laptop or other device).
- Share a few things about your child with the teacher — interests, strengths, favorite subjects — to help the teacher know your child better.
- Write down questions or topics you'd like the conference to cover. Depending on your situation, you may want to ask about:
- whether your child is meeting grade-level expectations (not how he or she compares with peers)
- educational testing if your child is struggling
- what the teacher sees as your child's strengths and challenges and how these are being addressed
- other services to help your child grow as a learner
- making a plan to check in regularly if there are any learning or behavior problems
- your child's work habits, independently and in large- and small-group instruction
- how your child gets along with other students in class and during lunch, recess, phys-ed, and other classes
PowerSchool is the most widely used web-based student information system, supporting 10 million students over 65 countries. Benefits for parents and students include: real-time grades, attendance, comments, assignments, scores and much more…right from the teacher’s gradebook directly to students and parents.
The best learning is active and engaged. It can be found in ordinary places. Take our open gym nights or our elementary dance troupe practices, for example. These activities energize students and help them to see the holistic connections between mind, body, and spirit. Activities outside the classroom are not merely add-ons to the core curriculum. They are a continuous enrichment, a way to sustain and deepen learning.
At ISW we believe that co-curricular activities are an important part of education that extends beyond the classroom. Co-curricular activities provides motivation for learning, character building, physical growth ad creativity while developing confidence and educating the whole child. Students are encouraged to participate and explore all opportunities that interest them. Students who are involved in Co-curricular opportunities become more invested in the school experience, therefore increasing the opportunity for higher academic performance and social well-being.