Setting the Foundations for Independent and Collaborative Learning
Elementary students at CTIS have 6 transdisciplinary classes referred to as Units of Inquiry or UOIs per week. Supporting the UOI classes are Language Arts, Math, STEAM, and Reading/Library classes which set a firm foundation for students’ English language acquisition and expand their understanding of background knowledge of familiar concepts and introduce new content knowledge for UOI classes. Additional classes such as Project-based learning, Mandarin, and The Arts are intended to expose the students to different cultures, foster creativity, collaboration, and support socialemotional learning. There are a total of 12 subjects a week with one class a week dedicated to visiting the library and literacy.
- Units of Inquiry (UOIs)
- Project-Based Learning (PBL)
- Language Arts (English)
- Physical Education
- Japanese Language
- Mandarin (Chinese)
- The Arts (Music, Art, Acting)
Units of Inquiry (UOIs)
UOI classes are inquiry-based, fostering student collaboration and research on student-led topics that fit within larger thematic lessons that span several weeks with 6 units per academic year. With the UOI classes at CTIS, CTIS has chosen to tailor many of their UOI classes to have a science focus that is integrated with the themes of the UOI classes and therefore CTIS does not have a stand-alone science class for the elementary school. CTIS also adheres to the backwards by design model with assessments being designed first, followed by the preparation of classroom instruction and materials. Students are assessed in multiple ways, which may be but are not limited to, presentations, tests, reports, student portfolios and projects. Assessments are also practical in nature, with students being required to connect to authentic issues such as the Sustainable Development Goals or with identified community and local issues.
Project Based Learning (PBL)
The project based learning (PBL) classes are an unique opportunity for students to meet with leaders in different industries and learn about how a business is run and what fundamental knowledge underlies an industry. PBL classes feature two types of classroom formats, a lecture with many Q&A sessions where students are introduced to a specific industry and independent pair and group projects that are thematic with the PBL topic. Students will also step outside the classroom and visit or participate in the business featured in the PBL class as a means to connect their topic of study with current, practical and real world applications.
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math, a subject-specific, project-based, transdisciplinary class featuring ample student agency for creative solutions and student-centered projects. Initially, STEAM classes will focus on the fundamentals of programming and circuitry via different programming environments such as ScratchⓇ programming and MinecraftⓇ Education. Students will then transition to physical and real-world applications by designing simple, electrical machines utilizing the MYP design cycle in preparation for the later MYP Design classes featured in middle school.
While exploring the three strands of language, literacy, and literature, students will create a variety of works such as informative and persuasive texts, recounts, procedures and performances. Learners will acquire English language via the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing with exposure to authentic texts via different mediums such books, videos, presentations and collaborative classwork with peers. Students’ English language acquisitions will further be supported by the elementary literacy program that spans across different subject areas and is also multimodal in nature featuring audio books, eBooks and authentic English texts from the CTIS library. Fostering a love of reading is one of the main goals of the literacy program with homework often being sustained silent reading.
CTIS elementary students will learn the fundamentals of mathematics via dedicated classes during the school week consisting of the following content descriptors for elementary school.
- Number and Algebra
- Measurement and Geometry
- Statistics and Probability
The mathematics curriculum will also focus on the Australian national curriculum (ACARA) proficiency strands of understanding, fluency, problem-solving, and reasoning with practical applications of mathematics being the goal of attaining proficiency and mastering skills. Students will additionally be challenged with applying their mathematical knowledge and skills in some of the UOI classes depending on the unit theme.
Physical Education (P.E.)
The physical education curriculum will emphasize the mastery of hand eye coordination, developing physical stamina and body awareness as students physically mature. Students will learn the basics of the rules of sports, and how teamwork and cooperation are essential in enjoying sports. Weather permitting, students will participate in P.E. classes outside in nearby parks close to CTIS and other sport-specific facilities such as local gymnasiums. Indoor P.E. classes will feature gymnastic and hip-hop dance. Additionally, a specific outdoor recess will also be held once a week where students will transition to a local park for dedicated free play time during the school day.
The Japanese language curriculum is based on the Guidelines for Educational Guidance from the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Students will acquire Japanese language using the same methods as schools following public, compulsory education programs in Japan. Teachers with Japanese language teaching qualifications will focus on improving students’ Japanese language skills, the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Teachers and students will assess their level of Japanese language acquisition through reports, oral presentations, video presentations, skits and tests.
In today’s globally connected and multicultural business world, learning how to cooperate with people from different cultural backgrounds while having a global perspective has become an essential skill for individuals wanting to succeed professionally or academically in the 21st century.
Additionally, learning a 2nd or 3rd language before adulthood is generally understood to promote native pronunciation of the target language due to human brain development. Therefore, CTIS will feature a Mandarin Chinese language class that will introduce the fundamental aspects of Mandarin for elementary students with subsequent courses being provided for students that wish to continue their Mandarin language study in order to become an effective communicator in Asia utilizing English, Japanese and Mandarin.
The initial Mandarin classes will introduce students to Chinese culture and basic Mandarin pronunciation (pinyin) via videos, story books, and cultural specific class activities such as festivals. As students progress, they will learn the similarities and differences between Chinese and Japanese written characters with spoken communication being the overarching learning goal.
The Arts (Music, Art, Acting)
Art classes at CTIS will feature dedicated classes for music, the visual arts, dance, and drama in the performing arts. Students will be given opportunities to explore their creativity and express themselves through different mediums, guided by experienced teachers in their respective fields with students’ resulting products being showcased to the CTIS community or presented via special school assemblies and events. Some examples are student-led music recitals, art gallery walks, and dance and play productions. Students will also have the opportunity to study hip-hop dance once a week with a professional dance instructor. Unique to CTIS, an affiliated drama and acting company called ACT Entertainment Preparatory School holds specialized acting workshops every week for all elementary students.
CTIS aims to create a culture of readers. Students go to the CTIS library once a week on a regularly scheduled day to read a book and to check out and return books. And eBooks are also available anytime. The library is open during recesses for students who prefer a quiet alternative to physical play. Our goal is not only to teach students knowledge from the books but also foster a lifelong passion for reading.