Welcome to the Wuhan Yangtze International School! As we begin the school year, I am excited about our opportunities to grow and learn together. My name is William Hatten and I have the privilege of serving as the Elementary Principal.
I strongly believe in individualizing the educational process and helping students to make meaningful connections that will enable them to succeed throughout their academic career and beyond. My goal as an educator has always been to help students achieve academically while discovering and fostering a love of learning. It is a great honor to walk with students, families and staff as students explore and discover the world around them. We will work together to build a foundation for success through character building, academic excellence, and emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
I look forward to getting to know you this school year and I eagerly anticipate all the growth, accomplishments and victories we will celebrate together!
Our ECC and Elementary departments use a teaching team model. Classroom teams function as one team, and every student will receive instruction from every teacher on their team every day.
Small group instruction is a valuable part of our educational plan, as it allows students to be able to engage with their peers and teachers as they explore and engage in inquiry-based instruction. Small groups within a larger class also provide students freedom to engage with the material and to receive instruction from multiple teachers throughout the day.
Student groups are also fluid and determined by the teachers. For example, a student will not always be part of Group A or Group B.
Our team teaching approach increases teachers’ abilities to individualize student grouping and instruction. Flexible classroom spaces enable classes to utilize multiple classrooms throughout the day, which allows students to work with fewer distractions during work times and to have more space for projects and assignments.
Our goal is to see that our students are introduced to technology early on. Curriculum integration and modeling are used by teachers to integrate technology into the classroom. Our tech specialist works with teachers to help integrate technology into the classroom, and students are provided with regular technology instruction. Every child at WYIS is encouraged to learn and explore through reading. Whether your child learns through books housed in the classroom library or if they get lost in the captivating storytelling during a scheduled reading in the library, we desire for each child to fall in love with the gift of reading. Elementary students have regular times to visit the library to listen to storytime and to borrow books. Books of all levels are plentiful in our spacious and comfortable library, allowing students the ability to choose books that speak to their sense of wonder and creativity.
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 1-5 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 that 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.
The goal of physical education is to develop physically competent individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. Our elementary PE classes begin with stretching, running, and other exercises because we want to encourage our students to develop a life-long habit of being physically active. PE lessons continue by teaching students a skill needed to play a particular sport. Classes conclude with students playing a game related to specific sports, such as soccer, basketball, badminton, or volleyball.
ADDITIONAL PROGRAM FEATURES
For decades, WYIS 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 WYIS, 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 WYIS, 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 WYIS 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 Chinese and Korean to help round out our diverse collection.
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. Each term, we welcome parents to an open morning, which provides an opportunity for children to share and celebrate their learning. We also have more formal Parent Teacher Conferences in Fall and 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
At WYIS, 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.
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.