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International and IB school curriculum

Ascend International School is an IB World School for our Primary Years Programme (PYP). IB schools share a common philosophy-a commitment to high quality, challenging, international education that Ascend believes is important for our students. In 2015, AIS will begin 6th standard and pursue IB authorization for the Middle Years Programme.
Our core philosophical principles are at the heart of curriculum development throughout Ascend International School. Whether participating in our primary school program (Pre K- 5 grade), our middle school program (grades 6- 10) or our high school program (grades 11-12), Ascend International School draws upon the best practices of a wide variety of pedagogies to create a consistently innovative and rigorous international school curriculum with a strong focus on collaborative education, while considering the social, emotional and academic needs of the child at these differing stages of development.
Inspired by the educational philosophy of University Child Development School (Seattle, USA), Ascend International School's curricular model emphasizes:

Individualized Instruction:

Small class sizes and a low student-to-teacher ratio enable teachers to coach and individually support students. For this reason, all classes at AIS have no more than 18 students and are staffed with one lead teacher and collaborative teaching partner.
Students of similar ages demonstrate differing levels of comprehension and expertise within different domains. Personalized attention allows teachers to assess and guide students as they work. Teachers dedicate ample time to studying the process in which each child learns in order to design an individualized plan to help students achieve academic goals and benchmarks.
The school day is structured around creating the kinds of groupings that support children৲owth and the ability of teachers to actively address these needs. Specialist instruction in music, language, science, art, physical education, technology and yoga allows for students to receive time exploring each of these content areas in depth, while providing a structure for small groupings in the classroom. The specialist schedule is arranged so that half of one class attends a specialist study, while the remaining half works in the classroom setting. This format creates an even lower student-to-teacher ratio and enables teachers to engage in in-depth conversations and individualized instruction.

Collaboration in Education:

The program at AIS allows students the opportunity to work as both leaders and learners in multi-age classrooms. Students work in whole class groups, small groups and independently. Within these settings, students have the opportunity to collaborate with a wide variety of peers and experience different roles, while receiving individualized instruction. These thoughtful groupings are designed to promote flexible thinking and active community participation.

Meaningful Learning:

As educators, we know learning occurs best when curriculum is meaningful and connected to the lives, interests and passions of students. Guided by the program's yearly theme study, teachers develop curriculum that is dynamic and tied to a central concept woven through all subject areas. This thematic concept study is a framework from which questions are generated, big ideas are explored and lesson content is organized. This integrated approach gives students opportunities to make connections between science, math, reading, writing, history, social studies, and the arts.
Teaching teams design educational experiences that honor the different learning approaches of students. For this reason, teachers work to create investigations in all subjects that provide opportunities for hands-on experiences, real-world problem solving, discussion of strategies and documentation of work. To help students meet challenges with confidence, AIS teachers focus on building both a child's mastery of skills and ability to demonstrate understanding. Teachers act as coaches, helping students identify areas of strengths and challenge and set individual goals. Teachers provide resources and strategies to create scaffolding to catapult students to the next level of understanding, thereby enabling students to stretch in areas of strength as well as subject areas they are less comfortable exploring.

Global Citizenship and Flexible Thinking:

As an international community, AIS students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, belief systems and understandings of the world. Diversity of experiences and opinions are the ingredients that make our community rich with ideas and perspectives.
Students at AIS learn about the ways in which they contribute to their communities and how to create a broader reach. Each child is responsible for sharing his/her knowledge and interests in a way that enriches the entire community. Children are taught to listen carefully to others, to help one another, to share their knowledge, to coach one another, to participate in discussions and to develop areas of expertise in which he/she can assume leadership. In the selfless tradition of the Indian heart, AIS also emphasizes the importance of understanding one's self as a member of the global community. Responsibility, compassion and service are values that underscore many thematic studies and the interactions that students have with one another.
The curriculum at AIS is structured to encourage courageous conversation to challenge assumptions, entertain multiple perspectives and foster a greater understanding among students. As children learn to engage in dialogue, they practice explaining their thinking, building on the ideas of others and reconsidering their own thinking based on feedback from others. Teachers expect students to collaborate to solve problems, to create plans, to execute projects and to reflect on their process.

Specialist Instruction:

At AIS, learning is meaningful because students study skills and concepts in real-world contexts. As students work on projects, gain experience in academic realms and expand their knowledge base, they begin to see themselves as artists, mathematicians, scientists, writers and community members. Specialist teachers at AIS develop programs that help facilitate children's interest in specific domains, while helping them make connections with integrated subject matter across the curriculum.
AIS offers specialist instruction in science, art, music, technology, language, yoga and physical education. Specialist teachers collaborate with classroom teachers and other specialists to help design integrated curriculum that supports the individual goals of students. Specialists also act as a resource for classroom teachers, helping research their specialty areas in classroom thematic studies and offering ideas to classroom teaching teams.

Assessment and Reflection:

Teachers use a variety of coaching techniques and performance based assessment tools as they work with students each day. Teachers carefully observe a student's approach to a problem, the methods and skills students implement to solve a problem and how students adjust their strategies when asked guiding questions. Ongoing assessment through student-teacher interaction is integral to constructing curriculum and developing teaching techniques that are responsive to the individual needs of students.
Teachers meet regularly in team meetings that allow them to revisit the success of curriculum and make adjustments according to student needs. Teachers debrief both the collective understanding of students and the understanding of individual students. These faculty collaborations are brainstorming sessions about how to best increase a student's depth of understanding of concepts and solidification of new skills.
Students are also taught how to evaluate their own work, assess progress, celebrate achievements and set attainable goals. Each day teachers ask students to recognize and articulate challenges and to advocate for themselves. Teachers encourage reflection in each subject area by modeling how to ask questions such as: What do I know? What do I understand? What did I learn? What might I have done differently? Where do I want to be? What are the next steps? How do I create a plan to achieve my goals? As part of the reflection process, students keep a portfolio. These portfolios are collections of student work from their current year of schooling. Students select some pieces independently and others in collaboration with classroom teachers.
Parent-teacher communication is an important element that dovetails with in-class assessment. Conferences are held twice yearly and additional conferences may be held at the request of parents or teachers. At these conferences, teachers share student work, explain progress and the plan for facilitating next-steps toward goals. Formal narrative reports are also sent home twice yearly. Narrative reports give parents a detailed picture of the way their child learns, collaborates, communicates and understands concepts and skills. Narrative reports are accompanied by a set of continua that outlines a student's current demonstrated level of understanding of both concepts and skills in reading, writing, mathematics and social/emotional domains. Additionally, in narrative reports specialists share content investigations and skills students are working to develop within their classrooms.
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