The focus of English classes at The International School is to develop and extend students’ reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Our program is designed with the recognition that each child has his or her own time frame for successfully transferring literacy skills from one language to another. A maximum class size of 19 students enables our teachers to focus on a wide-range of developing literacy abilities, supporting each student to become strong independent readers and writers.
The International School has six full-time English teachers. First graders attend English classes for one hour daily, while Second through Fifth graders attend for two hours every other day. Classes are mixed with students from each language track to support collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the overall sense of school community.
In the younger grades, students engage in a variety of activities that build foundational reading skills. Lessons focus on supporting a love for literature through read alouds, independent reading, and explicit instruction in phonics and fluency to support comprehension. In the upper grades, students expand on their foundational skills through independent, guided and shared reading, genre studies, and literature discussions.
Students use the 6 + 1 Traits in Writing framework to draft, revise, and publish informative/explanatory texts, opinion texts, and narratives. English teachers provide authentic purposes for writing and guide students through each relevant step. Spelling, vocabulary, and grammar are explicitly taught using Sitton Spelling and Word Skills. Sitton is designed to support hands-on inquiry through letter pattern and sound recognition and provides cyclical repetition of concepts throughout the grade levels. Additionally, Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) is used to teach print and cursive. HWT is recommended by occupational therapists as it engages kids in multisensory lessons to build fine motor skills.
The English curriculum is aligned with the Common Core Standards and designed to support the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP) framework. The Common Core Standards are a series of benchmarks detailing what students should know and be able to do by the end of each academic year.
English teachers send home monthly communication sharing classroom activities. Teachers are accessible by email or personal meetings. Formal parent conferences are held twice a year. In addition, parents often volunteer in the English classrooms.