Our curriculum follows a thematic unit approach. In other words, the core content is taught through a common theme that is integrated across languages and subjects. This approach assists in the transference of literacy skills as students learn in both languages. The thematic approach is a recommended, effective teaching strategy for language-immersion classrooms. It allows teachers to plan a school day full of cohesive activities that lend themselves well to natural language development, academic content knowledge, and biliteracy development. This also allows our English teachers to collaborate with our Chinese teachers to coordinate lesson plans and ensure that essential vocabulary is taught in both languages.
Our Mandarin teachers use a variety of curriculum resources to support Chinese Language Arts. The curriculum resources support the learning of receptive language (listening and reading) and productive language (speaking and writing) in a developmentally appropriate way. Through formative and summative assessments, Mandarin teachers plan instruction for students.
Mandarin teachers work closely with their English teaching partner to connect learning in both languages and promote trans-languaging between English and Mandarin. The Mandarin teachers also collaborate to create alignment in Chinese Language Arts across the K-5 grade levels.
VAIS uses Math Expressions as its math curriculum resource. Combining aspects of the most powerful elements of reform
teaching with the best of traditional approaches, Math Expressions uses objects, drawings, conceptual language, and real-world
situations to help students build mathematical ideas that make sense to them. Math Expressions balances deep understanding with
essential skills and problem solving. Through daily “Math Talk,” Math Expressions builds a community of learners with frequent
opportunities to explain their mathematical thinking and thereby develop their understanding. Children are asked to solve problems,
explain their solutions, answer questions, and justify their answers. They gain greater understanding and ownership of math
concepts as they develop and express their own ideas.
VAIS uses Mystery Science as its science curriculum. Mystery Science is a hands-on program aligned to the Next Generation
Science Standards. Mystery Science is based on the concept that a child’s questions should guide his or her investigations which
will lead to the development of scientific thinking. Each Mystery is aligned to a topic, performance expectations, science and
engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts. Every lesson begins with a Mystery that hooks students,
has an unforgettable story and concludes with hands-on activities.
The English Language Arts structure at VAIS focuses on grade level standards including foundational skills, reading, writing,
listening and speaking in English. These literacy standards are often integrated with Science or Social Students to support
our biliteracy units. Our English teachers also bridge their instruction to the Chinese language learning to promote biliteracy
and deepen student understanding. Our students continually amaze us with their ability to make connections between the two
languages and showcase their learning.
At VAIS, students are engaged in an environment that promotes global citizenship. Teachers plan units and activities that allow
students to explore Chinese and other cultures throughout the world. VAIS uses the “Social Studies Alive!” curriculum resource.
It teaches students about the world around them in ways that make them excited to learn every day. The “My Community” module
teaches students the basics of geography, economics, and citizenship in the context of learning about their local community. The
“Me and My World” module explores the relationships in students’ lives with their families, friends, teachers, and neighbors. “Our
Community and Beyond” broadens students’ awareness about the local and global communities in which they live. Students learn
the fundamentals of geography and explore different cultures and public service roles.
Students at VAIS participate in art, music, and physical education each week.
The music curriculum at VAIS follows the Wisconsin standards of elementary music education, with an additional emphasis
on learning about, performing, listening to, and analyzing Chinese music and culture. The music curriculum also takes a global
approach as a whole, as students are exposed to and learn about music from countries and cultures all over the world.
In art, our artists participate in activities and discussions that align to one or more of the VASD visual art standards (directly
aligned to the national core standards for art and design). Students are exposed to a range of historical and contemporary artists, vocabulary, and art techniques from around the world. They are encouraged to bring their own ideas and personality into the art-
making process to solve the art problem presented to them so that they can find confidence in creative challenges. At the end of each lesson, time for independent study/practice is provided so that students have time to dive further into content, reflection, or
experimentation with art materials/techniques that align to their interests with materials available.
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