Course Overview IMS
The IB MYP consists of eight subject groups integrated through five areas of interaction that provide a framework for learning within and across the subjects. Students are required to study their native language (German or English at GAIS), a second language, humanities, sciences, mathematics, arts, physical education and technology.
At GAIS, the math curriculum is a fusion of the German standards and the Californian standards within the IB framework that enable students to go beyond “just learning the rules” of the mathematical language. An essential component of IB math curriculum is to be able to communicate numerical concepts and reflect on the meaning of mathematical solutions.
Students are assessed in a wide range of contexts from culminating projects to external assessments. Our main objective at GAIS, is in preparing our future citizens to be global thinkers in a competitive world where effective communication is essential, even in mathematics.
Most of the students at GAIS are fluent in English and German. As part of our bilingual program, we offer German as a second language A in addition to English. Our aim is to prepare students to become global citizens who not only master multiple languages, but also possess a deep understanding of different cultures and perspectives.
Our German A curriculum incorporates the standards of the curriculum taught at German Gymnasien. It strives to develop the student’s speaking, listening, reading and writing skills through engaging activities.
For instance, students practice their oral communication skills, not only in class discussions, but also in debates, book presentations, role playing as well as through the production of audio-books or movies. At the same time, the students expand their horizons by reading and analyzing a variety of written and visual texts.
The GAIS library contains a large collection of German books for all ages and interests, which helps students develop a love for reading. Writing skills are taught step-by-step to prepare them for composing more complex texts such as persuasive essays and literary analyses.
Another important part of our curriculum is the promotion of language awareness. Students continuously work and reflect on their vocabulary, grammar and spelling throughout the year and according to their specific needs. We take advantage of the students’ multilingualism by using comparisons between German and English or other languages to introduce important vocabulary and grammatical concepts. This contrastive approach is especially supportive for students who have German as their second language.
The linguistic, communicative and analytical skills acquired in the language A program are fundamental to all other subjects. Therefore, we emphasize transdisciplinary connections in our units.
In 6th and 8th grade, the students demonstrate their proficiency in German on the standardized ZDP (Zentrale Deutschprüfung) A2 and the DSD I (Deutsches Sprachdiplom) exams, respectively. These certificates open more opportunities for the students in the future by allowing access to colleges in German-speaking countries, and by facilitating entry into companies with an international perspective.
The English Department aims to encourage and enable students to develop the skills involved in speaking and listening, reading, writing and presenting in a variety of contexts. Through the study of a wide range of texts from different cultures, genres and historical periods, we aim to help students to develop critical and creative approaches to analyzing texts, as well as to inspire students with a lifelong love of reading.
Our units emphasize the importance of the use of precise and creative language as a vehicle for thought, learning, communication and self-expression in the classroom and beyond.
We have a strong focus on developing the skills necessary to become effective oral, written and visual communicators for a range of real- life audiences and purposes. Our units incorporate multi-media texts and technology into lessons so that students see the evolving, multi-faceted purposes of language.
Above all, the units designed by the English Department aim to help make connections between texts, topics and themes so students can grasp the extent to which language permeates all aspects of our day-to-day lives; at school, in the work place and in our global society.
At the International Middle School, we offer our learners three different options to learn a language in addition to their mother tongue. IMS students have the opportunity to choose between French, German or Spanish as an acquisition language.
Within the IB framework, each school year corresponds to a phase of language acquisition. The phases of language acquisition are defined by IB in order to assist teachers in scaffolding and fostering the students’ development of the four language criteria: oral communication, visual interpretation, reading comprehension and writing. Consequently, the expectations increase with every phase with the objective to reach phase 4 in each criterion by the end of the fourth instructive year.
The goal is to expose the students to as much language as possible with the objective of reaching level A2-B1 within the European language framework and reaching Year 2 advanced-Year 4 of the target language when transitioning into U.S. high schools.
Each Language B course has a main student book with vocabulary, grammar and topic based activities. A workbook that contains written exercises to further apply and deepen the acquired knowledge accompanies the student book. (French: Voilà / German: Magnet / Spanish: Amigos) These serve as supplementary materials to support the units of study designed by the Language B teachers. The Units of Study introduce the target language using the IB framework and incorporating each criterion on a weekly basis.
In addition, all Language B students have a subscription to a learning magazine that contains relevant articles and activities using student friendly vocabulary in the target language. These magazines are available in different levels and provide the students with the possibility to use the studied language in an active and engaging way.
In Language B courses, students are truly challenged to become as proficient as possible in the target language. This is often demonstrated through oral presentations, conversations, student designed interviews, and investigations into the social and cultural aspects of the target language.
We know that students learn best by doing and the Science program at the International Middle School embraces this approach in teaching Science. The IMS program takes an integrated approach to the scientific method in 5th and 6th grades. In 7th grade an emphasis is placed on biology and physics, and the 8th grade continues with a deeper study of physics and chemistry. The underlying goal of our program is to engage students as active learners by emphasizing inquiry and discovery. Students are seeing the interconnectivity of Science in various facets of day-to-day life. They are not only acquiring the skills to examine and understand concepts in biology, chemistry, or physics but they are seeing the implications this knowledge has in transforming our world.
Humanities courses in the IMS are a combination of social studies, history and geography. Students begin their studies with the ideas of Pangaea and Early Man working as archeologists to uncover details while simultaneously investigating their own backgrounds and heritage.
They study the history of man with a more global perspective that attempts to look at past events and peoples through multiple perspectives of understanding. Students truly experience humanities studies and engage in the curriculum in very meaningful ways.
By the end of Middle School, their investigations have led them to Globalization in the 21st century with a culminating class trip to either Berlin or Washington D.C. highlighting the events and topics studied in 8th grade Humanities that has been integrated into other subjects as well.
The Design Technology Department uses the IB Design Cycle as the central tool to assist students in creating projects that showcase their creativity, technical skills, and ability to work collaboratively. The Design Cycle includes investigating, planning, designing, and creating. Students are encouraged to explore a variety of materials in the creation of products/ solutions to perform a task or meet a need. We focus on the importance of artistic integrity and self-expression, while emphasizing the skills needed to become creative problem solvers in the ever- evolving world of visual communications. In short, we emphasize “inventing to learn.”
On campus, our students take two hours of physical education per week. The PE program‘s primary goals are to encourage lively participation in sports and to encourage an understanding of the importance of a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
GAIS hosts an annual SportFest competition at the Stanford Track for all Elementary and Middle School students.
GAIS Middle School students are members of many local teams, including soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, swimming, volleyball, ice-hockey, fencing, track and field and dancing; the school can make referrals as appropriate.
GAIS is a member of the Small School Intermediate League (SSIL) and by 2012 intends to field three sports teams.
The Visual Arts course at GAIS is designed as an introduction to fine art.
In exploring concepts, media and techniques students learn about their artistic processes as a means of visual communication.
Every semester is designed to be focusing on two different art forms including drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking and architecture. Incorporating various mediums like pencil, charcoal, pastel, acrylic paint, watercolor and clay, the students can explore topics like still life drawing, portraiture painting, ancient Egyptian art, landscape painting, abstract art, sings and symbols, tessellations and animal sculpting.
All units include an introduction to the elements and principles of design. Students engage in artistic development as they apply these to their artwork.
While developing their own ideas, the students establish a connection between their own work and the work of the masters. They are introduced to the major periods of art and significance of art as a historical reflection of the society in which it was created. The students learn to use correct analytical and technical vocabulary as they share their insights during discussions and reflections.
The Developmental Workbook is an IB-MYP requirement and will be a place for students to brainstorm their thoughts and ideas, organizing, completing sketches and assignments, and keep course information. In addition, all artwork, course handouts and notes will be collected in a personal portfolio.
Health and Social Education
At GAIS, the staff and teachers know each student on an individual basis. They help each one to grow socially and emotionally in the critical middle school years. Through health and social education, students can identify and develop skills that will enable them to function as effective members of society.
Students also learn about how they are changing and how they can make informed decisions related to their own well-being. The IB MYP program encourages an integrated approach to teaching nutrition, health and human biology. These subjects are taught in the science curriculum, in PE, and addressed in other subjects, as appropriate.
The Music Department aims to give students a well-rounded education about music theory, history, and performance. The range of units allows students to learn about music through various lenses giving them a breadth of knowledge that can be transferred into any aspect of music. By learning composition and theoretical rules, students can compose for any instrument they chose and can use their knowledge of composition to write for ensembles, bands, and even orchestras.
The Music Department at GAIS wants to give students a foundation of musical knowledge so that they will be well prepared to pursue any musical career they so choose. By emphasizing the history and theory of music as well as the instrumental aspect of music, students at GAIS will become balanced musicians and knowledgeable students.
The Drama elective allows the students to learn about the theatre, the duties and responsibilities of a drama group, and even German language in plays.
The students practice acting with each other and know how important collaboration is to achieve a common goal. Drama enables the students to get to know the impact of their body language, facial expression and pitch of voice and how to use it on stage as well as in interacting in their environment.
They know about how to get a play going from writing a script to organizing rehearsals and acting on stage. At the end of a semester, they will perform a full play in front of the school audience.