At YCIS, middle school is all about leading, learning, stepping up, taking a chance and finding what you love. Students discover their passions, express their voices, and build meaningful relationships as they gain independence and confidence.
In our K-8 community, middle schoolers are the natural leaders, taking the reigns on social and community projects, performances and being the ultimate role models and mentors for younger buddies – socially, academically and emotionally. Within a safe, supportive learning environment, middle schoolers grow as compassionate and ethical agents of change ready for a global world.
Within a caring and supportive learning environment, students gain skills to be increasingly self-directed in their learning by setting goals, taking responsibility for their work and reflecting on their growth. Students are comfortable collaborating, experimenting, testing out ideas and learning from their mistakes. They are concerned about the world around them and take initiative to make a difference.
Through authentic and meaningful projects they help to create with their teachers, students use and extend their skills across disciplines: whether it is a bilingual puppet show of Romeo and Juliet or setting up a pop-up shop to fundraise for wildfire victims.
When students are comfortable, they are confident. With small class sizes, and teachers and classmates who know them well, students feel safe to exercise their independence.
Teachers mentor students as they explore new lab techniques, participate in seamless and thoughtful technology integration, conduct comprehensive research, discover meaning in math, employ sophisticated writing processes, express themselves creatively through the arts, and think critically from a variety of perspectives.
Partnering with students from the neighboring German international school, YCIS students widen their social networks with lunch mixers, shared holiday celebrations, service projects, sports activities and fall and spring dances.
The school day is 8:15 to 3:35 p.m. After school enrichment classes and an extended day program are available until 6:00 p.m.
The daily instructional schedule includes a mix of 40-minute and 60-minute classes. Students study math, science, English, history, and Chinese daily. Students also have music, art, PE, leadership/character action, and technology.
The day includes a lunch break and two shorter breaks in the morning and afternoon. Students are also able to participate in the National Junior Honor Society, an after school coding class, and Junior Model United Nations.
At YCIS, we believe a strong mind balanced by a kind heart and an excellent character is a recipe for success. Our well-rounded academic program ensures students are challenged as critical thinkers, problem solvers and leaders, while finding their voices, pursuing their passions and creatively expressing their unique selves.
An exploration of great literature in a variety of genres encourages students to develop their abilities to critically analyze texts and to coherently express their ideas and arguments verbally and in writing. As students develop competence in the writing process and how techniques are used to achieve different purposes, they grow as skilled writers producing increasingly complex essays and research papers. Interdisciplinary projects with history/humanities further extend students’ analytical abilities.
Students are empowered to inquire, to think critically and to solve problems creatively in mathematics. They master mathematics concepts, computational skills, problem-solving, and application of mathematics in daily life. The Singapore Math in Focus program is used for Grades 6 to 8. In preparation for rigorous high school mathematics, students in Grade 8 also develop their confidence and facility with mathematical modeling with higher level math skills.
Students learn science by doing science. With access to a science lab and outdoor exploration at Stevens Creek, students collaborate in experiments and other projects. The research-based FOSS science curriculum promotes collaborative, hands-on learning and gradually builds students’ skills in the scientific process: to observe, to think, to test and to explain. FOSS utilizes a multimedia approach, integrates reading, writing, and mathematics, and extends classroom learning outdoors. Linked to students’ study of biodiversity is an educational trip to Costa Rica. This trip alternates with the Washington D.C. trip.
In History, students explore what influences their ideas of history while writing and presenting critical analysis of information using various technologies, media, and methods of presentation to assume the roles of both teacher and student. Students look for patterns in history and identify conflicting points of view. They engage in active discussion, debate, and simulations. The history curriculum covers World Geography and Cultures (Grade 6), World History (Grade 7) and US History (Grade 8). Discovery Education’s digital Social Studies Techbook supports student learning with multimedia content that is current and relevant while strengthening literacy, critical thinking, and citizenship skills. Linked to students’ study of US government and history is an educational trip to Washington D.C. This trip alternates with the Costa Rica trip.
A cornerstone of the YCIS educational journey, the Chinese Studies program builds fluency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Mandarin and a deeper understanding and connection to Chinese culture and history. The program is designed to meet the needs of beginner to advanced learners through use of authentic materials and meaningful learning approaches. Teachers use a broad range of resources including leveled textbooks, enrichment materials, and online learning platforms along with creative interactive teaching techniques. Students are assessed for proficiency annually with the AAPPL test of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Students also have opportunities to challenge themselves by participating in competitions for Mandarin speech, calligraphy, idioms and art.
Highly valued in both eastern and western cultures, the Arts are an essential part of the YCIS curriculum. The Arts build cultural awareness, discipline, and creative self-expression while encouraging the development of mental capabilities that foster flexible, divergent, original, fluent and imaginative thinking. Students are exposed to a variety of artistic styles from around the globe. Middle school students attend lessons for music theory and appreciation and visual arts in dedicated classrooms with specialist teachers.
Healthy habits, movement and sports contribute to a lifetime of personal well-being. Physical education and regular recess times are an essential part of a balanced education and foster teamwork and sportsmanship. Students develop skills in a variety of sports with a certified PE instructor and participate in optional intramural sports during the midday recess.
The development of good character and a strong inner moral compass is as essential to success as academic excellence. YCIS students collaborate to share their inner powers of love, initiative, discipline, courage, and contribution through the Edgemakers program. Students are challenged to create their own inspiring journeys to have a positive impact upon the school, the community, and the world. They grow as leaders by working together to tackle social issues that are important to them through authentic project-based learning. They initiate service projects that are measurable, practical and meaningful and learn what it means to be a socially responsible citizen. Among their many activities, middle schoolers have provided free after school clubs for elementary students, visited senior centers to work on joint service projects, and led a fundraising campaign for wildfire victims. Middle school students may also choose to apply for membership of the National Junior Honor Society for additional opportunities to grow as leaders.
Whether creating videos, programming a robot, or developing a website for an e-newspaper, students use technology to document, share, and celebrate work and learning, inspiring the whole community to evolve. Smartboards, Chromebooks, iPads, subject-specific software, online learning platforms and other technologies offer students tools to enhance and expand their learning. Students are issued personal Chromebooks and use Schoology to track and submit assignments.
Co-taught bilingually by English and Mandarin-speaking teaching partners, the East Meets West class allows students to explore, contrast and compare Eastern and Western perspectives, values and cultures in a bilingual project. Whether going on a nature walk to collect samples for a science project, or creating a bilingual skit to demonstrate a character trait, students extend their vocabularies and their viewpoints.
YCIS students have ample opportunities to travel across town and across the globe to make connections and memories of a lifetime. Field trips bring classroom learning to life. In addition to enjoying local field trips tied to their curriculum, middle school students have the opportunity to visit Costa Rica to extend learning about biodiversity or Washington, DC to enrich their US history and government studies.