Reading across Disciplines
At Vision International School we recognize that reading is a complex process about making meaning. The reading process includes phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary development, and comprehension. Our students learn to read while reading to learn. Comprehension strategies and critical thinking skills are taught K-12 to help students make sense of content and the world around them. Students at all grade levels work with a balance of informational and literary text, and learn to read carefully to extract evidence from text. Complex text sources, whether primary or secondary source material, are used with all students as an enriching challenge. Students-collectively and individually-tackle complex texts with care and patience as their reading skills are strengthened.
Reading is taught across all content areas because each subject area requires students to learn from different kinds of text (e.g., science articles, historical primary sources, math word problems). At the secondary level, teachers of math, science, history, technology, and the arts explicitly teach and support students to be strong readers of text within their discipline. By integrating reading throughout the day, schools convey to students the importance of reading, critical thinking, and meaning-making in school and in life.
Writing across Disciplines
Writing is taught K-12 across the curriculum. Students learn to write effectively to inform, to build arguments substantiated with evidence, and to write with literary power in narrative and poetic genres. Teachers develop and teach a common language for the writing process and the traits of good writing. They use consistent practices for teaching and assessing writing. At the secondary level, teachers of math, science, history, technology, and the arts explicitly teach and support quality writing within their disciplines. Students learn to write like historians, scientists, mathematicians, and artists. Through writing, students learn more deeply about content and communicate what they know. They learn to craft quality writing in a variety of contexts. Students write to learn while learning to write. Students have regular opportunities to write for authentic purposes and audiences beyond the classroom, which fosters motivation for producing quality writing. While the nature and amount of writing varies by discipline and grade level, writing is a central vehicle for learning and communicating in all classrooms.
Math is taught with rigor and integrity in math classes. Along with focused math instruction, math is integrated into projects, case studies, and learning expeditions whenever possible. Teachers of all disciplines support mathematical thinking in areas such as numeracy, statistics, patterns, and problem-solving. The program is focused on foundational facts-vocabulary, formulas, algorithms, and number facts-that are always grounded in conceptual understanding. Teachers ensure that students develop procedural fluency, calculating with accuracy and efficiency. There is an equally strong focus on problem solving skills and critical thinking. Students learn to use appropriate technology strategically in problem-solving.
Teachers focus on supporting students to read, write, think, and work as scientists. They use expeditions, case studies, projects, problem-based content, collaboration with professional scientists and engineers, and interactive instructional practices to foster inquiry and enable authentic student research. The curriculum reinforces the connections among science, math, engineering, and technology as they promote skills in questioning; developing and using models; planning and carrying out investigations; collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data; constructing explanations; designing solutions; engaging in argument from evidence; and synthesizing and communicating information. In addition, because appreciation and stewardship of the natural world is part of the design of Expeditionary Learning, environmental literacy is integrated into the science curriculum at all grade levels.
Teachers of social studies prioritize students’ understanding of enduring concepts so that they can apply that understanding to the modern world. Teachers view social studies as a way to develop students’ capacity to interpret their world critically and to engage productively in it. They help students understand the big picture and timeline of history and emphasize deep understanding rather than memorization of facts and details. By focusing on big ideas such as the elements that make up a culture or a civilization, teachers support students to appreciate and understand diverse cultures and understand connections among ancient and modern cultures. While learning social studies, students act as social scientists-they analyze primary sources, consider multiple perspectives, conduct research, and draw their own conclusions. Explicit literacy instruction is a focus for students at all grade levels. Students learn to read, write, and think as historians.
Arabic for Native Learners
The VIS Arabic program for native speakers of Arabic is literature-based and aligned with Arabic standards. Our program strives to offer learners a rich linguistic experience that support each student’s ability to comprehend, discuss, analyze, research and synthesize using Modern Standard Arabic. Our Arabic Language Arts curriculum aims to immerse the student in the language through a program that is rich in the genres of literature, and is conducted entirely in Modern Standard Arabic. Students will apply their linguistic competence across the curriculum through learning expeditions in the local community.
Arabic for Non-native Learners
The vision of the Arabic language program for non-native learners is to equip students with language skills and tools that enable them to function and be able to communicate with Arabic speakers and to promote mutual understanding of and respect for Qatari and Arab cultures. Teachers engage students in authentic language expeditions, exposing them to authentic ideas, themes, scenarios, dialogues and activities. Student learning is personalized, based on their individual needs and skill levels.
Arts in all forms are celebrated as a foundation of culture and a central aspect of learning and life. Artistic skills are understood as intelligences, and artistic achievement is valued as academic achievement. Student exhibitions of learning feature the arts along with other subjects. The visual and performing arts are taught using the same effective instructional practices that are used in other disciplines. Students will have access to professional artists and professional exhibitions and performances. Arts are often used as a window into disciplinary content in other academic subjects (e.g., Ancient Greek architecture as an entry point to Ancient Greek civilization, protest songs as a case study when learning about the civil rights movement). The arts are also used as a window into the diverse cultures and regions of the world.
Health and Physical Education
Health and Physical Education
Vision International School promotes wellness in students and school staff members. Healthy eating, exercise, stress reduction, sleep, and healthy relationships-the key elements of physical and mental health-are included as part of a school’s wellness approach. The physical education program places a strong emphasis on personal fitness and nutrition and character development, and reinforces the school culture of respect, responsibility, and achievement. Physical activity and outdoor time are woven into the school day whenever possible and appropriate (e.g., walking to fieldwork research sites, setting up and cleaning classrooms and common spaces, using physical energizer breaks to enhance academic work times). Experiences in the natural world-working in and appreciating nature-are a priority for students in EL schools. Physical challenges push students to pursue excellence and assume responsibility for their own learning. Teachers help students understand the connections between physical challenge and academic challenge. Schools provide healthy meals to students and discourage unhealthy foods. Crews emphasize the importance of wellness and are stewards of a climate of social and emotional safety for students. Crew meetings and school staff explicitly support students to understand and monitor dangers to wellness posed by alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, as well as unhealthy relationships. School staff models healthy lifestyles and a healthy school culture.
At Vision International School leaders, teachers, and students embrace the power of student-engaged assessment practices to build student ownership of learning, focus students on reaching standards-based learning targets, and drive achievement. This approach to assessment is key to ensuring that we provide each and every student to realize their learning potential. Students continually assess and improve the quality of their work through the use of models, reflection, critique, rubrics, and work with experts. Staff members engage in ongoing data inquiry and analysis, examining everything from patterns in student work to results from formal assessments, analyzing data by groups of students to recognize and address opportunities to assist students in their respective learning journeys.