Our teaching strategies and standards have been developed to support our education principles, and are based on current research and benchmarking of best practices among immersion schools across the country and around the world.
As we further develop our curriculum, we will consider additional programs or approaches that may enhance teaching and learning strategies for Yu Ming’s students.
Immersion education typically uses a range of teaching approaches to enable students multiple avenues for accessing and understanding what is being taught. Our teachers use the following strategies, widely used by immersion educators to get great results:
- Explicit instruction introduces new language with individual and choral responses from the children.
- Guided and independent practice gives children the opportunity to review and apply the knowledge and skills that have already been introduced to them.
- Small group instruction, where children work in small groups for extended learning opportunities, scaffolding activities and differentiation.
- Inquiry and problem solving, where children are given hands-on tasks to test and apply what they have learned and to promote student interaction and conversation.
- Technology integration, where children use adaptive learning software such as Dreambox to meet their individual learning needs and assess their progress.
- Specialized language acquisition strategies, where teachers use a range of skills to ensure material is accessible such as: body language, hand gestures, visual and audio aides, real life props, context, clear enunciation, a range of questioning techniques.
Yu Ming offers a curriculum that strives to exceed California State Standards for English Language Arts, Math, Science, and History/Social Science. Mandarin Language Arts curriculum will be aligned with California’s Foreign Language Standards. Our school has the goal for children to make 1.5 years of academic progress in 1 calendar year. Other important subject areas are also taught in the K-8 curriculum such as Art, Music, Nutrition, Environment and Physical Education.
English Language Arts
For English Language Arts we use the Houghton Mifflin Medallions program which is a comprehensive set of materials tailored to California standards. In addition we use the Fountas and Pinnel guided reading program.
Subjects Taught in Mandarin
Materials include a combination of those used in successful immersion programs around the country such as Yinghua Academy in Minneapolis and CAIS (Chinese American International School) in San Francisco and grade-appropriate Mandarin Chinese materials from Singapore and China. For example, in Mandarin Language Arts sessions, we use a combination of Better Chinese (curriculum that has been designed specifically for US students learning Mandarin and used by many immersion programs), Flying with Chinese and Children’s Chinese Readers from the Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission. In addition we used beautifully illustrated leveled readers from Primary Mandarin, a Hong Kong based publisher. Students’ Mandarin education begins in traditional characters and as they progress through the years they will gradually be exposed to more materials written in simplified characters, towards the goal of having students able to read both traditional and simplified.
In Mathematics Yu Ming is integrating a Singapore Math model in alignment with California Standards; Kindergarten classes are using a combination of Singapore Math and Everyday Math, which has a greater focus on games, use of manipulatives and activities.
For Science Yu Ming is using an inquiry-driven, visually oriented, research-based curriculum called Science & Technology for Children, which was developed by the National Science Resource Center (a division of the Smithsonian Institution). The program has 24 units in total covering life, earth and physical sciences as well as technological design.
In Social Science we use a combination of age appropriate materials including the Houghton Mifflin History – Social Studies series Reflections among others.
For Social Skills we use a combination of Second Step and the Tribes Learning Community. Both programs tackle age appropriate developmental issues and equip children with a set of skills to work through conflicts.
We are developing a music program in line with Orff-Schulwerk and have a certified teacher delivering those lessons. Lessons include use of instruments, singing and body movement.
Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts, Health/ Nutrition, Technology and Life Skills are taught in Mandarin but will combine both Western and Eastern elements and will adhere to California State Standards.
Chinese culture will be integrated into all the above subject areas. For example, in Math, children may learn to use an abacus, in Language Arts they may learn proverbs, in Art they may learn Calligraphy and in Physical Education they may learn Tai Chi.
Where it is necessary to adapt materials the teacher will take care to ensure that
- Unit goals and objectives are being met
- Key language structure and vocabulary is being used
- Material is differentiated, includes picture clues and bold typeface to highlight key vocabulary
- Material is delivered in an engaging and appropriate way
Formative and summative assessments are conducted throughout the school year to measure student progress and teacher efficacy, and to adapt classroom practice to the needs of individual and groups of students.
For K – Grade 2, Mandarin language proficiency will be assessed using the Early Language Listening and Oral Proficiency (ELLOPA) developed by the Centre for Applied Linguistics (CAL). We also use the Chinese Competency Certificate from Taiwan to measure progress in reading and listening comprehension.
Students in grades 2 and up will also be assessed through the state-mandated tests, the California Subject Matter Tests.