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The Four Learning Cycles


Our education model consists of four learning cycles. They include:

CYCLE 1: IMMERSION

In Kinder 1 (K1) and Kinder 2 (K2), sections are conducted almost entirely in the target language, with the exception of three periods a week in English (approximately 2 hours total) which include instruction delivered in English for language arts, fine arts and music.

In Kinder 3 (K3), ISD adds two more periods in English to build the foundation for writing and reading in English, as well as in the target language. Linguistic research indicates that for bilingual education to succeed, both languages must have the same status for children, even if English is used less in the classroom. By incorporating both languages in the classroom, students view them with equal status – they are equally viewed as “languages of school.”

Children acquire bilingual skills through activities and play that set the foundation for future learning processes. Because the best time to acquire an additional language is between the ages of three and six, language acquisition is very natural at the K1-K3 stage. All subjects – math, science, art, English, history, music, physical education and social studies – are studied at age-appropriate levels in the target language, starting as early as 3 years old in this first cycle. Students are not simply learning French, Mandarin or Spanish, but rather, they are learning all traditional school subjects in and through French, Mandarin or Spanish.

CYCLE 2: SOLIDIFYING THE KNOWLEDGE BASE

In 1st and 2nd grades, the students spend 70-80% of the school week solidify their knowledge-base in the target language. Students also begin transferring their target language literacy skills and knowledge to the English language. Learning through the medium of English increases to eight periods each week focusing on English language and literacy skills, music, art, and science-based global projects (iSTEAM). All subjects, including math and science, continue to be studied in the target language of French, Mandarin or Spanish.

CYCLE 3: EXPANDING THE KNOWLEDGE BASE/INTRODUCTION OF A THIRD LANGUAGE

In grades 3, 4 and 5, students expand their study of both the target language and English. Students become truly bilingual at this stage, and are also introduced to a third language which can be studied an hour a week through grade 5 and continued through middle school. Instruction in English accounts for approximately half of the time spent in class. The learning of science, social studies and math in English complements and augments the instruction of these subjects in the target language. There are approximately 19-21 periods in the target language each week, 13-15 periods in English, and 1 period in the 3rd language.

CYCLE 4: MIDDLE SCHOOL - EMBEDDING GLOBAL CONTEXTS AND RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP

ISD’s Middle School is an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) School implementing the Middle Years Programme (MYP) in grades 6, 7 and 8. During this cycle, students in MYP continue to develop the academic, technological, social emotional and ethical skills that will allow them to succeed in high school, college and beyond. A strong set of values is consistently woven throughout the middle school academics, building critical thinkers and responsible global citizens.

Following the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme model, 28 periods per week are taught in English, with the remaining 7 periods dedicated to language acquisition in French, Spanish, or Mandarin. ISD is the only middle school – public or private – in the Denver region offering the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme with this level of language acquisition instruction. At ISD, language is not taught as a “second” language only a few periods a week, but rather through immersion, accounting for 20% of the school week.

There are two tracks for language acquisition instruction in MYP at the middle school level – the Novice Track, for new language learners or those who want to continue with their 3rd language in MYP, and the Advanced Track for students continuing in their target language from our elementary immersion program. All language instruction continues to be taught by native speakers.