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The Four Learning Cycles

student writing attentively


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

CYCLE 1: IMMERSION

In Kinder 1 (K1) and Kinder 2 (K2), learning is 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), ISDenver 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, Chinese, or Spanish, but rather, they are learning all traditional school subjects in and through French, Chinese, or Spanish.

CYCLE 2: SOLIDIFYING THE KNOWLEDGE BASE

In Grades 1 and 2, learners spend 70-80% of the school week solidifying 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, Chinese, 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 may also be introduced to a third language that can be studied in an optional, after-school program in Grades 3, 4, and 5, with the option to continue that language of instruction in the Middle Years Programme (Grades 6, 7, and 8). 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, and 14-16 periods in English.

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

ISDenver’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, MYP learners continue to develop the academic, technological, social emotional, and ethical skills that prepare 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 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 Chinese. ISDenver 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 ISDenver, language is not taught as a “second” language only a few periods a week, but rather through immersion, accounting for 20-30% of the school week.

There are two tracks for language acquisition instruction in MYP – 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.