At CAIS, technology is used as a tool to enhance student learning, and technology skills are integrated and developed within the framework of the curriculum. Teachers work with educational technology coordinators – one focused on the English program and one on the Chinese program — to design projects that leverage key technological tools and methodologies. In this way, we are striving to ensure that our students build the skills they need to be prepared for the challenges of work and life in the 21st century.
Starting in Kindergarten, students learn basic iPad navigation and skills such as how they can use technology to write and draw like they do on paper. In first and second grade, students learn keyboarding and Chinese pinyin Romanization typing on the iPad. Students also learn basic operating system navigation skills and word processing tools. In order to develop English keyboarding skills, starting in third grade students use an online course called Typequick that is accessible both from school and home so that they may practice on a regular basis. In fourth grade students are introduced to Google Docs and are given a CAIS email account, which allows them to navigate through Google applications, email teachers and work collaboratively on Google Docs. In fifth grade students continue their applied skills in keyboarding and build upon their word processing and presentation tools.
Cracking a coding challenge using Swift Playgrounds on the iPadStudents in third, fourth and fifth grades have a weekly, 50-minute coding class. Increasingly we as educators recognize the importance of not just teaching our students to use technology but also learn how it works and how to create it. The curriculum of this new course consists primarily of coding and also includes some making and design thinking.
In the Middle School, we have a 1:1 Chromebook program. Students use their Chromebooks regularly in class and at home for completing homework, writing papers, holding textbooks, taking photos, communicating with teachers and classmates, doing research and keeping track of assignments. Technology, research and information literacy skills are taught through projects that are woven into the regular curriculum.
In addition, in 6th, 7th and 8th grades we have a Design Technology class where students learn about specialized technology topics such as programming, stop motion animation, design thinking, circuitry, physical computing, and robotics. These classes take place in our newly built Phanachet Design Lab at the 888 Campus. The Phanachet Design Lab is a physical and programmatic hub for project-based learning in STEAM fields. Our Design Lab Director works with faculty and division heads to integrate making and design thinking into the CAIS curriculum.
We take seriously our obligation to educate our students as responsible digital citizens. To that end, we have implemented a formal digital literacy and citizenship curriculum provided by Common Sense Media that spans Kindergarten through eighth grade. The curriculum addresses digital literacy and citizenship in age appropriate ways through a framework of subject areas that includes what information is safe or not safe to share online, how to use technology to communicate responsibly and respectfully and how to use technology responsibly for research and collaboration.
We set high standards for ethical and responsible use of technology and seek to teach students to meet those standards.
We are committed to educating our students by providing ongoing support to address their academic, social, and emotional well being. We understand and respect that each individual child is different and that our educational program and services must support all types of learners. The Student Services Team (SST) consists of English and Chinese learning specialists and counselors and is responsible for carrying out this vision across the school. They regularly meet and collaborate with Division leaders and classroom teachers to address the needs of our students.
The SST consists of three English language learning specialists, two Chinese language support specialists, and three school counselors. Resources in this department are not only for our students and teachers, but are also intended to help our families to support their children.
Chinese and English Academic Language Support
Chinese language support (CLS) teachers work with individual and small groups of students to provide support in Chinese. Students referred to CLS are assessed to identify the most effective approach to assist the individual. Two full-time CLS teachers collaborate with classroom teachers to ensure that additional instruction addresses students’ needs. Possible outcomes may include in-class help, pull-out individual or small group teaching.
The Student Services team also provides English reading support for those students who need extra help. Individual and small group support is given to those students who need more attention to build skills of literacy that include phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. We have two full time reading specialists on our staff.
One of the focuses of all our school counselors is to foster positive relationships and promote mutual respect, trust, support and honest communication. The counselors work with each division on strategy for laying a foundation of respect — in Preschool through the Grace and Courtesy lessons, in the K-5th through student participation in the development of classroom expectations and in the Middle School through focus on the community code and its four elements of respect, responsibility, honesty and citizenship.
Parent meetings play a large part of the the counselors’ roles. The three counselors are available to offer support to parents, and if needed, to recommend outside resources.
Kindergarten to Fourth Grade Counseling
The K through fourth grade counselor’s role involves many aspects. We have adopted the Toolbox Project, a social and emotional learning curriculum that allows for the direct teaching of self and social awareness, self management and responsible decision making skills. For more information about social and emotional learning, please see the Toolbox Program description.
The K through fourth grade counselor also works with students to foster positive relationships through a comprehensive conflict resolution process. In Preschool this work begins when students are taught how to use their words to navigate conflicts, e.g. “Please stop.” “When you __ it makes me feel __.” In the lower school, the counselor regularly presents class or grade level lessons on positive social problem solving. Our counselors, as part of the Student Services Team, meet regularly with teachers to assess and plan for accommodating individual students as well as working with individual students when emotional support or strategies for self-management are needed. The school counselor also serves as a resource for teachers, and helps them develop classroom community building and behavior management through the application of logical consequences.
Fifth to Eighth Grade Counseling
Building on the foundation taught in preschool and lower school, fifth through eighth grade counseling program consists of several components. Daily advisory groups for sixth through eighth graders give students a platform to discuss a variety of issues concerning students’ social and emotional learning and development. Topics of discussion may include including bullying, peer conflict, body image, internet safety, stress and anxiety and relationships with parents. Outside speakers are brought in for presentations on various topics throughout the academic year, including puberty education and drug and alcohol abuse. Our middle school counselor also uses advisory sessions to help students further process issues that come up during the presentations and, as in lower school, works with students, teachers, and parents on supporting an individual student’s needs.