Elementary

Building on the strong foundation developed in the HWIS preschool program, the Elementary program employs a full language immersion model. Educators systematically teach all content matter in the target language with increasing exposure to English each year, ensuring mastery and depth of understanding of the material by students.

It is through this intensive exposure to academic content in a second languagethat students develop mental flexibility, which leads to greater cognitive abilities and advanced language proficiency.


Curricular Approach

The HudsonWay Immersion School curriculum is based on an interdisciplinary and inquiry-based approach that facilitates student mastery of content standards in language arts, literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and history. Educators use discussion-based, interdisciplinary, project-based learning (DBIPBL)units of study so that students are challenged to think broadly and deeply about essential questions and the application of their skillsets.

HWIS employs flexible groupings and on-going assessments>—formative and summative—to ensure that it differentiates and maximizes learning for each student. Students are grouped by language level and across age groups. As a result, standardized test results for our students in grades 3 through 5 show, on average, significantly higher scores in subject matter tested in English as compared to the national norm of independent schools. In addition, HWIS students demonstrate a higher level of language proficiency compared to other immersion programs.

Elementary FAQs

1At what grades can a child join the program without a prior background in the language?
HWIS has successfully transitioned students into HWIS starting in any of the elementary years. Often the summer will be a good time to prepare the student with individualized tutoring. The student joins the immersion class and may be pulled out for additional tutoring as needed. Classmates support each other during the transition. Teachers estimate that midway through the year a new child may understand about 50% of what is being said, but by the end of the year, that figure may be 80-90%.
2Is there a lag in English proficiency?
HWIS has not seen a lag in English proficiency in the early elementary years likely due to the small class sizes and flexible grouping enabling individualized instruction. English teachers are very efficient with their time and use resources and stories which are also taught in Spanish or Mandarin. A recent Rand study on dual language immersion students controlled for income showed that 5th graders outperformed monolingual students by 7 months, and 8th graders outperformed by 9 months – nearly a full year ahead of monolingual peers. Students in immersion develop metalinguistic awareness which is a knowledge of how language work. HWIS ERB results corroborate these findings.
3How can students do well on standardized assessments if most of the time the subjects are taught in the target language?
Assessments begin in Grade 3, and students take the ERB for language arts and math in English, and the Avant assessment in the target language (Mandarin or Spanish). Students in the elementary years, depending on the grade, are taught all of the core subjects (language arts, math, science and social studies) in the target language. Math and English language arts are also taught in English during alternating weeks. Students learning the content in both languages often benefit from hearing the instruction taught in both target language and English. ERB and Avant results show that HWIS students meet or exceed the norm for language arts and math as well as language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing as compared norms.
4How are we celebrating diversity and addressing race issues?
The student body is approximately 70% students of color defined as part Asian, Latino or African American. This diversity is celebrated through the study of culture and language, as well as through meaningful discussions on race. During both the August and October in service trainings, discussions were held which promoted awareness of white privilege and outlined strategies to support all students equally.
5What is the student to teacher ratio?
The average elementary class size is about 10 students.
6What are some examples of the theme-based learning and how is it integrated across the curriculum?
Students will be immersed in a theme for 6-8 weeks. A theme on community, for example, may involve reading storybooks such as “Dr. Desoto”, taking part in dramatic play re-enacting a restaurant, or laundromat. Students may create a community in the block center, measure the distance between buildings in a math center, or draw a group mural of a community in art. Through exposure to essential questions week after week, children deepen their understanding and critical thinking.
7How are we developing skills of problem-solving and critical thinking in various subject areas?
HWIS uses essential questions and project-based learning to support problem-solving and critical thinking. This enables teachers to probe deeper and extend the lesson based on student interest. In selecting best of breed curriculum, critical thinking and problem-solving were reasons that Singapore Math for example was chosen.
8How are we developing character in elementary students?
Each month one value such as respect, or kindness is highlighted during our student assembly. Each day during the month a student can recognize a fellow student for acts of kindness which are broadcast to the entire school during morning announcements. Students also produced a kindness chain by writing specific acts of kindness of fellow students which when linked together formed a chain that stretched across the entire school. Positive character development is supported through the use of a positive behavior intervention system (PBIS). We also support parents with frequent webinars on topics such as “Raising Kind Kids”.
9How are parents expected to support their child with homework?
Most of our students (80%) do not come from households that speak the language at home. We do not expect parents to help the child complete the homework. In fact, it is preferable that the parent communicate the issues the child may be having so that the teacher can adjust the lessons to ensure that the materials is learned. Homework is a reinforcement of the content taught in class and is a good way for teachers to assess how well the material is understood. Also, by not being able to help, the child is developing the important skills of self-reliance, independence and communication.
10In the Mandarin program, are characters taught in simplified or traditional form?
Characters are taught in simplified form which is what is used in mainland China. This is not only the dominant form in the world compared to traditional, it is used by our teachers who mostly come from China, and likely to be what is encountered during trips abroad. We expose students to the traditional form of characters starting in 4th grade so that they have an understanding of the differences, and the evolution of characters which completes their understanding and appreciation of Chinese literacy.

Elementary Entry program

Though most students begin their bilingual journey starting in preschool, it is possible for students without prior exposure to the language to join in the early elementary years and catch up to his/her peers in a few years. The criteria for a successful “Elementary Entry” student is the following:

  • The student is academically on or above grade level in the home language, typically English
  • The student is internally motivated to learn a second language
  • The student has typical self-regulation skills, and has formed good study habits

Students interested in joining immersion in Kindergarten, Grade 1 or Grade 2 may require support of additional tutoring (not included in the tuition) to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

I just wanted to let you know that I had Sage take the SCAT this past Sunday to qualify for Johns Hopkins CTY summer programs and classes. She scored above the cutoffs for Advanced CTY level which reflects ability approximately 4 grade levels above the enrolled grade! I credit this to her fantastic teachers and education at HudsonWay. Her score on this SCAT exam now means that she will be able to qualify for all Johns Hopkins summer camps (commuter and sleep away) and virtual classes through high school!” – Colleen Eng

Curriculum Overview

1LANGUAGE ARTS LITERACY
Language Arts Literacy learning targets are similar regardless of the language of study. Language Arts classes in English, Mandarin, or Spanish develop and nourish a love of reading and provide tools students need to communicate effectively in speaking and writing.

At HWIS, we use Journeys or Senderos in English and Spanish and Better Immersion in Mandarin. The faculty facilitates reading habits, exposing students to storytelling and diverse genres of literature. Students are introduced to the Writer’s Workshop, a student-centered framework for teaching writing that builds students’ fluency in writing through continuous, repeated exposure to the writing process.
2MATH
HudsonWay Immersion School uses Singapore Math as a curriculum for our elementary programs. The philosophy behind Singapore Math is to provide students with a thorough understanding of math concepts developed through a sequence that uses concrete manipulatives, pictorial representation, and then abstract representation. This sequence helps students acquire a deep understanding of mathematical concepts.

At HWIS, students are challenged to understand the “why” and “how” of number manipulation rather than memorize facts and sequences of steps when problem-solving. Frequent group work allows students to understand the importance of discourse, collaboration, and diverse methods of solving problems.
3SOCIAL STUDIES
Social Studies provides the context for cultural awareness of the current world and prepares our students to navigate it as educated, global citizens. Our teachers provide authentic knowledge and cultural understanding that helps students broaden their understanding of the world. Children learn about pluralism, cross-cultural, socio-cultural, socio-economical, and socio-political interdependence both for the target language countries and the world.
4SCIENCE
The HWIS science program includes experiments, predictions, and hands-on learning experiences that cultivate a curiosity for science. While scientific concepts and skills are integrated into the units of study, we also use supplementary resources to enrich the learning experiences of our students in science. Specific units of study include life, physical, earth science and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
5TECHNOLOGY
Technology is a fact of life for our children today. Teachers guide students through appropriate and progressively more sophisticated use of devices. At HWIS, children have direct and daily access to technology, in particular, tablets and computers. HudsonWay uses technology both as a tool to facilitate learning in other disciplines and as a subject of study in its own right.