Primary School Principal’s Message

Spread The Word!

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I’m sure most parents already realize that TIS is accredited by the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Most of you are also most probably aware that we are authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization. This itself sets us apart from many schools. These organizations hold us accountable: they help us to assure a high quality education for your child.


The Reading & Writing Project

But did you know that TIS is also an official Columbia University Teachers College (NY) Reading and Writing Project school? Columbia University is one of eight ivy league US universities. The Reading & Writing project (sometimes called ‘reading and writing workshop approach’) is one of the world’s leading literacy programmes. Everyone is talking about it and for good reason – research has proven it greatly improves literacy!

Our status as a ‘project’ school is nothing new: Lorraine set the school on this path back in 2010 and we were recognized by Columbia University in 2013. Only a very select number of international schools (twelve) worldwide are officially recognized by Columbia University Teachers College and are registered as project schools: TIS is one of them. The other Asian project schools are:

  • United World College Singapore
  • Chinese International School Hong Kong
  • Shanghai American School
  • Taipei American School
  • Concordia International School Shanghai

Due to its reputation, lots of international schools claim to have a reading and writing workshop approach. Indeed several have gone one step further and invested in the college’s published, teaching materials. These schools follow the programme to a degree. Several schools advertise this on their websites. Some of these same schools also send a few teachers to Columbia University in New York for training each summer. All this is a very good idea, but all this doesn’t make a school a ‘project school’.


What Makes TIS Special?

To become a project school like TIS means that the school has truly embraced this approach. They are committed to it. They have embraced the teaching methodologies, the assessment systems, and the unit plans. A project school has a close relationship with Columbia University. Such schools are assigned Columbia University literacy trainers who liaise with the school to provide advice and support. These trainers also provide annual and extensive professional development for teachers. These schools also send teachers to Columbia University on a regular basis. TIS sent me this summer, so I too was prepared for my new role here.


Professional Development This Week!

This week has been our annual intensive week of Columbia Teachers College (NY) professional development. We have been very lucky to host two outstanding trainers from Columbia: Katie and Christine. When your children were on holiday on Monday and Tuesday, all of our reading and writing teachers and teaching assistants were enjoying the very best professional development. Then on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the training continued this time with your children. These days Katie and Christine modeled lessons, planned workshop lessons with teachers and watched our teachers teaching, coaching and giving them feedback.

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So what is a Reading & Writing workshop?

In a nutshell the workshop approach provides the students with a very rich repertoire of reading and writing strategies. They learn to be competent independent readers and writers. This is achieved through a structured approach to teaching and learning where there is a mini lesson, clear learning objectives, personal targets to stretch each individual and guided group work, partner work, and individual reading and writing conferences.

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But I thought we are an IB school?

We are! This programme fits the IB philosophy very well indeed! We do however make some very subtle changes to fit our international, inquiry-driven context and to encompass IB philosophy. These tiny differences are first discussed with the literacy consultants before we implement them. They have been endorsed by Katie and Christine. Here follows a summary.

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Thank you to Katie and Christine for an absolutely fabulous week of learning and a special thank you to our own Kristine (MYP & Middle School Coordinator) who has played a very important role in organizing the week.


Visiting Author

So in summary all this week we have been learning to be great readers and writers – but it doesn’t stop there! Next week we will continue instilling a love of reading and writing by hosting a world renowned author: Jan Renolds! This event was organized by the TIS Library team, but word soon got out and thanks to Christine’s coordination and advertizing, Jan is now also visiting several other schools in and around Tokyo including Yokohama International School, St Mary’s and ASIJ. Together we shared the cost of bringing Jan here. You may have guessed from her photo that Jan is no ordinary author! Please do visit her website together with your child so as to get him/her excited! You can read more about Jan here:

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Best regards,

Chris Frost
Primary School Principal