Sai Sishya International School


Our Curriculum

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) forms the basis for the teaching and learning that takes place at SSIS. The PYP offers an integrated transdisciplinary approach which closely represents real world experiences for the students. This approach allows students to recognize that the different disciplines are connected and used together in various situations. The PYP also focuses on international-mindedness as well as academic outcomes. Some of the major goals of the PYP are to create students who are life-long learners, leaders, thinkers, and problem solvers. The PYP provides learning opportunities for students through the Units of Inquiry. Kindergarten students explore four units during the academic year, while primary students explore all six units.

Language, the basis for all learning

Language is developed across all subjects and by all teachers at SSIS in either English or Japanese. It is through language that our thoughts and ideas can be communicated. It is through the language that we can show our understanding and create new knowledge. It is through language that we can express our feelings and emotions. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all teachers and staff to facilitate communication with all students.

SSIS accepts the responsibility to recognize and support language development of all students through the expectation and understanding that all of our teachers work together to make sure that language is through integrated learning and meaningful contexts.

SSIS has a set of curriculum standards for English which are taught within the PYP framework. Our standards are drawn from the US Common Core State Standards. (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010) These standards are taught in context within and outside of the units of inquiry.

For language development, the PYP has identified three strands – oral language, visual language, written language – that are learned across and throughout the curriculum, with each strand being an integral component of language learning. Each strand is considered from both receptive and expressive aspects. (International Baccalaureate , 2009)

Language Strand Receptive - Receiving and Constructing meaning Expressive - Creating and Sharing meaning
Oral Listening Speaking
Visual Viewing Presenting
Written Reading Writing

Written Language

SSIS recognizes that there are various manuscript and cursive styles when it comes to handwriting. Manuscript and keyboarding are the two forms of expressive language taught at SSIS.

Second Language

Japanese is taught to students from grade 1. As Japan is the host country, it is vital that all students learn how to express themselves in Japanese. Japanese language instruction follows the same PYP strands as English, but at a slower pace.
Curriculum is based on the Japanese learner’s outcomes developed by the Japan Foundation and further correlated to Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

Common European Framework of Reference PYP Phase SSIS Grade
PROFICIENT USER C2 Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations NA NA
C1 Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices. NA NA
INDEPENDENT USER B2 Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options. 4-5 G7-8
B1 Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans 3-4 G5-6
BASIC USER A2 Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need. 2-3 G3-4
A1 Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help 2 G1-2

Mathematics, a global language

At SSIS, students can see themselves as “mathematicians”. They learn that mathematics has the power to describe and analyze the world around them; that problems can be solved in various ways. It is far more than a set of facts, equations or algorithms to be memorized. In the PYP, mathematics is viewed as a tool to support inquiry and provides a global language through which students make sense of the world around them. Mathematics is a process of thinking that helps explain the why and how.

SSIS has a set of curriculum standards for mathematics which are taught within the PYP framework. Our standards are drawn from the Common Core Mathematics Standards.

The PYP’s written, taught and assessed curriculum is highly visible within the eight “Standards for mathematical practice”, drawn from the Common Core State Standards as evidenced in the following table.

Students study the five strands of math in the PYP framework – data handling, measurement, shape and space, pattern and function, and number. The eight standards compliment the five strands. (International Baccalaureate Organization, 2009) (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of
Chief State School Officers, 2010)

Five Strands of PYP Mathematics
  • Data handling
  • Measurement
  • Shape and space
  • Pattern and function
  • Number
Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice
  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
  4. Model with mathematics
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically
  6. Attend to precision
  7. Look for and make use of structure
  8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Science, explaining the world around us

SSIS has a set of curriculum standards for Science which are taught within the PYP framework. Our standards are drawn from the Next Generation Science Standards and the PYP Science Scope and Sequence. They are taught as part of integrated Units of Inquiry (UOI). Science does not appear as a ‘stand alone’ subject on student timetables – rather, it is embedded within units of inquiry throughout the year as well as in the literacy program. For more details on your child’s science outcomes, please refer to the written UOI curriculum in this booklet.

The PYP framework includes four strands of science for students to learn about every year. Each UOI details which strands of science a student will experience.

Living things
The study of the characteristics, systems and behaviors of humans and other animals, and of plants; the interactions and relationships between and among them, and with their environment.

Earth and space
The study of planet Earth and its position in the universe, particularly its relationship with the sun; the natural phenomena and systems that shape the planet and the distinctive features that identify it ; the infinite and finite resources of the planet.

Materials and matter
The student of the properties, behaviors and uses of materials, both natural and human-made; the origins of human-made materials and how they are manipulated to suit a purpose.

PYP Science Skills
A. Observe carefully in order to gather data
B. Use a variety of instruments and tools to measure data accurately
C. Use scientific vocabulary to explain their observations and experiences
D. Identify or generate a question or problem to be explored
E. Plan and carry out systematic investigations, manipulating variables as necessary
F. Make and test predictions
G. Interpret and evaluate data gathered in order to draw conclusions
H. Consider scientific models and applications of these models (including their limitations)

Forces and energy
The study of energy, its origins, storage and transfer, and the work it can do; the study of forces; the application of scientific understanding through inventions and machines.

Social Studies, exploring the world around us

SSIS adapts the PYP Social studies scope and sequence to the local Japanese context. Social Studies is embedded within units of inquiry each year. Social studies has five strands as detailed below and allows students to exploreand develop a set of social studies skills and processes. Each Unit of Inquiry (UOI) details which knowledge and skill sets will be covered and in which context.
Human systems and economic activities The study of how and why people construct organizations and systems; the ways in which people connect locally and globally; the distribution of power and authority
Social organization and culture The study of people, communities, cultures, and societies; the ways in which individuals, groups and societies interact with each other.
Continuity and change through time The study of the relationships between people and events through time; the past, its influences on the present and its implications for the future; people who have shaped the future through their actions.
Human and natural environments The study of the distinctive features that give a place its identity; how people adapt to and alter their environment; how people experience and represent place; the impact of natural disasters on people and the built environment.

Social studies skills
A. Formulate and ask questions about the past, the future, places and society
B. Use and analyze evidence from a variety of historical, geographical and societal sources
C. Orientate in relation to place and time
D. Identify roles, rights, and responsibilities in society
E. Assess the accuracy, validity and possible bias of sources
(International Baccalaureate, 2008)

Resources and the environment
The interaction between people and the environment; the study of how humans allocate and manage resources; the positive and negative effects of this management; the impact of scientific and technological developments on the environment.

School Structure

Taking into consideration the structure of the PYP, SSIS has organized its classes and learning to give students the maximum benefit in their learning. The PYP is designed for students ages 3-12, or kindergarten through grade six. The SSIS kindergarten accepts students from 2 years 8 months into the pre-kindergarten program and from 3 years of age into the regular kindergarten program. The primary school program begins at grade one for students 6 years of age and currently enrolls students through grade five, with expansion plans to grade six in the 2020-21 academic year. The PYP curricular outcomes are organized in a learning continuum referred to as Phases. A Phase typically covers learning outcomes for more than one academic year, therefore, students are grouped into multi-age classrooms to take full advantage of the PYP framework.
Age by Sept 1 Class Phases Language (English) Phases Math, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts
2 yr 8 mo K2 1 1
3 years K3 1 1
4 years K4 2 1
5 years K5 2 1
6 years G1 3 2
7 years G2 3 2
8 years G3 4 3
9 years G4 4 3
10 years G5 5 4
11 years G6 5 4

Students within the same language development phase are placed in the same classroom. Classes are designated as K2K3, K4K5, G1G2, G3G4, G5G6.

Benefits of multi-age classrooms
According to David Richards, Founder & CEO of Growth Public Schools – a K-8 school in Sacramento, CA, single grade classrooms are a relic of the factory model design of schools, where children are arbitrarily grouped by their age. If students are ahead of this grouping or behind, they may be bored or frustrated.

SSIS believes that each child should be treated as an individual and the research has shown that children do not fit into one single pattern. There is a range of development spanning about 2 years depending on the child, just like the PYP Phase designations.

SSIS views each student as a unique individual and determines what their needs are academically and socially-emotionally. For example, some kindergarten students will begin reading when they reach first grade; some first graders start reading in kindergarten; some will be a few grade levels ahead. SSIS teachers instruct all students with the “just right instruction” within this developmental span.

As a private international school, SSIS will ensure that students are meeting or progressing towards grade level and appropriate PYP Phase outcomes.

The benefits of multi-age classrooms:

  • Building confidence, mentorship, and leadership in the older students
  • Older students develop deeper learning when they share their understanding with younger students
  • Older students model learning and behavior to the younger students which allows the younger students to understand what to do
  • Children can develop at their own developmental pace regardless of what grade they are assigned to
  • In a learner-centered multi-age classroom, students begin to take responsibility for their own learning and become life-long learners
  • Children are viewed as unique individuals and the teacher can focus on each child according to his or her unique strengths

School Leadership Team

Ms. Ramaa Thiruranayanan – Founder and Director of SSIS
Ms. Rebecca Yarita – Head of School, PYP Coordinator
Ms. Kiyomi Fukushima – Consultant for regulatory rules and guidelines