FAQ - Learning

Student Learning

What is the school’s learning mission?

Our Mission is to develop each person as a learner and leader, who knows, cares and takes action to make a positive impact on the world.

All members of the Nishimachi community, including students, teachers, support staff, parents and the larger community, are part of the continuous process of growth and learning.  We are all learners; we all realize the value of the following expectations for learners:

  1. We make connections:  We cultivate meaningful connections between people, cultures and ideas.

  2. We take ownership:  We take initiative, we explore our own questions and accept responsibility for our actions.

  3. We pursue challenges:  We take risks and persevere.

  4. We act ethically: We respect differences, are empathetic and work to find solutions on a global and local level.

  5. We are creative: We use multiple processes to think, innovate and reflect

What kind of curriculum does Nishimachi use?

Nishimachi’s curriculum is structured to ensure that students receive a rigorous education, relevant to their context and to their experiences in a global community.  Core subjects draw from Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core, and the AERO (American Education Reaches Out) framework.  The overall academic program of English, mathematics, social studies and science is complemented by daily Japanese, as well as music, physical education, art, drama, exploratory, community service and outdoor education programs.

What do you offer in Arts education?

Visual Arts, Music, and Drama provide an education rich in aesthetic experiences that are open ended, exploratory in nature, and meaningful. Participation is highly valued, and teachers work to help students identify their strengths and chart their progress. Unique opportunities present themselves for students to express themselves in ways not afforded them in other subjects. Lifelong participation and appreciation for the Arts is the main goal. In addition to curricular offerings, there are also public performance and exhibition opportunities throughout the year. 

Do students get the opportunity to participate in trips/outdoor activities?

Extended science study and social studies field trips for grades 4 to 9 are held during the year at the school's lodge “Kazuno”, Kyoto/Nara and Hiroshima. Grades 2-5 participate in off-campus swimming programs and grades 4-9 have 3-5 days of ski school in Niigata.

How do students use information communication technology (ICT) in their learning?

An important means of enhancing teaching and learning at Nishimachi is the effective use of information and communication technology. Technology continues to have an increasingly significant impact on all aspects of education, life at home, and in the workplace. Students at Nishimachi are encouraged to become twenty-first century learners through the use of information technology at school and at home. This is embedded throughout the curriculum to ensure the acquisition of necessary skills and knowledge across grade levels. Ultimately, this allows students to function productively in a modern global society. Technology is utilized in the classrooms through creating, publishing, searching, and researching.

Do students have access to a library?

Students use the "Yashiro Media Center" which contains a library of about 20,000 volumes, 65% in English and 35% in Japanese. In addition students are able to use media center computers and the Internet to search for information on topics related to their studies. Through effective use of traditional resources and technology, students are empowered to achieve their potential as learners.

Are students involved in community service?

At Nishimachi a strong sense of community service is present throughout the entire school. Our philosophy is "to nurture in our students the natural response to want to contribute to their communities, local, global and immediate, and to develop a life-long commitment to community service." Students have opportunities to contribute to, and participate in, a variety of community service projects such as Tohoku relief projects, community service with sister schools in Japan and in Cambodia, various international disaster relief support projects, helping the aged and homeless and animal welfare support.

Do you offer any summer programs?

Nishimachi offers a short summer school program, only for Nishimachi students, during two weeks in June. Attendance at the summer school is optional. Summer school further develops Japanese/English listening–speaking, reading, writing, and linguistic skills in languages, science, social studies, calligraphy, sports and fine arts. Students have opportunities to research using books and information technology, produce creative work, be involved in interactive group projects, visits to museums and participate in field trips.

Does Nishimachi offer standardized tests?

Yes, we do.

We conduct MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) testing, which was developed by Northwest Evaluation Association in the U.S.A. Students in grades 2 to 9 take MAP tests in Mathematics, Reading and Language Usage. The tests are taken twice in the year, in September/October and in April. MAP is a measure of academic progress and is adaptive to student responses.

Since May of 2018, students in Grades 3 - 9 participate in the ISA (International Schools’ Assessment) Writing tests. The ISA program was developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research, for use in international schools. Students are assessed on Narrative/Reflective Writing and Exposition/Argument Writing.

Standardized tests provide data from an independent source. This is used in conjunction with results from other assessments given by teachers to provide feedback to students, parents and teachers.

What approaches to instruction do Nishimachi teachers use to facilitate student learning?

Nishimachi teachers design their instruction with a focus on collaborative learning and student engagement.  Instructional approaches include critical and creative thinking routines, research based instructional strategies, project-based assessments, and cross-grade activities. 

Nishimachi's Japanese Program

Nishimachi's Japanese Program

We believe that learning another language provides the opportunity to grow beyond a single culture. The ultimate goal for students attending Nishimachi, from Kindergarten through Grade 9, is to set each student firmly on a path towards bilingualism. Specifically, the goal of Japanese education at Nishimachi is to develop the capability in each student to communicate in Japanese: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

How much Japanese is taught?

The Japanese language program at Nishimachi is compulsory, in which all students participate in Japanese instruction from 40 to 60 minutes per day.

What is Japanese Social Studies?

Taught only in middle school Japanese social studies (JSS) provides an extended opportunity for students to engage with Japanese geography, history, and culture. Classes are taught in Japanese or English, providing all students additional opportunities to learn Japanese vocabulary in context. Students develop an understanding of the political, economic, and social systems of our host country.

How are students grouped for Japanese?

Students are grouped by ability through assessments by the Japanese team. Levels range from 1 through 9, with 1 as Fully Proficient to the Grade Level and Level 9 as entry-level. These levels are split into Language A and Language B.

What defines the content of the Japanese curriculum at Nishimachi?

a) Language A (levels 1-4) classes use curriculum guidelines and materials mandated by the Monbukagakusho (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology).

b) Language B (levels 5-9) classes draw upon a variety of teaching materials and strategies for second language instruction.