Welcome to TIS elementary school! Come and visit our school and see students who are active participants in the learning process. Each day our students take part in a variety of learning experiences, including both teacher-directed and student-directed activities. The curriculum seeks to provide a continuum in each core content area as the basis for the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Our staff seeks to truly get to know the students, building relationships with them that foster trust and support. Through the opportunities provided in and out of the classroom, it is our hope that our students become well-rounded young men and women that actively make a difference in the world around them.

SuJung Ham

Elementary Principal


Tianjin International School curriculum provides a holistic program that balances the development of concepts, skills and character. Our approach focuses on the total growth of the developing child addressing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic welfare.

Our program focuses on guided inquiry, collaboration and communication as approaches to teaching and learning to provide an environment that fosters the development of problem solving and critical thinking as well as subject competencies.


The primary goal of language arts instruction in our elementary program is to inspire students to read for pleasure, learn new information, share their thoughts and feelings, and speak confidently and dynamically. To meet those goals, we follow the Daily 5 format for our literacy block. This is a program that focuses on intentional instruction with extended periods of practice in order to increase reading and writing achievement. This program gives the students choices within parameters where the teachers monitor student growth and progress. The five components that students can choose from each day are:

  • Read to Self
  • Work on Writing
  • Word Work
  • Read to Someone
  • Listening to Reading

Here is a list of some of the resources and assignments we use to implement the five components.

Reading – CAFÉ

This program focuses on the strategies that students need to be stronger readers. The students learn strategies for comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and expanding their vocabulary. The students work on reading skills independently, in small groups and in full class settings.

Word Work - Words Their Way

Each week, students are given a list of words to work with and sort based on a word feature that they need further practice with. Once a week they will be given a word work test to track their growth.

Writing 6+1 Traits of Writing

While focusing the key traits of writing and the writing process, we focus on narrative writing. We will explore other genres of writing throughout the year.

Grammar- Shurley Grammar

Throughout the year students will practice various grammar skills. Students will learn how to apply these skills to their own writing compositions.


A strong understanding of social studies and history is the foundation of well-informed, civic-minded citizens. Our 1-5 scope and sequence begins with exploring relationships that students have within their immediate circle of family, friends, teachers, and neighbors. Then students learn the basics of geography, economics, and citizenship in the context of expanding their view to include the local community. Learning broadens from there to an awareness of local and global communities, the exploration of different cultures, and public service roles. Finally, students begin to learn about American history from the first migration into the Americas to the 20th Century.


Just as children explore concentrically larger circles of community in social studies, the science curriculum teaches them to understand and appreciate the physical world around them. Students take part in engaging, hands-on investigation focused on the following three areas, with an emphasis on engineering and applying these scientific topics through experimentation and creation.

  • Life Science (plants and animals) – their diversity between habitats; similarities and differences from the past; internal and external structures that uniquely help them with growth, survival, and reproduction; diversity between habitats; patterns of behavior and stages of life; variation of traits from other species and within their species; and how they are affected by change.
  • Physical Science - Matter and forces - properties and functions of different kinds of matter, how they affect the way objects move, how matter can be changed, how light and sound travels, effect of balanced and unbalanced forces, gravitational force, patterns in wave motion, how energy is transferred by sound, light, heat, and electric current, energy and how it is produced and transferred, and identify matter as particles of matter too small to be seen
  • Earth Science - patterns in movement of the sun, moon, stars, and Earth; patterns in interaction among the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere; weather in different climates and seasons; processes that shape the Earth’s surface; Earth’s features; water, its states and distribution; resources from the Earth; and human impact on the Earth

First through fifth grade math instruction and curriculum are carefully designed to allow students to connect with, build upon, and refine their mathematical understandings. Students use metacognitive strategies when they engage in solving mathematics problems to not only understand specific concepts, but also the process by which they learned them. Six content strands are at the core of instruction in all grade levels: number and numeration, operations and computation, data and chance, measurement and reference frames, geometry, patterns, and functions, and algebra. These six areas are broken down further into grade-level goals which are linked to formative assessments. Teachers work closely in teams to design instruction of both remedial and enrichment needs allowing them to support students at all levels.


At Tianjin International School we understand all too well that living abroad and going to school away from home and old friends can be challenging for children of all ages. The difficulties they struggle with are not always visible or clearly expressed. If not addressed, this can affect their behavior as well as their academic performance. As a result, our teachers work with our students to help them adjust and learn to make good life patterns for living cross culturally.


Our school counselor meets with students who may be having emotional or social difficulties and help determine the best courses of action, which may include a recommendation of counseling. Conversations are confidential. Counselors are available on campus to individuals or groups of students for discussion of problems relating to emotional growth, social adjustment, academic achievement or any other issue.


The TIS community embraces individual ways of learning and is committed to supporting children in an inclusive classroom with additional supports. The professionals in Academic Services collaborate with parents and faculty members to create student-centered learning plans, which guide teachers' instruction and increases students' application of learning skills. These plans are designed to increase student opportunity to show mastery of content through multiple means.

When it has been determined that a student can benefit from academic accommodations such as extended time, visual aids, enrichment, or a modified workload, Academic Services works with teachers to implement these plans. Additionally, this department provides remedial and enrichment opportunities for students Elementary-High School. This can take the form of meeting individually or in small groups with students, or mentoring students after school.


Mastery of the English language is crucial for each student to be successful at an international school. To determine the level of English language support needed, all non-native English-speaking students are tested for English during the admissions process. The English Language Learners (ELL) Program develops individual learning plans for non-native English speakers from Grade 1 – Grade 5 according to the English language needs of each individual student. The ELL Program is a continuum extending from intensive English instruction to structured English Language support as the student transitions into the regular classroom. Through close interaction with parents and TIS Staff, ELL teachers provide students with help in all areas of language acquisition (listening, speaking, reading and writing) in order to reach a high level of English language proficiency and achieve full participation in TIS curricula.

We offer English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for our English Language Learners. Students are placed according to their own level of need based on individualized testing. These students receive English language lessons from language specialists, who use the Daily 5 curriculum in the classroom.



For decades, TIS students have been invigorated by language education, with past students using their language skills in many areas from diplomacy, law and education to international trade, marketing, banking and finance.


The English language is central to the way in which students understand, critique and appreciate their world, and to the ways in which they participate socially, economically and culturally in society. The study of English encourages the development of literate individuals capable of critical and imaginative thinking, aesthetic appreciation and creativity, as well as productive participation in a democratic society in the 21st Century. Through the English curriculum and our literacy program, which begins in the ECC, students initially focus on spelling and word study, phonemic awareness and handwriting, which leads into the key discipline concepts of texts and language, and the many dimensions of reading, writing, speaking and listening that develop as students progress through their schooling.


Although the study of English and the ongoing development of important literacy skills are fundamental elements of the curriculum, our students are also part of the global dialogue where multiple languages are advantageous. As an American school with an international perspective, we believe that a strong language program enhances the educational journey and encourages our students to develop alternative perspectives, cultural understanding and empathy.

Beginning in kindergarten, Elementary students have the opportunity to study Mandarin. There are three main goals for Elementary school students interested in learning Mandarin: 1) Building up a strong foundation of high-frequency vocabulary. Frequent and consistent exposure to high frequency vocabulary greatly increases the comfort level of students as they begin to communicate in a new language. 2) Working on the basic grammar rules, sentence structure, and discourse patterns. Chinese can seem very intimidating to students when they first begin learning the language; however, the introduction of common sentence patterns coupled with frequent practice in relevant contexts can greatly increase the rate at which students develop language proficiency. 3) Developing cultural knowledge and global awareness. Lastly, a critical goal for lower school students in the Mandarin classroom is to provide opportunities to understand the similarities and differences between their own culture and that of various Chinese populations around the world. Students have the opportunity to go on field trips, eat new foods, learn about daily life for students their own age in China and learn about and celebrate the various important Chinese holidays.


At TIS, we see technology as a tool that supports a school community and facilitates learning. We recognize the enormous potential of modern technology to enhance and enrich learning, and are committed to preparing our children to be successful in a society permeated with technology.

As an important tool, both inside and outside of the classroom, students use technology to inquire, communicate and safely take risks. Through our technology program, we ensure that every student in our community has access to campus and worldwide electronic resources, enhanced classrooms and a learning management system employed by higher education institutions. These tools encourage students to adopt and employ technology during their tenure at TIS, preparing them for college and professional environments as true digital citizens.


Every building on the campus is connected to our data networks allowing students to wirelessly access electronic material in all academic and community spaces. School bandwidth has significantly increased over the past few years to better support classroom initiatives, cloud computing, multimedia and improve the overall student experience. In accordance with our standards, students must abide by acceptable use policies and guidelines found in the school handbook. To help encourage these standards our network is regularly monitored and acceptable barriers have been put in place for the safety of our students.


The TIS library is a vibrant, welcoming environment for students, staff and parents to enjoy for recreational and educational purposes and is specifically organized to service our diverse school community. We strive to ensure that not only are learning needs met but also that every child feels valued and happy. Our Library resources support the teaching of the curriculum and develop our student's interests and hobbies. Incorporating the use of iPads for searching the library databases, library lessons are also linked to the curriculum and teach essential information skills for 21st Century learning.

Our Library Strives:

  • To ensure learners grow as competent, ethical users and producers of ideas and information.
  • To prepare life-long learners who are effective communicators, critical researchers and problem solvers.
  • To collaborate and share with audiences beyond our school walls.
  • To model our school’s mission and support learners in the pursuit of aesthetic growth and personal learning pathways.

To this end, a collection of books has been developed to support teaching and learning activities. Chinese books have also been acquired to support language learning. In addition, we have a collection of e-resources including online newspapers and magazines, which children can access on their iPads. We use a color code system to help our English language learners to find books with more ease and encourage families to donate fiction and nonfiction books in Japanese, Chinese and Korean to help round out our diverse collection.


Our elementary library is a spacious child-centered environment filled with educational and enjoyable children’s books. Every year our library sponsors a program called March Madness, which encourages elementary students to read books of their choice. Awareness of a variety of books, school library materials and reinforcement of language learning are a few of the goals anchored in the reading program.

Progress & Reporting

We are constantly seeking to strengthen our partnership with parents and one of the ways we do this is through reporting to parents and actively involving parents in their children’s learning.

At the start of the year, we have orientation sessions for both new and returning families. This is an opportunity for parents to meet the new class teacher and to find out about the year group routines, special events and expectations. Each term, we welcome parents to an open morning, which provides an opportunity for children to share and celebrate their learning. We also have more formal Parent Teacher Conferences in October and again in March. This is an opportunity for parents to meet with their child’s class teacher on an individual basis and review their child’s learning and next steps. Progress Reports are written at the end of the first semester and all children receive a summative report in June.

Although there are many structured opportunities for parents to meet with teachers, parents can also make appointments with teachers throughout the year to discuss any concerns they may have.


At TIS, we plan specific days within the school calendar for conferences to be held as we believe it is important to communicate with families. The fall and spring conferences are all day events and allow for families to schedule 20-minute conferences with their teacher in Elementary. Special area teacher conferences are 15 minutes and can be scheduled separately. Phone conferences are a possibility on these days, as some families may have difficulty scheduling time to leave work/commitments to travel to school.


PowerSchool is the most widely used web-based student information system, supporting 10 million students over 65 countries. Benefits for parents and students include: real-time grades, attendance, comments, assignments, scores and much more…right from the teacher’s gradebook directly to students and parents.



The best learning is active and engaged. It can be found in ordinary places. Take our open gym nights or our elementary dance troupe practices, for example. These activities energize students and help them to see the holistic connections between mind, body, and spirit. Activities outside the classroom are not merely add-ons to the core curriculum. They are a continuous enrichment, a way to sustain and deepen learning.

At TIS, we believe that co-curricular activities are an important part of education that extends beyond the classroom. Co-curricular activities provide motivation for learning, character building, physical growth and creativity while developing confidence and educating the whole child. Students are encouraged to participate and explore all opportunities that interest them. Students who are involved in Co-curricular opportunities become more invested in the school experience, therefore increasing the opportunity for higher academic performance and social well-being.


The goal of physical education is to develop physically competent individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. Our elementary PE classes begin with stretching, running, and other exercises because we want to encourage our students to develop a life-long habit of being physically active. PE lessons continue by teaching students a skill needed to play a particular sport. Classes conclude with students playing a game related to specific sports, such as soccer, basketball, softball, badminton, gymnastics, and tennis.


Elementary school artists use paint, clay, collage, sculptural and digital media to explore artistic expression in a structured and supportive environment. In the process, they learn about artists, art movements and how to move from concept to creation. Students learn the vernacular of art and build a vocabulary that grows with them as they progress from grades 1-5.


Movement, singing, and playing are second nature to children. Our elementary school performing arts curriculum uses a mixture of American curricula and Kodaly-based methodologies to take full advantage of these innate skills. Spoken word with rhymes, games, songs, and dances become learning tools as students are encouraged to improvise, compose, and interact musically as a group. In addition, first and second grade students jump right into developing fundamental skills, learning how to identify musical notation, including rhythms, pitches, and dynamics symbols. In the third through fifth grades, students continue to build their knowledge of written music and improvisation by learning to play more complex instruments.

Public performance is a fantastic way for young learners to develop confidence and is an integral part of our program. Throughout the year, lower school students showcase what they’re learning for peers and parents at seasonal performances. When students graduate from lower school, the goal is that they have a strong knowledge of the written mechanics of music and a greater sense of the community, character, and creativity that are built by singing, playing, and creating music together.


After-school activities are a great tool in our aim to develop well-rounded students. The school sponsors a number of after-school activities that give elementary students an opportunity to explore and excel in a particular sport, hobby, or area of interest.

Art on iPad
Technology is a great way to learn many things and art is no exception. Nowadays developers have created many art apps for iPad. Students will learn iPad apps that will help them enhance their creativity and broaden their perspective of art. Students will learn iPad apps that will help them enhance their creativity and broaden their perspective of art. Students need to bring their iPads to this club. This club may accept 10 fourth grade students.

This club is led by an instructor from a local dance studio. Students will learn ballet technique and a dance routine. Each participant will also need to purchase a ballet outfit, white tights and ballet shoes. These can be purchased through the dance studio if desired. This club may accept 15 first through third grade students.

This club will help students develop the skills of dribbling, passing, and shooting. Students will also have the opportunity to play the fun and exciting game of basketball. Tennis shoes are required. This club may accept 12 third and fourth grade students.

No prior experience is required. If your student wants to learn something new or grow in their ability to play chess, this is the club for them. This club may accept 20 third through fifth grade students.

Chinese art
In this club students will learn about traditional Chinese arts such as kite making, Chinese calligraphy writing, traditional Chinese painting, and more! This club may accept 10 first grade students.

Chinese culture
Students will learn more about China through cultural activities. For example, they will learn about Chinese paper cutting, Chinese food, Chinese holidays, Chinese tourist locations and more! The purpose of this club is to help students foster interest in Chinese culture. This club may accept 8 students (1stand 2ndgrade) and 10 students (3rd - 5thgrade).

This club will make projects out of clay and learn different techniques in using and making things out of clay. Due to the nature of this club, if directions are not followed, students will not be allowed to come back for the rest of the semester. This club may accept 10 fourth and fifth grade students.

This club, led by Mr. Causey, who has extensive experience in climbing and leading outdoor adventures, will train 5thgrade students on the basics of climbing using our new climbing wall in the Gym. Students will have fun learning how to climb while also learning how to be safe. This club may accept 10 fifth grade students.

Students will learn to mix ingredients and use baking utensils while making delicious creations, such as fruit sauce, pancakes, cookies, a Chinese dessert, and healthy snacks. This club may accept 10 fourth grade students.

This club is a great way to become part of a team, much like a family. It promotes literacy, improves vocabulary (use of standard English), public speaking, responsibility, and communication. Consistent attendance, trying all parts, and learning lines are required. This is a club where everyone has fun! This club may accept 22 third through fifth grade students.

Students will learn to play handbells and explore a different kind of music ensemble. Students will also learn proper handbell care and technique, improve music reading, and grow in their ability to play in an ensemble. No previous experience in playing handbells is required. This club may accept 20 students - 10 fourth graders and 10 fifth graders

Hip hop
This club, led by an instructor from a local dance studio, will teach students Hip Hop moves and a dance routine. This club may accept 12 third through fifth grade students.

This club, led by a local Judo instructor, will teach students the basics of Judo. This club may accept 12 third through fifth grade students.

This club, led by Mrs. Li for 5thgrade students will meet on Thursday afternoons in the ECC. Students will learn to make a variety of things by using different techniques. If you love crafts and want to try something new, come join us! No prior experience is required. Students will be able to keep the supplies they receive on the first day of club. The cost for the supplies is 30 RMB. This club may accept 8 students.

This club will encourage creativity and is a great way to develop fine motor skills. There will be time for free and organized play, as well as time to work on public speaking skills, as students share their creations with others in the club. This club may accept 22 first and second graders.

Leg robotics
This club will provide students with an opportunity to build and program Legos so that their creations can “come to life.” This club may accept 10 third grade students.

Read aloud
If you love books and stories and enjoy listening to someone read to you, then come join the read aloud club! In this club, students will explore many different topics and stories and have fun activities after reading. This club may accept 15 second grade students.

Small crafts
In this club, students will make small and relatively simple crafts using a variety of supplies. They will have many opportunities to use their imagination and creativity, as well as try new things. This club may accept 10 third grade students.

Ready to visit?

We would love to have you come for a visit to our school.