German International School Chicago (GISC) prepares students to become well-rounded, creative, responsible, and tolerant global citizens by providing them a rigorous, world-class education in a supportive and individualized learning environment.

GISC is pursuing accreditation as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. Currently, as a candidate school for the Primary Years Program (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate Organization, we have adopted the IB Learner Profile.

IB learners strive to be:


Inquirers: They develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning, and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.

Knowledgeable: They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.

Thinkers: They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognize and approach complex problems and make reasoned, ethical decisions.

Communicators: They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.

Principled: They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice, and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups, and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.

Open-minded: They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values, and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.

Caring: They show empathy, compassion, and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.

Risk-takers: They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas, and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.

Balanced: They understand the importance of intellectual, physical, and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and for others.

Reflective: They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.

Our curriculum and extra-curricular programs evolve from our mission and goals. The Primary Years Program (PYP) is a concept-driven, inquiry-based curriculum. This transdisciplinary learning has six overarching themes: Who we are, Where we are in place and time, How we express ourselves, How the world works, How we organize ourselves, and Sharing the planet. Our theme-based approach allows students to integrate knowledge and skills across subject areas and build holistic views of the world, their life, and their body. We also emphasize the relevance of school learning for students’ daily life by linking school learning to students’ out-of-school lives. Special emphasis is placed on nurturing students’ creativity in all subject areas. The results are especially visible to the outside community when all students perform in the December Holiday and Spring concerts and exhibition of artworks.

Students learn in groups of varying sizes and also individually. Groups can be multi-age, ability- or interest-based, determined by teachers, but also selected by students. Our goal is to develop independent and motivated learners, but also to ensure that all students master the learning objectives and goals in each subject area.

Our low student/teacher ratio allows for intensive small-group teaching and learning, strong student participation and discussion as well as adherence to different learning styles by teachers. We also regularly have interns who work with students in small groups or individually.

In addition, parents with specific expertise and knowledge as well as other professionals join us for special topics such as world religions, music, biology, or architecture. As our families represent many different nationalities, we regularly integrate cultural and language diversity into our learning.

Technology

Smart boards, laptops, and iPads are as much part of our teaching and learning as books, paper, pencils, paint brushes, etc. As there is WiFi throughout the School, students work with GISC-owned iPads and laptops on specific projects.

iPads: In preschool and kindergarten, iPads are a tool in all subject areas. They allow students to reach out into the larger world. iPads are also used to support individualized learning, especially in reading and mathematics.

Laptops: Starting in 1st grade, students use keyboards and laptops as a learning tool. Students write essays and do online searches for projects and develop class presentations. Laptops also facilitate group projects in our School but also with schools worldwide. They are used in all subject areas including Art and Music for creating digital art and videos and composing music.

Smart Boards: All kindergarten and elementary-school classrooms have smart boards which bring the world into the classroom through photos, videos, maps, graphs, etc. At the same time, they support students’ different learning styles as they allow visual, auditory, and tactile learning approaches.

Library

GISC’s library has mainly German and English but also French reading, viewing, and listening materials for children and youth. Students have bar-code library cards and may check out books independently. As there is WIFI throughout the school, students access the library database from iPads or laptops anywhere.

There is a main library and there are topic-specific libraries in the classrooms. For the libraries in the classrooms, teachers assemble age-appropriate books, CDs, and DVDs for their students that relate to specific teaching-learning topics.