Middle School

Middle school at Tsinghua International School evolves from the inquiry based, progressive Primary School program and continues to inspire students to be collaborative, creative, innovative, and focused learners. Students are provided with opportunities to develop their skills, knowledge and understandings through a wide variety of learning experiences ranging from research and discussions to hands on explorations in the STEAM Lab, creative opportunities in the arts and heathy living through exercise and sport. All teachers are specialists in their content areas and in supporting the unique growth and development needs of the middle grade’s child. The courses are based on the American Common Core standards as well as the Ministry of Education goals for Chinese language, history and cultural studies. All staff work closely and collaboratively to support students and help them enjoy this special time in their lives all the while preparing them for the rigors of high school.


At THIS, we create memories for our learners that will last a lifetime for both students and teachers.

Danny Arias, Teacher

Our Approach

Admission to Tsinghua International School is a three part process. Students are required to have adequate grades from their previous school, pass a math test as well as an academic English exam and complete an interview in English. The overwhelming majority of our students come with some level of Chinese language ability, but it is not required. All students must have a valid, international passport to attend the school.

All secondary students at THIS undertake advanced study in both English and Chinese. The school’s language of instruction is English, and students who are below required proficiency levels in English take our regular courses, but also additional language support courses to improve their academic English. Once students have shown mastery of academic English, they are no longer required to take the additional courses. In Chinese language, we offer courses for both first and second language speakers. For students who are native speakers of Chinese, the curriculum is similar to that in a Chinese national school, with advanced work in history and literature to develop reading, writing and public speaking skills.

Tribes is A PROCESS that creates a culture that maximizes learning and human development.”— Jeanne Gibbs, Founder of Tribes.

Through this process, teachers use various strategies to help students learn how to problem-solve, build community to work in teams, as well as how to learn content in a very hands-on constructive way. Tribes emphasizes four agreements that permeate everything done in the classroom: Attentive Listening, Mutual Respect, Appreciations/No Put-Downs and Right to Participate/Right to Pass. Thus students are able to academically learn and build community in an environment that is safe and student-oriented.

Our Activities Program consists broadly of four components:

  1. Community building: Every year we dedicate the first two weeks of school to community building, including special off campus field trips at each grade-level.
  2. Curriculum-based trips and Activities: Academic field trips and hands-on department days (e.g. History Day) focused on subject matter as well as applied understandings and skills in real life contexts.
  3. Extra-Curricular Activities: Numerous clubs which span a variety of interests are available each semester to secondary division students. Some clubs are student directed while others are led by THIS teachers.
  4. Evaluating and Sharing Knowledge: Students and teachers reflect on our activities within the framework of our mission, vision and value. Collecting trip feedback and presenting information about what was learned on each trip is part of our evaluation and sharing process.
  • International Schools Athletic Conference (ISAC), full membership since 2014. Division II: Boys volleyball, Girls volleyball, Boys basketball, Girls Soccer Division III: Girls basketball, Boys Soccer, Girls Volleyball Sportsmanship awards earned in all three sports, at the Middle and High School levels.
  • THIS Spartans share a gym and sports field with Tsinghua High School.

Services include individual, group, and classroom guidance on topics such as academic difficulty, peer relations, family crisis (death, divorce, etc.), and social/emotional concerns. Both counselor and teachers collaborate to create individualized programs for students and to develop classroom interventions.

Subject Areas

Chinese Language

As students move on to middle school, the curriculum continues to build on the fundamentals while adding breadth and depth in the following areas: traditional Chinese culture, reading comprehension and writing interest and ability. There is a special emphasis on deeper understanding of Chinese literature through grasping different types of literature, appreciating the beauty of Chinese literature, and relating it to the students’ developing character. Middle School textbooks are published by Jiangsu Education Publishing House. Teachers also use other works from Chinese Classics to supplement the teaching content as well as teacher-recommended Chinese books (at least 1 book per semester minimum requirement). The middle school Chinese curriculum focuses not only on accumulating knowledge of classical poetry, but also emphasizes student-centered learning; the ultimate goal is to deepen the understanding of Chinese and to improve practical application of the language.

English Language Arts

ELA aims to help the writer and reader in each student grow and develop. We believe that every student is a writer and thirsty for knowledge. To help foster our budding writers, we utilize a workshop model which sees students writing every day and filling notebook after notebook with their own unique voice. Through mentor texts, peer review and teacher guided lessons students are ideally situated to succeed in both High School and beyond. To satisfy our students’ thirst for knowledge, we read and read and read. On average a middle school student devours a book every 10 days, regardless of level. This immersion in the pursuit of knowledge is made possible through guided lessons, book clubs and a school faculty that values reading as an integral lifelong skill.

World Languages

In middle school, the Modern World Languages Department offers foreign language classes and support classes for students still learning English. For students interested in studying a foreign language, French I and Spanish I are offered in the 8th grade. For students still mastering English, Structured English Immersion (SEI) classes are offered from 6th to 8th grade: these small-sized courses combine Language Arts instruction with a focus on fundamental language skills. Eligibility for the SEI program is determined by the WIDA test, which is given to all incoming students, except for native English speakers.


THIS Middle School Mathematics is based on the American Common Core curriculum. It is full of exploration, discovery and collaboration within the classroom! We use strategies from the Middle School focus on TRIBES to work in math study teams to engage with mathematics each day. Our students excel not only in the computation aspect of mathematics, but can fully explain, prove and show their investigative process with one another and with the teacher.

Instructional Technology

In middle school, Computers and Technology classes are offered for all three grade-levels (6, 7, 8). Middle School computer curricula focus on basic applications of widely-used Microsoft programs such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. Basic applications of video, image and sound management programs are also a feature of the class. The overarching objective of developing and refining computer skills that will be useful to students across academic domains throughout their academic careers is achieved through an emphasis on authentic, project-based learning tasks and assessments. Learn more


As students move on to middle school, the curriculum has a strong emphasis on developing scientific language, thought, scientific argumentation, and understanding specific principles. We also have the goal of encouraging the love of exploration and discovery through the use of various scientific and engineering methods. We utilize a wide variety of resources and materials in class. Students work with interactive notebooks in all grade level. The course sequence for middle school is Grade 6 – Earth Science, Grade 7 – Life Science and Grade 8 – Physical Science. In addition, Grade 7 students participate in a STEAM course during two forty minute periods per week. This class allows students to create and build products through a more hands-on approach.

Social Studies

At THIS, we take a skills-based approach to the social studies curriculum. Throughout their course work, students will learn to use and analyze information presented in a variety of formats, from text to charts and graphs to images, to uncover patterns of similarity and difference, cause and effect, and continuity and change over time. Students will do the work of historians, completing a historical research project each year as a part of their classes. Students begin with geography in the 6th grade, and progress through ancient and medieval history, uncovering the causes of the rise and fall of civilizations, while in Chinese, students will learn about China’s five-thousand year history.

Physical Education

In the Secondary Program, students are required to take PE in Grades 6-9 while Health is required in Grades 7-9. The units that make up the PE curriculum align with the California PE standards which include having students demonstrate knowledge of and competency in motor skills, movement patterns and strategies needed to perform a variety of skills. The students will also strive to achieve an appropriate level of physical fitness for health and performance while demonstrating knowledge of fitness concepts and principles.

Visual Arts

Moving into middle school, students have more choice in what art subjects they want to pursue. In Grade 6-8, students study Eastern art, Western art, and Theatre for one semester each. Visual Arts courses place a strong emphasis on process and reflection while developing a platform for creative expression through project based learning. Students learn terminology and technique which makes it easier to talk about their art and make solid connections to intent. In all courses, students utilize sketchbooks as Art Journals to keep track of their process and to record their ideas. Students work towards building individual portfolios, so that they can revisit and reflect on their achievements and learning.


Music courses in the middle school are designed to equip students with fundamental skills and knowledge either in instrumental or vocal music. All music courses have a strong performance component and culminate in a secondary school music concert at the end of the first semester, and performances in the annual arts festival at the end of the second semester. Literacy standards are met through the use of journals, written and spoken reflections, and assessments of vocabulary. Through a variety of sizes of ensemble, students can be challenged with repertoire that is appropriate to their ability and experience level.

Interested in attending THIS Middle School?  Contact Admissions