Teaching & Learning

teaching learning middle school

Welcome to the Teaching and Learning pages of the ISKR website!

The International School of Kigali, Rwanda opened its doors in September 2009 with a goal of offering the best international education in Kigali. We offer a preschool through Grade 12 program that incorporates a student-centered, inquiry-based approach focused on empowering students with the skills and competencies they will need to thrive in the 21st Century. The curriculum we use throughout the school draws upon resources and best practices from a variety of national and international curricula and is adapted to fit the needs of our highly diverse student body.

Program by Section

Each section of the school has a unique program designed to meet the needs of the students of a particular age and developmental level. While the programs differ, the use of academic standards, skills integration, and systematic curriculum review ensures that the whole school program is cohesive, preparing students to transition between sections, from and to other schools, and into higher education programs throughout the world.

The Early Childhood section consists of preschool (ages 2-4) and kindergarten and utilizes an adapted Montessori Method. The Montessori Method is a student-centered, skills-driven approach that allows students the freedom to explore their learning environment under the guidance of skilled instructors. Instruction in co-curricular subjects in the preschool is led in class by the classroom teacher, and the kindergarten class has some regularly scheduled additional classes taught by co-curricular teachers, such as Drama, Art, French, and Physical Education.

The Elementary section is comprised of Grades 1-5. Instruction takes place with a classroom teacher in addition to French, Physical Education, and a range of co-curricular classes scheduled throughout each week. This section is in the process of transitioning to the International Primary Curriculum, which is emphasizes the development of 21st Century skills through academic, personal and international learning that is exciting and challenging. The program integrates skills development in a variety of subject areas and offers a comprehensive assessment program. In addition to the IPC, the elementary school uses an American standards-based curriculum in Language Arts and Mathematics using American Education Reaches Out (AERO) standards, the same standards as the kindergarten and secondary programs, ensuring that there is proper alignment in these programs.

The Secondary section includes Grades 6-12 and utilizes a combination of academic standards and skills targets that build upon the foundation gained in the elementary program toward the Advanced Placement program, which is the culminating school program. For the 2014-2015 academic year, the secondary program is using Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ Framework for 21st Century Learning to improve its program and ensure that 21st century skills, themes, and competencies are embedded in the curriculum and in classroom instruction. Integrating this framework with our existing AERO standards in core subjects has helped to align the secondary program with the standards and skills targets of the elementary program while better preparing students for the AP program, which is aligned with the framework.

Students in secondary take core courses in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and World Languages in addition to Physical Education and a range of academic and creative co-curricular options. Middle School co-curricular courses are primarily assigned to ensure student exposure to a broad range of subjects, and older students, beginning in Grade 8, have a greater level of choice in order to cater toward their personal and academic goals in high school and beyond. An annually rotating offering of AP courses typically taken in Grades 11-12 allow students to focus their learning goals at an advanced level and increase their competitive edge in university admissions.

Questions you May Have

What are Standards?

Standards are an increasingly common way of establishing student learning goals. Standards, which are identical from Kindergarten through Grade 12, are also supported by performance indicators that benchmark student success at meeting the standards at each grade level.

For instance, one of the Mathematics standards is:

Measurement: Students will use concepts and tools of measurement to describe and quantify the world.

In Grade 3 Mathematics, a performance indicator for the measurement standard is: Students will be able to select and use the appropriate standard units of measure, abbreviations, and tools for measuring length, height, and capacity.

In Grade 7 Pre-Algebra, a performance indicator for the same standard is: Students will be able to Use formulas and strategies, such as decomposition, to compute the perimeter and area of triangles, parallelograms, trapezoids, the circumference and area of circles, and find the area of more complex shapes.

You talk a lot about skills development, but how can I know that my child is also learning the content he or she will need to succeed?

Skills development at ISKR is a major part of instruction at all levels, and the Montessori Method, International Primary Curriculum, and Framework for 21st Century Learning ensure that this takes place in a carefully planned, cohesive manner.

However, the knowledge, skills, and understandings targeted by these programs do not take the place of content instruction. Rather, they are taught through content and themes that are typically found in international schools. For instance, IPC units taught in elementary school are done through many recognizable Social Studies and Science themes, such as explorers, ancient civilizations, the solar system, and plants, as well as other traditional and less traditional themes. The difference is that, while content knowledge is increasingly important as students progress through their education, in each section of ISKR, students are assessed in both the skills they have mastered and, particularly in the secondary school, in their mastery of content knowledge. We believe that focusing on both skills and content will better prepare students for success.

What is the process for reviewing curriculum at ISKR? How do we know that ISKR’s curriculum meets international standards and covers an appropriate range of content and skills?

At the International School of Kigali, Rwanda, our curriculum has moved from the “documentation” phase, where we spent the first years of the school writing our program, to the “ongoing review” phase. For our ongoing review process, ISKR uses a five phase Curriculum Review Cycle in which all of the curricula are compared to international standards and best practices in teaching and assessment. Committees from the various subjects and sections of the school conduct a thorough, course-by-course review of all of the curriculum documents and make any necessary revisions.


03_03_Curric Coordinator Jessica Calissa

Jessica Kalisa
Curriculum Coordinator
BA in History & International Studies
MS in Global & International Education
MS in Higher Education Leadership & Administration

I am originally from New Jersey, USA, but I have lived in Rwanda for nearly 6 years, where I have taught at ISKR since its opening in 2009. I have 8 years of teaching experience, and prior to coming to Rwanda, I worked for 8 years as a youth leader and outreach coordinator for youth service projects in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. I hold a BA in History and International Studies from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, and Masters degrees in Global and International Education and Higher Education Leadership and Administration from Drexel University in Philadelphia. I have a son in the preschool at ISKR and a one-year-old daughter.