List of Terms

Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

All Floor Celebrations

First Floor Program
First floor students celebrate together throughout the year. Holidays and culminating events provide opportunities for students to share friendship and activities. These all-floor experiences include fall community-building activities, Ice Skating/Winter Celebration and other theme-related explorations.

Second Floor Program
Second floor students celebrate together throughout the year. Holidays and culminating events provide opportunities for students to share friendship and activities. These all-floor experiences include the New, Glue and Moving on Celebration, Halloween S’caroling, Ice Skating/Winter Celebration, Valentines Lunch and other theme-related explorations.

All Floor Investigation

All Floor Investigation gives students opportunities to move through all the classrooms on the floor and freely investigate activities presented in each classroom. Students practice making responsible social and play choices as they explore each other’s classrooms. Often the activities are designed by the classroom hosts and/or are voted on during class meeting.

All Labyrinth Investigation

On Friday, the Labyrinth opens its classrooms for All Labyrinth Investigation. This gives students the opportunity to travel throughout all of the full day classrooms and freely investigate activities presented in each classroom. Students practice at making responsible social and play choices as they explore each other’s classrooms. Investigation time also provides an opportunity to rekindle old friendships and explore new ones across classrooms.

All Labyrinth Meeting

Early Elementary Program
On Friday, the Full Day students meet together to discuss issues that are pertinent to our community. Playground and lunchtime are frequent agenda topics. When a student’s agenda item is discussed, that student facilitates the meeting. Students practice listening in a large group, thinking as part of a community, and sharing ideas.

All School Meeting

Class Reps meet in All School Meeting thirty minutes per week. A representative from each classroom is present. Representatives serve a four meeting term and participate in discussions about issues that affect the entire school. Students set the agenda and issues are resolved by votes taken back to daily Class Meeting. A teacher from each level (Early Elementary, First Floor, and Second Floor) is present at each meeting to help provide counsel as needed.

Alpha-bite

Early Elementary Program
Alpha-bite focuses on one letter of the alphabet, building comfort with recognition, sound, and formation. Various activities throughout the day highlight the Alpha-bite.

Booklists

Early Elementary Program
On Booklist days, teachers work with half of the class. Students master the text in a book appropriate for their level, starting with books that have a predictable text. They read the book aloud to teachers and peers and record its title on a “booklist” sheet. Working with a teacher, each child sets a goal at an appropriate reading level and pace, celebrating his/her success with the classroom and Early Elementary community. Students practice with classmates, creating a rich environment for reading to be shared and modeled at all levels from beginning readers to chapter books.

Buddies

Tower Reading Buddies are yearlong partnerships between a Second Floor classroom and a First Floor classroom. Students meet weekly for 20-30 minutes and share the reading experience one-on-one with a partner from the buddy class. First Floor/Labyrinth Buddies, yearlong partnerships between a First Floor class and an Early Elementary Class, allow cross collaboration between the Labyrinth and the Tower. Students meet weekly to share reading, snack or an activity alternating between the Labyrinth and the Tower members’ classrooms.

Class Meeting

Early Elementary Program
Regular class meetings are dedicated for students to discuss classroom and school-wide issues. The students set the agenda and take turns facilitating the meeting. Teachers participate in class meetings as a member of the class but also provide support as needed to structure meetings, they model group process strategies and provide counsel. A representative from each classroom carries concerns, discussions, and decisions back and forth between class meetings and all school meetings.

First Floor Program
Time is set aside every day for students in each classroom to meet about classroom and school-wide issues. The students set the agenda and the Class Chair and Vice Chair facilitate meetings. Each class member takes a turn in the leadership positions and may be chosen by election, random selection or as the responsibility of a classroom job. Teachers participate in class meetings as a member of the class but also provide support as needed to structure meetings, model group process strategies and provide counsel. Each classroom also elects a Classroom Rep to attend All School Meetings once each week. This representative carries concerns, discussions, and decisions between class meetings and all school meetings.

Second Floor Program
Fifteen minutes every day are set aside for students in each classroom to meet about classroom and school-wide issues. The students set the agenda and the Class Chair and Vice Chair facilitate meetings. Each class member takes a turn in the leadership positions and may be chosen in a variety of ways such as election, random selection or as the responsibility of a classroom job. Teachers participate in class meetings as a member of the class but also provide support as needed to structure meetings, model group process strategies and provide counsel. Each classroom also elects a Classroom Rep to attend All School Meetings once each week. This representative carries concerns, discussions, and decisions back and forth between class meetings and all school meetings.

Coaching and Performance-Based Assessement

Early Elementary Program
Teachers use a variety of coaching techniques and informal “performance based” assessment tools as they work with students every day. Ongoing assessment is key to constructing our curriculum and developing teaching techniques that meet the individual needs of our students. Classroom teachers carefully observe a student’s approach to a problem, and ask probing questions to assess understanding. Teachers use these “real time” assessments to help the student stretch and at the same time, to set appropriate goals. Teachers coach children to use specific strategies, organizational tools, and resources that are best suited to achieve their goals.

First Floor Program & Second Floor Program
Teachers use a variety of coaching techniques and informal “performance based” assessment tools as they work with students every day. Ongoing assessment is key to constructing our curriculum and developing teaching techniques that meet the individual needs of our students. Classroom teachers carefully observe a student’s approach to a problem, and ask probing questions to assess understanding.

Continua: Benchmarks for Learning

There is a UCDS continuum for Reading, for Writing, for Math and for Reflective Thinking. The continua serve as benchmarks for learning at each developmental stage and directly inform curriculum design and instruction at each level. Teachers use continua descriptors as a framework for communicating with parents and with each other about a child’s growth. Teachers mark the descriptors that exemplify exhibited learning behaviors to create a picture of each child as a learner. Students’ progress is marked on the continua in January and June. Each continua document has been created in-house by the UCDS faculty over several years of development. Continua are reviewed and updated periodically by the UCDS faculty.

Cursive

Second Floor Program
Cursive is formally introduced in the second grade and again at the 3-4 level. UCDS uses the D’Nealean system of handwriting, which employs similar letter formation for both printing and cursive. Stroke patterns are taught in a multi-sensory format where students see-it, hear-it, say-it, and write-it. Both in formal handwriting sessions and when working individually with students, teachers provide multiple strategies for practicing new skills.

DEAR (Drop Everything and Read)

Early Elementary Program
Time is set aside to promote a community of readers. Teachers use this time to work with readers individually on skills and comprehension. Students select books with their teachers that are appropriate to their individual reading levels, interests and abilities. Teachers talk with students about their book choices to help them become more independent and to broaden their reading selections. At the Early Elementary level, DEAR is known as “Rest and Read.”

First Floor Program
The years between first and third grades are typically marked by a rapid acquisition of reading skills. A goal for children at this stage is to develop greater fluency and to begin to sustain independent reading for longer periods of time. At the 1-2 and 2-3 levels daily DEAR time provides students the opportunity to practice their growing independence as readers. During this time teachers help students select books and set reading goals that are appropriate to individual reading levels, interests and abilities. Teachers also use this time to work one-on-one with readers to monitor progress, focus on individual reading strategies and assess the skills outlined in the UCDS Reading Continuum. In addition to the classroom DEAR selections, students are expected to read at home each day. Classroom teachers and our school librarian are excellent resources for students as they select books to support their growing skills.

Second Floor Program
At the 3-4 and 4-5 levels readers make the important shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Daily DEAR time provides students the opportunity to practice their growing independence as readers. During this time teachers help students to select books and set reading goals that are appropriate to their individual reading levels, interests and abilities. Teachers use this time to work one-on-one with readers to monitor progress, focus on individual reading strategies and assess the skills outlined in the UCDS Reading Continuum. A goal at this stage is for students to broaden their reading selections to include choices from a variety of genres, including realistic fiction, historical fiction, science fiction/fantasy, non-fiction, biography, short stories and poetry.

Students at the 3-4 levels record their reading selections on a “Book Bingo” sheet. This tool helps readers begin to move out of a favored genre to try a varied selection of reading material. The objective is to read across the genres and to achieve “bingo” by reading from three to nine different genres, across, down or diagonally.

Students at the 4-5 level make reading selections jointly with teachers and record their reading and responses in a reading log kept in their journals.

Throughout the day there are both formal and informal opportunities for 2nd floor students to share their thoughts about books with their peers and teachers. In addition to the classroom DEAR selections, students are expected to read at home each day. Independent reading, assigned reading and literature groups give students a sense of belonging to a community of readers. Students are asked to formally share favorite reading selections with their peers in a presentation format known as a “Book Talk.” Our school librarian is an excellent resource for students as they select books to challenge their thinking and their reading abilities.

ERB Testing

First Floor Program & Second Floor Program
UCDS encourages an individualized and multi-faceted approach to learning. Assessment at UCDS is authentic. Students also participate in standardized tests in order to practice more standard test-taking skills. The Educational Records Bureau (ERB) Comprehensive Testing Program is given annually to students in the third and fourth grades. This testing instrument is the one used by most established independent schools. The reasons for this choice are as follows:

  • The test is similar in format to the entrance examination that students will take for middle school admission.
  • The ERBs are the most challenging of the multiple-choice tests available for elementary school students. These tests simulate for our students many of the challenges involved in future test taking and, with teachers’ assistance, help them develop test-taking strategies.
  • Although no multiple-choice test can fully assess conceptual learning, the ERBs have thoughtful and interesting questions.
  • The ERBs reflect a somewhat conservative, but nevertheless widely accepted, sampling of skills elementary students need to assimilate for middle school success. The overall results and general trends of the tests allow the school to evaluate some of the elements within our own curriculum.

This experience is the first exposure to such tests for many of our students. Tests are given on a practice basis; individual scores have only limited validity.

In the fall fifth graders practice test taking skills to support them as they independently participate in middle school entrance exams.

Explorations

Early Elementary Program
Each day as students complete their work, they are invited to explore independent and collaborative projects. Teachers select games, puzzles, and other problem solving activities that may be new to children or not normally chosen during “Investigation” times. Some projects are designed for independent work while some are designed to explore with friends. Explorations reinforce and teach both critical and spatial thinking skills and encourage cooperative learning.

Fall Trip

The Second Floor fall trip is an opportunity to solidify the new learning community on the second floor. Each fall the entire community travels to the Olympic Park Institute, where small groups of mixed-age students share cabins for two nights. Students learn, play and participate in team building experiences in an old growth forest along the shores of Lake Crescent.

Field Trips

Field trips enrich the Theme Study, build community, allow students to explore the arts and learn more about the world. Annual trips to the Pumpkin Patch, Spring Trip, Children’s Theater, Seattle International Children’s Festival, and Puppet Theater are already on the calendar and other trips will be added as opportunities arise. Chaperone sign-up sheets will be placed by the sign-in books when parent chaperones are needed for a trip. Be sure to check the All School Calendar for upcoming trips.

Handwriting

First Floor Program
UCDS uses the D’Nealean system of handwriting, which employs similar letter formation for both printing and cursive. At the 1-2 and 2-3 levels teachers emphasize the development of fine motor skills, correct letter formation and strategies for efficient handwriting practices. Stroke patterns are taught in a multi-sensory format where students see-it, hear-it, say-it, and write-it. Cursive is formally introduced in the second grade.

Home Learning and Thinking

(H.L.T.)
First Floor Program
The goal of Home Learning and Thinking (H.L.T.) at UCDS is to empower students to become independent learners and self-advocates. H.L.T. helps children to develop personal responsibility, time management skills and to establish organization routines and structures. H.L.T. gives students extra practice with skills and will help solidify understanding of a concept. The role of the parent in H.L.T. is to help the child to establish a routine (a time and place) for H.L.T., as well as an expectation that H.L.T. be completed daily. Parents can instill confidence in their child by helping him or her to build and maintain ownership of the process. If a child is experiencing difficulty at home, parents can provide support by being a resource and by encouraging students to let the teacher know how it is going. Students will vary in their individual approaches to H.L.T. Teachers check in regularly with students to discuss individual strategies and timelines that best support their success.

UCDS teachers recognize that there will be times when outside influences (family events, celebrations, sports, and extra-curricular activities) make it difficult for H.L.T. to be completed in the time allotted. On these occasions first floor students are asked to write a “H.L.T. note.” The format of the note differs in individual classrooms but the purpose of the H.L.T. note is to foster self-reliance and independent problem solving. Not a note of apology or excuse, the note simply states that the H.L.T. is not done and gives a timeline for completion. (Example: “I forgot my spelling H.L.T. I will bring it tomorrow.”)

Second Floor Program
The goal of homework at UCDS is to empower students to see themselves as self-advocates and lifelong learners. Homework is an opportunity to solidify connections between home and school. It allows students to practice concepts and skills and supports classroom activities. Homework expectations grow throughout the year with each individual. Homework helps children to develop personal responsibility, time management skills and to establish organization routines and structures. The role of the parent in homework is to help the child to establish a routine-a time and place for homework, as well as an expectation that homework be completed daily. Parents can instill confidence in their child by helping him or her to maintain ownership of the process. Parents can provide support by being a resource and continually reinforcing the importance that the students actively communicate with classroom teachers about the process. Students will vary in their individual approaches to homework. For this reason, parents are encouraged to communicate with teachers for ideas on how best to coach their child to become independent about homework routines and to become empowered as self-advocates.

UCDS teachers recognize that there will be times when outside influences (family events, celebrations, sports, and extra-curricular activities) make it difficult for homework to be completed in the time allotted. On these occasions second floor students are expected to write a “homework note.” The aim of the homework note is to foster self-reliance and independent problem solving. Not a note of apology or excuse, the note, written by the child, simply states that the homework is not done and gives a timeline for completion. (Example: “I did not finish my typing last night. I will do it on the weekend and bring it in on Monday.”)

Individualized Instruction

Early Elementary Program
The UCDS daily schedule allows for teaching flexibility and individualized instruction. With two adults in the room, teachers check in with the students throughout the day. Students are placed in small groups for their work in Literature Circle, Language Lab and Technology. These groups allow teachers to tailor learning opportunities for individual students. Word, Booklist and Math Vitamin check-ins give students one-on-one work times with a teacher to clarify understanding and offer challenges.

Investigation

Early Elementary School
Investigation gives students an opportunity to work together and build friendships in the context of play. Each class meets to choose which activities are open. Teachers facilitate these meetings to ensure there’s a balance of activities. For example building, art, imaginative play, and sensory play are just some of the activities that are explored during Investigation. Teachers are available to coach and facilitate games as students learn to build and maintain friendships and collaborate together.

Journals

Early Elementary Program
UCDS students at every level keep journals. These traditional composition books are places to record ideas through words and drawing. They are used to plan and draft written pieces, and as a place to reflect. Early elementary level, children often use journals as a place to both draw and write about important events, ideas, and in response to a question posed by the teacher.

First Floor Program
UCDS Students at every level keep journals. These traditional composition books are places to record ideas through words and drawing, to plan and draft written pieces, and to reflect. We want our students to develop the habit of writing regularly as a way to document thinking, expand ideas and evaluate learning experiences.

Second Floor Program
UCDS Students at every level keep journals. These traditional composition books are places to record ideas through words and drawing, to plan and draft written pieces, and to reflect. We want our students to develop the habit of writing every day as a way to plan, document and reflect.

Keyboarding

Second Floor Program
Formal keyboarding is introduced at the 3-4 level and again at the 4-5 level. Typing is taught in a two-week immersion format with daily, directed lessons that are reviewed at home for practice. We use a multi-sensory approach when teaching the keyboard by asking students to say the letters and to visualize the keyboard as they practice keystroke patterns. We ask that students cover the face of each key at home and at school to help them learn the keyboard by touch. Similar to the way they learned to read, students first learn the keys in alphabetical order. After typing the alphabet, simple words, phrases and sentences, students move toward more traditional touch-type methods.

Language Groups

Second Floor Program
At the 1-2 and 2-3 levels, language groups are designed to practice reading, writing and spelling in concert with one another. After careful assessment of each student’s language strengths and challenges, teachers create and work with groups of 5-9 children on directed lessons tailored to the group’s needs and learning styles. Teachers have an excellent opportunity to assess students during these small group activities. This information is used to design the next lesson and to create new groupings as children progress. The skills practiced in language groups are reinforced when students work with teachers one-on-one in the classroom.

To support writing and spelling development, activities such as word sorts, card games, and board games are tailored to the group’s level and designed to actively engage students in word study. Included are activities for practice and review of skills. This approach is multi-sensory, offering students a variety of learning strategies. For example, students write, say, and hear the spelling patterns, in order to solidify understanding. Teachers may use this spelling practice time to check letter formation and to give extra handwriting practice. It is also an opportunity to teach and review grammar and punctuation rules.

When appropriate, students generate spelling lists that focus on specific spelling patterns, standard spelling rules, phonetic skills and sight vocabulary. Included are “personal words”-words selected by the child from his/her many writing experiences.

To support reading development, teachers select a piece of children’s literature and teach a lesson that reinforces particular skills including fluidity, reading expression, vocabulary, word-attack skills and comprehension strategies. Students practice both reading aloud and silently during this time. When a group’s focus is on developing comprehension, guided discussions provide students with the opportunity to understand texts at a deeper level.

As students read, examine, and discuss a piece of literature as a group, the author’s use of language is often a focus that may launch into studies that support students’ own writing. Using real literature as a model, students may explore narrative descriptions, work to expand their use of interesting language through synonym study, or focus on developing features of their own stories such as setting or character development.

Language Lab

Early Elementary Program
Language Lab provides children with opportunities to explore a variety of language arts skills, such as letter recognition, vowel spelling rules, root words, or grammar conventions. Teachers introduce these skills to a small group of children that are working at a similar skill level. Games are often used to integrate visual, auditory, verbal and kinesthetic modes of learning.

Literature Circles

Early Elementary Program
Literature Circles provide us with one more way to promote a love of reading and to study a variety of literary genres with Early Elementary students. It allows all children, regardless of their independent reading skills, to enjoy the same books, to share their thoughts and opinions and to discuss many of the “big” ideas and questions that books can cultivate. In addition, Literature Circles foster a meaningful connection between home and school; they offer a way for students to share a piece of their school day, and a way for parents to experience some of their child’s blossoming intellect and self-expression.

During the course of the year you and your child will be reading eighteen books together. The books are divided into six groups, each book was chosen based on this year’s theme, INFLUENCE. These books span generations and are in a large part based upon books that influenced our lives as children. The books vary in length, so feel free to paraphrase sections or just read a few select poems. With that in mind, give yourself time to read each book. We embrace the opportunities these books give us to discuss different perspectives. Together, we will also rely on the safety of our peer groups to discuss challenging and new ideas. We anticipate that this year’s selections will spark conversation and questions!

The schedule for reading and discussing is typically the same each week. Books come home on Thursday. Families will have the whole weekend, in addition to Monday and Tuesday evenings, to read the book together. By Thursday of each week, please have your child bring his/her book back to school in its labeled bag. Collection spots are located in each child’s classroom. It is important to return the book on time so that your child can refer to it during his/her Literature Circle meeting and so that the book can be passed out to a different student the following day.

Your child will meet in a Literature Circle on Wednesday morning. These groups consist of five to six children from various classrooms and are facilitated by one teacher. We find that the dynamic nature of peer groups makes for ever-stimulating conversation and often helps form new friendships when an intriguing book brings about a “meeting of minds.” During Literature Circles, group process skills are emphasized, with children becoming proficient at taking turns, listening to others, expressing and supporting opinions and even leading the discussion independently.

As you enjoy these tales together, encourage your child to talk about his/her ideas. Ask open-ended questions, make predictions together and notice interesting vocabulary, illustrations and themes. Please do not feel that you need to answer all of your child’s questions, but rather model “I wonder…” statements about the books. Encourage your child to bring questions back to school to discuss further with peers. Nothing need be written about the books, but children are welcome to note one or two pages to remind them of their queries or observations. Post-it notes will be included for this purpose.

First Floor Program
Literature circle book discussions make it possible for our students to consider ideas and ethical dilemmas that have existed through time and across cultures. Students meet weekly to discuss books from a wide range of genres and reading levels. Teaching teams choose books that deepen student understanding of the year’s all school theme and support cultural awareness, geographical knowledge and social studies. Literature groups are kept small (5-7 students) in order to promote a language-rich experience that develops reading and comprehension skills, as well as speaking, listening and writing. Students practice following the ideas of others and taking a leadership role as they engage in lively discourse with peers and a teacher. At the 1-2 and 2-3 levels, children begin to appreciate character development, setting, mood, and author’s purpose.

Students take a literature book home each week, read it with a family member and return it to school the following week for discussion with peers and a teacher. Teaching teams select books specifically for their literary themes. For this reason, some books may be difficult for students to decode. We have found that students often have better comprehension when parents and students read the book together and discuss the book as the plot unfolds. Children at these levels are generally asked to respond to the book by writing and drawing. Parents are also encouraged to read the weekly written assignment and invite discussions on the topics involved. Supporting students to comprehend the themes in the books helps prepare them for discussions in school.

Literature Groups

Second Floor Program
Literature book discussions make it possible for our students to consider ideas and ethical dilemmas that have existed through time and across cultures. Students meet weekly to discuss books from a wide range of genres and reading levels. Teaching teams choose books that deepen student understanding of the year’s all school theme and support cultural awareness, geographical knowledge and social studies. Literature groups are kept small (5-7 students) in order to promote a language-rich experience that develops reading and comprehension skills, as well as speaking, listening and writing. Students practice following the ideas of others and taking a leadership role as they engage in lively discourse with peers and a teacher.

Written literature homework is assigned weekly. We create assignments to promote thinking about specific literary elements such as character development, setting, historical context and literary devices. We ask students to plan time to read the assigned pages and to respond to questions through art and writing. The weeklong reading assignment and a written literature response is designed to promote the development of organization strategies.

Teaching teams select books specifically for their literary themes. For this reason, some books may be difficult for students to decode. We have found that students often have better comprehension when parents and students take turns reading aloud and discuss the book as the plot unfolds. Parents are also encouraged to read the weekly written assignment and invite discussions on the topics involved. Students need to comprehend the themes in the books in order to be prepared for discussions in school.

Make New Friends Day

In late May, Kindergartners spend the day on the First Floor with their future classmates exploring the routines of the Tower. Students enjoy Spanish in the Spanish Room, PE in the Gym and recess on the Tower playground. The similarities of First Floor expectations and academic program are highlighted for students who are preparing for first grade.

While the Kindergarteners are in the Tower, the Half Day and Full Day students work together in mixed class groups to celebrate Make New Friends Day. Working with new teachers and friends creates an expectation of change and new partnerships in the year to come.

Math Skills Time

First Floor Program
Time is set aside to introduce and reinforce skills from the UCDS Math Continuum. Manipulative materials are used to solidify student understanding as we teach the algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Teachers use a variety of resources to provide students the practice that they need to become comfortable with each operation. Teachers assess students on an ongoing basis, introducing new concepts and skills as students reach continuum benchmarks.

At math skills time, teachers work with both groups and individuals to help students develop facility with mathematical operations. Manipulative materials are often used to solidify student understanding and give our students more ways to “see” an operation. For example, math fact practice is often introduced in a game format. Children practice addition, subtraction and multiplication using tools such as playing cards, dice games and dominoes. Students are asked to build arrays of multiplication facts and can use this visual picture to help them memorize the number patterns that emerge. Students also use math fact sheets. Students begin with addition and subtraction then move to multiplication and division facts for practice. Students take home practice sheets for homework and have a test later in the week. It often takes children several years to become fluent with math facts and children may need additional practice beyond the math homework. Flashcards, calculator games, dice games and math fact songs and chants are a few of the ways that help students commit math facts to memory. Teachers assess students on an ongoing basis during skill times and are able to see how well students can use skills when they solve the Math Vitamin. New concepts and skills are introduced as students reach continuum benchmarks.

Second Floor Program
Small group math instruction introduces and reinforces skills from the UCDS Math Continuum. Teaching teams often introduce skills that students will need to solve the current Math Vitamins. For example, an activity to introduce measuring angles with protractors might be introduced prior to a Math Vitamin with a geometry focus. Teachers take advantage of the low student-teacher ratio during small group time to individualize math instruction and help students set appropriate goals.

During math skills time, teachers work with both groups and individuals to help students develop facility with mathematical operations. Manipulative materials are often used to solidify student understanding as we teach algorithms for multi-digit addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Teachers use a variety of resources to provide students the practice that they need to become comfortable with each operation. We assess students on an ongoing basis during skills time and are able to see how well students can use skills when they solve the Math Vitamin. New concepts and skills are introduced as students reach continuum benchmarks.

Weekly math facts practice is an important part of the math curriculum on the second floor. Students take practice sheets home for homework each week and have a test each Friday. Students begin with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Later they move to reducing fractions, and performing fraction and decimal equivalents. In addition to the math homework, children may need to practice math facts at home to become fluent.

Math Vitamin

Early Elementary Program
Our students explore math concepts and demonstrate their understanding of mathematical operations and patterns through the daily Math Vitamin. Through the Math Vitamin, children experience math in a very real way by solving problems that are meaningful to them. Teachers create math vitamin story-problems that connect to the literature, science, and curricular projects of that level. Teachers also carefully design problems to challenge students at multiple levels of understanding and to encourage skill development in the areas identified in the UCDS Math Continuum.

Children are asked to apply math skills using a variety of tools, including manipulative materials, drawings, charts, graphs and equations and to show/explain their thinking. Teachers encourage students to use an area of strength to initially approach a problem, to generate an algorithm that expresses their process, and to develop several strategies to arrive at a solution. Teachers also ask students to show their thinking in more than one way.

In addition to Math Vitamin, math concepts are explored daily through literature, music, art, science, games and calendars.

First Floor Program
Our students explore math concepts and demonstrate their understanding of mathematical operations and patterns through Math Vitamins. Children experience math in a very real way by solving problems that are meaningful to them. Math Vitamins are story-problems that connect to literature, science, and curricular projects of that level. Teachers also carefully design problems to challenge students at multiple levels of understanding and to encourage skill development in the areas identified in the UCDS Math Continuum.

Children are asked to apply math skills using a variety of tools, including manipulative materials, drawings, charts, graphs and equations. They are expected to show/explain their thinking. Students approach problems from an area of strength to generate an algorithm that expresses their process, and to develop several strategies to arrive at a solution. Students work to show their thinking in more than one way.

Second Floor Program
Our students explore math concepts and demonstrate their understanding of mathematical operations and patterns through the daily Math Vitamin. Through the Math Vitamin, children experience math in a very real way by solving problems that are meaningful to them. Teachers create math vitamin story-problems that connect to the literature, science, and curricular projects of that level. Teachers also carefully design problems to challenge students at multiple levels of understanding and to encourage skill development in the areas identified in the UCDS Math Continuum.
Children are asked to apply math skills using a variety of tools, including manipulative materials, drawings, charts, graphs and equations and to show/explain their thinking. Teachers encourage students to use an area of strength to initially approach a problem, to generate an algorithm that expresses their process, and to develop several strategies to arrive at a solution. Teachers also ask students to show their thinking in more than one way.

Second floor Math Vitamins may take several days to complete and teachers extend the problem each day based on the students’ responses. Second floor students record their thinking in their math journals. Expectations for recording the math vitamin process increase over time as students restate the problem, label drawings, create charts, record equations and explain their thinking in their math journal. We expect students at this level to produce work that can be read and understood by others.

Milk and Cookies

Milk and Cookie Fridays occur monthly and bring students and their families together in the Discovery Area for a community sing-a-long. Together with Matt, our Music Specialist, each class selects one song for the group to sing. After hearing from each class, everyone returns to classrooms to share milk and cookies and some work from the previous weeks. See the all-school calendar for Milk and Cookie dates.

Morning Board

Early Elementary Program
Students begin each day with a morning note. This may be a math vitamin, journaling, or another morning activity. The child with their adults read the board at drop-off each day. If students need clarification, peers and teachers act as resources, helping to develop the student’s sense of belonging to a learning community.

Morning Note

First Floor Program
Students begin each day with a “morning note.” This written greeting may be a math vitamin, writing assignment, or other theme related activity. Parents are welcome to join students in reading the morning note board at drop-off. If students need clarification, peers and teachers act as resources, helping to develop the student’s sense of belonging to a learning community. As students become readers they are expected to read the note independently and begin to self initiate their morning work.

Second Floor Program
Students begin each day with the morning note. This may involve a Math Vitamin, journaling, or another morning activity. We support second floor students to read the note independently and begin to self initiate their morning work. If students need clarification, peers and teachers act as resources, helping to develop the student’s sense of belonging to a learning community.

New, Glue, and Moving-On

The second floor community is composed of the New-students who are in their first year on the floor, the Glue-students who have had a year of experience on the second floor, and the graduating Moving-On students. We spend time throughout the year to support children to understand their individual contributions to the community of learners who share the second floor and to find their own unique way to lead.

Rainbow Road

Each spring, the year’s Kindergarten class works together as a group to plan an art project for the Early Elementary playground. This project provides a context for the kindergarten class to identify themselves as a group and encourages conversations about the upcoming year’s transition to the First Floor. The portions of playground are repainted and left behind as a gift to the following year’s Labyrinth students.

Read Aloud

Students spend time each day listening to a teacher read aloud to the class from a wide variety of genres that are connected to the theme. Read Aloud gives students an opportunity to increase listening comprehension, vocabulary and auditory language skills. Teachers use this opportunity to ask leading questions and model literary analysis and comprehension techniques. Children also have weekly opportunities to hear the librarian read aloud and tell stories. Both the classroom teacher and the librarian are a good resource for books that can be read aloud at home.

Self Evaluation

Early Elementary Program
We ask students throughout their UCDS experience to evaluate their own work, assess progress, and to set attainable goals. Teachers coach students as they learn model self-reflection celebrate accomplishments. Written reflections are found in student journals and portfolios. Student reflections and self-evaluations are integral to the learning process at UCDS. In the spring of each year students meet with parents at a school-wide Portfolio Celebration to share their insights and acknowledge both their challenges and accomplishments.

First Floor Program
We ask students throughout their UCDS experience to evaluate their own work, assess progress, and to set attainable goals. Every day as part of the coaching process, teachers ask students to recognize and articulate challenges and to advocate for themselves. Teachers also make time for students to write about their educational experience. These written reflections are found in student journals and portfolios. Presentation portfolios are collections of student work culled from student journals, folders and other classroom work collected throughout the year. Students select some pieces on their own and others in collaboration with their classroom teachers. In the spring of each year students meet with parents at a school-wide Portfolio Celebration to share their insights and acknowledge both their challenges and accomplishments.

Second Floor Program
We ask students throughout their UCDS experience to evaluate their own work, assess progress, and to set attainable goals. Teachers coach students, modeling self-reflection and celebrating accomplishments. Written reflections are found in student journals and portfolios. Student reflections and self-evaluations are integral to the learning process at UCDS. Presentation portfolios are collections of student work culled from student journals, folders and other classroom work collected throughout the year. Students select some pieces on their own and others in collaboration with their classroom teachers. In the spring of each year students meet with parents at a school-wide Portfolio Celebration to share their insights and acknowledge both their challenges and accomplishments.

Service Learning

The goal of the service learning program at UCDS is for students to gain a deeper understanding of their academic, physical and social/emotional strengths and to increase self and community awareness. This is accomplished through a yearlong Service Learning Project. Teamed with a teacher-mentor, Moving On students identify a relevant need in the community and design a project to address that need through positive community contributions. Students maintain a calendar of weekly meetings, create a project timeline and set goals. With their mentors as guides, students establish goals, reflect on their experiences and evaluate their own performance. Students have multiple opportunities to share their goals, strengths and challenges with their fifth grade peers and the greater second floor community.

Sign In

Early Elementary Program
Sign-in is part of the daily morning routine. Students are asked to respond to a daily question that reflects some part of the curricular activity or community events.

First Floor Program
Sign-in is part of the daily morning structure and routine. Students are asked to respond to a daily question that reflects some part of a curricular activity, community events or is connected to a particular homework assignment.

Second Floor Program
A daily sign-in question starts each day. Students read the question written in the sign-in book, read the responses of their peers, and compose a unique answer. The question may be in response to the previous night’s homework or a study the class is involved in, or it may require students to think on their feet. Second floor students usually answer the sign-in question in a complete sentence, giving students valuable practice composing a well-crafted response. It is often used as practice for cursive writing skills, and later on, after keyboarding has been introduced, may be typed on the computer.

Small Groups

First Floor Program & Second Floor Program
The UCDS daily schedule allows for teaching flexibility and individualized instruction. Small groups are achieved when half of the students from a teaching team attend specialists, leaving half the group at work in the classroom. The remaining students may work together with all the teachers on the team, achieving a low student-teacher ratio and allowing for individualized instruction in the classroom. Alternately, students may be divided among the team teachers creating opportunities for small group learning. Small groups are utilized across the curriculum for math skills, reading, literature groups, writing and theme studies.

Spelling Lists

Second Floor Program
On Monday each second floor student generates an individual spelling list for the week. At the 3-4 level, a primary goal is to help students independently identify misspelled words in their own work and to move toward conventional spelling. Students search journals and personal writing to identify misspellings. Children use books, dictionaries, Franklin Spellers, peers and their teachers to verify the correct spelling. Teachers work individually with children during this process to reinforce standard spelling rules and phonetic skills. An individual child’s weekly spelling list is composed of words that follow a spelling pattern, personal words and theme related words from curriculum throughout the school.

At the 4-5 level, the spelling program includes word study and vocabulary development. Teachers identify a spelling focus for the week and generate a list of words highlighting a particular skill. Included on each students list are “personal words”-words selected by the child from his/her own writing, and content words – selected by the teachers from current studies.

Both 3-4 students and 4-5 students take spelling lists home on Mondays so that words can be reviewed daily as homework. A weekly spelling test is given on Fridays. Students use a variety of word study strategies, such as spelling aloud (auditory), copying words (kinesthetic) and identifying word patterns (visual) Parents can support students at home by giving them daily opportunities to review words and helping them to identify a memorization strategy that best supports their learning style.

Spring Trip

First Floor Program
Each spring the First Floor travels to the Olympic Park Institute (OPI) for a two-night overnight trip. OPI is an ideal setting to introduce students to the flora and fauna of the Northwest. A community experience, it celebrates a year of learning and growing together. Students travel in hiking groups that cross grade levels. Spring trip is another opportunity for students to see themselves as part of the larger first floor community.

Second Floor Program
The second floor spring trip varies in its location and rotates through the major regions of Washington State-coastal, desert and mountainous. Connecting the historical, cultural, industrial, geological and geographical origins of Washington, the trip is a culminating event for the major curricular and thematic focus of the spring. Each spring, the second floor unites in the study of the chosen geographical area. Third, fourth and fifth grade students combine to explore social studies and literature together. In preparation for the spring trip, groups of mixed-level students read and learn together in small groups. Spring Literature Groups focus on both fiction and non-fiction selections that relate to the chosen region for the spring trip. Specialty Groups focus on one aspect of the geographical region, such as culture, industry, geology and weather. Students then share their expertise with peers in activity groups on the trip.

Theme Studies

Each year, UCDS adopts a theme, or concept, which serves as a unifying thread for curriculum at all levels and opens the door to investigation across all subject areas. The yearlong theme is abstract, universal and timeless. It is purposefully broad to allow for emergent ideas and shifting dynamics. The theme provides the backbone for curricular decisions about everything from literature books to science explorations, social studies and field trips, with each teaching team determining how the theme will be explored.

Triad Partnership

A student from each of three represented classrooms from the Labyrinth, first and second floors form a Triad. Triads meet together several times during the year to share All School celebrations, assemblies, and field trips. The Triad relationship promotes a sense of trust and well being in the community and a sense of belonging in all areas of the school.

UCDS Constitution

The UCDS Constitution is at the heart of all social interactions at the school. Each child signs the constitution each year and students live and learn by the words, “We Respect Ourselves. We Respect Each Other. We Respect the Environment.”

Word

Early Elementary Program
Students at the Early Elementary level generate a personally meaningful word each day. Teachers coach each child through the process of letter recognition, sound-symbol correspondence, letter formation, and handwriting. Students develop word recognition skills by reading words that they have previously generated to the teacher and classmates. As children become more independent, they generate multiple words that express their central idea, begin composing sentences and are often able to move into writing stories and personal narratives. Children at this level work with a teacher to revise and edit their stories with attention to vocabulary, punctuation and grammar. Children are expected, and are typically delighted, to share what they have written with classmates.

Writing

First Floor Program
First floor students write daily. Our students write to frame a question, to describe their problem solving processes, to explain their theories in math and science and to tell stories. At “Writer’s Workshop” students move through the stages of pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing on both topics of their own choosing and teacher-created writing prompts. Students at this stage are introduced to narrative, expository and creative writing styles. Teachers assess students as they work through the writing process and coach students individually to address the skills outlined in our Writing Continuum.

Second Floor Program
Second floor students write every day and are expected to use expository, narrative, and creative writing styles as appropriate to the purpose. For example, our students write to frame a question, to describe their problem solving process and to explain their conclusions in math and science. While in literature and in personal journals, our students write to respond both critically and reflectively to social and ethical dilemmas. Teachers assess students as they work through the writing process and coach students individually to address the skills outlined in our Writing Continuum. We expect that students at the 3/4 and 4/5 level will become increasingly fluent with the writing process, able to use appropriate techniques at each stage of pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, publishing, and sharing work with peers. Our students learn to evaluate a piece of writing at each stage of development by serving as peer revision partners for classmates. Students at these levels learn to edit their own work for spelling, grammar and punctuation and are expected to write in cursive or to type a final draft.

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