Academics in the Lower School are part of a dynamic elementary school curriculum guided by a detailed scope and sequence plan. Teachers help students develop mastery of traditional fact and process-based standards within the context of student-led projects. When students delve into something that has sparked their interest, there is a much greater depth and quality to the study. As a result of this approach, ULS students’ reading and writing abilities are an average of two grade levels above national standards.
In addition, ULS supports key curriculum components including:
As you walk through the Manegold Lower School, you will see a plethora of unique projects on display. Models, inventions, photographs, sculptures, charts, essays, pottery and more are proudly showcased throughout the hallways and classrooms. In viewing these impressive works, it is apparent that ULS students apply what they learn in creative and thoughtful ways. The displayed work shows how ULS teachers motivate our students to fully engage in the academic content taught.
The pattern of researching, creating and presenting is repeated throughout each grade in the Lower (Elementary) School. In first through third grade, independent study projects progress in complexity and sophistication, culminating in fourth grade with a “Magnum Opus” or “Great Work” project. ULS fourth graders select a topic of their choice and research independently for the entire semester. Students are expected to use a variety of different resources and mediums to make their investigations as thorough as possible. They then create a final presentation to give to teachers, students and peers. Lower School students advance to the Middle School with strong independent thinking skills, creating the foundation for higher level applications in the classroom.
Elementary school classes begin each day with a morning meeting in which students take turns with a variety of responsibilities, including leading the meeting. Students are encouraged to exhibit leadership skills in response to the greater community. For example, after learning about the Nepal earthquake, our second graders created rock art to sell during their lunch hour and donated all of the proceeds to disaster relief. ULS students are empowered to take the lead and make things happen.
A myriad of hands-on learning activities are integrated into our students’ daily experiences. These hands-on activities can be as simple as an SK class collecting sticks and leaves from the ULS woods and organizing them in a fashion that teaches differentiation, categorization and labeling. As students progress, the hands-on activities become more elaborate. For example, students design and build a Native American dwelling for an overnight stay. This activity incorporates cultural studies, engineering, organizational skills and teamwork skills into an engaging learning experience. Students quickly become accustomed to being active participants in their own learning. The content the students learn is relevant and meaningful to them because of the depth of their participation.
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