Middle Grades

Three elements define and distinguish teaching and learning at UCA.  They are:  rigor, experience and community.


Our expectation is for students to actively engage in the experience of learning at a high level through a hands-on approach.  For this to be successful, students must be presented with a specifically designed curriculum that challenges each student and provides them with an experience that makes the content relevant.


Teachers will be challenged to create a student-centered learning environment both inside and outside the traditional classroom setting.  It is within those environments that students are presented with high level experiential learning opportunities such as:  Project Based learning, Engineering Design Process, and Problem Based Learning.  By specifically designing the instruction, teachers have the flexibility to weave the standards throughout the curriculum, thus ensuring that each student learns the content.


Our goal is to establish an integrated community of students, teachers, and faculty.  We know that when students and teachers are supported, they are more successful.  In order for our school to become an integrated community, our teachers and staff must be willing to invest in students and build relationships.  When teachers & staff attend athletic events or other extra curricular activities, as well as take an interest in the lives of students, a true authentic community is created.


STEAM Classes:


At UCA one of the ways students can gain access to an interdisciplinary, hands-on, relevant learning experience is through the teaching of STEAM classes.  STEAM stands for:  Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.  STEAM is characterized by learning that is highly engaging and deeply interdisciplinary, while incorporating as many elements of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math as often as possible. Our STEAM framework supplements rather than replaces a focus on solid, research-based instructional practices in core subject areas. Agriculture, Art, and Robotics STEAM classes serve to support the school’s STEAM focus.


Agriculture:


In the Agriculture STEAM class, students will be exposed to alternative methods of agriculture, such as aquaponics, raised bed gardening, and vermicomposting.  Each one is an example of global relevance and offers an interdisciplinary approach to agriculture.  Students will also be exposed to skills that they can use as they transition into adulthood.   Animal husbandry, planting and harvesting, marketing, and sustainable agriculture are only a few of the skills that students will have the opportunity to learn.  In 6th grade, students will be exploring agriculture by learning about plants and animals and the products that are derived from them.  The 7th grade students will be learning about Animal Husbandry, (the management and care of farm animals by humans).  Agricultural Sustainability will be the focus of the 8th grade curriculum.  These students will be creating projects from refurbished items and learning to use them within the school’s micro farm.  For students who wish to take their learning to the next level, engage in agricultural community service, and practice their leadership skills, they will have the opportunity to join P.E.A.K.  (Practicing and Exploring Agricultural Knowledge).  P.E.A.K. will allow students who have a passion for agriculture to go even deeper into the subject.


Robotics:


FLL Lego Robotics combines the engineering challenge of a robotics competition with real-world problem solving and inventing.  Students will learn science and technology skills such as Physics and the Engineering & Design Process. Robotics will also expose students to valuable employment and life skills such as:  research and design, product marketing, and interviewing etiquette.  Students will be involved in building a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot with attachments.  Some of the robotic skills that students will learn to perform are:  programming the robot to move on its own while perform missions, testing different designs and making adjustments, choosing a real-world problem to research, inventing a solution to the problem, and presenting the team’s solution to authentic audiences.  


Digging Da Vinci:


Leonardo Da Vinci was much more than just an artist.  Digging Da Vinci will be a STEAM class which will explore and uncover his numerous talents in the areas of:  painting, sculpting, architecture, music, mathematics, engineering, anatomy, geology, cartography, botany, and writing.  Flying machines, catapults, mirror writing, and his self-supporting bridge are just some of his noteworthy contributions outside of his art.  Students will create a visual journal to record what they have learned.


More descriptions will follow as they are added.