Multi-age classes are a key component of our program. Our students are divided into a K-2nd grade pod and a 3rd-5th grade pod.
Younger students learn from the older, while fifth graders and second graders become leaders in their pods. 5th grade ends with a series of
special experiences, ending in a Rite of Passage, to prepare them for middle school. Kindergartners share in a broad part of the multi-age experience,
while also having space and time to spend with only their class.
Key pieces of our curriculum are divided into multi-subject, long-term projects. While learning core academic material, students
also learn to work cooperatively, stay focused in long term projects, and understand connections between different areas of study.
Favorite projects include our annual Shakespeare play (performed in the original language), raising and investigating salmon, a science fair,
age-based research projects, and Mercado, an annual Spanish-language market.
The arts are a crucial part of children's development, and our building, curriculum, and schedule reflect that. Our community came together
to add a dedicated art room, a music room, a gym, and a kitchen, all well-used and loved by students. During their time at U Co-op, students
take routine visual arts, singing, creative movement, instrumental music, music appreciation, cooking, drama, Spanish, and more. To let students
go in-depth in their particular interests, we also have after-school classes in many different types of arts and this year held our first
Arts Week, when regular curriculum was suspended for in-depth projects.
Perhaps the greatest strength of our literacy program is our students' love of story. The kids look forward to their daily silent reading and read-aloud
times. In the earlier grades, students develop a strong foundation for literacy through story, linguistic-based literacy programs such as Wired for Reading,
phonetic programs like Explode the Code, and plenty of time to explore literature. In the older grades, students continue their linguistic study of language with
more advanced knowledge of grammar and how to break apart words into their constituent pieces, and discuss literature in their student-led book groups.
Students also spend large sections of time writing using the Writers Workshop and other models, exploring genres from poetry to letter-writing to science journaling.
Students learn new math concepts through inquiry-based, hands on activities. This conceptual work is followed by extensive practice through activities, games, and traditional
problem solving to internalize math skills and concepts. Rather than using a single, fixed curriculum, U Co-op teachers draw from various sources,
including TERC Investigations, relevant standards, and Bridges in Math, to design a program that
meets the needs and interests of the current students.
At U Co-op, science is a core subject of study. In the earlier grades, students develop an interest in learning about how the world works through various
investigations, culminating in an intense, long-term study of the life cycle and growth of salmon. In the older grades, science becomes a daily, core subject
where students learn how to test their knowledge and investigate the new and unknown. Throughout, their scientific studies are done in groups and firmly
integrated with math and literacy, giving students another area to apply their knowledge of numbers and words.
Outdoor learning at U Co-op begins with our daily use of Cowen Park, but doesn't end there. U Co-op kids regularly visit the outdoors to release salmon,
read and write in various environments, and learn about nature. Students of all ages take Spring and Fall overnight trips, and all older students
at U Co-op learn to bike, ski, play frisbee, and have time to explore all of these. U Co-op kids leave the school with a broad variety of experiences in different types
of environments and different outdoor skills.
Like other areas of study, our social studies are primarily project-based. Students spend months immersing themselves in creative and meaningful projects about rainforests,
or elections, or the Revolutionary War. Our focus is less on learning a large body of facts, and more about learning how real humans deal with real problems and learning how
to take their own place in the world. Our program also incorporates service learning, getting our kids in contact with real-world issues and solutions.