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  • Columbia Middle School

    University Partnership Program

    Questions and Answers

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  • What is Columbia’s University Partnership Program?

    The University Partnership Program (UPP) is a unique learning initiative developed for Columbia Middle School (CMS) students with the help of Stanford University’s school of education. The program directs resources — research-based instructional techniques, highly effective curricula, and student instruction delivered by Stanford teacher candidates — into UPP classes on-site at Columbia Middle School.

    In UPP, CMS teachers collaborate with Stanford researchers, clinical associates, and Stanford teacher candidates to create a classroom community that is rigorous and engaging.


    What is Stanford’s role in UPP?

    Stanford’s Clinical Associates (subject area experts) and Graduate Researchers work closely with skilled CMS teachers to develop the rich curriculum and innovative instructional practices that differentiate the UPP classroom. Candidates in the world-renowned Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) work directly with Columbia students in the classroom, providing additional expertise and a smaller student-to-teacher ratio as well.


    What are the core practices of UPP?

    UPP core practices are driven by the Common Core Standards, or the “5 Cs” — critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, and civility. Within this framework, UPP places special emphasis on the following:

    1. Social Emotional Learning — Research shows that classrooms in which the social-emotional skills of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making are explicitly taught and reinforced yield an increase in learning. In UPP, students strengthen these skills by engaging in exercises such as mindfulness, Motivational Mondays, goal-setting, class meetings, and service learning.
    2. Inquiry-Based Instruction — Students learn best through experience, so UPP focuses on inquiry-based learning, where students learn through asking questions and exploring the answers. For example, using Stanford’s “Reading Like A Historian” curriculum, students draw conclusions and answer questions by examining and considering multiple primary source materials, rather than looking for answers in history textbooks. UPP students also use the “classroom discourse” format to engage in academic conversations that develop critical thinking and constructive group dynamic skills.
    3. Technology Integration — To help to prepare students for 21st century careers, UPP integrates technology into learning. Students use iPad minis and Chromebooks to research evidence, practice literacy and math skills, and create presentations or publications of their work. For example, UPP students worked with Stanford graduate students to develop an app in which they recorded scientific phenomena (such as erosion, weather, etc.), uploaded the video to their blogs and recorded their observations, inviting comments from their peers.

    How is UPP different from the non-UPP CMS courses?


    UPP students are taught the same Common Core State Standards and take the same district assessments in Math and ELA as non-UPP students. UPP teachers, like all CMS staff, conduct frequent assessments to enable responsive adoption and course correction.

    The difference lies in how the standards are taught. The purpose of UPP is to create a “lab of innovation” where research-based curriculum and best practices can be developed with the support and expertise from STEP experts and implemented in UPP classrooms district-wide. These ”labs” will act as model classrooms, piloting programs for eventual refinement and dissemination throughout CMS.


    Does my student take all of their classes within UPP?

    UPP students take English, math, social studies, and science with UPP teachers and students. UPP students take physical education and elective courses with the rest of the CMS population.

In grade 6, students have two Main UPP Teachers: In grade 7 & 8 , students have 4 UPP Teachers:
1. Science - UPP Teacher A 1. Math - UPP Teacher A
2. Math - UPP Teacher A 2. Science - UPP Teacher B
3. Math/ELA - (rotating every other day with UPP Teacher A/B) 3. Social Studies - UPP Teacher C
4. English Language Arts - UPP Teacher B 4. English - UPP Teacher D
5. Social Studies - UPP Teacher B 5. PE - UPP Teacher E
6. PE/Electives - Teacher C/D 6. Elective - Teacher F

    Does being in UPP prevent my student from taking advanced classes or participating in CMS activities?

    UPP students are CMS students, and have full access to all advanced courses, electives, activities, and athletics that other CMS students enjoy.


    How does my student apply for UPP?

    To apply for UPP, students must fill out and submit an Open Enrollment form to either your current school or the District Office by the Open Enrollment deadline February 13, 2015. You will be notified by the end of March if your student was accepted, denied, or waitlisted. (There are no prerequisites for admission; acceptance is contingent on space limitations.) Aside from submitting an application, there are no other requirements for participation. Once a student is admitted to UPP, he/she does not need to reapply each year.