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Anticipating Intensives

This January will mark an exciting milestone in UPrep's transformation: the launch of Intensives, new courses that embrace challenging topics and engage with the city within a full-day format.

Richard Kassissieh, Assistant Head of School for Academics and Strategic Initiatives

This January will mark an exciting milestone in UPrep's transformation: the launch of Intensives, new courses that embrace challenging topics and engage with the city within a full-day format. One-seventh of the curriculum now lives within the January and May Intensive terms, complementing the two other course formats we offer: semester courses and online courses through Global Online Academy.

One year ago, we announced Intensives and explained their structure. A subsequent article on this blog described parent-expert perspectives on Intensives, and listed the new Intensive courses developed for this year.

Teachers have worked hard to propose 40 new Intensive courses, with some transforming versions of semester courses and others developing entirely new creations. Course titles such as Deep Space Six, Temas de Justicia Social en Colombia, and Math in Art, Technology, and History evoke a spirit of invention, creativity, and ingenuity. New versions of graduation requirements such as Humanities, Introduction to Statistics, and Biology reform the required curriculum of the school.

This fall, during professional development days, teachers have met with experts in place-based learning and developed detailed plans for Intensive courses. Guest speakers Kim Samson from Hawken School and Loren Demeroutis from Big Picture Learning have shared their experiences with the faculty. Samson also joined Kelly Herrington, Director of College Counseling, and Meg Shortell, Middle School Math Teacher, in a Parent Education discussion panel. The trio shared perspectives on Intensives and answered parent questions.

There's a different way of thinking about time in the Intensive. As you work with it, you realize that actually there's a lot more creativity that can go into it, and that the time vessel should really shape how you think about the course. [Teachers] build in that experiential piece for deeper, more endearing, and enduring learning. - Kim Samson

Middlebury College has a "Jan Plan." Some of the titles are very similar to what we're doing. They have Adventure Writing and Digital Storytelling, and we have a class called Go Talk Story, where students study storytelling here and then go to Samoa [as part of Global Link]. - Kelly Herrington

In our mini-intensive, last year, the students actually got to visit, see the work in action, and meet with people working at the Gates Foundation or Engineers Without Borders. If you came to the Capstone Showcase, students started talking about their products using "we" statements. It wasn't, "Oh, that non-profit does this." I think that was a really cool transformative piece that wasn't possible when we did the project over seven weeks in one-hour chunks in classes. - Meg Shortell

Intensives will provide deep, memorable learning experiences to all UPrep students. Relationships will grow with teachers and among students in an inclusive learning community that sticks together for three weeks. We eagerly anticipate welcoming students to their new courses this January.

 



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