• Academics
  • UPrep
Intensives in Action

We launched intensives to improve the student learning experience in specific ways. In this first week of the January intensives, we have already observed evidence of progress toward these goals.

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

On January 7, students and teachers returned from break and began a new kind of learning at UPrep. After three years of planning, we launched our first intensives, where students take one course, full-time, for three weeks. The intensive courses carry equal credit as semester classes, and the 35 classes cover all of our subject areas and a wide range of topics, such as Chinese, painting, and geometry.

The shift from planning and anticipation to teaching and learning has been momentous. That the community felt nervous about this new program was natural, so diving into the courses has felt energizing and uplifting. The effort and creativity required to run intensives has already begun to realize our goals for the program.

A Day in M.A.T.H.*

8:35 – 9:00 Origami and Tea
9:00 – 9:45 Make four patterns in Turtle
9:45 – 12:45 Seattle Art Museum: Geometry of Perspective Workshop
1:15 – 2:30

Choice Work Time

Pop-up Cards

* Math in Art, Technology, and History

We launched intensives to improve the student learning experience in specific ways. In this first week of the January intensives, we have already observed evidence of progress toward these goals.

  • Deeper focus for learning
  • Interdisciplinary study
  • Off-campus experiences
  • Flexible time and space to unleash creativity
  • A true break during the winter vacation

Students are noticeably focused on their work and dedicated to the activities of each day. Teachers have organized the time in new, creative ways. Classes have gone on 26 local learning excursions to meet with experts at the University of Washington, Microsoft, Boeing, Seattle International Film Festival Education, the Northwest African American Museum, and more, and that's just in the first five days! Global Link classes have landed in Atlanta and Barranquilla, Colombia. The staff has created a pop-up ceramics studio in the stagecraft shop, and the book arts class has transformed the chemistry lab!

We have also realized unanticipated, pleasant surprises this week. Most classes have established a regular arc to the day that starts with introduction and warm-up, moves into hands-on projects, breaks for lunch, continues hands-on work, and concludes with reflection or presentation. Students have found clear opportunities to understand the goals for each day, uninterrupted time to work on their projects, and real closure at the end.

Students say:

I have learned so much and feel truly prepared for quizzes.

I was really worried going into it, but I'm learning a lot, and I really like just doing this class all day.

It is a lot less stressful than the normal semester. Giving all of my attention to this class helps me learn better.

Working with projects makes it easier to understand.

Classes have used space in many creative ways as well. Thirty students have piled into single classrooms to start the day and then broken out into multiple rooms and hallway spaces thereafter. Teachers have wholly rearranged rooms to maximize floor space, or number of seats, or ambiance, because they don't have to return the room to its original configuration for the next period!

The work of intensives has been focused, hard, and motivating. Learning is taking place every minute across campus, including higher-level thinking about what conditions support effective learning. UPrep has made the biggest change to its educational program in decades, and it's going great so far. The anecdotes we are collecting will help us create a student-faculty survey to better understand the January intensive experience and its effects on the first semester experience, and suggest what adjustments we might make for the May intensives.



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