Learning is Elementary
Student achievement is the number one goal in Utica Community Schools, and the journey toward College and Career Readiness begins in the elementary school. The elementary-level curriculum is briefly outlined below. Through a rigorous and challenging curriculum, students are challenged to reach their highest potential and encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning.
The Language Arts curriculum enables students to develop and achieve independent and strategic oral and written communication skills necessary for the 21st century. Daily classroom instruction includes:
- Reading - Students receive literature and informational-based reading and writing instruction with an emphasis on comprehension, vocabulary, oral language, fluency, phonics, and reference and study skills.
- Writing - Genre and process writing is taught through the Writer’s Workshop framework. Students develop an understanding of the different types of writing and write a variety of pieces such as Narrative, Informative, and Opinion. In addition, students implement the 6+1 Traits of Writing across the grades to build their writing fluency in all content areas.
- Word Study/Spelling - Students learn strategies that enable them to recognize, spell, use, apply, and understand words presented in all content areas
- Handwriting - Students begin with printing and move to cursive writing, generally in second and third grades.
The elementary mathematics curriculum features hands-on learning strategies and techniques, such as sorting, collecting data, measuring, computing, graphing, and calculating. These strategies help students:
- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
- Reason abstractly and quantitatively
- Model with mathematics and use appropriate tools strategically
- Acquire a deep understanding of how math works by applying math to all subject areas and all areas of their lives
- Connect math instruction at all grades to algebraic thinking through appropriate math experiences at each grade level
- In addition, students have access to digital content that supports their understanding of mathematical concepts.
The UCS science program conditions students to ask questions about and understand and appreciate the world around them. It also teaches students to develop solutions to problems through hands-on activities and digital content based on the “5E” instructional model:
The social studies curriculum encourages students to become self-directed, responsible and thoughtful citizens by establishing the connection between them and their families to local, state, national and international governments. The curriculum covers:
At the heart of each UCS elementary school is a technology rich center in which students can seek, access, summarize, organize, analyze and evaluate information. Media center teachers provide instruction to students on how to use digital information and communication technology appropriately. Students learn digital citizenship principles and begin to apply that knowledge through the strategic use of digital media. Media center teachers guide students in independent and classroom-relating projects using:
- A literature and information-rich library collection featuring a wide range of authors, writing styles, genres and formats
- Media center technology, including computers networked with classroom computers
- Carts of laptop computers that can be accessed by all classrooms
- Video equipment
The primary goal of UCS’s elementary school physical education program is to help students develop and practice positive lifelong habits. Students are introduced to healthy lifestyle choices through games and activities that highlight:
- Physical activity
- Fitness and wellness knowledge
- Motor skills
- Positive personal/social attitudes and skills
UCS' art curriculum celebrates each student's individuality by exploring the many creative approaches to a given situation. Beginning with basic color and shape recognition in kindergarten, the elementary art program connects with other areas of the curriculum through various media, and introduces students to:
- Print making
- 3-D crafts
- Art history
- The influence of art on world culture
Grade-appropriate song and rhythm instruction creates a framework for all students to learn different music styles, grow their talents, and develop a lifelong interest in and appreciation of a variety of musical activities. Sixth grades students are exposed to instrumental and vocal music instruction.
The goal of the EL program is to provide non-native, English learning students with the resources and opportunities to develop their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. The primary goal of the EL teachers is to help develop each child to his/her potential, with both academic and social language. In addition, the programs work to develop the academic strategies necessary for successful study in a language and culture that may differ from their native language and/or culture. Members of the EL staff can serve as liaisons between child, school, home, and community.
For more information, please download the EL handbook.
Every UCS elementary school houses a team of experts - special education teachers, speech and language therapists, social workers, reading and bilingual specialists and psychologists - to identify students' difficulties, consult with parents and teachers about children's special needs and to help students succeed.
If a concern arises regarding a student, a Student Needs Assessment Committee (SNAC) meeting may be conducted in order to gather information and discuss possible interventions. If the team concludes that further information is needed, a special education referral may be initiated. Parents are encouraged to discuss concerns regarding their child with the classroom teacher first, and together decide whether to pursue a SNAC meeting. The completion of the SNAC process is a valuable step in developing the most appropriate educational plan for a student. Parental involvement is an integral component of the pre-referral and referral process. In addition to informal contact which occurs throughout the process, written parental consent is obtained before an evaluation is conducted.
Michigan law requires all individuals with disabilities to receive special education assistance through age 25. UCS provides special education for students in preschool through high school and additional services are available through the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD).
The MISD Parent Advisory Committee publishes a directory of special education programs and services, available through MISD or UCS' Special Services Department by calling 810-795-2300.
UCS elementary schools offer many before-after school and evening enrichment, programs, such as scouting, sports, recreation, special event, and other activities. Elementary students with special talents or interests can hone their creativity and problem-solving skills by taking part in a variety of programs such as:
- Academically Talented
- Geography Bee
- Destination Imagination
- Lego Robotics
- Quiz Bowls
- Science, Social Studies and Math Olympiads
- Enrichment programs
Please note: The safety patrol and crossing guards are not on duty after-school hours to guide students attending after school functions. Parents are responsible for their children’s transportation to and from before-and-after school activities.