Our Methods Defined

University Partnership | University Middle students won’t just pass by a university on their way to school, they will be part of one. From robotics design challenges led by engineering researchers to chemistry experiments in state of the art laboratories; from hands on history research in the university rare books room to guest lectures on ancient philosophical puzzles; from producing investigative journalism in a professional recording studio to music lessons in the future Scheidt Music Center – this will truly be a middle school experience like no other.

Project-Based Learning | Projects will focus on concrete outcomes, and will involve regular interdisciplinary work in weekly STEM and Humanities block project times. And while our students will have access to a wide range of in-house design spaces and technology, learning will regularly move beyond the walls of the school. At University Middle, ‘field trips’ won’t be an exception. They’ll be a rule.

Competency-Based Assessment | In the end, the focus at University Middle is less about what students learn and more about how they learn it. That’s what we mean when we say our goal is to develop the “mindset” of a lifelong learner and problem solver. From skills like “Critical Thinking,” “Quantitative Reasoning,” and “Confident Questioning” to “Peer Leadership,” “Resilience,” and “Cultural Competency,” we will evaluate students on their progress in building the skills needed to learn and succeed not just in Math and Reading, but in complex, interdisciplinary, interpersonal problem solving scenarios.

Flexible Learning | People don’t become innovative problem-solvers in a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. At University Middle, we think this applies to every aspect of the school experience, from the desks students sit in (or don’t), to the subjects they learn and the way they learn them. Ready for advanced math and engineering? More sophisticated literature and writing? Or do you need more time with fundamentals? No problem. Our schedule builds in more room for electives or extra support.

Peers | Middle schoolers change…a lot. That’s why every student at University Middle participates in “Peers” alongside traditional subjects like math and history. Peers are weekly meetings between smaller, assigned, diverse groupings of students, where students engage in topics in the curriculum and issues and problems affecting them.

Diversity, Inclusion, & Community | Our focus on diversity, inclusion, and community at University Middle is why students engage in conversations about respect and inclusion through their “Peers” groups. It’s why topics like black history and women’s history aren’t confined to particular months, but are woven in the curriculum all year long. And it’s why all students rotate quarterly through “Community” courses that charge them with everything from reporting the news, to serving in student government, to helping maintain our grounds and garden. You see, at University Middle, students don’t just design solutions to problems. They find ways to carry these solutions back into the world: back into the community. Sound hard? You bet! Sound like some serious wisdom will be gained along the way? Yes again.